1809 Customs House, Boldt Castle, camping, Cape Vincent, Dwight D Eisenhower Lock, Frederic Remington, Madison Barracks, Ogdensburg, Reader's Digest Scenic Drives, Sackets Harbor, Southwick Beach State Park, Thousand Islands, Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, traveling
I got a late start this morning as I was up too late working on google maps that didn’t work…bummer! I’ll try to figure something
else out. Southwick Beach State Park has a “No Dogs Allowed” beach on Lake Ontario, so that settled that. There were a couple of trails that led to the adjacent Lakeview Wildlife Management Area, but given it had rained for the last 18 hours straight from a sprinkle to a downpour, I decided to try my luck in Sackets Harbor.
Sackets Harbor was used as a naval base from 1808 until the 1940’s. During the War of 1812, the British tried to capture it, but failed. Scout, Petey, and I walked around the battle field during one of the only sunny moments of the day (in hindsight I should have enjoyed it more) and then drove a few blocks to see Madison Barracks where Ulysses S. Grant was stationed in the 1830’s. Currently, it is operated as an apartment building; a single bedroom starts at $780/month.
The point of most interest to me today was Cape Vincent. Cape Vincent can be found at the junction of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River and is home to the 1827 Tibbetts Point Lighthouse. It was closed and it started to sprinkle; another brief visit.
I continued on toward the Thousand Islands region. What a beautiful area. The view from the 100-foot-high Thousands Islands International Bridge was breathtaking. It was definitely worth the $2.50 just to cross it and come back! I wish I could have stopped at the top of its steep arch. The Thousand Islands region has closer to 1,800 islands than 1,000 and they come in all sizes. Some have only a few trees, while others are home to mansions and even castles. I had planned to take a boat tour to
Heart Island to visit the Boldt Castle, a replica of the Rhine, but 2 ½ hours on a boat in the rain didn’t seem very inviting and the castle tour, I found out, was to take a minimum of half a day. I guess I’ll just have to go visit the Rhine. I think it would have been interesting to see just because it was built by George Boldt, the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York at which I’ve stayed. I also tried visiting the Cornwall Brothers Store which
according to Reader’s Digest displays a plethora of Americana, as I thought my mom would like that, but all I found was a museum that was closed. I have learned that most of the historic places on the Seaway Trail are only open from Wednesday to Sunday, so if you are ever planning a visit exclude Monday and Tuesday unless you are going to the beach!
The Seaway Trail continues on to Ogdensburg and is blessed with some of the most magnificent scenery I have ever seen. Inlets of the river snaked like canals through glistening, golden wheat fields damp from the morning rain while being surrounded by vibrant reds and oranges of the turning leaves. I was so taken by one spot, I began to pull off the side of the road in the drizzle just to take a photo. Many others must have felt the same way as it was the only part of the highway that had signs posted every 10 yards, “No Parking Anytime”. Given the rain, the curvy road, and the fact that I’m carrying a 38 special (for my safety) in a “No Tolerance for Guns State”, I decided to comply with the street signs.
Shortly after I obeyed the law, which now I regret, the Emergency Alert System sounded on the radio warning of severe thunderstorms with 60 mph winds. EAS claimed the storm system did not contain much lightning, thus do not wait until you hear thunder. Take cover immediately. The warning was for eastern Jefferson County. The only problem with this is I wasn’t sure of exactly what county I was in. I thought, do I need to drive faster to out run the storm or slow down so I don’t drive right into it? I drove in drizzle to Ogdensburg and found out the storm was just behind me. I bought a ticket to the Frederic Remington Art Museum, I wasn’t there for 30 minutes before the monsoon hit. I thought it would be interesting to go to the museum as my dad has always been a fan of the bronzes. The museum is located in the mansion once owned by Remington’s widow. The collection includes, but is not limited to bronzes, water colors, oil paintings, and items owned and used by Remington. While there were several amazing pieces, I only have so much space to allot to each part of my blog, so I’ve chosen to highlight one piece that I saw, The Bronco Buster. According to the museum’s pamphlet, The Bronco Buster was the first of Remington’s Bronzes. Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co., NY used a sand cast bronze to produce 64 of this subject beginning in 1895. Thereafter, Remington used the Roman Bronze Work, NY that employed the wax casting process, which he preferred because of the detail it retained from the clay model to the bronze and because he could make changes with each cast.
The widow’s home is connected to another historic home by way of a gallery, thus corporate or private functions may be held there. As I was planning to leave, the storm grew even stronger, thus Ray (I presume one of the museum’s curators) walked me through the passage way (generally off limits unless there is a function) to the other house to get me closer to my car and gave me a tour until there was a break in the storm. The woodwork, decorative paint and the fireplaces in both of the houses were fantastic.
When the downpour slowed to a drizzle for about 30 seconds, I made a dash to VANilla. I opted to skip the walking tour that describes the Battle of Ogdensburg during the War of 1812, but did do a “drive by” of the 1809 Customs House. Originally a French fort, it is the oldest federal government building still in use in the United States of America. Judging from all the Border Patrol Tahoes parked outside the building, I presume the Border Patrol offices are inside.
While VANilla’s wipers were at full speed, VANilla’s speedometer read well below the speed limit. I crept along the Seaway Trail and exited at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock. As luck would have it, I passed through the tunnel below the lock just as a ship passed overhead. Reader’s Digest suggests that it is “an unnerving experience”, and it sort of was! But the drive over the 100-foot arched bridge was a little unnerving too. Scout, Petey, and I hung out in the overlook area along with a handful of other cars and watched the ship maneuver into the lock, lower 42 feet, and exit in 7 minutes. During this time, it stopped raining!! Cheryl and Jim got out of their car and so did I. Cheryl and Jim are on a two week trip from Indianapolis. They had come from Niagara Falls and were on their way to Boston while spending a few nights around the Lake Placid area. They said they were planning on going to Arizona in March – who knows I may run into them again. I met the same guy from San Francisco in Cusco, Peru over Labor Day in 2009 and then again on a 20 seat plane in the middle of the Serengeti this Labor Day weekend.
As we watched the ship drop, I took a picture toward the southwest of sunny skies and picture toward the northeast of the black clouds. Hmmm…what should I do…I was headed southeast to Lake Saranac. While it was nice to finally see the sun, I decided after a short drive through Robert Moses State Park, where I saw three different flocks of turkeys, several geese, the Moses Saunders Power Dam, and a cool bridge. I would try to camp somewhere near Lake Saranac in the Adirondack Park. The foliage along this part of the drive was really showing fall colors…there were more reds, oranges, and yellows, than there were greens. While I was enjoying the color, I was also noticing I was in the middle of nowhere, without cell service, and no campsites in view. I was beginning to wonder if I had made the right decision. In my experience in the Ozarks, there were campsite signs everywhere; here they were limited…I found one! ETB