Friday, September 23, 2016

Land of a Thousand [Dances] [Lakes] Islands

We are visiting a place we never knew existed.  You see, we grew up in the South and in the South you don’t know (or care) about any places up North.  

However, there is such a place, in New York, no less, called Thousand Islands.  It's a Region.  

When I was a teenager, we talked on the phone.  That’s what teenagers did in the 60’s and 70’s.  (And the 80’s).  There was no e-mail, i-message or text messaging.  We actually communicated via the telephone.  And to miss a call… well that could be crucial to your social development.    

While sometimes away from that land line (or home), I would always assume my Daddy would be taking messages for me.

“Did anyone call me, Daddy?”

“Yep.”   (My dad was a man of few words.)

“So.  Who was it?”

“Somebody.  Told them you was at Thousand Islands and was gonna spend a week on each Island.”

“Really, Daddy?  Who was it?”

“I just told you.”  And that was that.

So, of course, I never knew who called.  In addition, I thought Thousand Island was a place my Daddy made up.  Right?

I‘ve learned that my Daddy was so much smarter than I ever imagined.  He knew there was such a place.  Thousand Islands.

Now, being here,  I only wish I had really been there when he told that person I was there when they called!

This part of the country is beautiful this time of year (September).  Though it may be the shoulder tourist season, and lots of things are closed (or diminished) already for winter, we are enjoying the weather.  We also are loving these little tiny communities that we are stumbling across.  Houses of all sizes line the St. Lawrence River.  I don't believe there are strict covenants and restrictions here.  Everyone seems to take care of their places and the ones we have seen are all well groomed and manicured.  We saw mansions from yonder years, once glorious but now struggling to “stay alive”.  These mansions are housed their own little island.  We even visited Bondt Castle, the biggest tourist trap you’d ever see, but even THAT house has much class and has been well-loved. 

On the banks of the St. Lawrence River
near Rockport, Ontario, the statues is seen
only from the water.  St. Lawrence holds
the Bible in one hand and a gridiron over
which he is said to have been roasted.
Bondt Castle Welcome

The line is drawn.  Left island is Canadian
and Right Island is American.
The SLR is our first taste of the Thousand islands.  (But they tell us that there are over 1.800 islands in this place called Thousand Islands).  

We crossed over the Thousand Islands Bridge and got a taste — eh? — of Canada. There’s a tower there…(of course) the Thousand Islands Tower.  If you climb up the spiral staircase, you can see all the islands, we were told.  (There is also an elevator).  Only it was raining the day we were there so we didn’t bother because you really need a clear day.  
They tell us the area is in drought.  The River is way down.  But it is so clear and pristine!  We are betting it is cold, though we are told it is pretty warm for this time of year… 75 degrees.  The sky is crystal clear and sun is perfectly warm.  A great time to visit.  Except when it is rainy.  Then the temp drops 20 degrees and you can only imagine what winter must be like here.

Ever wonder where Thousand Island Dressing originated?  Yep.  You guessed it.  Right here in the Thousand Islands region.  And you didn't even have to GOOGLE it.

This place has been the summer homes for so many people for so many years.  We’ve seen overnight trailer parks, permanent trailer parks, small little batches on the edge of the water, regular sized homes and million-dollar mansions.  We, from the south, can liken all this to the FLORIDA that we know.  The only difference is... People are nice to you here.  

It’s a great place to visit.  

But I wouldn’t wanna live here. 

Friday, September 16, 2016


I really must be getting old.  I never thought I’d ever be saying this… but it is too hot for the beach in the summertime.  It is nice to be 20 degrees cooler when the City is about 100 degrees... so we head for the hills!

I remember visiting mountain destinations as a child.  Maggie Valley (Ghost Town in the Sky) and Cherokee, N.C. were two destinations my parents enjoyed with friends of the family.  As I recall, we would drive straight through to get to cooler climates. 

Hubs really likes to do the hiking.  The hikes are more and more challenging each year for me.  This year’s mountain visit holds the records for NO Hikes taken.   By me.   I had all sorts of excuses.  “Looks like rain!”  “The trails are really slippery.”  “Ah, Man!  That trail that I wanted to do last time washed away in the heavy rainfall they had last year and they have closed it off!”  This year the Hubs ventured out on a short hike on his own, claims he got lost and I was frantic!  (I think he just wanted to be away from me.  He always did like to commune with nature.)

We do spend some time in the car driving to scenic viewpoints that will take your breath away. We love to get the breezes that go along with that scenery even if you can’t (won’t) do the hiking anymore.

Retro Signs excite me!
The Blue Ridge Parkway is our favorite destination and is a great source of scenery.  We discovered it a few years back, tasting a little bit during a jaunt with our friends who have a second home in smalltown, Virginia.  We both agreed we’d like to see more of it.  We first planned a trip in April and May, thinking we’d get to see lots of spring flowers.  

It was too early for spring.  Spring happens more like May and June.  We started in Cherokee, N.C. and journeyed all the way to the Shenandoah Parkway in Virginia to extend our scenic views.  On the Shenandoah Parkway we got to experience snowfall; or I should say “snowfell.”  There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground but the roads were clear.  It had snowed a few days prior to our arrival.  But the skies were crystal clear and blue.  I understand why Mountain Men will never give up Mountain Women.

A few years following, and every now and again, we long to taste the mountain air and so we plan a couple of weeks on the parkway, exploring sections we’ve not yet seen.  One of our favorite places to go is Mt. Pisgah Inn in North Carolina.  It is the only inn actually on the parkway in North Carolina.
Mt. Pisgah - The Peak of the Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an untouched gem in the south that I hope (and pray) will be preserved by the National Park Service for many generations to follow.  And I just pray my grandchildren will be able to enjoy the views and the cool air away from the Cities (from wherever they hail) that their Granddad and I have enjoyed so, so much!