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2017-08-20 Westbound; 1000 Islands, USA

Today is an exciting day.  When we started planning this trip last spring this was not on the itinerary.  But a Singer sewing machine in one of the old houses we toured reminded me about Mr. Bourne’s castle, located here in the 1000 Islands

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But first we had to get there!  We left our campground outside Montreal before first light. We were at the KOA in Ivy Lea, ON, by 9:00 am.  Luckily our reserved site had just been vacated, so we could pull in and do a minimum of set up.  We left and headed for the bridge over the St. Lawrence River, across the border, to Alexandria Bay, New York!

 

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We slipped through customs very easily, because we were not pulling the Villa.  We were soon on the boat trip to the Singer Castle:

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The 1000 Islands are a group of more than 1,800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada, extending from the edge of Lake Ontario and stretching 50-60 miles down river. A fashionable retreat for the elite in the late 19th century, today the area is a hub for outdoor activities. It’s home to elaborate island mansions and modest summer cottages.

We were amazed at the beauty of this place. It rivals Nova Scotia, but it is at a much more human scale. hundreds of miles of coastline are covered with cabins, docks, mansions, boat houses, beaches and forests.  Anyone who loves water and boats will love this place:

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We cruised down the river for about an hour; soon we approached the Singer Castle:

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American history and local folklore meet at Singer Castle on Dark Island, located in the St. Lawrence River, about 30 miles down river from Alexandria Bay, NY.. Singer Castle is the only remaining/existing castle on the river to be completed, fully furnished and resided in during the heyday of the great builders of castles. The Castle remained in the possession of the original owners, the Bourne family, from its construction in 1905 until the mid 1950’s. Frederick Bourne was the fifth President of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, which is where the name “Singer Castle” came from.

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I love the Boathouse:

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The dungeon is in the tower, at the tiny windows:

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The view:

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As the story goes, Bourne and his architect had read the novel “Woodstock” by Walter Scott; it is set in Woodstock Palace, a bizarre and spooky place with secret doors, stairs, and passages. This was their inspiration for designing all the service corridors and stairs in “secret” locations. There are 3 circular stairs located behind hidden doors, plus a maze of corridors, many on an interstitial level, allowing the servants to watch activities of the family and allowing them to see and anticipate the family’s needs, say for the refill of a drink, or a second helping of food at dinner…

The house contains all the original furniture. It looks like the family walked away yesterday… In reality, the family sold it in the early 1950s, and it had a sucession of owners, but it was left intact. Today it is owned by a multi-national corporation who buys and restores these great old buildings and opens them to the public. They are also available for weddings and other activities. In the case of the Singer Castle, you can rent a 2 bedroom apartment in the house, up to 6 guests, for overnight stays, including full access to the castle, dinner served in the dining room, etc.

The Library:

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The Wine Cellar:

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One of the “secret” circular stairways:

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The Dining Room:

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The Loggia:

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It was a delightful visit. We boarded the boat and cruised up the river back towards Alexandria Bay.  Directly across from Alexandria Bay is Boldt Castle. It is larger than the Singer Castle, but it was never finished (due to family “issues”…) and it was never occupied.  After sitting vacant for over 70 years, it was finally donated to Alexandria Bay with the condition that it be opened to the public, but never finished or occupied…

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So after this exhilarating day, we stopped off and bought some Kentucky bourbon (rarely available in Canada) and headed back across the border to return to the Villa.  We relaxed with Happy Hours; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-08-19 Westbound; Montreal Old City

Today we go in to see the old city of Montreal. While this RV park did not offer a shuttle into the city, they did tell us how to take a city bus. The station was about a two mile drive from the RV park; we then boarded a bus and 20 minutes later we were in Montreal.

After a short walk we were in the old city and were at the plaza in front of the Basilica de Notre Dame:

 

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As majestic as this facade was, it didn’t prepare us for the interior!

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Obviously, much of the impressiveness comes from the well-designed lighting, but still, it is breathtaking!

Then we started walking the town. We HAD to stop for a late breakfast of crepes:

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The old city is a lot of fun. We were there early, so it was not crowded, and streets reserved for pedestrians later in the day are bustling with delivery trucks..

We walked down to the waterfront; they had a lot of amusement park type places, and was not really interesting, but it was a nice stroll among the trees…

Then we walked back up to the Old City. Things had changed! The streets were packed with people. Restaurants were putting tables and chairs out onto the sidewalks.  Throngs of people were everywhere!  It was marvelous!

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We found that Montreal has many lovely french-style cafes:

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And then they also have this:

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And soon it was time for lunch:

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After our late lunch we headed back towards the bus station. Along the way we found a brave soul pulling an Airstream through old Montreal…

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Upon arriving at the bus station, we found that, of course! Doesn’t every bus station have an ice skating rink?

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We caught our bus and soon were back at the Villa.  We took a swim and had more Happy Hours. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-08-18 Westbound; Moving on to Old Montreal

We drove from Quebec to Montreal; it was a short drive, but we did have some heavy rain.  We arrived at the RV park – Camping Cle’ des Champs – a beautiful park, mainly set up for full- and mostly-timers who summer here, then flee to Florida or Arizona for the winter.  The sites are huge – about 5,000 sq. ft., and most are paved with stone pavers, with a storage shed, and a screened porch, or entire screened and glassed-in rooms, containing kitchens, dining areas and lounging areas.  Our site, where they park the overnighters like us, are also very nice, but not quite as luxurious as the seasonal sites:

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We enjoyed some leisure time, planned our day in Montreal tomorrow, and Happy Hours ensued:

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Since I have no other photos today, I post photos of my grandchildren who are flying out from California to see us on Boblo Island in late August… This is what they look like at midnight while changing planes in Denver…

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I don’t thing they were having an enjoyable time…

 

 

 

 

2017-08-17 Westbound; Quebec Old City

The KOA outside Quebec offers a shuttle service to take us into Quebec; as we waited, I noticed this truck parked across the street:

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They grow them big here in Canada…

The bus arrived promptly on time, and by 9:00 am we were in vieux cite Quebec.  First, of course, is the fortress!

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The walls around the fortress provide wonderful views of the old city (vieux cite)…

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The city plaza is dominated by a huge, old, hotel: The Frontenac. (It is now a Fairmont…)

 

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As we love to do in cities we walked the streets. We love finding the quaint, beautiful, historic, and charming sites…

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We even found the American Consulate, in case we got into trouble…

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We also found that Quebecois like to have fun in the winter: on the town square is a sledding slide:

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And, of course, what we also like to do is find a charming sidewalk cafe to enjoy lunch:

 

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We ordered a bottle of wine…

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Finally the duck confit arrived

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After lunch we walked some more, but then we needed to stop for some espresso while we waited for the shuttle to take us back to the Villa.

Back in the RV park, we met two other Airstreamers: one was from Connecticut; they were enjoying their 3rd new Airstream in the past year (16′, 22′ and now 25′).  I’m sure their Airstream dealer is driving a new car, too… The other Airstream was being pulled by a nice Mercedes GL350, that looked vaguely familiar. Once we got to talking, we realized that we had seen them in Lunenburg, NS, and they had met some of our fellow caravanners whilst they were there…!

So Happy Hours ensued; an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-08-16 Westbound, on our own…

We left Jellystone Park before it was light. We love traveling this way – just not every day…  After an hour or so we stopped at our first ever Tim Horton’s.  As we pulled around to the back we saw Linda and Gerry Belcher’s Airstream Interstate:

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We pulled in next to them.  It appears that they were asleep – all windows shades were drawn…

We had a quick “breakfast”, then pulled out onto the road. No sign of life from the Belchers… (Later we had a text message from them that they were awake, making coffee, but did not see us parked next to them…)

A few miles down the road we spotted a WalMart off the road, with three Airstreams parked for the night; we learned later that it was the three Kentuckians – Westheimer, Virgin, and Lanford.

Later that morning we saw Ed and Abby Krissman again.  This time at a gas station. We said a quick, “Hi”; they were were headed into New York, and they had left Tom Jones behind as they dropped down into Maine.  There was also a Visitors Center that had some problems with its question mark…

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So we caravanners keep spreading out all over the country; one group took the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland…!

By early afternoon we had crossed over into Quebec, and were approaching Quebec City. We stopped in at the Levis/Quebec City KOA and parked for the night…

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We have booked a shuttle to take us into the Old City tomorrow, and we settled down for a nice quiet Happy Hour on our own…

PS: There are three other Airstreams in this park. We hope to meet them tomorrow…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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