The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘New York’ category

1000 Islands Vacation Day 3: Clayton, NY

On Day 3 (Tuesday, June 21) of our 1000 Island Vacation we visited places south of our home port of Alexandria Bay, NY.  So far I have shared blog posts about Rock Island Lighthouse and our visit to Wellesley Island State Park.  Today’s blog post is about our visit to Clayton, NY.

From Wellesley Island we drove back over the Thousand Islands Bridge to the quintessential river town of Clayton, NY.  The blue waters of the St. Lawrence River provide a beautiful, soothing backdrop for this picturesque little town.

We ate lunch at Bella’s.

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Bella’s Bistro

20160621_163158000_iOS 4x6We seated ourselves on the deck,
at a window table that overlooked the St. Lawrence River.

I ordered a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a green salad. Bob ordered a Greek Wrap with a green salad. The view was outstanding; our meals were delicious; service was excellent; and the price was OK.

After lunch we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the river.  We walked down Riverside Drive.

_LG23040 4x6James St. & Riverside Dr. intersection
Bella’s Bistro is located on Riverside Dr., to camera left but outside this photograph.

_LG23074 4x6Riverside Drive – Historic District
late 19th century commercial buildings

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Riverside Drive
Simon Johnston House, c. 1880
built for local shipbuilder

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Looking across Simon Johnston House grounds
to Riverside Drive

_LG23071 4x6This is such a pretty view of Riverside Drive!

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Monument Park on Riverside Drive

_LG23067 4x6Riverside Drive
Village Docks and Park

All along the river is comfortable seating that invites one to sit, watch and relax. We walked alongside the boat docks and saw two men, with binoculars, who we believe were keeping an eye on boat traffic originating in Canada.

A short way from the Village Docks is Frink Park.

_LG23065 4x6Frink Park

_LG23066 4x6Frink Park was a former NY Central Railroad Depot and steamer landing.

We continued our walk along the river, past Frink Park.

_LG23049 4x6Riverwalk

As I mentioned earlier, all along the river is comfortable seating that invites one to sit, watch and relax.

_LG23054 4x6Bob is looking at a map, hoping to identify the island across the river.
He was successful in his search and identified the island as Calumet Island.

Calumet Island formerly featured one of the earliest examples of the large castles built in the Thousand Islands region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, of which Boldt Castle in nearby Alexandria Bay is a surviving example.  In 1956 a fire destroyed much of the castle.  Today, all that remains is the water tower (which has been converted to a light house), ice house, power house, skiff house, servant’s house, boat house, and the staircase that led up to the castle.

_LG23058 4x6Water Tower on Calumet Island

In addition to the river views and the lovely architecture of this picturesque town, several murals drew my attention.  The large exterior murals were painted by Kelly Curry.  Each mural is a work of art!

_LG23039 4x6Mural by Kelly Curry

_LG23061 4x6Mural by Kelly Curry

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Mural by Kelly Curry

From Clayton we made a return trip to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, located in Cape Vincent.  This second visit to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse will be featured in the next blog post in my 1000 Islands Vacation series.

1000 Islands Vacation – Day 3: Wellesley Island State Park

On Day 3 (Tuesday, June 21) of our 1000 Island Vacation we visited places south of our home port of Alexandria Bay, NY.  Yesterday’s blog post was about Rock Island Lighthouse.  Today’s blog post is about our visit to Wellesley Island State Park.

Wellesley Island State Park is located on Wellesley Island.  Wellesley Island is the second largest island in the Thousand Islands.  In order to reach Wellesley Island you must cross the Thousand Islands Bridge.  You pay a toll ($2.75 during our visit) to get onto Wellesley Island, but not to leave the island.  There are three NY state parks on Wellesley Island: DeWolf Point State Park, Waterson Point State Park and Wellesley Island State Park.  The State Park land takes up about one third of Wellesley Island.  The rest of the land on the island is privately owned.  We chose to visit Wellesley Island State Park, as opposed to the other state parks, because the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center is located at Wellesley Island State Park.  According to the state park brochure, the other two state parks featured only campsites, cabins, boat docks, a gazebo, and a toilet building. Our NY Empire State Passport provided free entry to Wellesley Island State Park.

During our visit to the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, we hiked three trails: Eel Bay Trail, Sand Cove Trail and Middle Trail. Bob used his Fitbit to track our hike.

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Our hiking loop was a little more than 2 miles in distance.  We spent approximately 1-3/4 hours on the hiking trails, making lots of stops along the way to enjoy the view.

_LG22976 4x6Minna Anthony Common Nature Center
Our hike began at the nature center building.

The Eel Bay Trail follows the contour of the St. Lawrence River and provides scenic views of the river, rock ledges and glacial potholes.

_LG22979 4x6The Eel Bay Trail followed the contour of the St. Lawrence River.

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The Eel Bay Trail followed the contour of the St. Lawrence River.

_LG22985 4x6The Eel Bay Trail follows the contour of the St. Lawrence River.

_LG22993 4x6The Eel Bay Trail followed the contour of the St. Lawrence River.

_LG22994 4x6The Eel Bay Trail followed the contour of the St. Lawrence River.
This is one of several islands that we saw during our hike.

 A special geological feature of the Eel Bay Trail were two glacial potholes.

_LG23001 4x6Boardwalk to glacial potholes

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_LG22995 4x6One of two glacial potholes

_LG23003 4x6Red Rock Ledges

IMG_20160621_102131 4x6The Eel Bay Trail ends at “The Narrows”.

On the way back to the nature center building we followed three trails: Eel Bay Trail, the mostly forested Sand Cove Trail and the Middle Trail (gravel trail).

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We saw our first Pileated Woodpecker,
while on the Sand Cove Trail.

I took several pictures of the Pileated Woodpecker.  This was the best picture out of all the pictures that I took.  The woodpecker was too far away, in the shade, and surrounded by branches and leaves. When I moved to a closer position, the woodpecker flew away.

The Middle Trail passed by the Butterfly House. We didn’t see any butterflies.  A park ranger said it was a little early in the summer for butterflies.

_LG23036 4x6How Big is Your Wingspan?
This sign was located on the Middle Trail, as we neared the Nature Center Building.

From Wellesley Island we drove back over the Thousand Islands Bridge to Clayton, NY — the subject of the next blog post in my 1000 Islands Vacation series.

1000 Islands Vacation – Day 3: Rock Island Lighthouse

On Day 3 (Tuesday, June 21) of our 1000 Island Vacation we visited places south of our home port of Alexandria Bay, NY.  Today’s blog post is about Rock Island Lighthouse.

Rock Island Lighthouse is located approximately 4.5 miles northeast of Clayton NY, off of Fishers Landing. The lighthouse is one of six lighthouses put up along the St. Lawrence River to guide traffic to and from Lake Ontario through the waterway. Rock Island Lighthouse is the best preserved of the six lighthouses.  The lighthouse is accessible by boat only.

We originally planned to take a boat tour from Clayton to Rock Island to visit the Rock Island Lighthouse. However, after seeing the lighthouse from Fishers Landing and at Fineview on Wellesley Island, we decided to save the boat tour for another visit.

In Fishers Landing I walked to the end of a dead end street and was rewarded with my first sighting of the Rock Island Lighthouse.  Please note in the images shared below that the lighthouse appears much closer than it really was.  I obtained these photographs by use of a telephoto lens, cropping the resultant images.

Rock Island Lighthouse

An elderly gentleman named Art, who lived at the last house on that dead end street told me that a better view of the lighthouse was possible on Wellesley Island. He said that trees would not be in the way, as they were from his vantage point. Following Art’s direction Bob and I crossed over the Thousands Islands Bridge (Interstate 81), paid the $2.75 toll and arrived on Wellesley Island.

Thousand Islands Bridge
(view from Fishers Landing)

Rock Island Lighthouse

The Fineview vantage point did provide for a much better view of Rock Island Lighthouse. Thank you, Art, for the suggestion!

After admiring Rock Island Lighthouse from a distance, we continued onto Wellesley Island State Park — the subject of the next blog post in my 1000 Islands Vacation series.

 

 

1000 Islands Vacation – Day 2 Continued

As I wrote in my previous blog post, we enjoyed a boat cruise on the St. Lawrence River during our second day of vacation.  At the end of the boat cruise we were given the option to disembark at Heart Island, at an additional admission fee of $9.00 each, which we did.  Heart Island is home to Boldt Castle.  We could spend as much time as desired on the island and take any Uncle Sam boat back to Alexandria Bay.  We spent approximately 2 hours on the island during which time we watched a short video about George Boldt, the early death of his wife and the restoration of the castle and enjoyed a self-guided tour of the castle, its outbuildings and the island grounds .

Heart Island

Boldt Castle

George C. Boldt came to America in 1864 from Prussia, the son of poor parents.  He became the most successful hotel magnate in America managing and profit sharing the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, as well as the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Boldt began construction on Boldt Castle in 1900, as a tribute to his beloved wife Louise. Mrs. Boldt passed away suddenly, in January 1904, just months before the completion of the castle. Mr. Boldt was inconsolable and immediately stopped all construction on Heart Island, leaving the property vacant for over seventy years. In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and decided that through the use of all net revenues from the castle operation it would be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.  Since 1977, several million dollars have been applied to rehabilitating, restoring and improving the Heart Island structures.

Boldt Castle rises six stories from the foundation level of the indoor pool
to the highest towered room.  The castle contains 120 rooms.

We toured the ground floor, second floor, third floor, fourth floor and the foundation of the castle.

After our interior tour of Boldt Castle, we spent our remaining time admiring the outbuildings and the island grounds.

the Heart Island Gazebo

Alster Tower

The design of Alster Tower looks like a defense tower.  The Alster Tower, often referred to as the Playhouse, however, was intended for the entertainment of guests. The Alster Tower plans included a room for dancing, a bowling alley, a billiard room, library, bedrooms, cafe, grill and kitchen.

The interior of Alster Tower is currently under renovation.

The Entry Arch

The Entry Arch
Alster Tower in the background

The Power House and Clock Tower

The Power House originally housed two generators
that supplied electricity to Heart Island.

Italian Garden
The four marble statues represent the four seasons.

the Dove-Cote Tower

The Dove-Cote Tower once housed an elevated water tank, which supplied water to the island structures. It was topped with a dove house, where fancy fowl were collected.

When we were ready to leave Heart Island, we did not have a long wait for a shuttle boat.  Shuttle boat returns were every half hour at 10 minutes after and 20 minutes to the hour.

We rode this shuttle boat back to Alexandria Bay from Heart Island.

The return trip was quick, only a 10-minute ride.

One last look at Heart Island from the shuttle boat

We ate lunch at Coleman’s Dock of the Bay.

Coleman’s Dock of the Bay

Bob ordered a Philly Cheese steak sandwich, and I ordered a pulled pork sandwich. Accompanying our sandwiches were house chips. We added a basket of onion rings with a Creole dip to our order. Lunch was good, especially the onion rings.

We returned to our hotel, Capt.’s Inn & Suites, around 4:00 pm.

In the early evening we took a drive to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse.  The lighthouse, which is located in Cape Vincent, NY, was less than a 30-mile drive (along NY State Route 12) from our hotel.

Tibbetts Point Lighthouse
This lighthouse marks the point where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River.

We made it back to our hotel from Tibbetts Point Lighthouse only a short time before a storm hit. Thunder, lightning and rain was intense. At 8:15 pm the electricity went out at our hotel. The electricity was still out, when we went to bed 2 hours later. Sometime during the night our electricity was restored.

1000 Islands Vacation – Day 2

Day 2 of our 5-day vacation in the New York 1000 Islands region was on Monday, June 20.  In the event you haven’t read the account of our first day of vacation, you may do so by clicking here.

We ate breakfast at our hotel, Capt.’s Inn & Suites, while sitting on our deck. Breakfast included hard boiled eggs, toast with butter / bagel with cream cheese, and an orange. We brought with us food from home for breakfast, as a way to save money. Capt.’s Inn & Suites does not provide a free breakfast, continental or otherwise. There is coffee and hot water for tea, though, available in the lobby throughout the day, beginning at 7:00 am.

We left for a walk in downtown Alexandria Bay around 7:00 am. My favorite walk is the River Walk.  The River Walk is a pedestrian walkway that connects Alexandria Bay’s downtown area, the waterfront and Scenic View Park.   Along the trail, interpretative kiosks and historical elements highlight the historical background of Alexandria Bay. The trail offers pedestrians a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River and Boldt Castle.  We strolled along the River Walk several times during our 4-night stay in Alexandria Bay.

James Street entrance to River Walk

River Walk

View of Boldt Castle on Heart Island from River Walk

View of Casino Island from River Walk
Casino Island is accessible by a footbridge from Scenic View Park.

Scenic View Park
Looking down on Casino Island (see gazebo?)

Scenic View Park
Monument to PFC Jack D Sweet,
who was was killed in action
while serving with D Company, 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry
during Operation Iraqi Freedom on February 8, 2008

We should have eaten breakfast here, rather than at our hotel!

We saw some wildlife, too, while on the River Walk.

Mama (or Papa) Goose and Several Goslings

Female Mallard Duck and Ducklings

Black Squirrel with Nut

We saw a mink for the first time, while in Alexandria Bay!

Mink

Mink

We watched this mink for quite some time.
Our patience paid off.
The mink captured its breakfast!

Returning to downtown Alexandria Bay from our morning stroll on River Walk, we stopped at Chez Paris Diner for coffee and tea to go. We drank our hot beverages, while sitting on a park bench on James Street.

James Street
Looking toward the Lower James Street Dock

At 10:00 am we boarded the Alexandria Belle for Uncle Sam’s 2 Nation boat cruise on the St. Lawrence River.

the Alexandria Belle

According to its website, Uncle Sam’s most popular cruise is the 2 Nation Tour.  This is a description of the 2 ¼ hour boat tour, as provided by the Uncle Sam Boat Tours website.

“This international tour will take you on a 22 mile round-trip through American and Canadian waters – what is considered the ‘heart’ of the 1000 Islands. This trip will give you the best overall view of this truly unique geographical area shared by two nations.

Professional tour guides will provide a lively narrative as you cruise through the narrow channels, over historic sunken wrecks, by magnificent summer homes of the rich and famous and provide you with local historical facts and folk lore as well as information about the area’s geology, environment and native wildlife.

As you cruise on the emerald green waters of the mighty St. Lawrence River you will see international ships from all over the world either heading upriver to ports ringing the Great Lakes or heading downriver to the ocean and ports in distant lands. You will also see many pleasure boats from kayaks cruising along the shoreline to high performance powerboats criss-crossing the main shipping channel. Your tour guide will even point out the exact location of the international boundary line between the U.S. and Canada so be ready to look!

At the end of the cruise there is the option to disembark at Heart Island to enjoy a self-guided tour of Boldt Castle at an additional admission fee.”

We sat on the top deck for the entire cruise.  As mentioned, there was an option to disembark at Heart Island at the end of the 2 Nation boat cruise.  We did so, and I will share details and photographs of our visit to Heart Island in a separate blog post.

 

1000 Islands Vacation – Day 1

Our 5-day vacation in the New York 1000 Islands region began on Sunday, June 19.  We departed our home in Warren, PA shortly after 7:00 am.

We made two stops en route Alexandria Bay, NY.  The first stop was a fuel stop at the Mobil / 7-11 in Phelps NY (Rt. 14) at 10:25 am.  The second stop was for lunch at the Grist Mill Restaurant, located off Interstate 81 in Parish, NY. I ordered a taco salad; Bob ordered a taco wrap. Both of our lunch choices were good. Service was friendly and quick too. Price was fair. We were on our way again by 12:30 pm.

We arrived at our hotel, Capt.’s Inn & Suites in Alexandria Bay, at approximately 2:00 pm. We checked in and unpacked.  Our room was located on the ground floor, room 108. This would be our home away from home for the next four nights.

Our hotel room appeared to have been renovated recently.

Our hotel room was furnished with two king beds, a night stand between the two beds, a desk and chair, an arm chair, a three-drawer dresser, a flat-screen TV, and a mini refrigerator.  The bathroom was generously sized and was located behind the closed door in the top photograph.

 

Our hotel room also included a large deck with a patio table and chairs.

Generously-sized deck with table and chairs

This was the view from our hotel room deck.

We went for a walk a couple hours after checking into our hotel.  Capt.’s Inn & Suites is located within easy walking distance to downtown Alexandria Bay.  Our walk took us across Route 12 and down Church Street toward the St. Lawrence River. We turned right onto James Street and followed it to the dock. We retraced our steps to River Walk, which we followed to Casino Island and Scenic View Park. The park and island provided scenic views of the river, as well as of Boldt Castle on Heart Island.

James Street

Boldt Castle on Heart Island

A cargo ship passed between us, as we looked upon Boldt Castle.
The Arklow Willow currently sails under the Canadian flag.

Boldt Castle on Heart Island,
as seen from the Scenic View Park

This is Casino Island.

I practiced taking bird-in-flight photographs, while on Casino Island.

Boy was it hot and humid the afternoon of June 19th! I saw a temperature reading of 88 degrees, during our walk.

We returned to our hotel room around 5:00 pm.  We ate a picnic dinner at the hotel, while sitting in the shade at a picnic table near our hotel room.

 

Ashtabula County OH Covered Bridge Tour (Post 14 of 18)

Please refer to my first Ashtabula County OH Covered Bridge Tour blog post for additional information about this series of blog posts.

This is the West Liberty Street Covered Bridge.

This covered bridge crosses Cowles Creek and is the shortest covered bridge in the United States.  Ashtabula County also has the longest covered bridge in the United States – the Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge.

West Liberty Street Covered Bridge and toll-keeper booth

The toll-keeper booth is to remind visitors of pioneer days, when travelers often had to pay for the privilege of crossing a bridge.  The toll-keeper booth serves as a visitor information center.

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