Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day #161/175 Days - Field Trip

(taken from their website)

Recently we had a fantastic opportunity to ride on the Songo River Queen II. The Queen is a replica of a Mississippi River Boat - complete with paddle wheels! 

This is a really poor photo I snapped as we left the boat with lightening and thunder going on around us. Needless to say I snapped quickly & kept walking - fast!

Over 150 homeschoolers charted the boat for the day. We had a fantastic coordinator who not only put together this trip but also the one from last week when we went on the tour of Colonial Pemaquid and the Puffin Cruise. I've coordinated trips for up to 40 people before and that is a lot of work. I'm just in awe at what this woman was able to pull off. It was wonderful!

She needed to meet a certain price point to charter the boat for both the trips. There was a morning and afternoon cruise. Everything above & beyond that cost was donated to a local food bank. She was also able to bring snacks and drinks on board (instead of the ship selling them) and all those proceeds also went to the food bank. My kids were thrilled since I actually let them buy snacks on board.

Conductor hopping in front of Miss Tammy so I'd snap his photo. 
It was great to be on board with lots of friends!

So why were we so excited to take this trip? Well, we've reached the time of year when the weather is great and it's nice to be outside. Second, I didn't have to coordinate the trip in order to enjoy the opportunity. Lastly, this is the last season that the Songo River Queen II will be able to take the trip she did on this very day. 

The Queen passes through two swing bridges and a lock on her journey down Long Lake and the Songo River. At the end of this season the Maine Department of Transportation is replacing the swing causeway bridge with a fixed bridge that will not accommodate the height of the Queen. It really is a sad end to over 100 years of the Queen making this trip. You can read more about the Last Chance to experience this on their website. 

All three of the boys came with me and we met up with my sister and nephew as well as my friend Tammy & her family. We had a great time just sitting and chatting for the 2-1/2 hour ride. In retrospect, I wish I had thought to pack books, toys, and/or games for the kids to keep busy with. While historic, it was a touch boring for them at times. 

This also happened to be one of the hottest days of the summer thus far. It was almost 90 degrees today. While it wasn't horrible while we were moving, we did have a longer period of just sitting while going through the lock. I thought I was literally melting there for a bit!

So how did the cruise work?

First we passed from one end of Long Lake to the other through the causeway swing bridge. You can see the bridge open below. It is not a drawbridge. A gate does come down on either side and there is a stoplight there as well. I have been caught at that light before in the past while a boat was going through.

We eventually started down the Songo River. It was very twisty and turning. In fact, one of the last turns we needed to make was about 90 degrees. In fact, the captain asked everyone at the front of the ship on the top deck to please sit so he could see clearly past them. Here's the start of the turn.

We were headed for the green bridge just up ahead. This is another swing bridge, but it's smaller, there is less traffic, and it's manually turned by a hand crank.

Here it is swung out so we can pass.

The crank used to open it.

Once through this bridge we came to the lock. I mistakenly thought it was a series of locks that we needed to go through to continue the journey.  It was not. It was one lock and really we went through to show how they work. These are manual locks so one either side were one to two people doing this....

Then this pump was used to either raise or lower the water level in the lock to match the level on the other side. Again, manually done....

After we went through the lock we simply turned around and went back through and headed back to our starting point. The water on the other side of the lock was too shallow for us to continue down that river. 

Here is our view before heading back in to the lock.

Overall it was a neat field trip especially since after September the Queen will no longer be able to go through the lock due to the new bridge. It was a beautiful day so it made it that much more enjoyable to be on the boat. We all had a great time visiting with friends and just enjoying the day. 

This marks our 23rd field trip for the 2010-2011 school year.

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