My Travel Blog

An Unexpected Trip Back to the US | A Tribute to Steve Platt

So much has happened since I last wrote.  Lisa and I had to return home on a moments notice to attend the funeral of my brother-in-law Steve Platt.  I don’t have room in this form to go into all his accomplishments or offer up the accolades he deserves.  All I’m going to say is that we’ve lost a very special person, and he will be sorely missed.  Steve’s passing was just another reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

While we were back home we also celebrated my dad’s 90th.  The old guy is doing pretty well, and still goes to the office when he is not playing bridge.  My father’s favorite past time is swimming in the ocean, but at 90 we don’t let him go alone.  For his birthday my son Randy and I along with my 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter Zoe took dad swimming.  We had four generations playing in the surf. How special was that?

“Talia and Zoe dancing it up at the airport.”

“Tied up in Charleville-Mezieres having lunch after 14 hours of flying and 2.5 hours of driving.”

We are now back on Rabelo with my son Randy and daughter-in-law Alexis and our two granddaughters Talia (4) and Zoe (1 1/2).  Wilco is still on vacation, so today was a very big day for me as it was time to leave Charleville-Mezieres.  Like a student learning to fly you eventually have to do it on your own. Today was my day to solo.

I knew this day would eventually come, but I have to admit I was sure nervous. Pilots say that any landing you can walk away from is a good one.  Barge pilots can say the same about going through locks.  Actually everything went smoothly except for a broken lock, but that wasn’t my fault.  At least I don’t think it was. In fact I managed to call the VNF (the agency responsible for the French canal system) and tell them in my fractured French that Ecluse (lock) 40 was broken.  Within 10 minutes they were there to fix it, so everything turned out fine.

“Rabelo at a very secure mooring in the middle of no where.”

“A broken Ecluse (lock) 40.”

Rather than going any further we decided to tie up next to Ecluse 40 and walk into the village of Dom Le Mesnil.  Of course Lisa had to buy some shot glasses to server her famous lemoncello in at a local antique store.  Then we walked to the top of a nearby ridge where we found an old German pillbox from World War II that had been turned into a viewing platform.

“Rabelo tied up in the middle of a field.”

“Lisa next to a WWII German Gun emplacement.”

“A view from the high ridge, with Rabelo in the center of the picture.”

That night we were grateful to be at a very secure mooring as we were hit by one of the most violent storms I have ever experienced.  The wind went from calm to over 30 knots in less than 5 minutes. Randy and I rushed up on deck to add some moor mooring lines.  Then we stowed the patio furniture so that it wouldn’t blow away. The rain was as hard as any I have ever seen and the lightning and thunder were almost constant.  Randy and I looked like two drowned rats by the time we were done. With all that rain I’m concerned about the river. It could be a real problem.

“A narrow canal. I hope we don’t meet a boat going in the other direction.”


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.