Panama Canal (Day 10)

December 24, a/k/a Christmas Eve

Panama Canal

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[What better way to spend Christmas Eve . . . ]

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[A beautiful day for a cruise through the Panama Canal . . . ]

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[I believe this boat is delivering a local pilot . . . ]

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[All the other ships waiting “in line” for passage . . . ]

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[Mission completed . . . ]

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[The third bridge over the Panama Canal, known as the Atlantic Bridge, is a road bridge under construction in Colon, which will span the Atlantic entrance to the Canal. When completed it will be a third bridge over the Panama Canal after the Bridge of the Americas and the Centennial Bridge, both on the Pacific side of the canal.  The bridge is proposed to be a double-pylon, double-plane, concrete girder, cable-stayed bridge with a main span of 530 metres (1,740 ft), and two side spans of 230 metres (750 ft).  The east and west approaches are to be 1,074 metres (3,524 ft) and 756 metres (2,480 ft) long, respectively.  (Wikipedia).  The estimated completion date is mid-2018.]

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[Needless to say, all cameras on board are here!]

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[I remain amazed at how they build these things?]

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[The audience (passengers) are agog . . . ]

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[Looks like we have another cruise ship in front of us . . . ]

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[About to enter the locks.  The Panama Canal is an artificial 77 km (48 mi) waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.  The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade.  Canal locks are at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artifical lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 m (85 ft) above sea level, and then lower the ships at the other end. The original locks are 34 m (110 ft) wide.  A third, wider lane of locks was constructed between September 2007 and May 2016.  The expanded canal began commercial operation on June 26, 2016.  The new locks allow transit of larger,  post-Panamax ships, capable of handling more cargo (Wikipedia) . . . ]

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[The new look of the modern tug . . . ]

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[France began work on the canal in 1881, but stopped due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate.  The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914.  One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or the Strait of Magellan . . . ]

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[Colombia, France, and later the United States controlled the territory surrounding the canal during construction.  The U.S. continued to control the canal and surrounding Panama Canal Zone until the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties provided for handover to Panama.  After a period of joint American–Panamanian control, in 1999, the canal was taken over by the Panamanian government and is now managed and operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority . . . ]

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[Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in 1914, when the canal opened, to 14,702 vessels in 2008, for a total of 333.7 million tons.  By 2012, more than 815,000 vessels had passed through the canal.  It takes six to eight hours to pass through the Panama Canal.  The American Society of Civil Engineers has called the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world (Wikipedia).]

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[And if you’re interested in the political history of the Panama Canal Treaties, you can read all about it in my Dad’s book . . . ]

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[These “mules” (train engines) are used for side-to-side and braking control in the locks, which are narrow relative to modern-day ships.  Forward motion into and through the locks is actually provided by the ship’s engines and not the mules (Wikipedia).   The mules weigh 42 tons . . . ]

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[A ship coming through from the Pacific side.  We are, incidentally, going through the original canal.  We were told a large container ship has to pay about $1.2 million to go through the canal.  Not sure what our ship had to pay . . . ]

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[The ship ahead of us in the first lock . . . ]

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[Our mules start forward . . . ]

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[As two ships pass in the daylight, both sides are shooting photos . . . ]

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[The boat ahead is now in lock number 2 . . . ]

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[As we enter 1 . . . ]

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[The mules will go up the ramp guiding us through as we rise with the water . . . ]

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[Must be time for a breakfast break with boat friends, Jack and JoAnne, who arranged Ruthie’s birthday party.  They were a hoot . . . ]

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[Local legend decrees that if you see an isthmus rainbow on Christmas Eve, you will be forever endowed with a TSA PreCheck . . . ]

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[It didn’t work!]

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[We’re going through the canal now, a major part of which is Gatun Lake . . . ]

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[Another feature that is visible in the lake is the sets of canal markers.  These look like small white lighthouses.  When you see the first one on the right, watch behind it to the right and you will see another up a hill in a clearing.  The ships use these to guide through the canal.  Watch forward to see the ones currently in use and they will point a straight path directly up the center of the leg of the canal.  Every straight leg has a set of markers for each direction.  The bridge crew line up to the markers and stay straight to avoid any under water obstacles (tiggertravels.com).]

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[The lake is 165 square miles large . . . ]

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[Returning inside, the wall photo at Mamsen’s . . . ]

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[A couple of Norwegian cross-country skiers?]

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[Obviously shot through a window . . . ]

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[A narrowing stretch of the canal . . . ]

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[We must be getting close to the end . . . ]

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[The aforementioned Centennial Bridge . . . ]

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[Guide posts on the terraces . . . ]

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[The end is nigh . . . ]

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[In the distance, the aforementioned Bridge of the Americas . . . ]

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[And there it is, the Pacific Ocean on the other side . . . ]

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[And there’s Panama City again – one hour by bus, eight hours by boat . . . ]

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[Feeling the waters of the Pacific . . . ]

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[And under the bridge, the highway that goes from the southern tip of South Amerca to the northern tip of North America . . . ]

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[And within sight of the Biodiversity Museum again . . . ]

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[Putting the Bridge of the Americas in our rearview mirror . . . ]

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[Ahead, the vast Pacific . . . ]

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[Free of clutter, the city . . . ]

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[Getting upclose and personal with the Biomuseo . . . ]

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[We bused out here the previous day . . . ]

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[Adios, Panama!]

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[And as the sun sets . . . ]

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[We look forward to an all day cruise on Christmas day . . . ]

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[Proof that we did it . . . on the first Viking ship to pass through the canal.]

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I get pretty much all the exercise I need walking down airport concourses carrying bags.  ~  Guy Clark

Up Next:  Cruise, day 11

About tomobert63

The Journey Begins Thanks for joining me! This is the follow-up to the original, “alexandriacardinals.wordpress.com,” which overwhelmed the system’s ability to handle it any more. Thus, this is “Part 2.” As the original was initially described: 10-26-07-4 “It all began in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California” . . . wait a minute, that was Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Let’s see . . . oh yeah, it all began in 2003 when retirees, i.e., old people, in Alexandria, Minnesota, who had no desire to become snow birds, went looking for mid-winter entertainment here in the frozen tundra of West Central Minnesota. We discovered girls’ high school hockey, fell in love immediately, and it remains our favorite spectator sport to this day. Initially, and for several years, reports on these games were e-mailed to those who were actually snowbirds but wanted to keep abreast of things “back home.” It was ultimately decided a blog would be more efficient, and it evolved into a personal diary of many things that attracts tens of readers on occasion. It remains a source of personal mental therapy and has yet to elicit any lawsuits. ~ The Editor, May 9, 2014 p.s. The photo border around the blog is the Cardinal girls’ hockey team after just beating Breck for the state championship in 2008. It’s of the all-tournament team. The visible Breck player on the left is Milica McMillen, then an 8th-grader – she is now an All-American for the Gophers. The Roseau player in the stocking cap I believe is Mary Loken, who went on to play for UND; and the Cardinal player on the right, No. 3, is Abby Williams, the player we blame most for making us girls’ hockey fans who went on to play for Bemidji State. *********************************************************************************** Photos contained herein are available for personal use. All you have to do is double click on any of the photos and they will become full screen size. You can then save them into your personal “My Pictures” file. They make lovely parting or hostess gifts, or holiday gifts for such as Uncle Ernie who wants to see how his grand niece is doing on the hockey team. If any are sold for personal profit, however, to, for example, the Audubon Society, National Geographic, Sven’s Home Workshop Monthly, Curling By The Numbers, or the World Wrestling Federation, I only request that you make a donation to the charitable organization of your choice. You have two hours and fifteen minutes. Pencils ready? Begin! **********************************************************************************
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