Family Pirate Cruise: The Colonial Belle

Since I’m on a much-needed vacation, my son and I wanted to do something we had never done together.  We Googled things to do, and I found this Family Pirate theme on the Colonial Belle.  He and I both enjoy pirates, and we enjoy boats… WE’RE IN!

Pirates sign

About the Colonial Belle 

The Colonial Belle is a small cruise line established in 1989 that tours the Erie Canal from Packett’s Landing in Fairport, NY, to the lock at Pittsford, NY and back.  The boat can hold up to 149 passengers, with an upper and lower deck.  The lower deck includes a bar, snacks and beverages for its passengers.  No outside food or beverages are allowed.  They do have dinner cruises as well, per their website, as well as other fun family events.

The experience 


Pirate Holden on deck

When we first arrived, the first thing we noticed was that nobody, and I mean nobody else was dressed like a pirate.  Being an introvert, this is the single-most-disturbing thing that happened on the trip.  We were all set up for disappointment, with lots of eyeballs directed at us, when we noticed the crew return from the Employees-Only parts of the vessel, and they were wearing pirate hats.

Boarding didn’t take long—the crew made sure of that.  Holden and I wandered quickly to the upper deck and took some seats at the back of the boat.  More eyes on us.  Great.  We peered out over the water and watched it ripple around the boat.  The rails on the upper deck are quite high, so it was difficult to take any good shots with my camera.

Once we were afloat, we decided to visit the lower deck and check out their snack selection.  They had a variety of chips and cookies, as well as pretty much any beverage you could want.  The seating on the lower deck is more extensive, with round dining tables and benches along the perimeter.  There is a small restroom, which was well-stocked with toilet paper and hand soap, with a working sink.  It was also clean and tidy, considering how many passengers they had.

From below, I was able to take a few nice shots of some bridges and other boats.  I could clearly hear the captain making some announcements from the upper deck.  He was prompt with warnings, making sure everyone on the upper deck was seated well before passing under a low bridge.  The crew would occasionally warn people to put their hands down when they were unable to suppress their thrill-seeking desires.


Canal lock 2

The lock was our favorite part.  Once we arrived at the lock, it was interesting to see the crew members in action.  They closed down the lower deck bar during the lock process.  They have to wait for a green light to enter the lock, and once they have the okay, they proceed into it, which basically looks like a huge tank.  Here’s a link to a website to explain better how the locks operate and what the crew has to do.

Colonial Belle worker 2

They have to keep the boat close to the wall using some cables installed directly into the lock’s walls.  The boat had these ropes they tied through the cables to keep the boat in place as we raised up.  Once the water is at the appropriate level, the doors open and the boat can proceed out of the lock.  In this case, the doors were leaking.  The captain informed us that this is not supposed to happen, but it has been this way for “a few years.”

After the locks, we basically did a boat K-turn, headed back into the lock, and did the same thing in reverse.  Cruising back to Pittsford took much less time due to the direction of the current.  Unfortunately, this was about the time where we started to feel a bit of motion sickness.  We made it back to Fairport safely, however, around 5:40 pm, and Holden and I were happy to get out of our pirate costumes.

Main Street Fairport sign large

Overall, it was a good day, and we definitely enjoyed the cruise.  The captain and crew were very professional and pleasant, and we will cruise with them again in the future—perhaps at the next themed event: The Murder Mystery Tour!



Tinker Nature Park

Tinker Nature Park main sign

One of my favorite places to visit, Tinker Nature Park is hidden in the rural part of Henrietta, nestled at the corner of Calkins Road and Pittsford-Henrietta Townline Road.  The sign for the Calkins entrance is quite difficult to see, which makes passing this beautiful plot of land a bit too easy.

While not exactly for “hiking”, this is an ideal place to park a car and have a mindless stroll (or quiet, easy run).  From the parking lot to the end of the longest trail, the place is set up to be peaceful and serene.  The land is completely flat, and visitors will not get their feet wet.

From the main parking lot, to the north lies a museum-style building which includes restrooms.  To the east, a well-kept garden is maintained, displaying an array of in-season flowers or plants.  To the south, a sidewalk winds away in the distance, revealing the beginning of the perimeter trail.  It is here that visitors are warned against bringing dogs or bicycles.  The signage is plain and simple – no room for misinterpretation.

No dogs sign

The first trail is the perimeter trail, which encompasses the entire park.  The signs reveal that this trail is 1.2 miles in length – long enough for a decent stroll, or a quick run.  The trail features the new “Fairy Trail”, and then finishes with a set of fitness stations.  It is divided in two by the Boardwalk Trail which snakes up along a pond where it is easy to sit and watch the herons catching fish.

Fairy Trail is a newer addition to Tinker Nature Park.  Tree stumps are carved and fashioned into “fairy huts” which I call them.  They are decorated with gems, metallic objects, wire, and other ornate items to make visitors take notice.  I have included some pics of my favorites.

Today, we took the Boardwalk Trail out of the woods.  The boardwalk sits between rows of cattails, where visitors can stroll along and watch the dragonflies fluttering around and landing on the railings.  Often, it is not unusual to hear a bullfrog or see a turtle poking its head out of the water in this swampy area.  Some visitors prefer to sit on the bench parked off to one side of the boardwalk and listen to the sounds of nature.

Along the way back to the car, it is almost easy to miss my personal favorite part of the park: the Chase Pitkin Nature Trail.  This trail is marked at 0.5 miles long, and it features a well-kept trail in the woods with two bridges passing over a swampy area.  If a visitor were to stand in one place long enough, he or she might see a family of deer, or notice a baby toad hopping along, or hear the sounds of leaves rustling, or birds chirping.  This is truly what freedom and peace feels like, and it might just resemble my kind of Heaven.

The Journey Begins

I have been thinking about writing a blog for a while now.  I love writing, as much as I love hiking, walking, trekking through some land unknown to me…  Then, it dawned on me, why can’t I do both?

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Magnus snooty

For once I’m going to leave this photo here, and this quote, because it kind of fits in this situation.  I plan on going on a new expedition every week.  Why?  Because it keeps me centered.  So, armed with a small notebook, my camera, my big ole doggy, and one or both of my boys, I hope to make this blog into a personal diary of my weekly adventures.  My hope is that it will also show that there is more to life in and around Rochester than meets the eye.