Boats, busses, trains, and trucks.
|Date:||Saturday, June 22, 2007|
|Weather:||Cool and cloudy|
|Destination:||Kingston, then return|
|Distance:||120 miles by bus and train, then 116 miles by car|
|Elevation:||210.1 feet above Great Lakes Datum|
The overnight low was in the high 40-degree range, and it is a cool and very crisp morning on the dock. The topic of conversation among fellow boaters is, "Did you hear that music last night at two in the morning?" The answer is always "yes." We find out later that the restaurant was hosting a group of rowers who will compete in the war canoe races today. I would not bet on the boat whose crew was here last night.
There is no boating at all on the schedule today. After breakfast aboard we head on foot for the bus stop, just two blocks away. We don't have to wait very long for the bus, we jump aboard, and buy a ticket. It's three dollars, but after a few minutes in our seats a fellow bus rider suggests we ought to get a day pass, a better investment for seven dollars; it will let us ride back and forth for 24-hours. We exchange our ticket stubs with the driver and he issues us new receipts, quite a feat as he navigates the bus downtown in busy Saturday morning traffic.
We jump off the bus downtown and walk about three blocks to the lawn of the Parliament building, where, at 10 a.m. the Queen's Royal Grenadiers will conduct the ceremonial changing of the guard. Several hundred other tourists have beaten us to the best places to stand, but we find a couple of spots in the second or third rows were we can see over the heads of some shorter, front-row standees. The elaborate pageant takes about 30 minutes to accomplish, and when it's over the crowd and the soldiers quickly disperse. We stroll around Parliament, admiring its architecture, the view looking over the Ottawa River, and the many fine statues of famous Canadians which ring the building.
From there we walk back to visit the Ottawa lock station again, making use of its bathrooms. More boats are locking down, and it is always fun to watch the process. We hike down toward the river, stopping briefly at another Canal museum housed in a restored original building, however, since we've already visited the much larger exhibit in Smith Falls, we decline to pay the admission here and skip the gallery.
We hike back up to street level, cross the canal, and head for Byward Market, a collection of open markets, warehouses, shops, and restaurants which has been a popular place in Ottawa since the city was founded. Going on a tip from some other cruising boaters we've met, we search for and locate a French Provincial Cafe and Market. It is crowded, but we find a table and buy ourselves some lunch. We split a salmon quiche and salad, and the food is superb.
"This is the best quiche I have ever had," declares Chris, and I am inclined to agree.
When lunch is over, we wander in the market briefly as we head east to the National Gallery of Art. The gallery is housed in a beautiful building, a crystalline faceted structure of steel and glass. There is a special Renoir exhibit on display, but we've come for the good old Canadian art, and in particular the Group of Seven permanent exhibit.
We wander through the gallery, slowly working our way from very old paintings and artifacts of the earliest Canadian settlers, to more modern works. After about an hour we reach the Group of Seven gallery. The collection houses my favorite Canadian painting, Stormy Weather On Georgian Bay, by Frederick Varley. I have been admiring this painting for years, and we have a reproduction of it from a poster I ordered from the museum years ago hanging in our home. Entering the gallery, I make a right turn and discover the original. It is a stunning moment. The canvas is much larger than I imagined, and it overwhelms me. I study the work, appreciating it in an entirely new way as the large canvas has much greater impact than my (by comparison) small print. This may sound trite, but the painting is a masterpiece.
The Group of Seven painted their impressionistic art of the northern Canadian landscape from the 1930's to the 1970's. Beyond their gallery in the museum the exhibited works turn increasingly modern and abstract and we lose interest. Not long afterward we leave the exhibit, stopping at the Museum store to buy another poster and some other art souvenirs, then heading back to Byward Market for another visit to the French Provincial Cafe, this time for an afternoon snack and some take-out sandwiches for our dinner.
We endure our longest wait for a bus at the main downtown terminal. Buses come and go every minute or two, but it takes about ten minutes before our Number-85 bus pulls in. We head back to Dows Lake, about a ten minute trip.
Back to the boat by mid-afternoon, we take a rest from our busy day of walking about the city. Our next destination is Kingston, and we go over all the stuff we will need to bring with us on the train, to make sure we don't forget some crucial component like the keys to the truck.
Our train is scheduled to depart at 6:15 p.m. from the Ottawa station. To reach it we will need to take the number 85 bus back downtown, then catch the number 95 bus outbound. To allow ourselves plenty of time, we start on our journey around 4:30 p.m. Any extra time we have can be spent waiting in the train station.
The bus schedule timings mesh very well with our travel, and we are soon on our way toward the train station on a very crowded bus that is filled to standing room only capacity. Some local riders have volunteered to cue us at the proper exit, as we can barely see out the windows of the coach. Public transportation in Ottawa is very good and very well used by the locals. This bus line runs out from downtown on a special highway, built only for buses, which bypasses the normal street traffic and very efficiently moves riders in and out of the center city.
On cue we pull the cord requesting a stop, and exit the overflowing bus. We have to take an elevator from the recessed bus highway up to street level, where we enter the VIA rail station. Chris has already purchased our tickets in advance on-line, getting a very good price. The two-hour ride to Kingston is only going to cost CA-$24-each, which is less than half the normal fare.
We are in the station about an hour early for the train. The lure of my take-out sandwich is irresistible, and I tear into my bag and have my dinner. A group of model railroaders have set up a display, and I spend 45-minutes talking with them while Chris reads a good book. Eventually the conductor calls for passengers to board, and the VIA train departs the station precisely on schedule.
The train runs to Toronto, but makes several stops on the way. A few miles out of Ottawa it stops to load several more passengers. About an hour later we are in Smith Falls, thirty minutes more in Brockville, and then not long after we are running parallel to the expressway bound for Kingston. The train moves along very fast, pulling away from cars on the super highway which must be going 65-MPH. As we near Kingston, we cross over our outbound track on the very bridge we saw from the Kingston Mills lock. About two hours after departure, and again right on schedule, we pull into Kingston's railroad station.
The train station is Kingston is in the north end of town, and on the wrong side of the river with respect to where we need to go. At the station there is a line of cabs available, however there is also a bus. We inquire with the bus driver if we can get to our marina using this line, and, after consulting his schedule, he assures us we can with only one transfer. The timing looks quite favorable, too, as we should only have a few minutes to wait for the other connection. Figuring this is a much less expensive mode than a cab ride, we jump aboard and pay the $3 fare.
When the train departs moments later, the bus also pulls out of the station. The coach only has a few other passengers, and it winds its way through a neighborhood route, working toward the center of Kingston. The driver then informs us of some bad news. He has misread the schedule, and it looks like we will have about a 40-minute wait to make the connection we need. This is not well received by Chris, as she is anxious to get the long travel of this evening over with, and an extra 40-minutes is too much to take. After about ten more minutes, our bus pulls into the main terminal, which is actually in the parking lot of a shopping center. We depart the bus, and formulate our next move.
We are in luck, as there is a taxi sitting in the parking lot, waiting for a fare. We walk over and explain where we need to go. No problem, it is not far, as we are at least halfway there already as measured from the train station. We jump in, and the taxi whisks us across Kinston, over the Cataraqui River and out on Provincial Route 15 to the Rideau Marina. The meter says $12, a bargain we gladly pay. We are delivered right to our truck, whereas with the bus we would have had to walk the last four (long) blocks.
All is well with our truck and trailer. We get them hitched up and ready for the road. Chris--who has planned far ahead--has brought her shower kit, a towel, and a change of clothes. She runs over to the Rideau Marina showers and bathroom, and hops in for a quick clean up. (This was necessitated by the lack of showers at Dows Lake due to the remodeling.) A few minutes later she is out and ready for the return trip. We get back on the road around 9:15 p.m., now driving our truck and empty boat trailer back to Ottawa on the expressway.
The Canadian roads are in excellent condition and traffic is light. Our progress is unimpeded until we get to Ottawa and within one exit of our destination. There a major road repair project has closed the freeway to just one lane, and the last mile takes us 15 minutes to cover. About 11:45 p.m. we pull into the parking lot across the street from Dows Lake Pavilion, and put the truck and trailer into an extended parking spot. We have to take a parking meter ticket to enter, but you pay when you exit.
It has been a long day. We have been out walking for hours in Ottawa, we've travelled by bus, train, taxi, and truck, and we are worn out. There is no special party at either restaurant at the Pavilion tonight, and the marina is very quiet. We have no trouble getting to sleep.
A summary of the sailing data for the entire trip:
Totals: HOURS = 21.8 GALLONS = 87.6 (Start: 6.2 remaining, Add 91 = 97.2; End 9.6 remaining) MILES = 145.0 Averages: GPH = 4.01 MPH = 6.65 MPG = 1.65 Fuel purchased: LOCATION LITERS PRICE COST CA-$ Highway 130 $1.02 $132.60 Brown's 55 $1.23 67.60 Rideau Ferry 75 $1.25 93.75 Ayling's 55 $1.25 68.75 Hurst 37.5 $1.22 45.75 ------------------------------------ TOTAL 352.5 $408.45 AVERAGE $1.16 US Values GALLONS PRICE COST US-$ TOTAL 91.0 $389.00 (at $1.05 exchange) AVERAGE $4.27
The nine-day narrative continues in Day Nine.
Copyright © 2007 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!
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Author: James W. Hebert
This article first appeared July, 2007.