The summer of 2007 is forever imprinted in my mind; the week when my entire extended family embarked on a vacation that would be remembered as an epic adventure. Picture the place where it all started, passed the customs with hundreds of cars being prepped to enter Canadian territory, through the heavily wooded forests of the north, to a tiny houseboat rental called Happy Days Houseboats.
The long awaited Ontario houseboat trip had all of us excited; all of the cousins were talking about it, and all the parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents needed it. As you can imagine, we had some pretty high expectations. However, the first site of what was to be our home for the next week was all but extravagant. Dinky, dirty, and dangerous were three words that came to mind. That first night tied off to the dock wasn’t very promising either; it was marked by fifty mile per hour winds, hail, and rain, making it impossible to sleep.
The next morning, the house boat owner came to every houseboat captain and told them to have a safe trip, and to not worry, those storms don’t usually occur that often. Needless to say we were unconvinced. However, as we puttered through the now calm water, things seemed to be turning positive. The three houseboats were like the three musketeers, unable to be touched. Our second test of endurance was not far away. The first lock we had to cross was coming up. Locks are put in place to help the level of water in places where there are rock ledges. We managed to get what now seemed like monsters of houseboats into the tiny lift lock, and the gates were closed. Then all of us had to hold on to the cords to keep our boats anchored. As I grabbed onto the cord I rested my hand on the lock’s wall and soon found that I had made a mistake. My hand sunk into six inches of muck and algae. Most of the cousins had done the same thing and there was a universal, “YUK!” yelled in disgust. As soon as we cleared the lock we ran for anything that would sanitize our hands.
Night was approaching, and we needed to find a place to tie off on. Two giant rocks protruding out of the water immediately called our attention, so everyone helped make a safe landing. We all felt compelled to take a shower, but no one was confident in our bathrooms; instead we decided to put on our swimsuits, lather up, and jump off the rocky cliff into the water. This rocky island became our home even though we received some extensive injuries resulting from broken glass on the island, and eating freshly caught fish that we figured wasn’t so fresh.
The last little hurray of the trip was the famous Peterborough Lift Lock which was over 100 feet tall. As if we hadn’t experienced enough bumps in the sea, as we were getting in line to go down this beastly lift, my uncle’s steering wheel fell off, and consequently he had to go to the top of his houseboat and try to steer from up there. Everything turned out to be ok, but I will never forget the site of him sitting on top of the houseboat, on top of the tallest lift lock in the world, praying to God that this steering wheel wouldn’t fall off too! Despite the many horrific events, the summer of 2007 houseboat trip is forever my favorite travel experience.
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