Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday – The Canal

Looks like a little rain. Just a few drops, nothing of consequence.

We head off and Cookie wonders if I can ride the canal. We stand on the bridge overlooking a very narrow canal (about 25 feet wide maybe) with a very narrow “tow path” to one side. From here, it does not look difficult. But wait, there's more.
I decide to go for it... I should have remembered my hasty decision about that hamburger in the pub.

The tow path is VERY narrow (3-4 feet), and Cookie informs me to always get off the bike on the bank side, and not to step in the rushes, as they are really part of the water. The further we go, the more grass under our bikes we encounter. Grass is extremely difficult to peddle on and maneuver, especially with 50 pounds of gear. Our average speed going up and down the hills was 5 MPH. Here, we are going 2 MPH. A few times, I scare myself and get too close to the canal. Fortunately, I keep one hand on the brake. There are several abrupt stops, a little disconcerting, but better than ending up in the drink!

There are many barges on the canal. They are similar to motor homes in that many are owned by folks who take them out for the weekend, or on vacation. Some are rented out to vacationers too. They cost about $1200 a week.

We stop where there is a bench along the side and cook our breakfasts. Each time I stop, I have three feelings: “Thank goodness we are stopping;” “I don't think I can walk;” and “I don't think I can get on the bike again.” We push on,.. and on... and on. The canal seems to go on forever. There is no place to get back on solid road until we get to the next town. On and on and on.

We pass two geese and thier babies!
Finally, we arrive in Divises, a quaint little town. I think we are staying here. Carl says, “we'll have to talk about that.” There is a campground showing on the map, but last year, Carl could not find it. There is some discussion regarding our options. We go to the Information Center to get some information (ha). Indeed, there is a campground just a few miles down the canal. Uh, well, um, I don't think I can do anymore of that canal. Happily, I am informed that the tow path is a wider stretch of compressed gravel, very easy to navigate. YEA!

We head back down the canal and start to pass a series of locks. There are 30 or so and each one is hand operated by the riders of each boat. I takes about 3-4 hours to get through all of them. I am ecstatic that the path is now ALL DOWNHILL. Mostly coasting.

Eventually we get to the campground. This is part of a network of campgrounds for campers and caravanners (mobile homes) and is very well groomed – showers and real toilets!. The “hosts” are quite friendly. I make some jokes and they think I am funny. Ha! We pitch our tents and walk to a nearby pub, The Three Magpies.

The “roast chicken” is OK, but not quite what I expected. It was more like boiled chicken, no seasoning, just white, bland skin. Oh yes, there are a few feathers still on the wing! I seem to remember when Mother and I were visiting in Devon many years ago, Mother made roast chicken for our friends Ken and Marcia and their children. They were quite impressed! Let us just say that English and American palates are somewhat different.

We return to our tents and although it is early, I have no energy to write. I am done in for the day.

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