We Did It!

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Nov 23 ~ Day #197
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$19700
$15.00
$17041.71
$86.51
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
16084.6
12056.7
7662
196
35999.3

We Did It!

When we began this adventure we set ourselves a challenge. To complete this trip on an average of $100/day or less.

As you can see from the recap of our final totals, we not only met that challenge, we exceeded it.

We traveled for a total of 197 days on an average of $86.51/day. Not bad!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

First we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the friends and family we stayed with along the way. We could not have achieved our goal without your generous hospitality.

We have mentioned all of you in each appropriate blog post but we would like to thank you all once again. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Putting Things in Perspective

When we mention the mileage, the number of days, places visited, etc. sometimes things just become a blur and the true magnitude is not particularly clear. So, here we’re going to recap things and try to bring some perspective.

Mileage

The total miles traveled, including road, train, sea and air, was 35,999.3. Too bad we couldn’t have added just 0.7 of a mile more. That would have pushed us to an even 36,000 miles.

But, to put this mileage in perspective, the circumference of the earth, at the equator, is 24,901.55 miles.

That means we could have traveled around the globe almost one and a half times. Wow!

Days Traveled

I don’t think we actually calculated the number of days we were going to be traveling when we started this adventure.

Oh sure, we knew the day we were going to start. We also knew the day we were going to fly back home. Both were booked before we set out. But we didn’t actually take the time to calculate just how long the time in between those dates was.

Total number of days traveled = 197.

If you apply an average of 30 days to a month, then we traveled for a total of 6.6 months, more than half a year. Again – wow!

Cruises and More Included in the Trip

It seems amazing even to us what we were able to pack into this trip. Here’s a quick recap.

Cruises

Our trip included three cruises:

  • a two week Alaska cruise
  • a six day Greek Islands cruise
  • a two week TransAtlantic cruise

That’s a total of 34 days – more than a month – spent on cruise ships.

Narrowboats in the UK

We were able to spend an entire week on a narrowboat on the Trent/Mersey canal system in the UK.

Orlando and Disney

We spent two weeks in Orlando at two different timeshare resorts and spent time at more than one Disney theme park.

Landmarks Visited

Along the way we were fortunate to visit many landmarks both in North America and Europe.

Here’s a few:
United States

  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • Monument Valley
  • Grand Canyon

Canada

  • Victoria, British Columbia (a must-see)
  • Hell’s Gate, British Columbia
  • Columbia Ice Fields, Alberta
  • Banff and Jasper, Alberta
  • Lake Louise, Alberta
  • Terry Fox Monument, Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Reversing Falls, New Brunswick
  • St. Andrews-By-The-Sea, New Brunswick
  • Confederation Bridge, between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
  • Birthplace of Canadian Confederation, Charlottetown, PEI
  • Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

England

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • British Parliament Buildings
  • Big Ben
  • British Museum
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare

Spain

  • La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  • Dénia Castle, Dénia

Portugal

  • Madeira, the home of Madeira wine

Greece

  • Santorini

Croatia

  • the old walled city of Dubrovnik

Italy

  • St. Mark’s Square, Venice
  • the ruins of Pompeii
  • the ruins of Paestum
  • the Amalfi Coast

And, I’m sure there are things we are forgetting. It’s time for us to go back and re-read all the posts we have made along the way and to review all the photos and videos we have as well.

This was the trip of a lifetime for us. We will continue to travel, of course, but it is unlikely that we will ever again take such an extensive trip. It was a great adventure but a very long time to be away from home.

We will continue to have, we hope, many, many more adventures. But, perhaps shorter ones this time. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has followed along with us and to those who have made comments as well. It was a pleasure to share this adventure with you.

Narrowboats – Day 7 – Trent/Mersey Canal

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 18 ~ Day #131
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$13100
$70.38
$11770.38
$89.85
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14068+11=14079
4497.3+18.5=4515.8
5180
119
23893.8

Current Location: Sawley Marina, Trent/Mersey Canal System

Today’s Total Expenses: $70.38

Narrowboat: $70.38 (combination of transportation & accommodation)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 18.5 (canal miles)
Road Miles: 11 (Sawley Marina to Shardlow)

Getting the Team Back Together

T had been in touch with E by cellphone and the plan was to meet him for lunch at Shardlow. He would drive there, we’d have lunch together, and then he’d drive on to Sawley Marina.

It seemed like a perfect plan.

We were a bit behind schedule so T decided to start walking along the tow path and we’d pick him up as we passed.

He actually made it all the way to the Weston Lock, a three-mile hike, and met us there.

The plan was still to stop at a pub in Shardlow for lunch.

Shallow Water

Apparently, during the night, there had been a problem with one lock accidentally being left open. This resulted in very shallow water between the Weston and Aston locks.

We had to be very careful not to get too close to the sides of the canal just in case we rubbed bottom.

Being Good Samaritans

Other people were not so lucky.

We passed one boat that got too close to the side and got stuck in the shallow mud.

As we passed them we slowed down and threw them a line which the tied to the front of their boat.

Geoff then very gently and slowly pulled them off the mud bank and they were free to continue on their way.

They thank us profusely as they got underway.

We had done our good deed for the day.

No Help for Us

As we approached the Aston lock, which is a double lock, we noticed there was just one boat ahead of us. That meant we’d both be able to share the lock.

We headed for the side of the canal to moor the boat until the lock was free so that both the boat ahead and our boat could enter the lock together.

Our luck was not holding and we got stuck on a mud bank in the shallow water.

Not to worry, we thought. The boat that we had pulled off the mud bank was just behind us. It was now their turn to return the favour.

Well, apparently they didn’t see it that way.

Not only did they NOT help us get unstuck, they took advantage of the situation to take our spot in the lock with the other boat and just left us stuck there.

Some people!

Well, we just kept working the boat, all of us, until we were finally free. No thanks to the people that we had helped.

No Room in Shardlow

The plan to stop in Shardlow for lunch didn’t quite work out.

It’s a very busy place and we simply couldn’t find a suitable mooring. So, we let T get off the boat so he could pick up the car and we continued on towards Sawley.

Instead of lunch, we just had a few snacks, and kept going.

Sawley Marina

It was getting on for dusk as we approached Sawley Marina and the same gentleman that had given us our initial instructions was helping to get a new group underway.

He called over and said if we’d like to get back into the marina tonight, to just moor along the side of the canal and he’d take us in. We took him up on his offer.

As soon as he was done with the outgoing group, he hopped onboard, took command and slid us gently into the docks.

He told us that they’d be back around 9:00am the next morning to do the final inspection before we left.

Dinner in Shardlow

T found us at the dock and we all piled into the car and headed back to the pub in Shardlow for dinner.

A lovely end to our narrowboat adventure.

Narrowboats – Day 6 – Trent/Mersey Canal

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 17 ~ Day #130
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$13000
$70.38
$11700.00
$90.00
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14068
4490.8+6.5=4497.3
5180
119
23864.3

Current Location: Burton On Trent – Trent/Mersey Canal System

Today’s Total Expenses: $70.38

Transportation: $70.38 (combination of transportation & accommodation)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 6.5 (canal miles)

Great Breakfast Before Getting Underway

E made some terrific omelets for all of us this morning before we cast off again and continued our journey back to Sawley Marina.

More Team Work

We, again, took turns at the tiller, that is until we got close to locks or into busier areas or tight spots, then we would relinquish the tiller to Geoff who had a much steadier hand for such things.

Both E and I got quite proficient at handling the locks, but E had it down pat and I followed her lead.

We were both good at mooring the boat when necessary as well and getting on and off the boat at the locks, without much delay.

Branston Water Park

Now, I know that most people, when they hear “water park”, think of water slides and wave pools. I do, too.

However the water park at Branston is simply a park area that has a lot of water space. This area is protected for wildlife and waterfowl. There are no slides or wave pools here.

It is a lovely, peaceful area and this is where we decided to stop for lunch today.

What’s the Rush

At the next lock we came to we were met by a very impatient woman. I really can’t say what her problem was but she made it pretty clear that we weren’t moving as quickly as she thought we should be.

Locks can only be worked a certain way. You’ve got to wait for each step to be complete before you can go on to the next one.

We certainly weren’t dawdling and we are now fairly proficient with working the locks but she sure seemed miffed about something.

Oh, well. Life’s just too short. We didn’t let it ruin our day but I can’t speak for how her day was going.

Wild Blackberries

On the outbound leg of our journey we had made a mental note of an area where there seemed to be a lot of blackberries still on the bushes.

We kept a look-out for the spot and were able to pull over and moor the boat along a section of bushes that appeared to be waning but still had some pickable fruit.

We got off the boat, containers in hand, and began picking what we could. A lot of the fruit was very, very ripe and we were getting stained fingers because the fruit was so delicate.

We actually managed to pick a fair bit considering it was pretty late in the season and we combined our treasure with some apples and nectarines to make a pretty tasty fruit crisp for dessert.

Narrowboats – Day 5 – Trent/Mersey Canal

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 16 ~ Day #129
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$12900
$70.38
$11629.62
$90.15
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14068
4483.4+7.4=4490.8
5180
119
23857.8

Current Location: Town of Alrewas on theTrent/Mersey Canal System

Today’s Total Expenses: $70.38

Narrowboat: $70.38 (combination of transportation & accommodation)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 7.4 (canal miles)

Two Birthdays to Celebrate

Today we have two birthdays to celebrate for two granddaughters – both K and C – Happy Birthday to both of you! Love you both!

Time to Turn Around

As we headed out this morning from Killington, still headed in the wrong direction, we were definitely feeling the pressure to get turned around so we could get back to the marina on time.

As we passed some other boats headed towards us we inquired about the location of the next winding hole. One person didn’t seem to know, another told us it wasn’t too far down the road.

It was E’s keen eye that finally spotted it – really nothing more than a scooped-out section of the bank on one side – just past Tamhorn Farm Bridge.

Geoff executed a near-perfect three point turn and we were finally headed back the way we had come, with some time to make up.

More Rain?

Well, after all, this is England, right? So I guess we should have expected a certain amount of rain.

We pulled over and decided to have lunch while waiting for the rain to pass.

Back to Alrewas

We all took our turn at the tiller while heading back and, as luck would have it, we made it through the swing bridge, 90 degree turn and lock at Fradley Junction and all the way to Alrewas before we stopped for the night.

We even had time to visit that wonderful butcher shop and picked up the makings for a liver dinner.

That meant that Geoff would be doing the cooking tonight and, as always, his liver dinner was to die for!

Narrowboats – Day 4 – Trent/Mersey Canal

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 15 ~ Day #128
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$12800
$70.38
$11559.24
$90.31
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14068
4476+7.4=4483.4
5180
119
23850.4

Current Location: Trent/Mersey Canal System

Today’s Total Expenses: $70.38

Narrowboat: $70.38 (combination of transportation & accommodation)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 7.4 (canal miles)

Farewell to a Team Member

Just after coffee and breakfast T & E headed into town so that T could catch the bus to take him back to work.

He would rejoin us on Saturday but we would miss him as we continued on our narrowboat journey along the Trent/Mersey Canal.

Fradley Junction

We were now on our way to Fradley Junction where we would have to make a decision to either continue along the Trent/Mersey Canal or make a turn into the Coventry Canal.

This was also our “turn around” point. We couldn’t go much past Fradley Junction without turning around to head back if we were going to get back to Sawley Marina for our early Sunday morning check in.

As our map seemed to indicate that there were no locks along the Coventry Canal, at least not for the distance we expected to travel it, we chose to make the 90 degree turn at Fradley Junction into the Coventry Canal.

Coventry Canal

Now, saying we were going to make a 90 degree turn seems really simple, however, turning a 45-foot boat in a busy junction after just coming out of a lock into a very narrow canal is somewhat challenging.

Not to mention that as we turned into the Coventry Canal there was a swing footpath across the canal, and several other narrowboats coming and going into the junction.

On top of that, we needed to fill up with water and the water supply was just past the swing footpath and was crowded with other boats also filling up with water.

Old Salt

Geoff was, of course, at the tiller for this entire process and you would have thought that he’d been doing this kind of thing for years – an “Old Salt”, if you will.

E and I worked the lock, the swing bridge and the lines but Geoff did all the maneuvering of the long, narrow boat like a pro.

We replenished our water supply and were off again exploring the Coventry Canal.

Winding Holes

If you’ve not traveled the canal system in England, you may never have heard the term “winding hole”. However, if you are piloting a narrowboat on the English canal system this is a very important term.

You see, if you want to turn a 45-foot or longer boat around (which doesn’t bend in the middle by the way), you need to find a winding hole because it will be the only part of the canal wide enough where you can turn around.

The map we had was not totally clear about winding holes along the Coventry Canal, but we knew we’d have to turn around soon.

The plan was to get turned around and then moor for the night. That was the plan.

As we headed down the canal we noticed the boat ahead of us wave us off and we slowed down. It appeared they were trying to head into a section of the canal system that was still under construction, at least, according to our map it was.

We then realized that they were actually using this wider part of the canal to turn around. But, we were now too far past this wide section to do the same.

Oh, well, we thought, we’ll find a winding hole further down the canal and turn there. That’s what we thought.

Killington

We continued past lots of lovely English countryside and not much else.

Just as we were beginning to lose the light we came upon the town of Killington and decided that this was where we had best spend the night even though we still hadn’t found a place to turn around.

We moored the boat and explored the little town. We even thought we might treat ourselves to a pub dinner tonight only to find that the pub had closed, permanently, on September 11th!

So, it was back to the boat to make dinner and settle in for the night.

We decided we had better get underway fairly early the next morning because the longer it took us to find a place to turn around the longer it would take us to get back and the schedule could get a little too tight for comfort if we didn’t turn around soon.