ROAD TRIP DAY 21: ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER CASTLE

We have been enjoying our stay in Alexandria Bay very much. Once again, we landed at a great little motel recommended by Trip Advisor reviewers, and it has served as a comfortable home base for our Thousand Islands visit.

The Rock Ledge Motel is well-managed by Cindy and Jim, our warm and friendly proprietors. If you are ever in the area, stay here. It’s ranked #1 in Alexandria Bay, and its great reviews are well-deserved.

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Today, we used the second half of our combination ticket with Uncle Sam Boat Tours to see Singer Castle. Our one-hour boat ride each way to and from the castle was narrated, and we had a guided tour of the castle.

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Our view of Boldt Castle as we pulled out from the dock for our cruise to Singer Castle

Built by Ernest Flag in 1902-1905, Singer Castle is now owned by a European castle enthusiast group that restores castles and opens them for tours. This particular castle also has one room of accomodations available if you are willing to fork over $725 per night (which includes breakfast and dinner). As the only guests, you would be treated as a king and/or queen.

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The most interesting thing about this castle were the many secret passageways running throughout. I also happened to like one of the rooms with large windows on three sides. If you gazed out the windows to the east during an early breakfast, you could watch the sun rising over the United States. Return at the end of the day for dinner, and watch the sun setting over Canada.

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Although we enjoyed the castle and tour, it wasn’t nearly as impressive as Boldt Castle. It also wasn’t as well-maintained. The difference? Singer Castle is privately owned and for-profit. We’re guessing they’re going to get what they can out of tourists and possibly sell it before sinking any more money into renovations. Just a guess…

Boldt Castle, on the other hand, is continually being meticulously renovated by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, and it’s quite evident they are not sparing any expense in the materials and methods used for construction. It is well-funded and will always be well-preserved.

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After our tour, we returned to Clayton for a leisurely walk around town.  Here, we came upon an Amish man selling beautiful baskets and baked goods.  After buying some cookies (six thick and hefty cookies for $2), I was able to shoot his photo inconspicuously from the shop across the street.

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ROAD TRIP DAY 20: BEAUTIFUL BOLDT CASTLE

Can you imagine designing a castle to be built as a symbol of your love for your wife, hiring 300 men to build it over a four year period, and your wife dying suddenly just two weeks before the castle’s completion? This was the tragedy that broke George Boldt’s heart in 1904 as he neared completion of the castle he designed to have built on Heart Island, named for the heart shape of his private one-home island.

After this happened, he sent a telegram ordering his 300 employees to immediately stop construction. They dropped their tools, left the island, never to return. George Boldt never returned either, and the 127-room castle was abandoned and fell into disrepair. Vandals looted the castle and obliterated the walls with graffiti, adding to its sorry state.

In 1977, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority assumed ownership of and immediately began a rehabilitation program. No government funds are used in its ongoing renovation, and it is completely supported by tour revenues and private donations.

George Boldt was quite the self-made man having come from a poor family who immigrated to America. Ultimately, he became the most successful hotel magnate in the U.S. and is most known for managing/ profit sharing the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia.

You’ve heard that phrase, “The customer is always right.” Right? George Boldt coined that phrase.

Today, Bruce and I hopped on an Uncle Sam’s Boat Tours sternwheeler cruise for their “2 Nation Tour” of islands belonging to both the U.S. and Canada. The narrated tour ended at Boldt Castle where we did a leisurely self-guided tour before taking a shuttle back to the mainland.

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Fortunately, we had PERFECT weather today, a dream scenario for an open-deck tour of one of the most gorgeous places we had ever seen. To say this was the highlight thus far in our road trip would be an understatement. It was magnificent!

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The view from the boat of Boldt Castle’s outer “playhouse.”  We later returned on foot for a closer look.

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The view of the “power house” from the boat. This is where power was generated for use by the castle.

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Boldt Castle’s Boathouse

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The boat tour continued before returning to the castle.  We went from viewing mansions, to Boldt Castle, to, well, this humble little cutie.  This is the one I would love to rent for a late-spring vacation!

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This bridge connects the United States to Canada.

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Following our narrated boat tour, we were dropped off on Heart Island to tour the castle.

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There was a “before” photo in each renovated room of the castle showing the damage done by vandals.  The “after” was exquisite!

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The remainder of the afternoon was spent exploring the nearby village of Clayton where we visited the Antique Boat Museum and wandered through the quaint historic village streets. Lovely.

ROAD TRIP DAY 19: (TWO) THOUSAND ISLANDS, NEW YORK

It’s called “Thousand Islands”, but there are nearly 2,000 islands along the St. Lawrence River that divides Canada and the United States.

Ever wonder where Thousand Island Dressing got its name? Wonder no more; it was created here, in Upstate New York.

This is just one of the reasons why we’re here: http://www.boldtcastle.com/visitorinfo/ . Make sure to scroll down the page to see the aerial shot of the castle. When I first heard about Boldt Castle from two different people in our Sun City Peachtree community, I looked it up in Google and landed on this photo that literally made me jump out of my chair and run to get Bruce. I just had to show him how gorgeous it was here. Watching a video of aerial footage of the islands had me drooling to see this place.

Before driving to Alexandria Bay where we would be staying for our three-night visit to Thousand Islands, we drove around Cornell University. What a gorgeous campus! The neighborhoods around the campus are beautiful, too, full of lovely large homes on spacious properties.

The drive to the islands was also pretty, especially along State Route 13 and Lake Ontario. We took the longer route to enjoy the views, and we enjoyed the drive even though the skies were cloudy.

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By late afternoon, the clouds blew out, and it is a gorgeous clear evening. We are looking forward to what’s predicted to be a lovely day tomorrow!

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Meanwhile, we poked around the little town of Alexandria Bay and shot a couple of photos across to Heart Island where Boldt Castle is located. This photo is of just the power house and clock tower for the castle. More on the castle tomorrow…

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This is the Boldt Yacht House on Wellesley Island.  It is located very close to Boldt Castle on Heart Island.

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These Alexandria Bay Townhomes have boat garages rather than car garages.  Just open the garage door, and motor your boat right on in!