My Travel Blog

Let the Bow Go Where It May – Season’s End Approaches

After six months of cruising we are almost at our winter mooring in Veneray les Laumes.  Fall is in the air.  The pastures have turned a thousand shades of green. The trees are loosing their leaves while painting the canal in a carpet of gold and red. It is so late in the season that our liquid highway is running low on water.  In fact it is so low we aren’t sure we’ll make it all the way to Veneray.  Rabelo’s bottom has been dredging a long furrow in the muddy bottom of the canal. There have been times when I’ve lost all steerage, and had to let the bow head in whatever direction it decided to go. At our last stop before Veneray we couldn’t even get Rabelo’s backend close enough to the shore to use a stern mooring line.

Our last stop before reaching Veneray.

An old abandoned house.

Note the Burgundy Canal in the foreground.

We typically have one set of friends on Rabelo every month.  We’re very relaxed about who comes when, and tell our guests to pick a five night period during any month that is still available.  Lisa and I have discussed on numerous occasions the time of year we like most in France. We have pretty much settled on the end of October to the beginning of November.  The weather can get a bit snotty, but all things considered it’s still our favorite.  The tourists have all gone home, and even the hotel barges are being tidied up for the winter.  We pretty much have the French countryside to ourselves.

We love this unique French home with a view.

The trees are starting to turn colors.

A nice path along the canal.

A nice walk in the forest.

We especially enjoy our afternoon walks along the canal or up in to the forest covered hills.  A camera becomes as important as our walking shoes.  No matter where we are there are always villages to explore. The vistas never cease to amaze us, and the villagers are always friendly.

The Burgundy Canal runs through some beautiful countryside.

This past summer was the hottest on record, and thus the mushroom season was not very good.  Just as I was maneuvering Rabelo into a lock Kevin points to some white dots in a green cow pasture.  “There” he says.  “Do you see those white specks?”

I glance at the pasture to my right. “No. All I see are acres of grass, and some very fat and happy cows.”

“Right there.  Don’t you see them?”

I take another minute to look, and finally spot one of the white specks that Kevin was so excited about. “Okay, I think I see one of your white specks.”

Besides the white cows there were also white mushrooms in this pasture.

Kevin harvesting a mushroom.

Lisa made a fresh mushroom salad.

“They’re mushrooms.”

“Well there aren’t very many”

“What do you mean they’re all over the field.”

“What about the owner, and how do you know his cows are friendly? And there’s a barbed wire fence you’ll have to climb.”

“Don’t worry.  It’s all going to be fine.  I’ll get Lisa to help me while you handle the lock.”

“Okay, but don’t take too long.

Kevin ran down below to tell Lisa that she was going mushroom hunting.  By the time I had Rabelo secured in the lock Lisa and Kevin were back on deck ready for another adventure.  Kevin climbed ashore to help the lockmaster close the lock gates.  Once the gates were closed Rabelo began to rise.  When the deck was even with the top of the lock wall Lisa stepped off, and away they went never to be seen again.  Well at least not for the next twenty minutes.

Kevin and Lisa returned with a basket of fresh mushrooms, and smiles as wide as the canal spread across their faces.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels

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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.