June 11
We were up at 6am to make it through the nearby bridge before it started its daily scheduled openings. Elizabeth City is at the southern end of the pretty Pasquotank River, whose banks are full of flowers and mistletoe covered gum trees. This river leads north to the Dismal Swamp. There are two routes boaters can take from Albemarle Sound, in NC, to Norfolk, VA, each about 80 miles long. One is the more heavily traveled and more eastern Virginia Cut route, and the other is the Dismal Swamp route, which we were told every boater should experience. This is one time we shouldn’t have listened. We expected something much more exotic; in reality it was a narrow waterway with constant traffic on the highway running right next to it all the way! And instead of seeing the bears and other wild animals we had heard about, we saw a couple of turtles sunning on rocks and some very fat cows watering. On the good side were the smell of fresh flowers and the chirping of birds. We only passed one boat the whole way, a catamaran. Fortunately, it was in a wider part of the canal. We had to lock through 2 locks, one to lift us 9 feet and the other to lower us 9 feet. These were a surprise to us; we thought our next locks weren’t until the Erie Canal. We made it through the first lock with only 30 seconds to spare; otherwise we would have had a long wait, said the lockmaster, a friendly young woman. That would have ruined our whole day since we had a tight schedule because of these locks and some bridges with scheduled openings.