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VACATIONING ON THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER

The northern summers are brief but spectacular.

sunny 72 °F

Hello everyone!

It has been a week or so since I have worked on my blog and much has happened in this short span of time. We settled in for 8 days at Jacques Cartier State Park on the St. Lawrence River. It probably is one of the most beautiful parks we have encountered for the sites are spacious, the staff friendly, and the river scenery is unique in that the big ships sail by on the Seaway making their way either to the Great Lakes going westward or to the Atlantic Ocean if headed eastward. Our purpose for staying at the park was to establish a 'base' in the center of our planned activities.

Upon arriving here the first night we were invited to the home of old friends for a 'Happy Hour' gathering which was filled with merriment and reminiscence. The next night it was a picnic at the river cottage of my sister RuthAnn and brother-in-law, Ken along with our sister Carol and husband, Larry from Louisiana who are spending the summer in the north country. It was fun being together for the last time was at my home in Florida last March.

A trip to the north country and 'the river' would not be complete without taking a boat tour of the 1,000 Islands from Alexandria Bay. The chosen day was beautiful on the river and the narrated tour pointed out many island mansions built during the Gilded Age of the late 1800's. These islands became a playground of the rich during that period. The grandest of them all is the 120-room Boldt Castle, a fairyland castle patterned after Rhineland castles of Europe. It has a romantic but tragic story connected to it. George Boldt who owned the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City and the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia was a self-made millionaire in the luxury hotel business. He built this castle as a loving tribute to his wife. When she died unexpectedly at the age of 43 he ordered all work to stop. It was 90% completed at the time. Left abandoned it fell into disrepair, ravaged by weather and vandals. Eventually, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought it for $1.00 and over the past 20+ years have invested over $30M in the restoration of this magnificent structure. The main floor and second floor rooms have been restored to their original splendor along with several out buildings. Boldt reshaped the island into a heart-shape (re-named it Heart Island) and it is a popular wedding site during the summer months. Thousands of tourists visit each year. Clayton, NY, about 10 miles west of Alexandria Bay is also located on the river. Rich in 'river lore' it is the site of the Antique Boat Museum. The wonderful facility has a collection of various wooden boats of the last century, most owned by wealthy island owners. The largest is 'La Duchess' a 100' houseboat built for and owned by George Boldt. Boldt used a tug boat to move it around the islands. The guest rooms, owner's stateroom, salon, dance floor, etc. all with varnished mahogany and polished brass, have been beautifully restored. Boldt's Yacht house provided shelter for his 60+ boats of various sizes and types.

While living in the north country we made friends with Canadian residents across the river. On another evening we drove across the International Bridge at Ogdensburg to their home on the river, Canadian side. A fun time was had with drinks and snacks on their deck and dinner afterward at a local restaurant. Our special friendship goes back 30 years.
An 80th birthday was the occasion for a clam bake & roasted turkey party with 'countless' food dishes to pass at another friend's house. At least 30 people attended, old friends & grandkids-all of whom have grown into adulthood! It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys! Another friend, dating back 25-30 years, sent me a text saying "I heard you were in town and we want to get together. Will come to your campsite with all the food and will do the cooking". Last evening was the picnic and 10 of us gathered to renew old friendships, eat grilled steak, marinated shrimp, etc., etc. What fun!
The rest of the week will be consumed with nightly gatherings with old friends, both Canadian and American. I look forward to it all.

Dick

Posted by dixter 07:11 Archived in USA Tagged usa canada &

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