Monday, September 05, 2016

The Big Trip East, Day 8, Part One: In which I post a great many pictures of holiday homes

My friend Kandace was commenting on my blog today. She paid me a huge compliment when she said that every time she reads about where we've been she feels as though she needs to have a suitcase packed and be on her way.

I write this thing primarily for David and Elisabeth. I haven't really done a good job of getting our pictures developed, or of recording our memories, except through this blog.

On the other hand, on the off chance anyone other than Kandace and Chadya still read this, I'd like for it not to be too boring. So thank you for bearing with me as I record our day to day lives.

The interesting thing about this vacation to Ontario is that I didn't plan anything. This is BIG and NEW for me. I like to choose everything and be in control.

I didn't want to go on the trip. And then everything I wanted to do we had to cut out because we shortened the trip. And then other people had ideas. And so I let go. Let go of planning, and expectations and just went with it (as much as I'm capable of).

And it was okay.

Very shortly before we left for Ontario, Andrew suggested this trip. A Gananoque boat trip around the thousand islands. If ever you find yourself in this part of the world, I highly recommend this trip.

For one thing, you won't be able to do a five hour boat tour in BC for a hundred dollars.

And we don't have anything quite like this in BC.

So we drove the hour or so southish from Easton's Corners to Gananoque early Wednesday morning. Next time, I'd get to the port even earlier. We arrived a good half hour before sailing and we were at the very end of the line. Oh, also? Bring your passports to the ticket sales.

Though it was a hot day, it was very breezy. So. You leave the little port? Dock? and head out into the river. The first thing we saw was this beacon with a whole lot of feathered sight seers.

 And then, gradually, islands.

 Teeny, tiny little scraps of nothing, with trees on them.

And gradually, bigger. And every single one of them had some kind of house on them.

So, now that Kandace has put all this pressure on me to make this sound like a travel blog - imagine yourself on a boat. By the time we boarded our boat, the top, open deck was full. But at the back of the boat there was enough room for two benches, maybe 8 people on one side, and then a row of plastic chairs along the back railing. Along the other side of the boat there were a few more chairs.

 Because I simply will not be inside on a sunny day unless you force me, our family was seated in three chairs along the back railing, and then David was sideways behind us.

 As we first left the dock in Gananoque, there was a great expanse of water. You can see how blue it was. The islands were very small, not very close together and not very many of them.

And so, it was quite windy. Though you could tell the sun was hot, it was cool with the wind.

Gradually there were more and more islands. Some of them were very small, and you wondered how on earth they managed to put a whole house on them. Others were large enough for several houses.

 It took us about ninety minutes, I think, to make the trip through the islands. I could hardly sit still, in fact I think I stood for most of the boat ride, looking everywhere.

(eventually, as the islands closed in around us, it got warmer. Some of us were a little too hot and a little too tired from the busy day - busy week - before).

 We passed under this bridge, which crosses from Canada to the United States.

What we didn't know was that there are five spans which cross the water.  We passed under one of the first spans on our way there.

There were some really grand houses. The sort of thing you could see Great Gatsby having a party at.

Others were a bit ramshackle. Basically a shed to spend the weekends at.

 And then we approached Hart Island, in New York State. Home of Boldt Castle. That's right, we went to New York for our summer vacation. hah!

I had no idea it would be such a tourist trap with all kinds of tour boats coming and going constantly.

(David got separated from us as we waited to get off the boat. I think he was a little nervous about being apart).

You can read a little about the history of Boldt Castle on the boat company's webpage.

But the gist of it is, Mr. Boldt, a rich hotelier, decided to build this castle as a declaration of his love for his wife. Unfortunately, before they finished building the house, Mrs. Boldt died. Her husband was so heartbroken, he stopped all work on the castle and never returned to the island.

For years the castle stood, unfinished, decaying slowly and taken over by birds and vandals. Then it was bought to be turned into a museum and restoration work began.

The entrance ways were spectacular. Can you imagine entertaining out here?

Or even just curling up in front of a fire during a rain storm.

You walk in the main floor to central staircase, so of course you look up. And you're rewarded with this amazing stained glass ceiling detail.

But, being the oddballs we are, we went down to the basement instead. The basement is mostly unfinished, rough brick and rock.

But there is a pool there. I imagine it would have been quite spectacular in it's day.

Then there were a series of tunnels that led out to  the pump house and gardens.

This here was the pump house.

 Again, wouldn't this be an amazing spot for family and/or wedding pictures?

 We walked back to the house along the cobblestone path. There was water on one side, and fountains on the other.

Garden party, anyone?

 Then we climbed up to the first floor where the bedrooms had been finished in period style.

 Dance floor?

From the party room, we wandered back outside. I believe this tower was built over a well or something. It was just a beautiful spot to me :)

 And Chadya, if you're reading this, everything about this house reminded me of you, but especially the beautiful Roman Style Gardens.

 We really didn't see much of the house and gardens. There were other buildings and structures but we felt pressed for time. So we rushed back to the docks for lunch.

The style of the dock buildings was very west coast. It was beautiful. Because there were so many boats, there were a lot of people here. Also, our boat unloaded about lunch time, and we hadn't been able to bring food on the boat (despite packing a lunch) so the lines for food were massive.

Then, just as I got to the till, their debit and credit machines went down. The dear women at the till felt sorry for me and gave us our lunch for free. We were the only ones blessed that way, everyone else had to pay cash only.

We wolfed our food down, thinking we couldn't bring it on board. As it turns out, we could have (too bad, because we would have loved our drinks on the ride home. Now we know for next time).

As we waited for the boat to load, I noticed (or maybe Andrew did) that our rescue services were a bit outdated. (insert scary face!)

Uhm. Those of you who know me, know that I would have rushed my family back on board so that we could get better seats for the ride back. We were almost the first people back on board, and sat on the top, but at the back of the boat again. I enjoyed seeing where we'd been, instead of where we were going.

The boat did a slow circle around the whole island, which was nice for us since we hadn't visited everything.

And then the ride home. We had full bellies, and happy hearts. The ride home was a little more relaxed. Eyes closed, enjoying the warmth of the sun on our faces.

 And to be honest, after a week of being with people, it was nice for it just to be the four of us again.

 This picture is to give you an idea of all the other boats on the water.

 And then we passed under one of the other spans of the bridge. My first clue that we weren't taking the same route back that we'd taken to get there. ha ha. I'm not so clever some times.

 I tried not to take too many pictures this time and just enjoy the ride. There were so many cute holiday homes though.

Did you know, years ago the mail was delivered by boat? and eventually, the mail person would deliver bread and milk or other necessities. And then deliver people around, if the holidayers didn't have a boat of their own.

And that's how this tour company came to be.

This little bird decided to fly alongside us for a while. It was really cute.

And then, we saw the birds on the lighthouse island, and we knew our cruise was almost up. To be honest, I think I'd half hoped we'd be stranded on an island and get to stay here longer.