My Travel Blog

The Unanticapted Unexpected and Surprising – Everyday

Unanticipated, unexpected, or just plain old surprise – that’s what we face every day while cruising.  Most of the time our surprises are the kind we enjoy, but then there are those that we’d wished had never happened.  Like the day we learned they were keeping the Seine closed for an additional month.  Or the time we lost all power on Rabelo just as we passed under a bridge while heading upstream on a raging river at night.  I think my life flashed before me.

For every disappointment or down right scary disaster there are a hundred delightful, beautiful, inspirational, heart felt moments.  Right after we lost power on that raging river, and were about to crash into a bridge, and we thought all was lost another barge came along and rescued us.  The captain pulled his 300 ft. vessel alongside.  His deck hand jumped onto Rabelo with a giant dock line.  He tied us securely to the barge, and then helped us fix our anchor windlass so we could pull up the anchor.  He then towed us 10 kilometers to a safe place where we could tie up.  When we asked the captain and his crew if there was anything we could do as a thank you.  They said, “Don’t be ridiculous.  This happens all the time.”  We still gave them two bottles of champagne.

“The 300 ft. barge that saved us.”

The nice thing about a surprise is that you never know what size or shape it’s going to come in.  I suppose that’s why they call them surprises.  We’ve found that most of the surprises we encounter present themselves as delightful little morsels to be appreciated and savored.  Maybe it’s a mother swan taking care of its baby that makes your heart flutter.  A group of happy tourists going for a horse and carriage ride offering a smile and wave can brighten your day.  Great surprises can even be the majesty and ingenuity of a light show.  Sometimes it’s just the sheer beauty of the countryside that takes your breath away.

“OMG is this just the best?”

“It may not look like it, but they smiled and waved.”

“The incredible light show in the city of Nancy.”

“They should charge extra for the clouds in France.”

Lisa and I have gone for numerous walks just as the sun was setting accompanied by frogs belting out their evening song of love.  It’s always special to see mist rising off a canal or field.  We once went for a walk and an entire heard of cows followed us until we came to the end of their pasture.  On that same walk we stood under a giant windmill starring up at the massive propeller blades churning in the wind never realizing what eerie sounds they made.

“Some new friends.”

“I never realized how big these are.”

Of course there are the people we meet, and those are usually the best surprises.  Because we are constantly moving we don’t get to spend a lot of time with new friends.  But every time we get together you would swear we had been friends for years.  We have found that cruisers have in general always lived interesting lives.  They are the kind of people that don’t mind stepping outside their comfort zone.  Let’s face it, for many living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, you’re constantly on the move, and you’ve left any semblance of a routine behind can be down right frightening.  Yet for cruiser that is what we cherish most about our lifestyle.


“Our new friends Steve and Helen from the barge Jubilant.”

“Visiting our friends Greg and Georgie on their barge Zambezi.”


-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.