Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Canada Day 1: Ontario and Quebec

Our first day of travel went fairly well when you consider that we didn’t have any mechanical failures or wind or rain or bad roads or accidents, and only a few construction zones. But we did get into a traffic jam going through Montreal (I think it was due to an accident) that took time and patience to get through.

However, we could have been clearer on selecting a destination and, long story short, ended up at an expensive RV park east of Montreal. Live and learn. Tomorrow we’ll know for sure where we’re going to spend the night, not leaving it to chance to possibly stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot (with 85 degrees and high humidity, we would have had to run our generators for a/c).

The first leg of our trip leaving Alexandria Bay, NY included three bridges across the St. Lawrence River and part of the 1000 Islands that would have given Nick Russell the jitters.

(Note: I have reduced the size of all pictures to save on bandwidth because of limited Internet access. You can click on any picture to see a larger version.)




I was glad Don was driving, but then after lunch I got to drive through Montreal!

As we crossed the border, Don answered all the agent’s questions, the usual stuff, and all seemed well. Then she told him to pull under the canopy (what canopy?) and wait for an agent to come see us. He pulled over beside the building, and two agents came out, a man and a woman. They asked us to come out of the motorhome, and the man took Don around the other side of the coach while the woman talked to me. They asked lots of questions, mostly about guns, mace, guns, pepper spray, guns, bear spray, guns, etc. The woman found it hard to believe that we have no guns with us, and don’t even own any! Then we were instructed to open all the slide-outs in the motorhome, and go inside the building with our passports for a background check while they inspected the inside of the rig.

Everything checked out okay and they wished us a pleasant stay in their country, but we’re still puzzled over why we were selected for inspection. Maybe it was just our turn.

Meanwhile, Denny and Susie stopped at a gift shop and currency exchange about 1/2 mile up the road. They discovered that we could exchange U.S. money for Canadian without a fee, and we got 4% more Canadian ($100 U.S. = $104 Can). Such a deal!

Here’s another bridge over the river for Nick.


And a last glimpse at 1000 Islands.


Here’s where we’re spending the night. Nice, but pricey.


Too bad the pool isn’t open as the season hasn’t really started yet – Susie and I tried to go for a dip and we got up to our knees in the cold water and got kicked out! The man spoke only French and we spoke only English, but we got the message loud and clear. You’d think they would put up a sign when they don’t want you in the pool…

Miles covered today: 180, but we actually drove about 18 more than that when we failed to find the park we wanted, so the total was 198 miles.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Antique Boat Museum, Clayton, NY

This was an interesting museum to tour, mainly for the chance to see the Boldt family’s houseboat, “La Duchesse.”


The boat was built in 1903 (making it 111 years old!) and measures 106 feet long, with a beam of 22 feet. It was built without an engine, and a tugboat “Queen” was used to move her. She was in the Boldt family until after George Boldt’s death in 1918. Edward J. Nobel, owner of the Beechnut Fruit Company and inventor of the Lifesaver candy, purchased Boldt’s estate, including the houseboat, but didn’t use her. In 1943 La Duchesse sank in her slip after a broken pipe allowed her hull to fill with water.

A few months later, Nobel agreed to sell the boat to Mr. & Mrs. Andrew McNally III (of Rand-McNally) for $100, with the agreement that they would remove the boat from the boathouse. A diver repaired the hole in the hull and the boat was towed to the nearby McNally estate on Wellesley Island.

The boat was under water so long, the interior wood on the lower deck was stained and had to be bleached. All of the plumbing and wiring had to be replaced. The McNally’s eventually replaced the wooden hull with a steel one.

La Duchesse was used full-time by the McNally’s for several years, and it was bequeathed by Andrew McNally to the Antique Boat Museum, with an endowment for her upkeep. It was brought to the museum in May 2005 and opened for guided tours two months later.

We began our tour by entering the stern (rear) of the boat as the front was under reconstruction. It is now furnished mostly as the McNally’s left her. Notice that maps are used for decoration in various places.

The kitchen has two stovetops, and a large refrigerator is on the opposite wall, plus another refrigerator in the staff dining room.


The formal dining room displays some items from the Boldt’s, including some china dishes and the brass fireplace.



The front hallway leads to guest rooms and suites, including a full bath on the right plus two Jack-and-Jill suites with bathrooms between, totaling six bedrooms and three bathrooms in the front part of the lower level.







The servants’ quarters in the rear of the lower level are smaller, but still nicely appointed. And they shared yet another full bathroom as well as their own dining room/lounge.



The master suite is on the upper deck, with lots of windows.








The piano belonged to the Boldt’s and was restored by the McNally’s. It sits in an alcove beneath a beautiful stained glass dome.



The large deck was called the “dancing deck” and also served as a perfect place for breakfast or afternoon tea.



Restoration work was in progress on the front stairway.



There are a lot more boats in several buildings of the museum, but my interest was primarily seeing this unique houseboat. Don and I also visited the River Rat Cheese shop, at the recommendation of our friend Marilyn Forbes.


In the display window, mice were roasting marshmallows. Wonder if they made s’mores?


We came home with some garlic cheese curds, horseradish cheese and onion cheddar. It was hard to choose from all the options in this interesting shop!

And we enjoyed some of the murals in this quaint town of Clayton.



Tomorrow we’ll cross the bridge into Canada to begin a dream tour of the maritime provinces with our good friends Susie & Denny Orr. Tonight we had dinner at O’Briens in Clayton, or OB’s as the locals call it.