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2011 Canada Vacation Blog

August 17, 2011 (Wednesday) - Back home

Satuday Aug 13, 2011 - Kingston Gallery  --   Sunday Aug 14th Gallery   --  Monday Gallery   --    Tuesday Aug 16th Gallery

WOW!.. After a couple of days on the boat (they call it a ship, but its really a boat), I learned that there was Internet access available, but there was no time available at all, at least if you wanted to watch the scenery. I wanted to see it all. Amazingly there were folks happy to sit in the dining room and play cards or other games rather than watching the scenery. To each his own, I suppose.

When the boat wasn't cruising on the river, we were stopped some place touring an old home or museum or something, or eating or being entertained. There just was not time available to be messing around with a blog. So I'm way behind.

The scenery is beautiful, the food was always very good (although never really great) and of course being with my father and sisters for three days in a row was really exceptional. Its the most time I've spent with them since we took vacations when I was a kid. Not that we had a tremendous amount of catching up to do, but it really is exceptional that we spent three days together for the first time in probably 40 years.

I can't say that there was anything one thing that really impressed me - nothing that in particular that I'll remember forever, but the entire experience was really enjoyable and relaxing.

I'm not going to try to provide a day-by-day account. Its just not that exciting Rather I'll give you the basic course of each day.

I'd wake up at the usual 6:30, get up and get dressed and get a cup of coffee from the dining room. My dad and sister Cheryl would be there and we'd read or chat until breakfast at 7:30. By that time, everyone was up and the six of us would have breakfast. I'd then head down to the room to do the usual AM stuff that I didn't do because Connie was still sleeping. The room was only slightly larger than a dog house so there was no way for me to do much without waking her so I'd just dress and get out.

By the time I was shaved, medicated, etc., the boat would be cruising, or it would be time for a shore visit. The shore visits were mostly a short ride on the yellow limousine (school bus) to a house or whatever we were touring. Do the tour, ride back to the boat and we'd cruise to the next stop, with lunch in between. Tour in the PM or cruise until dinner, eat and then entertainment after dinner until about 10:30. Hit the sack and start again the next day.

The first night we moored in the river at a company owned mooring. The second night we docked at Brockville , the third night we docked at Rockport. We toured the Museum at Gananoque, the Fulford house at Brockville, Fort Wellington at Prescot and the Skydeck on Hill Island, just outside of Rockport.

The entertainment was a game of Trivial Pursuit on the first night (Connie's team won, my team lead the entire game until the last question), a singer/guitar player on the second night and a magician on the third night.

August 13, 2011 (Saturday) - Drive to Kingston and board for the cruise

I'm not sure that I'll have any Internet access once we board the boat, so this may be my last post until next Wednesday when we get home. I still have updating to do on the previous days. Its been hard to keep up. Did some catching up this morning before we leave, but still plenty of photos especially to post.

August 12, 2011 (Friday) - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Friday August 12, Gallery)

We toured the historic government region of Ottawa today. Starting with the changing of the guard at the Parliament building. This is purely ceremonial - there is no military guard at the Parliament building. Its a good show of bag pipe band, brass band and full dress soldiers marching around and making believe to be inspecting the "new guard." Later at Rideau Hall, we saw a real changing of the guard. Of course even here, the guard (they do stand guard) is purely symbolic and somehow the sergeant in charge of the guard detail being a short chubby woman took some of the luster off the whole affair for me. She did have a voice for commands at least.

This Mounty doesn't look so tough to me.

After the changing of the guard, we toured the West Block of the Parliament complex. The building was built circa 1868 and is still in uses to some degree today. The rooms we saw on the tour have been restored to 1871 condition are purely for tour purposes.

Next we toured the Central Block (I'm surprised the Canadians haven't come up with more interesting names than West Block, Central Block and East Block). The Central Block building was rebuilt in 1916 after a fire that destroyed the original building. It is the home of the Senate and the House of Commons. It was interesting to see the facilities and learn more about how Canadian government works - how it is still under the authority of the Queen of England (which personally I would have put an end to a long time ago). I have to say the business of having two official languages seems silly as well, but I suppose you put it down as "a deal is a deal," and they are just living up to a deal they made a long time ago. My apologies to the Canadians for my critiques.

After touring the Parliament area, we headed over to the locks of the Rideau canal. They are completely hand operated by a team of six teenagers. There were seven boats waiting to go down the locks as two boats completed the up trip. I asked on of the teens how many boats they could put through on their best day and he said they were as busy that day as they had ever been and they would probably lock 40 boats through. He said they could split their team into two teams and have two set of boats going up or down at the same time but it really stretched them thin. I replied that it seemed like there was a lot of standing around even when they were busy (waiting for the water levels in the locks to equalize) and he said, "Yeah, but we make up for it cranking the cranks." It still doesn't seem like a hectic job to me.

There was a sailboat going through just when we arrived and I stood and talked to the skipper. He said they had been on the boat since June (they had been to Quebec) and that they would be another month going all the way to Kingston on the canal. He said there were 49 locks so it would take some time. He then quipped, "Its a long vacation." I asked him if he could raise the mast by himself and he said no, so he was purely rigged for canal running, not sailing. He said the cost for locking was $2 per lock but he bought a through pass for all 49 locks and it was cheaper that way.

Next we drove out to Rockcliffe Park and saw the US Embassy (by accident) and then Rideau Hall (the Royal Monarchs' home and the home of the Governor General). Also the Embassy of Sudan, and some other official homes.

August 11, 2011 - 9:30PM - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada ( Thursday Gallery )

I had a couple of days of delay in getting this entry done as I was working on a project for IBM the day we toured Montreal. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Follow up

For dinner we ate a place on the Rideau Canal. It was long on ambience and short on good dining.

August 10, 2011 - 8PM - Laval, Quebec, Canada (Wednesday Photo Gallery)

First of all, I've decided to post the photos on separate pages so that this blog page will load quickly. There will be a "Gallery" page for each day and you can expect it to takes some time to load because of the large photos. I'm also thinking I'm not going to be able to keep this up to date each day.. After all this is my vacation.

We left the hotel about 8:30 this morning, and drove over to Lake Champlain (just the other side of Plattsburgh where we stayed). It is a beautiful lake - perfect for sailing - large, scenic, and yet small enough to be calm water most of the time.

Then we headed North to Montreal. I was impressed with the spartan decor of the welcome center in comparison to the huge, modern and very nicely appointed welcome center in New York. The welcome center in New York was a huge building, but it was clear that they didn't expect a lot of visitors as there were only two urinals in the men's room. In the restroom in the Canadian welcome center the plumbing was very spartan. I had to take a photo of it. You can see, bare copper pipe, a manual flush valve, and no escutcheon where the pipe comes through the wall. Very spartan (you could say crude). The whole point here is, that maybe we can see why New York is in financial trouble and Canada is not. New York blows money on this elaborate welcome center and Canada puts up a place that is clean and functional, but pretty basic.

On to Montreal... We arrived in Montreal about 10 AM and spent most of an hour, maybe more looking for a place to park. We eventually found a place that was reasonably priced and actually had some parking spaces, but it was several blocks from old town Montreal. It was a perfect day for a walk so we were touring in the old town by 11:15.

The first stop was the Basilica Notre Dame. The place is so ornate, I couldn't have even imagined it or conceived of it. If you told me I had unlimited funds to build the most ornate place I could think of, I couldn't have built this place. It is astounding.

Next we had lunch at a sidewalk cafe on Place Jacques-Cartier. It was a nice lunch, a little expensive but it was good food and plenty of it, and of course the ambience probably couldn't be duplicated on this side of the Atlantic.

Then we ambled over to the Château Ramezay Museum and spent a couple hours touring there. Next we hiked down past the Chapel Notre Dame and on down to the Promanade along the old quays. We went to the tip of Jacques Cartier Quay and then headed back to the car, making a short detour to get a crepes for Mrs. Boyd. Not that she was hungry, rather it seemed appropriate to eat something French in a French speaking city I guess.

August 9, 2011 - 9PM - Plattsburgh, NY (Tuesday Photo Gallery)

We left the house today a few minutes after 8AM. We had an 11 hour drive, arriving at the hotel a few minutes before 7PM. We did stop for lunch, a few bio breaks and one fuel stop but otherwise drove straight through. We had no problems at all - no traffic jams and did not get lost. Everything went smoothly.

The first four hours of the trip between Mansfield and Buffalo I know all too well.. being the route I travel when going to Tornonto (I was just there last week). When we stopped at the Subway I usually stop at right at the end of the NY Thruway, Connie remarked, "You really know your way around." Mark it up to too many trips to Toronto.

The scenery in the Adirondack mountains is as beautiful as I thought. We were in and out of rain most of the day, but it held off while we were going through the mountains on Route 8. That took about two hours. It was at the end of the day so we were more than ready to see something besides Interstate 90.

We crossed the Erie Canal twice and ran in and out of the Erie Canal Historic Corridor several times. It reminded me of one of the great adventures I'd like to take - sail from Vermillion, Ohio to Buffalo and then take the Erie Canal to the Finger Lakes in New York. Sail there and then trailer the boat home.

When we got out of the car to check into the hotel it was pouring rain and the camera was left in the car. Photos will have to wait until tomorrow evening.

August 8, 2011

We intend to leave at 8AM tomorrow (Tuesday August 9, 2011) and drive to Plattsburgh, NY. It is an 11 or 12 hour drive. We didn't intend that. I misread the map and thought it was 8 hours when we booked the hotel room there and arranged all of the rest of the vacation based on being in Plattsburgh on Wed. So, we'll see how it goes.

I'm quite anxious to drive through upstate New York. I believe its some of the most beautiful country in the US. To bad it is in New York.

The cruise on the St. Lawrence River should be great - eating good food, seeing beautiful sights, and visiting interesting places.. Oh plus spending time with my dad and sisters. That should be really great.

Thanks to Brad for the proof reading.

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