For our anniversary, we went to one of those places that folds the bathroom tissue into a point in the public washrooms. We arrived according to my on-line receipt, but the lady behind the counter said we were a day early. Good thing I’d printed out the receipt – I showed it to her and she corrected the info on the computer. We were given a room, stat. I’m glad to say it still had a balcony facing the waters of the Trent-Severn waterway. It was also pretty fancy.
We had a few hours before meeting my friend Val and her husband Ted for dinner, so we took a walk into beautiful downtown Port Severn. It has forty marinas, ten residences, two hotels, an ice cream place and one general store. Bonus item: one liquor store. It’s also the kind of place where everyone says hello, even the kid riding by on his bike.
The Severn Bridge is a combination of a swing bridge (to let big boats through) and a lock for the smaller vessels. The bridge was closed to automobile traffic due to construction, so we had to walk across the locks to get to the bustling downtown area.
Two large wooden gates hold the water at bay, and the operators turn big cranks to open and close the gates. As one gate opens, the water rises in the lock, and boats rise with them. Then they close the gate and open the other one. It’s kinda like an escalator for boats so they can get past the falls. (John Elder Robison would love this stuff. He's totally into large turning cog things made of iron.)
We explored the lower portion of the falls where the water churned violently from the dam opening, wearing the Shield rocks smooth. After exploring the rocks, we climbed up the stairs and squeezed past the mechanisms on the gates to reach the other side.
We fought pedestrian traffic (one kid on a bike and a family of four) and picked up a bottle of wine to take back to our room in case Val and Ted decided to accompany us for a nightcap. They had promised a moonlight boat ride through the waterways after dinner.
We met them at the other hotel dining room and had a lot of laughs. Ted charmed Natasha the bartender into creating some pretty wild fruity-tinis for him, and we enjoyed the outrageously expensive meal.
After paying our half of the bill ($100 yikes!) we followed Val and Ted across the lawn to the darkened boat slips. I expected them to have a little 12-foot runabout with an outboard motor, but he stopped at a large pontoon ‘party boat’. I thought he was just joshing us until he turned on the motor. Woo Hoo!
Val had beers and coolers and a couple of blankets ready for us, and we pushed off into the waterway. We had a delightful leisurely cruise through misty waters and under a fantastic explosion of stars. The chill in the air collided with the soupy water and created swirls of mist on the surface. I stood at the front of the boat and felt as if we were floating on clouds.
Captain Ted on the SS Rodd
Ted knows these waters like the back of his hand - he spent every summer of his childhood around the bays and inlets. He pointed out sprawling cottages owned by CEOs and sports heroes. At one point, he cut the motor and we sat on the cushioned benches in the middle of Gloucester Pool, a wide area of the Trent waterway. We sat silently in the darkness, listening to loons. Someone at a cottage beyond the trees set off fireworks and I felt like they were doing it just for us.
I lay on my stomach on the deck and reached through the gate, dipping my fingers in the warm water, disturbing the start that studded the black surface.
On the way back to the Inn we made a quick pit stop at their house for a potty break. We collected their Labrador retriever Trooper so the old girl could have a little ride with us. She’s 13 going on 50 - just like my Chester - and she leaned against my leg to keep her balance whenever the boat wobbled over gentle swells.
Val and Ted slid the pontoon boat into one of the slips at our Inn and delivered us safely to our doorstep. What a magical evening!