In September, Carrie and I traveled to Central New York for Carrie’s mom’s birthday, I’ll leave out which birthday it was. As part of Kathy’s birthday extravaganza weekend, she decided to go on a cruise around Alexandria Bay or A Bay as it’s popularly referred to. A Bay is a village on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, in the thousand islands region of New York.
Alexandria Bay is a popular vacation spot, with the summer population swelling to over 15,000, from the roughly 1,100 people who live there year round. This means tourism is big business and impactful on the local economy and seasonal employment. The importance of the industry to the community is clear with much of the main street close to the docks populated with restaurants, hotels, and souvenir shops, selling unsurprisingly thousand island dressing, Boldt castle souvenirs, and shot glasses.
We popped into one of the many souvenir shops, to find a squirrel had run into the shop as well! For about 15 minutes we tried in vain with the shop staff to corral the squirrel out. The squirrel was more interested in checking out what the shop offered, instead of returning to the busy street.
The big draw to the region is the spectacular scenery. The best way to take in the landscape of the thousand islands region is by boat. Kathy chose the 2 Nation Tour, operated by Uncle Sam Boat Tours which has been in operation for 85 years. The large multi-level boat had an open top deck perfect for taking in the scenery. As the name of the tour implies we traveled around much of the U.S. side of the St. Lawrence and into Canada on an extensive tour of the thousand islands region. The tour included a detailed and entertaining narration of the area and its history.
The tour concludes with an optional stop at Boldt Castle on Hart Island. The tour of Boldt Castle has a separate fee. The enormously extravagant castle which was abruptly abandoned in 1904 due to the death of George Boldt’s wife, whom he was building the castle for. George Boldt, the general manager of the Waldorf Astoria in NYC, owned the island and wanted to build, which at the time of construction the largest private home in the United States. For nearly 73 years the castle or home sat vacant until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority took it over in 1977 for $1 dollar, under the terms that all proceeds would restore the property. The castle has been beautifully restored and is well worth the visit.
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