The Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruise

July 9, 2013


Hey folks,

It’s Erie Canal Week on my blog! For the second week in a row! Because why have one Erie Canal Week when you can have two?

Besides, last week, I didn’t even write anything about the actual, umm, you know, CANAL. Well, here it is folks: the post you’ve all been waiting for! (You have been waiting for this, RIGHT?) The one where I actually talk about the Canal. Or something.

Prior to my trip to the Erie Canal and Lockport Locks last month, I have to say my knowledge of the Canal was pretty pathetic. Especially considering the fact that I practically grew up on the shores of the Canal. (Do canals have shores? Is that a thing? Or are shores only for natural bodies of water? See? I told you. PATHETIC.)

In fact, I’d say my entire working knowledge of the Erie Canal was based on “The Erie Canal Song” – a song which I only know the first two lyrics of and I kind of, totally hate.

Because, you guys, who names their donkey Sal? No one does that. Sal is not a good name for donkeys.

The same goes for naming your camel Sally.

Sal and Sally and any name sounding remotely like my own are only good for people – particularly beautiful, intelligent, cultured people like myself.

Any and all beasts of burden should be given an appropriately burdeny name like Bruce or Monster Jam 5000. (Excuse me, how awesome would it be to have a song called “Monster Jam 5000 the Camel”? Totally awesome, right?)


No, I will NOT be singing along with Sal. Thankyouverymuch.

After a very educational tour of the Underground Caves and an equally educational trip to Sweet Sixteen Café, where I learned that, yes, mini-cupcakes do make life infinitely better (not that I didn’t know that – but it always helps to be reminded), I showed up at the Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruise dock ready for an equally educational cruise of the Canal and Locks.

I was not alone.


The place was crawling with school children on field trips.

As a teacher, I can say there is one thing that fills my heart with cold, dark dread: encountering large groups of school children while I’m on vacation.

Not that I don’t love children. I mean, yay, children! Children are our future! Teach them well and let them lead the way! And whatever else Whitney Houston said!

But when I’m on vacation, I’d rather not be surrounded by hoards of kids. It just makes me feel like I’m back at work. Especially when I see groups of students being all rowdy and obnoxious and doing things they probably shouldn’t be doing and DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE AND PULL OUT MY TEACHER-VOICE ON YOU.


Luckily, the school groups and their chaperones were herded on to a large cruise boat, while I, along with a more mature group of folks, was ushered on to a small, very classy-looking, wooden boat. I was even informed there was a bar on board that sold booze because THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

Adios, school children.

Adios, school children.

After our boat left the dock, we headed towards the Locks.

At this point, I should probably explain to all of you what the heck the Locks are and what the heck they do — just like the boat captain explained to all of us.

But all I could understand was something-something-water-levels. And something-something-upstream. And something-something-elevation. And probably elves. I don’t know.

Inside the Locks. Don't ask me what that even means.

Inside the Locks. Don’t ask me what that even means.

You see, I TRIED to listen to the captain.

And I TRIED to understand what he was talking about.

I really did.

But, you guys, it’s hard to learn stuff when you’re on a boat, and it’s a beautiful day, and the sun is shining, and the sky is this crazy color of blue, and you’re on vacation, and your brain is all like, “Forget learning! Learning is for suckers! I’m ON A BOAT!”

The boat captain teaching us some stuff. Just don't ask me what stuff.

The boat captain teaching us some stuff. Just don’t ask me what stuff.

I really wanted to soak up as much Canal knowledge as I could, so I wouldn’t feel like such an Erie Canal dumbie any more, and so I could impress you all with my cool, new Canal facts.

But, honestly, guys, I’ve got nothing.

Well, not, nothing exactly.

I’ve got a lot of somethings.

Like, something-something-sun-shining. And something-something-blue-skies. And something-something-ON-A-BOAT!



Have you ever taken a canal cruise? How was it? And were there locks? Because maybe you could explain all that to me now that my brain is no longer distracted by ON A BOAT.
Thank you to Niagara Tourism & Convention Center for sponsoring my trip and to Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises for a great boat ride. Even if my brain was too distracted to learn stuff.

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On July 9, 2013 at 10:05 am Kerry said:

    That songbook. I can’t even. What is on Sal’s head? How can you play drums with hooves? Wouldn’t they tear the skin? SO MANY QUESTIONS!
    Kerry recently posted..Croatian wine is better than any other in Europe (I’m not kidding)

  2. On July 9, 2013 at 11:07 am Penguinlady said:

    I grew up on the Mohawk River and have been on many a lock cruise. I’ve even been through locks on the Nile and the St. Lawrence. I’ve got locks locked up! There are portions of the Erie Canal still usable near my hometown, and I’ve even done a barge-and-mule trip.

    We are all about the Canal Song, it’s the first song you learn in music class. (Have you ever heard the version by Bruce Springsteen? If the Boss can do it, it can’t be that bad.)

    • On July 10, 2013 at 6:54 am Sally said:

      Yes, but why does the donkey’s name have to be Sal? That’s my only real problem with the song. It’s a HORRIBLE name for a donkey (but a LOVELY name for a human).

  3. On July 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm Aurora said:

    It is SO true. As a teacher, I NEVER want to see kids when I am on vacation. In fact, I would rather walk the other direction. Not that I don’t love kids…. but, let’s be real. Not on vacation.
    Aurora recently posted..Glimpses of humanity

    • On July 10, 2013 at 6:53 am Sally said:

      I find that if I tell people at tourist destinations, “I’m a teacher. And I’m on vacation. Can you tell me where I can go to avoid large groups of students,” they’re very understanding.

  4. On July 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    When I was floating down the Yangzi River in China and we got to the locks I tried to pay attention as well, but it just didn’t happen. I was too busy taking pics to listen haha!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Andi’s Pick: Primland

    • On July 10, 2013 at 6:49 am Sally said:

      The Yangzi River has locks? Now I feel like I should go back to China to go on a Yangzi cruise and to totally not pay any attention to the locks.

  5. On July 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm Erik said:

    I seem to always get trapped with the school groups. I think it’s a divine reminder each time that quitting teaching was probably a pretty good idea after all.
    Erik recently posted..Four More Brussels Bars- Beers & Bars of the 2013 Europe Trip

    • On July 10, 2013 at 6:49 am Sally said:

      Ha ha. Yeah, for me it’s a divine reminder that I’ve chosen the right path to get out of K-12 and stick to college and older students.

  6. On July 10, 2013 at 2:27 am Madhu Bhardwaj said:

    I love the way you learn. Totally makes sense. 🙂
    I hope your children learn the same way too.

    • On July 10, 2013 at 6:47 am Sally said:

      My children? Umm, I hope you don’t mean biological children because I don’t have any of those and don’t really plan to. (My plan is to just spoil my nieces & nephews with ice cream and Skittles now in the hopes that they’ll remember me in my old age.) If you’re talking about my students, I only teach college-aged and above. Probably for a reason. 🙂

  7. On July 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm Carmel said:

    Nothing scares me as much as a large group of children and I’m not a teacher. Just frightening to think about.

  8. On July 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm Steph | A Nerd At Large said:

    I used to work in an office located in Toronto’s Entertainment District and at least twice a week several busloads of school kids would descend upon the neighbourhood for field trips to the theatre or the symphony. Having worked there for a decade I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the behaviour of children on field trips, and I have a theory that all children, even the most angelic ones, acquire a mild to moderate case of demonic possession during any field trip.
    Steph | A Nerd At Large recently posted..On Finding My Tribe

    • On July 13, 2013 at 10:01 am Sally said:

      It’s COMPLETELY TRUE. I used to run the educational programming for a large touring Broadway theater in Buffalo, which meant I was in charge of packing over 2,000 kids into the theater during all the student matinees. It was INSANE. And I remember during one particularly crazy matinee performance, I walked past some woman who was sitting with a school group and hearing her say, “This isn’t very well organized, is it?” and just wanting to scream “When’s the last time you crammed 2,000 kids into a theater?” Yeah, I don’t miss that job.

  9. On July 10, 2013 at 9:55 pm Christy@SweetandSavoring said:

    Oh my god, canals and locks have always confused me, too- and I would’ve been the same way! How on earth could you pay attention to technical information like that when you’re on a boat in beautiful weather?? Answer: you cannot.
    Christy@SweetandSavoring recently posted..Folio Photo: Climbing in the Garden

  10. On July 11, 2013 at 10:39 am Brian said:

    For some reason, reading his post made me think about the movie What About Bob? when Bob is tied up to the boat and yelling “I’M SAILING!!!” I can totally see you “tied” to the bar yelling “I’M CANALING!” while everyone else is learning about locks, donkeys, and whatever else canals use.
    Brian recently posted..Forking Over the Discoveries

    • On July 13, 2013 at 9:57 am Sally said:

      That would have been awesome. There was one point when I wanted everyone to get off my boat already so I could just kick back and have a few beers in the sunshine and stop being forced to listen to people talk all the time. Gah. People. And their stupid talking all the time.

  11. On July 23, 2013 at 3:41 am tallest dam in the world said:

    I went on a boat tour just like that couple years ago and had a great time! thanks for the reminder!

    tallest dam in the world

  12. On July 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm Charlie said:

    I have walked alongside a lot of canals on my walking trip across the UK. They’re great to walk along because they only make canals along flat bits, which I am sure your captain told you all about. I only rode one boat though. A group of people let me jump on board to go on the most insane lock of all. Google the lock in Falkirk. It works on blah, blah, blah gravity, blah or something. But it is insane! Thanks for your fabulous insight into Erie. You went on a boat!!!!
    Charlie recently posted..Day 205: A Bedside Manner

  13. On July 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm maria at inredningsvis said:

    Your blog is so wonderful and Im now following:)

    If you want some cute swedish decor inspiration…check out my blog:)

    Have a great day dear

    LOVE Maria at

  14. On August 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    Living next to the Unesco World Heritage Site – the Rideau Canal … I know a lot about locks actually. If ever you do want to … you know… refresh that … shall we say memory?

    Your entire section on school kids … L M A O!
    Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..When Travel Plans Go Belly Up!

    • On August 3, 2013 at 10:57 am Sally said:

      Wow, I never even heard of the Rideau Canal. Maybe when I FINALLY make it to Ottawa, I’ll have to check it out and actually learn a thing or two about locks. Or just sit around on a boat staring at the sky. As I do.

  15. On August 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm Ceri said:

    I read that as “I really wanted to soak up as much CARNAL knowledge as I could … ”
    Ceri recently posted..NY Bucket List: #7 – Catch a Yellow Cab/Use the Subway


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge