Jul 20 – Fri
On Friday July 20th, we traveled 54 miles & passed thru 9 Locks on our way from Sylvan Beach to Oswego New York.
We have now essentially completed The Erie Canal, and will enter Lake Ontario on Monday, towards Canada and The Trent Severn Waterway.
On todays ride we had the usual nice scenery on The Erie Canal, and the Oswego Canal. We went thru a total of 9 locks, and 8 of them were actually on The Oswego Canal, which leads to Lake Ontario.
The Oswego Locks all had very pretty waterfalls on the back sides of the Lock Dams.
Along the Oswego Canal, we passed a small town called Hinmansville. I immediately snapped off a couple of photos on the chart plotter and sent them to our friends Dave & Ginger Hinman who spent 13 days with us back in May.
It was a very long day with the 6:30am wake up.
It is still somewhat surprising how fatigued we get just driving a boat ??
There is a lot of concentration watching the 2 chart plotters, water depths, and slowing down for marinas, moored boats & fishermen.
Even though we have been thru a LOT of locks, you are also always on high alert when gettin’ tied up to the Lock Wall, for strange wind flows or current flows inside of the Lock. We had a bit of this happening in several of the locks on Friday. It felt like the water fill currents inside of the locks were different in the Oswego Canal vs the Erie Canal, with the stern of the boat being pushed away from the wall in most of the 8 locks. We also had about a 20mph tailwind running right down the canal.
It reminded me of a time we had on our Looping God Parents boat on the Tennessee River in 2015, when we watched a 37 ft boat get spun into a 360 degree spin when entering the lock in Florence Alabama.
All went well, but it was a fatiguing day, 9 locks in 1 day is a lot, even for us experienced Looper Lockers.
We arrived in Oswego New York at Alex’s on the Water about 3pm.
Alex’s on the Water is a beautiful place right on the Oswego River, at the entrance to Lake Ontario.
Alex’s is actually part of the Oswego Best Western Plus Hotel, and has about 8 boats slips with power & water. It is really a nice beautiful place, with a nice fitness room, pool, and beautiful views along the seawall.
The Pool & Fitness Center
We got checked in about 3:30pm (boaters actually check in at the front desk of the hotel), had some welcome to port #110 soda pops, took some nice hot showers, and went to dinner about 6:30pm.
We went to dinner at a place called The Press Box Sports Bar. The Press Box Restaurant is within a long building called The Old Freight House. The Old Freight House apparently did not have a lot of history, nothing much came up on Google.
After dinner, we were even more fatigued, thanks to the full bellies on top of the long day.
We came back to the boat and called my sister Paula for the ceremonial singing of the famous Mike & Nellie rendition of Happy Birthday to You !
I believe that it was Paula’s 51st birthday (she is also known as #4, being the youngest of our 4 siblings).
We enjoyed a little music on the aft deck before retiring into the salon about 8:30pm.
Our docking slip assignment is right next to the stage for the band at Alex’s on the Water.
Happy Bday #4, hope you had a good one !
Jul 21 – Sat
Saturday morning I spent about an hour on the phone with Doug Edgar.
You may remember him as both the Beaver Island Police Chief & our tour guide when we visited Beaver Island Michigan, way back in August of last year.
Doug is also the father of one of my great coworkers at FCA, Ashley Edgar.
We met Doug, and his lovely 1st mate Sharolyn, about 3 years ago when we rented a house in Cape Coral just after I retired (Spraggs/Scheller’s – can you say Jaccarranda !).
I spent an hour talking with Doug about places to see when we get to Georgian Bay & The North Channel. Doug has a lot of experience in these waters.
It sounds so beautiful, we can’t wait to see it.
Saturday afternoon we returned to tourist mode, going to a place in Oswego called The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum.
Almost 75 years ago, Oswego was thrust onto the world stage by a decision made by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The two world leaders, fighting a World War in Europe and Asia, decided to open havens for Jewish refugees, & people in Europe driven from their homes by the Nazi regime.
Britain would open four in the Middle East, France would open two in North Africa, and the United States would open one. The United States Safe Haven opened in August 1944 in Oswego at the then unoccupied Fort Ontario.
Safe Haven was the only “Official” U.S. Government activity to Rescue Jewish refugees during the Second World War, for victims of the Nazi Holocaust. The Oswego refugees were transferred from Italy, but deliberately only as refugees from other parts of Europe. They were all fleeing from the Nazis. They were chosen so that some were also non-Jewish people to allay anti-semitic fears at that time in the USA.
They were placed in Fort Oswego, behind barbed wire, and given no official status, and were told they would be returned to their homelands after the war, and would have no rights relative to entering the United States.
Later, due to political pressure at the war’s end, they were allowed to stay in the U.S.A.
The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum is a place dedicated to keeping alive the story of the 982 European refugees who were allowed into the United States as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Holocaust in World War II. They were temporarily housed at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York from August 1944 – February 1946.
We watched a movie of about 30 minutes, in which many of the 982 refugees re-lived what it was like to run from the Nazi’s, live in hiding, & be some of the very lucky who were offered Safe Haven travel to the United States.
To be one of the lucky few, they had to meet several qualifications.
> Have fled to Italy, and have no other place to go.
> Have been assigned to one of the concentration camps in Italy, awaiting Nazi disposition.
> Have a cross-section of skills, to make the refugee camp self sustainable.
> Saving Groups of people was high priority – families, community groups, etc.
> No family diseases.
Because the refugees had no legal status to be in the USA, upon disembarking from the USS Henry Gibbons into the USA, they were kept track of with a Casual Baggage Tag. It was so interesting because all of the refugees in the movie felt so thankful to be alive and safe, they did not care about the tags.
The refugees did comment that initially, upon arrival at the Fort Ontario Camp, they thought that they had made a mistake. The Camp was set up like a fortress with a barbed wire fence leading to the large Fort Ontario door.
It was reminiscent of the concentration camps that they had feared.
After arrival at the camp, the refugees were kept in quarantine for a period of time. During that time the refugees spoke very highly about the folks of Oswego , who would comfort them from across the camp fence, giving gifts of; food, clothing, and even handing bikes over the tall fence for the refugee kids.
After being released from quarantine, the town of Oswego went into full support mode with the churches, boy scouts, and community groups helping to assimilate the refugees into a normal life.
The refugees spoke very highly of the leader of the camp, director Joseph Smart, and all of the Oswego Educators who taught them to speak English and allowed them to become part of the Oswego community.
Their ultimate fate in the USA was still highly in doubt due to immigration nervousness of the country. But in 1946, President Truman (successor to Roosevelt), with the urging of Joseph Smart & Eleanor Roosevelt, signed the proclamation allowing the official entry of the refugees into the USA.
They were allowed official access into the USA, and allowed to relocate from Oswego if desired.
Only a couple of years ago, a woman named Ruth Gruber passed away at the age of 105 years old.
Ruth worked at the office of The Secretary of the Interior in 1944. Ruth advised the Interior Secretary, ‘Somebody has to go over and hold their hands; they’re going to be terrified,'” Gruber said in a 2010 interview in The Sunday Telegraph of London.
That somebody turned out to be her, and as she accompanied the refugees to Fort Ontario in Oswego, where she interviewed them, & which became the basis of her book “Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1,000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America”.
Saturday afternoon, we watched some Golf, and watched the local Duck nest her little ducklings.
On Saturday evening we had dinner at the very nice Alex’s on the Water, right next to our boat slip.
We ate dinner inside the beautiful dining room.
After dinner, we had dessert & another Guinness on the outdoor patio.
Jul 22 – Jul
Sunday was a pretty boring day, we didn’t do Nothin’ !
And we were cool with that.
Maybe all the museums, forts, historic homes, and restaurants are finally getting old.
Poor Mike & Jonell.
We went to Walmart’s to reprovision for our trip into Canada this upcoming week.
In the afternoon, I swam some laps in the pool.
We watched some Tigers (rain delay), NASCAR (rain delay), and The British Open.
That’s it, a boring day.
Next Stop = Hopefully tomorrow to Sacket’s Harbor New York, last stop in the USA before entering Canada. Winds are projected very high (Uck !)