Homeward Bound by Mark

At our last post we were leaving the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada.  Back on the road again, we headed north until we reached the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We camped at Park National Du Bic in Quebec walking trails and exploring the seashore.  Only one lonely sailboat was anchored in the bay, clearly the sailors were thinning out the further north we traveled.

Covered bridge over river between New Brunswick and Quebec.

Covered bridge over river between New Brunswick and Quebec.

One of several freight canoes we saw in Canada.

One of several wooden freight canoes we saw in Canada.

Overlooking the St. Lawrence seaway.  Not a palm tree in sight.

Overlooking the St. Lawrence seaway. Not a palm tree in sight.

We turned east at the St. Lawrence and made it to Ottawa where we visited our friends Laura and Graeme from Sweet Chariot Too.  Coincidently, they were the first cruisers we met when our trip started and they were now our last cruising friends to visit before we headed home.  Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is a beautiful city with bike paths everywhere and many exceptional museums as well.

Rock art on the Ottawa river.

Rock art on the Ottawa river.

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

We took a tour of parliament and went back one night to watch a phenomenal light show projected onto the parliament building that told the history of Canada.

http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/celebrate/mosaic

Windows at the War Museum in Ottawa are morse code, can you read the message?

Windows at the War Museum in Ottawa are morse code, can you read the message?

Visiting the Canadian War Museum with Laura and Graeme.

Visiting the Canadian War Museum with Laura and Graeme.

Our visit with Graeme and Laura drew to a close, and as much as I begged and pleaded with the family to keep heading north, I was vetoed by the majority.  Everyone was ready to go home.  School had already started in Boise and the boys didn’t want to miss more than the first week of classes.

Years ago I had driven semi along the great lakes and had seen where iron ore was loaded onto ships destined for the steel mills near Chicago.  More recently I gave a speech for toastmasters on the subject while still working at Micron.  So, knowing a little about the process, I took the first opportunity I saw near Duluth, Minnesota to visit one of the piers used to load the ore called taconite into ships.

As we drove down towards the docks we were greeted by a by a strikingly tall man wearing a pair of well worn overhauls.  He listened to our quest, took about five steps to a bucket he had sitting next to the dock and produced a handful of musket ball sized iron marbles.  “Is this what you’re looking for?”  he said.  Years ago taconite, which is once processed iron ore, was loaded on this very dock.  He told us that while the dock was no longer used for that purpose, the area had just set an all time record for production of iron ore.  Not being in too much of a rush, he invited us all to see his tugboat which was built in 1903.  Drawing 9 ft he said he occasionally has run aground with such a deep draft but never lacked for enough thrust to get himself back off again.

Handfull of taconite pellets.

Handfull of taconite pellets.

Lake Superior tugboat.

Lake Superior tugboat.

The wheel took 24 rotations to move the rudder from stop to stop.  The reduction gears in the steering mechanism looked like a bulletproof system of gears connecting to chains that disappeared into the hull, somehow finding their way to the rudder.  In addition to the tour of his tugboat we were also given a short history of shipping on the great lakes and a handful of taconite souvenirs before going on our way.

Back in the car we continued on towards South Dakota, crossing the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, making it all the way to the badlands before calling it a day.  We knew we had arrived back in the west when we were serenaded to sleep by several coyotes that evening.

Sunset over the Missouri river.

Sunset over the Missouri river.

Sunrise in the badlands SD.

Sunrise in the badlands SD.

Badland bighorns.

Badlands bighorns.

At first light we broke camp and enjoyed the sunrise over the badlands and ate our Cheerios out of a bowl on the side of the road.  Next stop Mt. Rushmore.  It was a good experience to see Mt. Rushmore, and an even better one, because we had just visited the homes of Washington and Jefferson.   Lincoln was familiar because of his involvement in the civil war sites we had also driven past.  What we didn’t know was that Roosevelt had declared our next stop the United States first national monument.  Any guesses?  It’s Devil’s Tower, WY.  We circumnavigated the tower on foot before moving on again for what the boys were beginning to call a little night truckin’.

Mt. Rushmore SD.

Mt. Rushmore SD.

Devils Tower WY.

Devils Tower, WY.

Our parting shot.

Our parting shot.

The next day we crossed the Idaho state line with a hip-hip-hurray and by 7pm were pulling into our friends driveway, The Reynolds, back home in Boise.  We had been gone 365 days to the day, and what a year it has been!  Ironically, these friends were the last people we saw when we left Idaho too.

Last stop before we get to Boise!

Last stop before we get to Boise.  Everybody out.

As if a reminder of what we had accomplished, this truck passed us just before we drove into Boise.

As if a reminder of what we had accomplished, this truck passed us just before we drove into Boise.  You may grab life by the horns but grab your sharks by the tail!

Thank you for following our journey and for all of the positive comments and encouragement along the way.  I’m sure Christine will have her own final comments to make about our trip as well, but for this my final post I would like to leave you with a few of my favorite lines from “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Fair Winds,
Mark
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10 thoughts on “Homeward Bound by Mark

  1. What a wonderful adventure! It is something you will never forget. I have only been sailing off Jamaica once and it was awesome! Sailing is so different then roaring across the ocean in a fast boat. Please keep in touch when you get settled and call Aunt Helen sometime! Much love, j

  2. So WHEN are we going horse back riding? I might be able to borrow a horse. Maybe? Do you still have my phone number? (Listed)

  3. Well done Mark and family. I reckon your vision, adventure and attitude to life qualifies you as an honorary Aussie. I’d better get on and finish my book about my solo sailing adventure around Australia, I’m embarrassed by my humble efforts when I read your blog.

    Brian of Truansea

  4. Welcome home Feichter family! Amazing, beautiful, inspirational, imaginable, adventurous, and chapters full of stories to tell. We can’t wait to continue to hear all about it. Give us a ring when you have settled.

    Mederios Family

    • I was so excited to read you were back in Idaho….Fiechter family. Trevor and Kaila are looking forward to seeing the boys.

  5. Hard to believe your journey is over. I will miss the posts and learning all about sailing and your ports of call. I hope to see you all soon.

  6. Welcome home Mark. What a wonderful ending poem.
    I’m am just so honored & glad I know someone personally ” who did it”.
    I’m not abel to do that big of adventure, but i was headed there prior to disability, but I’m damn sure going to do as much as I can.

    Just back from week in San Juan’s. Will go to our 34′ Catilina in Coronodo Ca. for Thanksgiving (family) & most likely most of winter.

    Thank you all for your posts, thoughts, and experiences! It was so fun to follow. Wow x’s many, many x’s!!!

    When time afords, a beer/coffee for a few hours, eh? Long enough to get you on a roll!!!!

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