Living large on a living barge–20: A six month per year barge tour of Europe, in installments

By Tom Miller

Tom and family are touring Europe by barge. This is the 18th in his series of reports on what is to be six months per year of cruising the waterways there.

Editors Note: Last week Tom sailed down the Mosselle River

sale times; font-size: 16px;”>I know better than to rush while cruising the idyllic canals of France, but we have friends we were meeting in Strasbourg.  You have to realize that when I say rushing in France the word takes on a whole new connotation.  Life’s pace is much slower here, and you have to get use to it.   Of course it’s very addictive. In fact we may be turning French.  Before you know it I’ll be wearing a beret.  When Lisa said we were out of bread, and if we happen to see a boulangerie we should stop.  A few minutes later we came to a small town, tied up, jumped off Rabelo and within ten minutes we were on our way with two fresh baguettes in the galley.

We never know what surprises await us around the next bend. The Canal de la Marne-au-Rhin even took us over the Marne River on a causeway.  Fields of corn,

Crossing over the Marne River.

Crossing over the Marne River.

sunflowers and wheat surround us.  Great Blue Herons swoop past our bow while the healthiest cows I have ever seen look up to check us out.  Fisherman smile and offer a pleasant bon jour. Train tracks run alongside the canal, and on occasion we catch someone waving as they whizz by.   Does life get any better?

I saw the tall steeples of a church in the distance.  As we got closer it began to grow until I realized it’s a cathedral way out in the middle of nowhere.  We debated if we should stop, but don’t.  When we come back through the area on our way to Paris we can stop.

The weather started to change even though it was still August.  Some of the trees weree beginning to lose their leaves.  We had light rain on and off all morning. Just as we entered a lock Wilco turned to me and said he thinks the rain will stop soon.  Two minutes later we were hit with buckets of rain, followed by flashes of lightning and booming thunder.  I never appreciated how benign Southern California weather was.  Of course we had the pilothouse down so everything got soaked, especially Wilco and me.

We spent the night at Ecluse (lock) 12.  There was a restaurant not 20 steps from where we tied up, so Lisa and I had a date.  There was a major boat rental operation next to us.  Watching the renters take their boats out for a check ride was down right scary, but also very entertaining.   Unfortunately, we’ll be meeting them on the canals tomorrow.

 The black hole that we must entered

From Ecluse 12 we did six locks and then came to this amazing concrete structure.  You drove into a black hole through a garage door that closed behind us and sealed usu inside.  It’s like a concrete elevator shaft.  The lock lifted 50 feet to the summit pond, or the highest portion on this part of the canal.  The lock operator said the next lock was 30 kilometers away, which was an awfully long way traveling throughs hilly terrain.

Come back next week for more Living Large on a Living Barge


 When Stones Speak by Tom Miller


When Stones Speak by Tom Miller

When Stones Speak by Tom Miller

Tom Miller is an adventure writer from Thousand Oaks. His latest novel When Stones Speak Dr. Hannigan sets out to find the historical Jesus of Nazareth, but he soon discovers there are people in high places who will stop at nothing including murder to insure he fails. Mr. Miller has been a contractor and developer, prolific diver, pilot, sailor, and barge captain. When he’s not chasing adrenalin overseas, he hikes with the local “Heartbreak Hiking Fools.” LIVING BARGE is his memory of his recent six month journey through the canals of Europe with his wife Lisa.


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