July 19, 2016 (by Angela)
Today has been a fantastic day! One of the things on my “do” list for this week was to take a boat tour of the St. Lawrence River. Our first night in the campground, Jim and Chewie met a couple named Kitty and Salty who have been coming here for 43 years (at least Kitty has), and they highly recommended the 2+ hour Two Nations Cruise with Uncle Sam boat tours, which ends with the option to get off at Heart Island to tour Boldt Castle. It was also the same cruise recommended by the owners of the park, so we trusted everyone’s recommendations and bought tickets for the 11:30 a.m. cruise today. It was the perfect day and a great experience.
Jim and I learned quite a bit on the tour. Even though the area is known as “Thousand Islands,” there are actually 1,872 islands. To meet the requirements for an island, it must be at least 3 feet in diameter, above water level at all times, and have on it at least one tree and one other form of vegetation. The smallest island in the river to meet this requirement is Tom Thumb island. It was on the other side of the boat, and we missed that photo, but we got plenty of good pictures.
Obviously, since a Two Nation tour, we were in both American and Canadian waters, and we were shown two small islands owned by the same family with a 42′ bridge joining them. One island is in the U. S., and the other is in Canada. (Best picture we could get is below; about 75% of what was pointed out was on the opposite side from us.)
I kept commenting to Jim about how good everything smelled; the water did not stink or smell of fish. We learned that the water in the St. Lawrence River is 97% pure thanks to strong environmental protections (dropping a candy wrapper in the river is a $100 fine, and it goes up from there) and thanks to billions of tiny little mussels that filter the water. The entire river is filtered by these little mussels every 72 hours. I could blabber on, but the bottom line is this: go here and do this if you get a chance. Enjoy a few pictures below.
(Note: Canada has their environmental thing set well. You will see more trees on the Canadian side because building codes do not allow any more trees cut down to build than is necessary for the foundation. There are fines in the thousands of dollars per each extra tree cut.)
I have informed Jim that this area goes on our “we can summer here” list for retirement.
After the river boat cruise, we got off on Heart Island to see Boldt Castle. I’m not going to relate all of the history to you here; it is too much. The back story you need to know is that at the beginning of the 1900s, “George C. Boldt, millionaire proprietor of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel In New Your City, set out to build a full size Rhineland castle in Alexandria Bay, on picturesque Heart Island. The grandiose structure was to be a display of his love for his wife, Louise.” Unfortunately, Louise died at age 41 of what we now know as TB; the castle was 96% complete, but Boldt stopped all work and never lived there. The quote above and more information can be found here. Until 1977, the property was left to deteriorate and was vandalized, but at that point Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and began bringing it back to life; the work continues.
I LOVED it! Here are a few pictures.
After a good meal and a nap, Jim and I wrapped up our extraordinary day with a nice, long dog walk at Zenda Farms Preserve, located between the Village of Clayton and Merry Knoll Campground. We timed it well to finish as the sun was below the tree line. It was a beautiful 1 1/2 mile walk around the farm marred only by the gnats.
A day with a Boat cruise + a Castle tour + a good Dog walk = a Fun day!