Tuesday, June 16, 2009

1000 Islands to Ottawa (Jun 11-19)

We stayed in Cape Vincent for two nights because the clinic couldn't see me until late the day after we arrived. The surly dock master made sure we didn't over stay our welcome! We wished he'd been as diligent taking care of the midges that coated the boat after a night under a dock light.
The PA gave me prescriptions, but we had to wait until we got to Clayton to fill them - no drug store in Cape Vincent. The down side of the trip was that the ship's computer - the one with all the navigational charts, radar, weather,depth finder - would not boot up. Luckily, I'm on a boat with Mr. Redundant, so all was not lost. After much consternation the computer was packed up and mailed to Travis - the Mirage computer wiz.
We'd been told that in Clayton was a "must see" antique boat museum. We lucked into a special day with free admission and hot dogs - donations appreciated. The number of wooden boats, and their condition, was just astounding. My only disappointment was that we were not able to go aboard the gilded age house boat once owned by the Boldt's.
Our next stop was Alexandria Bay, a cute little touristy place where Joe thought he might be able to find some redundancy to replace what we'd sent off for repair.
After striking out on that, we made the short trip to Heart Island the next morning. Heart Island is the home of Boldt Castle. Mr. Boldt came to the US with nothing and eventually managed (with profit sharing) the Waldorf-Astoria, among others. He and his wife worked together and amassed a fortune - he's credited with the idea of room service. He bought Hart Island, changed the named to Heart and proceeded to build a castle for his wife. After four years and millions of dollars of construction, his wife died suddenly. He immediately had construction stopped - only a year and a half before completion - and the structures were abandoned. After years of neglect, the 1000 Island Bridge Authority bought the island and is restoring the castle. It's one of the few places we've been that allowed interior photos. Knowing how Lynn felt about making lamps with curved sides, we were really impressed by the skylight. The yacht house is on a separate island - which seems a little inconvenient. We toured it also and saw the addition that was made to house the house boat that we didn't get to see at the antique boat museum.
Once we left Boldt Castle we continued down the St. Lawrence, through the 1000 Islands. There are closer to 2000, many privately owned with all types of houses on them. Some of the islands seem to be solid rock with trees somehow managing to hang on. As we moved farther north, we entered the Millionaire's Row area - kind of the Newport of the north.
Now it was time to enter Canada by going ashore on the left side of the river. In our combined families Joe and I are the least traveled of all. Joe went to Mexico while stationed in Texas in the Army and I went to Barbados to visit my sister a few years ago. Beyond that, our foreign travel consisted of a cruise to the Bahamas more than 20 years ago. We'd read and heard lots of advice on passing through Canadian customs - no big deal. We went to a marina in Prescott, a small town where you call on the phone to clear customs. I could only hear Joe's answers: just ship's stores, no guns, no tobacco, no pepper spray, two bottles of un-opened wine and some opened liquor and wine boxes - boxed wine, wine in a plastic bladder contained in a box. Then he proceeded to tell the agent how much liquor was left in each of the opened bottles. Then: an herb garden, herbs...basil, sage, rosemary. Finally, after a bit more conversation he hung up. We'd been expelled from Canada - we had American dirt on-board. We had to leave Canadian waters and dispose of the dirt. It had been agreed, also, that we would dispose of our liquor instead of paying the considerable duty that would take him "some time" to calculate. So off we went, disposed of our contraband, back to Canada - everything ok.
The next day we found out the good thing about Canada is that if you use an atm or visa, you get free money! Take $400 from the atm, see $355 deducted from your account. We could get rich if we stay here long enough. Of course, a box of wine is $30 and we couldn't figure out how much the meat was at the grocery store - didn't think about learning how to convert kilos. And then there's the almost 13% sales tax.
After leaving Prescott, we continued north and passed through three locks. Since these are on the St. Lawrence, they are made for the big, ocean going ships. At one we had to wait for a ship to come out before we entered the lock. They are really big up close - we were glad we never had to share a lock with one. We were again lucky on this part of the trip - we'd heard stories of people waiting hours for a chance to lock through since the commercial traffic is given priority. I don't think we ever waited more than a half an hour and all the lock tenders were pleasant.
These locks are really heavy duty - and large. You drop you line over a large bollard that moves up as the water rises. It was easy, but the noise! I think they need to oil the things!
The next day we passed by Montreal (in the distance) as we turned onto the Ottawa River. There'd been some debate about going into Montreal either by boat or by train, but we decided it just wasn't going to happen on this trip. We stopped on the west side of Montreal in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue where we tied up to the wall just before the first Ottawa River lock. By this time, my drugs had kicked in pretty well, but Joe was really starting to suffer. The white stuff on the ground is clumps of fuzzy cottonwood seeds. Is it any wonder we were stuffed up?
The trip along the Ottawa River was pleasant, but the weather wasn't - over cast with rain off and on. But we've had so little rain we won't complain - plus Joe got some relief! Some areas along the shores were developed, a few small towns, but mostly the area seemed rural. Often there were just trees on both sides with hills in the distance. There were only two locks, but one was our biggest yet. In the Carillon Lock, we were to raise up 65 feet. Although our highest lock, it was about the easiest. After entering, you pass your lines to the lock tenders. They attach them to cleats on a platform. As the lock fills, the entire platform floats up. All we had to do was watch. In this photo, the top of the wall in front of us will be the bottom we cross to reach the lock door. You can see the top of the door above the wall. Jack and Pia on Still Busy followed us into the lock and the door came down behind them. Our trip up the Ottawa River ended when we reached Ottawa, ready to start down the Rideau Canal to Kingston on Lake Ontario after a few days of sightseeing. If you'd like to see more pictures, follow the link to our picasa albums: http://picasaweb.google.com/joseph.pica. (it's not always updated at the same time as this one, but I catch up eventually!)

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