Enfin, we are cruising. There is a lock at the entrance of our port in Roanne that we came through last year when we arrived, and we have been eyeing that lock all winter, eager to start our first full cruising season.
On a sunny morning in May, we made our way through the lock and waved goodbye to our winter home. Heading north along the canal Lateral à la Loire, we found that cruising is everything that we expected it to be and more.
Setting out early each morning, while a fine mist still lingers on the canal, the air is alive with bird songs and butterflies.
The view is always changing. Sometimes we are passing houses along the canal where people come to the window to wave, sometimes we are approaching a magnificent canal bridge over the Loire River designed by Gustave Eiffel. Other times we are entering the port of a new town to explore like Decize or Nevers.
We have been leap frogging along the canal with our friends on Limey and some hotel barges with American passengers. The Americans from the hotel barges seem to be having a great time, and we have enjoyed their friendly interest in our life here in France.
A Canadian family on a rental boat traveled through the locks with us one day. In conversations while descending in the locks, we learned that he was a barge captain on the Puget Sound. He was enjoying a busman's holiday. We were happy when he told us that he thought that we were handling our boat well.
We are slowly making our way to Paris, listening to birds sing, following butterflies, and feeding swan families from our back deck along the way.