Encounter at The Narrows

It was but a 12-mile cycle from the cabin we had rented on Otty Lake, just south of Perth, Ontario, to The Narrows. Over hills and through deep Canadian woods broken up by occasional small farms and modest country homes. The morning Canadian summer air was crisp and the Florida humidity lay far, far behind us,

The Narrows Lock #35 separates Big Rideau Lake from Upper Rideau Lake. It is part of a system of locks that extend all the way from Ottawa to the St. Lawrence Seaway. And it is a Canadian quirk that the locks continue to be hand-operated, just as they were in generations past. Young men and women take turns pushing the levers that engage the gears that slowly turn the bridges aside so as to allow boats to move from Big to Upper Rideau.

And so we stopped for a water break and watched the proceedings.

Because, really, what choice did we have?

We met a Dutch couple who had their boat shipped across the Atlantic from Belgium to Florida. They began their journey in West Palm Beach and worked their way up the Intercostal Waterway to the St. Lawrence Seaway.

They were on their way to Westport, a trendy little lakeside resort town that we knew well because it has a so-so winery that serves killer pizza.

Basically we were just ships passing in the night.

Except, you know, it was daytime. And we were on bicycles. And they were on a boat. But other than that, the same sort of thing.

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