Monday, May 27, 2019

WE MADE IT TO NEW YORK. NOW WHAT? PART 2


#skipperdarrell #wkglgt








So, we made it to New York. Several complications have cropped up that we have to work around. Fortunately, these complications are not deal breakers. But they are a pain in the neck.
As I write this blog entry, we're tucked in nice and warm at a lovely hotel in Lake George, NY. And if you've been following these semi-rants, the reason we're here and not on the boat back in Brewerton is because the Erie Canal and Oswego Canal are not open. This is due to unusually high waters from snow runoff and extra heavy amounts of rain over the last couple of months. This problem isn't just in New York State either. It's also plaguing Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. So much so that there are marina restrictions, coastal flooding, and navigation warnings about violent currents. Not a pretty picture.
Let me catch you up on some of the details.
We arrived at Rochester, NY on Tuesday, 5/21/2019. The details of that are covered in the previous blog entry.
On Wednesday morning, 5/22/2019, we motored on to Buffalo, NY, to be interviewed for our Nexus border control cards. The purpose of this card is to streamline our entries and exits between the U.S. and Canada. We figured it would be helpful over the next five years as we explore as much of the Great Lakes as we can on both sides of the border. That is still to be proved, but the application process was more involved.


In addition to providing all the necessary information for both country's powers that be to decide that we're good 'ol fashion patriotic 'Muricans and friends to all Canadians (Let's Go Blues, eh!), we had to be interviewed in person by border control agents from both countries. The only place to do that that was anywhere convenient to that part of the country was in Buffalo, NY. We anticipated a grilling of sorts.
We arrived at our appointed times at the modest Nexus office in Niagara Falls, NY. The uniformed staff from both countries cheerfully and efficiently took our pictures and fingerprints. Then, both Lisa and I together were "interviewed" by agents from both countries. Each agent gave us photocopies about how the Nexus program worked in their countries and ... that was it. No grilling. No third degree. No white-hot light shining in our faces. No billy clubs smacked across our heads. All the background checks were done in, well, the background before we arrived. We were in and out in fifteen minutes. No pain, no strain.
We then drove from Buffalo all the way to Winter Harbor Marina in Brewerton where we discovered our starting off our 2019 edition of the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour was complicated.
Now, I think it is very appropriate for me to say that the folks at Winter Harbor have been as polite, efficient, accommodating and professional as anyone in the marine business we've come across. Let there be no doubt about that. But they and we are in a tight spot.
The aforementioned weather and water conditions are to blame. The Erie Canal locks are being opened in odd sequences while the Oswego Canal is still closed. That means there will now be a rush of boats from as far back as Waterford, NY, at lock #2 into the Erie Canal all heading west. And, lets' face it, the vast number of the boats all want to head up the Oswego to Lake Ontario, not further west to Buffalo. And, like I said, the Oswego is still closed. That means they are all going to go where? Winter Harbor, or at least Sylvan Beach if they're smart.
So, we're going to not be in a super hurry to get out of Winter Harbor. We simply can't.
And they still have to do a bottom job on the boat.
So, here we are in Lake George where we're looking forward to a relaxing weekend amongst the Adirondacks, making lemonade out of lemons, and Tom Collins out of the lemonade.
Oh, and they have boat rentals!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

WE MADE IT TO NEW YORK. NOW WHAT? PART 1
















Getting to the boat in New York was more difficult than it should have been. And now that we're here, we're not sure what to do next.

I have a tradition of playing Bob Seger's great rocker, Get Out Of Denver, whenever we're getting ready to leave Denver to head to the boat at the beginning of every boating season. The idea is that the hectic nature of the song matches our anticipation of being out of the mountains and high desert plains of Colorado and getting back to sea level and on our boat, Why Knot. 


Usually, we do pretty well traveling. We very rarely have to scramble, and our penchant for planning and Lisa's wizardry at booking flights and hotels usually makes for a hassle-free experience. But the omens that presented themselves to us while getting out of Denver this time were not good ones. 

First was getting to the airport. We always use Super Shuttle and have found them to be reliable and cost-effective. Denver International Airport is an hour's drive from our house, but its automatic scheduling function always allowed for plenty of time to make the trip. This time they did send us a rescheduling notice that they were going to pick us up twenty minutes earlier than originally scheduled: 4:20am instead of 4:40am. No big deal. But the reason they did that was that they added three hotel pickups downtown. That did not go as they anticipated. Everyone was in position and ready, that wasn't the problem, but the schedule was too tight to get all of us to the airport in a timely fashion. 


You know how it is said to get to an airport two hours before your flight? How about one hour and fifteen minutes? (All of us passengers had departure times at 7:00am, and we arrived at DIA at 5:45am.) And that was before standing in as long a security checkpoint line as I've ever seen in Denver. And why? They added a new row of guide ropes that channeled every single flyer to be sniffed by a bomb dog. Great.

Lisa was unusually nervous about the whole thing. (The tight schedule, not the bomb-sniffing dog.) She's cool as a cucumber under pressure, but this whole thing threw her demeanor to crap. I have to admit I was perturbed too – angry actually – and my mind went into crisis management mode. I called Super-Shuttle while we stood in the checkpoint line and read them the riot act, which did nothing except make me feel like I was in control of something. But fear not, we got through the checkpoint and made it to the concourse trains. No problem there, except that damn prerecorded Colorado cowboy was incredibly chirpy for that time of the morning. 


Of course, our flight was on Southwest Airlines whose gates are on C concourse, the furthest away from the terminal, and particularly at gate C-46, one gate shy of being the furthest away from, well, everything. But we hustled like crazy and got to the gate where we discovered ... there wasn't an airplane for us to be late for. Our original flight plan wasn't terrible except for the early flight time out of Denver. We were going to Baltimore first for a three-hour layover. That was okay with us. BWI actually is a very friendly airport with lots of places to eat, and we figured we'd get a nice lunch and wait for our puddle-jumper flight from Baltimore to Rochester, NY. No big deal.


But our flight out of Denver was delayed 2½ hours. We were afraid that would cascade to make us miss our flight out of Baltimore. And it almost did. That is except after we scrambled to get from our arrival gate to our departure gate in Baltimore ... there wasn't a plane for the flight to Rochester either. We were forty-five minutes delayed getting out of Baltimore. By the time we arrived at Rochester, got out luggage, got our rental car, and checked into our room at the hotel, it was 7:00. Accounting for time zone changes, we were on the road, er, air, thirteen hours, and it seemed we spent all of it scrambling.

But, as I'll tell you in the next post, WE MADE IT TO NEW YORK. NOW WHAT? PART 2, that all now seems like mere inconveniences.