The easiest way to get a new perspective on life involves a suitcase. Traveling has been proven to help break routines and can open the gates for creativity to flow.
Especially if your planned adventure drops the speed of life down to 4 kilometres per hour.
As I stated in an earlier post, my husband came to me with an idea for our four-year anniversary – a trip down the England canals on a narrowboat. Narrowboats are like floating RVs, complete with kitchen and shower. They are self-contained 60 feet of house that happens to have a motor on the back.
While preparing for our trip, the two of us studied canal maps, read up on locks* and bookmarked canal-side pubs. These items helped to raise the anticipation of our upcoming adventure, preparing us for what we could expect.
What we didn’t prepare for was the boating lifestyle.
Boating is a way of life that is unhurried and laidback. The speed in which one can get from one town to the next creeps into how you interact and react to the world around you. It is less about how much you can get done or see. It is about how you enjoyed the journey for it is a slow speed.
When we pass a moored boat, we dropped our speed to a crawl. The general rule is to slow so that your wake doesn’t go over their “dirt line” (or the muck line made from water). You don’t want to rock their boat too much — they may be cooking.
As we “fly by”, the two of us would steal a peek at the narrowboat. More times than not, there was a friendly wave from the galley kitchen windows. It was a “good morning” and “thank you” at the same time from the secret society of channel cruisers.
There were a few anxious moments involving lock operations for the hubster and I. The lockmasters we encountered received the same tale of it being our first narrowboat adventure, and that we may need a bit of guidance for the lock. Each of them told us not to worry. They asked us about our trip, where we were from and how long we were there while telling us to close the gates, open the paddle, tie up here and open the gates.
Even the wildlife seems to have jumped on the laidback boat. The ducks and swans swim along the side of our narrowboat, as if they are racing us. They aren’t concerned with our path. If they swim too close, they simply dive underwater and pop out on the other side.
Canal side pubs offer overnight moorning to patrons. They open their doors, pour you a pint and let you crash in their backyard after a steak and ale pie or sticky toffee pudding. In addition to chatting up locals at the bar, connections are made with other boaters heading our way or coming from that direction that goes beyond a wave from the galley window.
From port to starboard, the boating life is one of respect, friendliness and connections at 4 kilometres an hour.
I hope that when it comes time to pack my luggage and head home that some of the lifestyle comes with me.