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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Topless in Lake Champlain

Hi There everyone…Ben here,

We’re without company for a little while now as we go from Albany, New York, up the Hudson River to Lake Champlain, where we are going to see Janice and Jim Campbell and David and Debby Pearson in Burlington, Vermont. Wendy and Jim will meet us there too, and continue with us on the boat for a trip to Montreal.
The rain is still with us as we make our way north. The Tall Ships are returning to New York City
with lots of wet people on board in their yellow raincoats. I’m glad I’m inside where it’s dry having lunch with Izzy and Jeff. Izzy says I don’t smell so good when I’m wet.
In Troy, NY, we came to the Federal Locks and had to try out our skills at holding on to ropes to keep the boat still while the water got higher. Jeff and Izzy took care of that while I barked at the lock keeper to be sure he knew that we were not going to tolerate any shenanigans from him. After that he didn’t bother us.
In Waterford, NY we stopped for a couple of days to prepare for our next leg of our trip. The wall along river is full of other boats doing the same thing. This is where the boaters decide if they want to go west on the Erie Canal, or north on the Champlain Canal like we plan to do. We walked along an old trail next to the original canaltrying to make our feet match the mule hoof prints and the barefoot prints next to them.I had a hard time with the mule tracks, but Izzy seemed to do ok with the barefeet.It was during this section of the trip that Jeff decided to take the top of the boat down…something about “getting shorter” for the bridges coming up soon.These sailboats had to take their masts down for the next part of their trip. While Jeff spent the afternoon making our boat shorter, Izzy tricked me into going for a shampoo and cut along with a pedicure and ear cleaning. I’d have rather stayed on the boat to help Jeff!
He worked all afternoon taking the canvas and plastic windows off the fly bridge and then got a guy to help lower the arch down, with the radar, satellite dish and antennas, so we could be 16 ft. tall instead of 28 feet tall. The trick is to do that without breaking any of the electrical lines that run to the equipment in the process. After all, I want to watch Oprah in the afternoons…It was successful...so here we are topless. There's a fee for using the canals and locks in NY. We didn't want to spend the whole season here, so we opted for the Two Day Pass and made a run for it.
Here’s the low bridge that we had to get under to continue our trip. Jeff said Izzy had the “hair on fire” look in her eyes before we went under it. He asked her to be the lookout as we approached. Not sure what she would have done if we were too tall…? It sure looked low, but we made it with several inches to spare over our dinghy motor, which is sitting on the top of the sundeck roof. In Whitehall, NY we stopped at a free dock and rested for the night. There was a hundred year old tug boat that was all fixed up at the dock behind us.It was retired, like we are, and didn't have to work anymore, so it got to go on trips on the rivers just for fun ...same as us. It had a funny moustach that looked like a bunch of mops on the front. I hope Jeff doesn't start growing one of those. While I was coming back from taking a look at the tug boat, a strange little “lion”showed up out of nowhere.Here he is chasing me! I barked at it to keep it away from the boat and protect Izzy and Jeff. They have wild things here.
The Champlain Canal was quiet and pretty, and had some old buildings that looked as though they had been built a little too close to the water like this one. The sign on it said it was for sale...We wanted to go to a little town that we had heard about named Vergennes, Vermont, on our way through Lake Champlain. To get there we had to take Otter Creek – a narrow winding stream that was real shallow at the entrance (depth showed 0.0 feet of water under our keel!). So after Jeff convinced Izzy that we could make it through the shallow part, and he put out the fire in her hair, he maneuvered the “Izzy R” into Otter Creek where we had deeper water and a beautiful ride for 6 miles with trees and cottages lining the banks of the creek. At the end of the creek is a waterfall and the town of Vergennes with a free dock. Jeff loves those free docks. The big pond that is formed by the waterfall must be full of fish, because lots of guys came in boats with fast engines and poles. In fact, there was a fishing tournament that weekend, and all of a sudden we had a lot of company in the pond. Jeff made friends with the guys camped next to us by taking over a couple of Coronas, then he impressed them with his new big orange balls. There’s a park with big trees right off the boat where we walked and watched the fishermen and the squirrels. At night the town lit up the waterfall for us. I don't know what these are, but I don't think I'll go out at night around here. Debbie and David rode their Harleys over from Burlington to have dinner and spend the night with us. A couple of days later we arrived at the Marble Island Marina in Burlington, VT and were helped by a whole bunch of people having a party on the dock. The marina dog took a liking to our boat and jumped on while we were pulling in the slip to tie up. When his master called for him to get off our boat, he fell in the water and had to be dragged out by his collar. Embarrassing… kind of like when Izzy fell in the water in Chesapeake City. You remember... I told you about that in a provious blog...I don’t think they dragged her out by the neck though because she doesn’t wear a collar. She doesn’t need one because she keeps her license in her wallet.

We’re off to see the relatives soon, so I have to get brushed and gather up my bowl, bed and leash. I’m hoping someone will want to butter me up for some good press by taking me for a walk, knowing that I write the blog.

Besides, it's 5 0'clock somewhere. I’ll fill you in on our visit in Burlington next time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gilbert and Doreen Arrive in NYC

Hi All…Ben here on the Hudson River,
Jeff’s good buddy Gilbert who worked with Jeff at Denso came from California with his pretty wife, Doreen, to meet us for five days of travel on the Hudson River.
They took an all night flight from LA to get to NY, but were ready to see the sights in NYC for a day anyway. The next morning we untied the lines and pointed the boat up the Hudson River in the heavy fog.It was a little exciting for a while with all the traffic of the water taxis and fast ferry boats dodging each other in the milky morning light. This is the George Washington Bridge in the foggy distance. If you squint, you might be able to see it!Gilbert and Doreen didn't seem to mind. They were enjoying the new adventure and sat on the back of the flybridge to take in the sights as the fog lifted. We passed some big boats, and some passd us...like this one... We felt pretty small next to it. Our first stop was in Newburg, NY. We had a nice walk and a good dinner at the busy restaurant at the Front Street Marina. The band played there until 4 AM!…I needed a nap the next day, but Gilbert and Doreen were up early and helping with the lines, fenders, and hookups. Here are Jeff and Gilbert having their morning coffee while Jeff outlines Gilbert's jobs for the day. (Sorry Gil. I'll bet you thought you were done with that when Jeff retired!) I guess the jobs included electrical and water hookups. We took a lot of pictures, so I’ll add a few here. This is the Captain and crew of the Izzy R for the week in their official shirts. Doreen and Gil have settled into the boating lifestyle quickly. Gilbert took the helm for a while dodging big boats and bridges. Then Doreen tried her hand at it, tooDoreen’s mom was worried about her being on a boat and told her to be sure to wear her life jacket. Here’s Doreen’s official picture for her mom. Doreen (“Reeni” to some of her friends) didn’t know if she might get a little seasick, so she was drinking ginger ale, just incase. When it was 5 o’clock somewhere, and everyone had a cocktail, she made up a new version of a martini with ginger ale and dark rum, and we named it a “Dramareeni”. Tastes pretty good!
Doreen likes me and we sometimes snuggled up on the flybridge. Gilbert became a good buddy too, but guys don't cuddle much with dogs. Here I am getting the manly version. Lucky for Izzy, Doreen likes to cook, and she and Gilbert wanted to make us an authentic Mexican dinner. So when we stopped in Kingston, NY, and moored in Rondout Creek, we took the dinghy down and rode to town where we had pizza and beer and searched for a grocery store for a few provisions to make the Mexican dinner. There were no supermarkets to be found within walking distance, but , unbelievably, we found a Mexican market a couple of blocks away with most of the required ingredients for a good dinner. Who would have thought we'd find one here?!

That night Gilbert and Doreen performed magic in the kitchen,and we feasted on fajitas, creamy beans and all the fixings. Izzy says she loves to see a man in the kitchen.
Izzy’s cousin, Aggie (yes, another cousin!) and her daughter, Dawn, and granddaughter, Tory, drove to the marina to see us. Jeff went to shore in the dinghy to bring them onboard. They joined us in the feast.I managed to sneak a piece of steak or some cheese from each of the people there, so I know it was real good! Izzy and Aggie caught up on family stuff and had a good time. I got some good petting from the girls!
The next morning was sunny and warm, and we continued up the Hudson. Doreen made us a great breakfast with the leftovers from the fiesta the night before. Yum! I hope Izzy was taking notes.

Soon we got to Catskill, NY and found a cute marina in the creek. I thought with a name like "Catskill", that there wouldn’t be any cats left there. Not so. This town has an alarming number of CATS that they have posted at each corner! If you or any of your friends or relatives in this area are missing their cat, you might want to look in this town. They may have tried to disguise your beloved feline so you wouldn’t know about their dirty deed of freezing them and putting them on posts on the street corners. Take a look at these pictures. Maybe you’ll recognize one of them. They had all been given new names to hide their identity. This one was School House Cat. And this one was "Catue of Liberty" I think this one must have been "Buick Cat" or something like that. And this giant one must have been "King Kong Cat" Here's Doreen checking to see if this one is ticklish. Izzy and Doreen posing with Racoon CatThere are lots more... if you didn't see your missing cat in these pictures you can go there and see for yourself.
I was hoping for some explanation about the poor frozen cats on posts from these two ladies at the church but they didn't understand me. They smelled good though!After a while we stopped at an outdoor cafe...I guess we all needed a drink after that grusome sight.On the way back, we spotted this little guy...finally something worth smelling in this town! Wonder what he did to deserve this. As we were sitting on the sundeck having our “Dramareenis” that evening, along came our old friend Maurice on "Quotidian" who we met at the Looper’s rendezvous. He has a cute little boat that is just big enough for him. He joined us for a drink, then we all left the Izzy R, hopped aboard his boat, "Quotidian"and went up the creek to Port of Call for dinner. In the morning, Doreen and Gilbert had to go home. We were sad to see them go, and invited them to come back anytime. I’d like some more of that good cookin’! Bye-bye Gil and Doreen…come back soon!
Now we’re heading into the part of the trip where we have to put down the radar arch to get shorter for the low bridges…..I think I feel another nap coming on…