THOUSAND ISLANDS, NEW YORK
A Wonderful Vacation Opportunity!
by Glenn Arnette, lll
I have just completed one of the best vacations I have ever experienced. It was superb and probably one of the most relaxing. Now that does not mean I was in slow motion, not at all! There is so much to do and so many things to see, until you really have to pace yourself to enjoy every minute of each day. I am talking about the 1000 Islands located above Syracuse, New York on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
After a quick flight I was ready to start my "upper" Northern experience!
On arrival in Syracuse, you could feel a real change in the weather, as it was only 60 degrees and it was the fourth of July week. Upon rental of a car I headed North up Highway 81 right to the 1000 Islands area. After crossing the American span of the 1000 Island Bridge you head to Wellesley Island where you will find the most charming village at the top of the world before you jump to Canada.
I had the pleasure of staying with my good friends Brion Price, his sister Carol and his mother Sue Price in Fineview. They have five cottages perched on top of a hill with a complete view of the river and its many Islands. The cottages are dated from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. I stayed in the green cottage on the river with three bedrooms, bath and a magnificent porch. The weather each day had a high in the upper 70”s and the lows at night around 50-55 degrees, and it was JULY.
Each day started with a wonderful cup of coffee as you sat on the porch and watched the large ships pass right in front of you. I am telling you they were close enough that the house would shake from the engines plowing through the water. Now, there are many things to tell you about and hopefully I can get it all into one story. If not, guess what, next week I will finish, but don’t miss a single minute of what you are about to read. I have a feeling you might pack your bags and head North! I want to especially thank Deanna Denver for giving me a first class tour of the entire area aboard her nice Stingray Boat. What a great two days of touring with friends!
The 1000 Islands are like an Adult Camp. Remember when you went to camp for the Summer and had those wonderful times? This is it! The area known as TIP (Thousand Island Park) was a Methodist Camp at one time. It is a very quaint little village with adorable cottages and shops. Each day there is something for you to do and the park is always active. It is like a movie set and you are the star of the film. There were Indians, food stored in barrels, coal, lumber, and “Skiffs” to navigate the river. Now it is history, history, history and perfect for living and meeting tourists visiting from all over the world.
I would like to tell you about two areas in the 1000 Island region. The first is Clayton. Clayton is where you will find the nostalgic grandeur of life on the St. Lawrence River. Soon after it was settled in 1822, Clayton became a major shipbuilding and lumbering port. Dozens of charming buildings from this magnificent era remain. Clayton is the home of many museums, but the most famous is the Antique Boat Museum (315- 686-4104) housing a history of wooden boats throughout the years. Then there is the Thousand Islands Museum (315-686-5794) that houses special exhibits of world-class muskies and hunting decoys from the past and present. The Hand weaving Museum and Arts Center (315-686-4123) showcases a beautiful collection of hand weaving and offers art exhibitions and workshops for all ages. If you fish, welcome to paradise. Anglers can launch their pursuit of a trophy muskellunge or walleye from one of Clayton’s many river access points.
For the local flavor, try one of Clayton’s restaurants for some fine St. Lawrence cuisine. Relax at one of the many outdoor restaurants along the river and remember the temperature is very mild. For additional information and a visitors guide call (800) 252-9806 or go to their website www.1000Islands-Clayton.com . By-the-way, let me say hello to Albert Buker at Clayton Wine and Spirits. It is the best place to find champagne to toast the Islands.
I know you are going to ask about Thousand Island Dressing. Yes, it started there when this dressing was used by George Lalonde, who put it on his salads for his shore dinners in Clayton. He gave the recipe to Mrs. Irwin. She took the recipe to the owner of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and the dressing became famous. Now here is the original recipe for you to try.
Thousand Island Dressing Recipe
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup ketchup
3 tbs. Relish
1 tsp lemon juice
Mix all together.
From Clayton you go in the opposite direction (only a few miles) and you end up at Alexandria Bay. You could spend days exploring the possibilities of “the Bay”. With its great range of attractions, lodging and restaurants you will find plenty to do, day or night. Alexandria Bay’s events schedule is always jam-packed. Friends and families are transformed into buccaneers and scalawags during Bill Johnston’s Pirate Days. Everyone always enjoys the annual Powerboat Poker Run, Blues in the Bay Festival, Fourth of July Fireworks over Boldt Castle and the Roaring 20’s Weekend. It is all about food, fun, shopping, and history.
And speaking of history, you have the spectacular BOLDT CASTLE, owned by George Boldt, who came to America in the 1860’s from Prussia. The castle on Heart Island was to be the testimony of the unsurpassed love of a man for his wife. The work to build the castle was underway, but when word came that Mrs. Boldt was dead, three hundred workman dropped their tools and left the island, never to return. George Boldt never returned to the property or completed the project.
The Castle is like an ancient landmark of northern Europe and is modeled after buildings of the 16th century, when newly revived classical details were applied to the towered, medieval forms, combining traditional elements with modern features such as large plate glass windows and extensive verandas. Rising six stories from the foundation, you must go and discover the magnificence of this place. From 1904 until 1977, Boldt Castle continued to deteriorate to a state of disrepair. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority assumed ownership in 1977 and began a rehabilitation program. What a showplace! You can see how the Bridge Authority’s use of all net revenues from this operation will preserve it and other structures for the enjoyment of future generations.
Take time to tour the Thousand Island Winery, located just outside of Alexandria Bay. There you will find a super family and be given a fantastic tasting of their many local wines. Stephen and Erika Conaway knew how to plan and develop this property into a thriving business and winery and along with their partners, Frank and Michele Mayer, they do a great job. Stephen, a former vet, and using his original war boards, put his dream on paper and brought it to life. What a place for a fun party! When you go up that way, ask them to tell you about the “barn”. It is something out of Sear’s history and completely rebuilt. Call and let them ship a few bottles your way, if the law allows at (315) 482-9306 or email www.ThousandIslandsWinery.com.
I enjoyed the Merlot!
You can take boats from many points at Clayton and Alexandria Bay, including guided tour boats and more to see the wonders of the Islands including the homes of the famous like The Pullman Summer Home, Rand McNally Summer home and hundreds of others. It was and is the playground of the rich and famous of New York and now those of us who live normal lives.
How could I not include a great shopping place for you to visit. Well, this one is two miles out in the middle of the lake and on its own island. Imagine, a shop on an Island and the only way to get there is by boat. It is a fantastic shop for just about anything you could possibly want to buy.
Welcome to the BOATEAK, a place where you will see hundreds of artifacts from by gone eras and ponder the workmanship of about 300 craft artists from throughout the country who contribute to the treasure chest of collectibles. The BOATEAK features ambiance and charm and Cookie
Sanborn, the owner, is a major part of that. This is a must! Something unusual and different. Take your money and have a wonderful time shopping in the middle of the water! (315) 686-3190 or email from information at [email protected].
When headed up that way, be sure to take a jacket and remember at the end of September things begin to close for the season. Gets a little cold up there during the Winter and the lake freezes over.
I know I left everything out of this story, but what can I do. I am limited with space and there is still so much to tell. Thanks to everyone for my favorite vacation and trip!
I have one last thing to tell you. When you are in Syracuse, be sure to go and dine at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que of Willow Street. This is a trip and something you will talk about for days. It is a genuine Honky Tonk Rib Joint and the best food around. Take my word for it, ORDER their Bar-B-Que sauce and put some passion on your plate. Call them at (888) 476-1662 or go to their website at www.dinosaurbarbque.com. As they say it is good for Divorce Parties, Holiday Hoedowns, Tailgate/Super bowl Parties, and Parties for the sake of Parties. Have fun!
Thanks for the many emails and thoughts. Glad you are reading and enjoying the stories. Lots more to come, so keep reading! Contact me a [email protected]. Until next time, bye