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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Percolator Vacation

The top picture is the St. Lawrence Seaway as seen from our hotel balcony last year. The picture below is a tanker heading downriver passing Boldt Castle.

It seems that there is some interest in knowing about the vacation I alluded to in my last post so I decided to expand on that topic in this one.  That particular vacation started out a little rough but lives in our memories as one of our best ever. We had switched from a big national chain hotel near a metropolitan area along the St. Lawrence River due to the uncleanliness of our room to a mom and pop type motel in the small but thriving resort town known as Alexandria Bay a bit further south but still on the St. Lawrence.  We were now within a few short blocks of the main drag and the river itself.  We found ourselves on a shoestring food budget as we took some of our food money to pay the higher price of the new lodgings but we didn’t mind.  Most of our meals we ate at a hot dog/burger shack as it was cheaper than any other eatery in town. The first time we walked to a public dock where we could see the mighty waterway in all its glory left us breathless. There, on an island, directly across from the town in the middle of the river stood a castle! Boldt Castle on Hart Island, we found out on an Uncle Sam’s Cruise Line tour, was built by self-made millionaire George Boldt as an homage to his beloved wife Louise.  She tragically passed away before the castle was complete and the heartbroken widower ordered construction immediately stopped.  There it sat going to ruin until finally restoration was begun by a historical preservation group.  The work is ongoing but the ground floor, parts of the upper floors and the grounds are quite beautiful as we found out on our first tour. I love the romance of the castle and it is a beautiful sight any time of the day.  As we explored other aspects of the area, we drove about 30 minutes to Cape St. Vincent which boasts a lighthouse at the mouth of Lake Ontario, and one day about 3 hours to Massena, NY to visit the locks there that allow vessels to navigate the waterways.  There are huge tankers, freighters, and barges that travel through carrying all types of supplies and goods to and from the great lakes to both Canada and the United States.  We also see some of those huge boats on the St. Lawrence when we are in Alexandria Bay and they dwarf Boldt Castle as they chug past.  While there we toured the Eisenhower Power Project, my main memory of which concerns getting Hillary to the top floor observation deck via a stair lift for her wheelchair.  It was the first time we’d seen such a contraption and it made a pleasant melodic dinging sound as it carried our princess up and down the stairs.  On the Wednesday of the week we spent in Alexandria Bay we went to the park on a hill overlooking the river for a free sunset concert by the Ft. Drum army band. It was wonderful!  We sat on a huge flat rock and munched on subs and chips as people danced, tapped their toes and children cavorted in time to the music.  All in all our vacation that started out not so well turned into one which we remember fondly, and we have returned to that town again and again, although now we stay in a larger family owned resort hotel right on the river with glorious sunsets, fresh breezes and a constant view of the castle.

This is Boldt Castle at sunset.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story and beautiful pix! I would like to see these sights myself someday!