Hello! How are you, Ontarians? Or something like that. But first, we spent a glorious yesterday in Clayton and the Thousand Islands. Of all the many charming places we’ve visited so far, Clayton, N.Y. is the charmingest. There are cool restaurants. The grocery store has a courtesy shuttle. The water is clear thanks to invasive zebra mussels. The park out-Spreckels Spreckels Park. The views of that clear water are everywhere. The sunsets are epic. It’s just a really neat place, although maybe it can be 15 degrees cooler (but not 80 degrees cooler) next time we visit.
As Dana put it, yesterday was one of those magical days. Not to be mean to people who go an office every day, but yesterday was the kind of day that makes us happy we don’t go to an office every day. Wait, that’s every day. But this was an even better every day.
One of the neatest things about Clayton is the whole Wooden Boat Stuff. Turns out Clayton is the home of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. Who knew? There are numerous shops with quality St. Lawrence River memorabilia and history. We ducked into several of them on our walks about town.
The Antique Boat Museum is full of classic wooden boats, motors, and history. We spent a couple of hours there but could’ve spent several more.
While on a restored 110-year-old 110-foot-long houseboat, a teenaged boy touring with his parents sat down at the ballroom’s custom antique piano and flawlessly performed a perfect period piece of music. He was so spot-on we thought he might be a plant, but he wasn’t.
Even the Wood Boat Brewery where we ate dinner was worthy of buying a t-shirt, despite the 2-hour wait for our pizza.
One of Dana’s trip requirements was cruising up through Thousand Islands. So we did. According to a local tour guide, officially there are 1,864 of them, which means nearly half are sad little specks with an inferiority complex. To be considered an “island” in these parts, the land at issue must (1) be above and surrounded by water year-around and (2) have at least two trees. Supposedly they all have names. We don’t know this cute lil one’s name but it probably didn’t make the top Thousand.
Between us we took a bunch of photos but agree that none really does the place justice. You just have to come visit.
St. Lawrence was a Catholic martyr and the patron saint of cooks and comedians because—according to legend—as he was being roasted alive he asked to be turned since he was done on that side. (This seems rather unlikely, but does bring to mind Edmund Blackadder’s story about Sir Thomas More.)
None of that, of course, explains why he has a river named for him or who installed the statue of him—bizarrely holding the grate on which he was broiled—along that river, but it’s a good story. From what we’ve seen so far it’s a pretty spectacular river though, so at least he has that on his resumé.
George Boldt bought an island and started to build a huge mansion in about 1900 and then quit before finishing it. We heard various stories about how he made his money but generally it had something to do with the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The joint was pretty opulent and pretty unfinished, but it seems much of the construction was done in the past 20 years to turn it into a tourist destination, accessible only by river. Probably worth one trip but definitely not two.
Mid-day, we even moved the boats. Other folks supposedly had reserved our slips so Second Wave and Misty Pearl had to go out into a narrow passage, spin 180 degrees, and dock on a wall. Not to mix dance and sports, but after a perfectly-executed water ballet, we stuck the landing. Bravo to us.
We planned to leave at 9 this morning, but during the the engine room check we found diesel fuel in the bilge. Seems pretty certain it had something to do with Doug changing the filters. Sure enough, in a very non-judgmental way Brent found, ahem, an extra gasket lodged up in the main fuel filter. Problem solved and on our way at 9:10.
Just out of Clayton we passed into Canadian waters. Rounding Wolfe Island at the Wolfe Island Light we expected to see herds of moose. And hockey players. And Bob and Doug McKenzie. Mostly it looked a lot like the islands we just had admired. Beautiful yes, but a tad disappointing.
Kingston, Ontario, was a major naval base from which the British overlords launched ultimately-unsuccessful attacks on the good guys circa 1812. The Canadians still honor the British monarch on their money so they aren’t completely without fault, but we figured we’d forgive them since (1) it was over 200 years ago, (2) we weren’t even born then, and (3) we’re going to be in Canada for a month or so and might need some help from them. Plus as we discovered on a backpacking trip in British Columbia two summers ago, it’s an amazingly clean country, which we appreciate.
We docked in Kingston, cleared customs, and had a nice stroll through town with Second Wave. The Confederation Basin Marina stuck us about a mile from the shore so each dog-walk requires crossing a maze of dock, but we’ll survive 2 nights of it even in heat that Phoenix would be proud to claim.