Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1000 Islands - part 2

After our 2 Nation Cruise (see previous post), we went to Heart Island to see Boldt Castle.

A group shot before we started our tour...
Ann, Dan, Pauline, Tim, Dan, Colleen and Doug
Boldt Castle was built by George Boldt for his wife, Louise as a testament of his love and affection for her.  Construction started in 1900 with 300 workers.  When complete, it was to be a 6 story, 120 room castle  with tunnels, a playhouse for their children, beautiful gardens, a power house, and drawbridge.  No expense was to be spared.  However, tragedy struck in 1904 when Louise died.   George immediately halted all building activity and he never set foot on Heart Island again.   For the next 73 years, the unfinished castle stood empty facing vandals, ice, snow, rain, and wind.  In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and started restoring the castle.  It has been reported that it will never be completely finished....only restored to the point it was the last time George Boldt saw it.  In some of the unfinished rooms, you can still see the "work" of some of the vandals.  Amazingly, we saw graffiti dated back to 1945!!  Boldt Castle is an amazing place to visit and we spent hours going thru the castle as well as the grounds.
The Powerhouse
Children's playhouse

Living Room

Gorgeous stained glass

Grand staircase to second floor

Front parlor
And the outside was just as nice as the inside....
Looking at the Powerhouse 

The view of the St Lawrence from one of the gardens

There were heart shapes all over the grounds and in the castle!
Breath-taking views

Alexandria Bay lighthouse
Dan's Mom had been to the castle before....52 years ago!  This was when it was in a state of disarray.  She said that the changes were incredible.  

We also went to the Boldt Yacht House which is on Wellesley Island, right across from Heart Island.
Yes, this is the Yacht House!
The family yachts and enormous houseboat (La Duchesse) were housed here in slips 128 feetlong.  The building is 64 feet tall and also featured a shop to build racing boats and had quarters for crew and staff.  

We actually got to see La Duchesse when we went to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY on Saturday.
La Duchesse
The houseboat is 106' long and is beautiful on the inside.  She actually sank....twice but is now once again restored and is open to the public for tours.  I did not get any pictures of the inside...I was too busy gawking!

We also got to see some steamboats as there was some sort of flotilla going on in Clayton.

I love the way they sound!

We also saw the first collapsible canoe....

and together!
It was neat but I think we'll keep our Sea Eagle!!

After lunch, we headed to Tibbett's Point Lighthouse in Cape Vincent, NY.

It was such a nice day and we enjoyed walking around and taking in the views of Lake Ontario.  We also got to see something I had never seen before....a different type of farm than what Dan grew up on....
A wind farm!
There were windmills across Lake Ontario in Canada.  There must have been dozens of them.

We really had such a nice time in the 1000 Islands.  Beautiful weather, great places to explore and family.  Life is good!    

Monday, June 25, 2012

1000 Islands

Thursday we left for a 4 day road trip (minus the RV) with Dan's family to the 1000 Islands region of New York.  This blog update is part 1 of our trip!   We meandered our way to where we were staying (Watertown) taking the scenic tour!  We paralleled Cayuga Lake (which is part of the Finger Lakes) for some time and then took the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.  We stopped for lunch in Oswego which is a small, quaint town on the shores of Lake Ontario.  We also walked around the waterfront taking in the views.
Dan L and Pauline, Tim and Ann, Dan (Colleen and Doug would join us later!)

Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse and Coast Guard vessel
Ahhh....It may not be the beaches that I am used to but it was water nonetheless! Dan's brother Tim had heard about a placed called "Brennan Beach" and wanted to stop along our way.  It was right on Lake Ontario and was an Encore RV park.

Dan and Tim
We wandered thru the park but didn't stay long.  There were over 1500 sites....all close together and just not our cup of tea!  This was my favorite part of the park....
This gal and her friends were in a field bordering the park. 
We hopped back in the car and drove a bit further.  Our next stop was Sackett's Harbor.  Sackett's Harbor is another quaint, small town.  It also played an important role in the War of 1812 as it was the hub of naval activity for Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River.  There are still remnants of the barracks, cannons, and history markers outlining points of interest.  We enjoyed walking along the waterfront and taking in the views.
Lots of ducks
including this family!
The flowers were blooming and absolutely gorgeous....
Pauline and Ann with the posies 
This one is for you, Cathy!
There surely is something soothing about being around water.
Nice waterfront views
 and I could just sit and relax for hours!
Ann snapped this picture of Dan and I
We finally made it to Watertown, had a light dinner, and hit the hay early.  Friday was going to be a long day of sight-seeing!

We left Watertown early Friday morning and arrived at Alexandria Bay around 9:00.  We were going to go on a boat tour of the 1000 Islands and visit Boldt Castle (more on the castle in part two!).  The 1000 islands are a group of islands that straddle the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. There are actually 1864 islands in all.  In order to be considered an island, it must have a tree on it and remain above water 365 days a year.  We were told that, with a combined effort, it took the US and Canada 3 years to count all of the islands.  Seems kind of crazy that it took that long!  We got out tickets for the boat tour and had a little bit of time to explore the town before our tour started.  At 10:00, our boat left the dock.  We were taking the 2 Nation Tour.  

Leaving the bay
The tour was going to be about 2 1/2 hours and 22 miles long and were were going to go thru both American and Canadian waters.  We passed by Millionaire's Row on the St Lawrence River and saw some beautiful summer homes....each one is on it's own island!

2nd favorite!

They were all very very nice but I believe that this was my favorite one....

The stonework around and on this home was so beautiful to me.  

I had been told that the 1000 Islands were a nice place to visit and I was not disappointed.  Dan had been when he was younger with his family but this was my first time.  I was surprised at the clarity of the water.  It was very clear and not murky at all.  The views were amazing.
Very nice coastline of one of the Canadian islands 
1000 Islands Bridge

Smallest island appropriately named TomThumb Island

Brennan Church (in Canada)
There is a statue of St Lawrence that is visible only from the river.  It is about 14 feet tall, weighs about 18,000 lbs and is made out of limestone.
St Lawrence
The statue's sculptor wanted to convey the saint's character and story through symbolism in the statue.  St Lawrence holds a gridiron (the device used to execute him) in one hand and a book in the other.  He stands on bags of coins representing his role as keeper of the church's money (which he gave to the poor). 

These were two very interesting islands.  The one on the left is in Canada; the one on the right is in the US.  Notice the foot bridge between the two.  Our guide told us that a couple summer there and when the husband needs space from his wife, he just leaves the country by walking to the other island!  Too funny 

This looked like a very nice place to park our RV....
but I think getting it there would be quite the challenge!

Dan's sister Colleen and BIL Doug enjoying the tour.
The tour guide pointed out this boat...
Can you say "speed"!!??
The wake/speeding fines on the St Lawrence are supposed to be quite high.  Our tour guide told us $1000 for each mph over the limit.  Seems like it would be quite difficult to keep this beauty at a low speed!

Our last island we saw was Heart Island...home of Boldt Castle.

And this will be part 2 of my blog about our 1000 Islands trip! Stay tuned....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Not for the faint at heart!

Last January when we were at Dave and June's farm, we met a guy named Richard who built motorized bikes.  As soon as Dan saw them (and rode a few!), he wanted to build one.   Ever since then, he's been engineering his design in his head.  We've made numerous trips to Lowe's, Harbor Freight, and Northern Tool to buy things he needed.  Things like a motor, wheel, clutch and chain.  By the time we made it up to the farm, he was chomping at the bit to get started.  He hunkered down in the garage he spent so much time in when he was growing up and started tinkering.....
His nephew Timmy scratching his head in disbelief! 
Dan had so many people stop by to chat and see the bike but finally it was ready for it's debut....
Doug making sure Dan is ready to go!
And...he's off....

Both Dan's sister Colleen and I took video but let's just say that I need to take videography lessons!  I will try to get Colleen's video on the blog soon!  Top speed is about 26-28 mph and has a hand throttle and kill button on the handlebar.  (That's why it's not for the faint at heart!)

Finished product

And a close-up...check out the nifty kick stand!
Dan gets plenty of looks while he is riding his "go-bike" and has even had someone stop him and asked if there was a kit to build it.  Someone else asked him if he had a patent on it.  The answer to both questions is "no"!  And, no, I won't be riding the go-bike either.  ;-)  I don't want to visit the emergency room.  

Friday evening we went to Tioga Downs in Nichols, NY to see the Commodores.

It was a gorgeous evening for an outdoor concert.  We went with Dan's Mom, her gentlemen friend, Dan's sister Colleen and her husband Doug and Bill and Sue (friends of Dan's Mom).

The show started with a spectacular light show...

They played for about 90 minutes and sang all of the songs I grew up singing!

Brick House

Night Shift

Sail on
And we also enjoyed a nice sunset!

It was a great evening out.

I've also been out huntin' bear!

Dan's niece Emma and I have been on a mission for a quite a while now!  There are bears in the area and we take off at dusk to go see if we can "find" one.   Several of the neighbors have seen them around (and during the day!) including a mom and her three cubs.  And, when Emma's brother Timmy told us that a black panther had been spotted, we got on our camo and went huntin'!  Our huntin' entails getting in the truck and riding around on the country roads looking in the fields!  No sightings yet but I am still hopeful that I will at least see a bear before we leave PA next month.

Dan has been cutting a path for us down to the river so that we have easy access for the kayak.  It looks like we are going to finally have warm, dry days this week and we both hope that we can get on the river in the next day or two!  He also cut a path up the hill behind the farm so that we can watch the sun set.   It doesn't look that steep (or far!) but we get quite a workout hiking up here!
The scenery is absolutely beautiful and it is peaceful.  We bring a blanket and just sit and enjoy the quiet.
You can see all the way to the flat where the corn is really starting to take off.

In the garden, the blueberries should be ripe within the next two weeks and the tomatos, cukes, and peppers are doing great.   The raspberries, squash, zucchini, beans and swiss chard need some more time before they are ready.  I made some pesto a few days ago with the basil from the herb garden and used some sage and thyme in a pork dish I made last week.

Yep, life on the farm is indeed good!