The 1000 Islands (or at least a few of them…)

Jeremy took the tarp off the camper last weekend in anticipation of another season of camping. Although we won’t be going anywhere for at least a month, it reminded me of all the places we went last year that I never got around to writing about.

While we wait for camping season to start, I thought I’d pick up where I left off with my accounts of our summer adventures in the tiny camper.

A few weeks after our trip to Pennsylvania we headed northeast to the 1000 Islands. This is an area we’ve driven though in the past on the way to other places but never stopped there although we’d always meant too.

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The great thing about camping with a trailer is that weather is no longer a big concern. For this reason, we weren’t worried about this dark, looming cloud that chased us for hours on the 401.

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The storm finally caught up with us around dusk.

Since we’d crossed the border, we needed to pick up food and supplies (the US is really weird about bringing perishables into the country), so we unhitched the trailer at Wellesley State Park and drove to Watertown, NY to buy groceries. We decided to wait out the storm there. By the time we’d sat down to dinner in a restaurant in town, a torrential downpour, along with thunder and lightning, was in full swing.

We eventually returned to our campsite and the storm continued overnight and well into the wee morning hours. The only issue with being in a trailer while it rains, is the fact that it’s noisy. It’s basically like sleeping in a tin can and the precipitation that night was not a gentle pitter patter. It was coming down in buckets – and it was loud. At least we were dry though and that was it for the crummy weather; the rest of the weekend was gorgeous.

We spent the next day driving around stopping in some of the small communities in the area, including Clayton and Alexandria Bay. My favourite Thousand Island Park Historic District with its pavillion on the water.

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After touring the Newport Mansions we in June , we decided earlier in the day that we would not be taking the ferry to Bodlt Castle – a major attraction in the area. We both agreed we were completely mansioned out. I suggested we check out the adjacent boat museum though. However, when we got there, we saw that the castle was only a few minutes away by ferry and admission was cheap, so the next thing we knew, we were on the damn boat.

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Boldt Castle has a sad history. It was never lived in, or even finished. Construction began in 1900 by George Boldt, an east coast hotelier, as a summer home for his wife. She died suddenly in 1904 and construction came to a halt. It sat empty for over 70 years, when it was turned over to the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. The organization has been restoring the property since the late 1970s.

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While the exterior and gardens are impressive, the inside is not so much. Since it was never completed, it lacks the detail and ostentatiousness that the once inhabited homes of the gilded age usually have. Boldt Castle’s interior only displays a modern, budget conscience interpretation of the era.

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When it was time to head home, we couldn’t bear the thought our going the way we came, which was across Toronto. Spending an afternoon sitting in the GTA gridlock with the cottagers didn’t appeal to us at all. Instead, we took the long way around on the American side of Lake Ontario, stopping in Syracuse, where we visited the Erie Canal Museum because I’m a huge history nerd. If you find yourself in the area, and are into that sort of thing, it’s definitely worth checking out.

We returned home to find out our neighbourhood had been hit pretty hard by the storm we’d been driving away from. There’d even been some speculation that something tornado-like had touched down in our area. Our property had minimal damage though – some fallen tree branches, over turned potted plants and according to our cat sitter, a pair of traumatized kitties. They quickly recovered, our neighbourhood was cleaned up, and all’s well that ends well.

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Progress

With a few months to go before the Niblet’s scheduled arrival, the transition from sewing room to baby room is coming along nicely.

Jeremy and my Dad have been busy this week getting the painting done.

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This week

We’ve ordered a crib to be picked up next weekend (my beloved Jenny Lind crib wasn’t available in Canada so we’re going to have to pick it up in Buffalo). Jeremy bought up the rug months ago, and the rocker recliner has been ordered, although not the one I’d originally pictured.

Also, different than what I’d originally planned, was the dresser. After weeks of trawling the classifieds, a antique waterfall style chest came up and I had to have it. I wasn’t the look I’d been originally looking for, and it’s seen better days, but the price was right. I plan to spruce it up with a coat of paint, although I am not concerned about the dresser’s condition – after all, this is a child’s room. It’s going to take a beating, and will eventually be covered in sticky fingerprints and crayon marks anyway.

Finally, I’ve decided to use one of our old bookshelves, rather than buy a new one. We didn’t have anywhere else in the house to put the existing one, so it didn’t make much sense to buy another. This is another piece of furniture that has a date with a paintbrush.

While the painting was going on upstairs, I’ve been working away in my new sewing room in the basement. I have a list of simple baby related projects I want to finish before March, including some receiving blankets. I have so much flannel in my fabric stash it didn’t make any sense to buy them.

They are about 35-40 inches, finished with a double fold hem. Not a challenging project by any means, but one I wanted to get done.

Nine more weeks to go!

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Cardboard Time Machine

After a visit to my parent’s house back in the summer, they sent me home with a cardboard box full of mementos that I’d left behind years ago. I had some idea what I’d find in there. My baby book, some high school yearbooks, my diplomas, and some other assorted achievement certificates from my past.

What I did not expect to find was letters.

Tons and tons of letters. There was several shoeboxes full. It seems I’d saved every single card, letter and postcard anyone had sent me between the age of 15, though my late 20s. Of course, they stopped there because by then, nobody wrote letters anymore.

There are countless letters written by my best friend during our years at University. Some of them are pages, and pages long. It’s a stark contrast from our correspondence now. These days we communicate almost exclusively by text message – a few sentences here and there, often devoid of vowels.

Some other relics from past included:

A handwritten note from a university roommate I’d barely gotten to know in the year we lived together. She’d left me her parent’s address and told me to keep in touch.

We did. Almost 20 years later, she’s one of my closets friends.

There’s a sweet card from another friend, declaring that we’d be friends forever. A few years later, we had a falling out, and haven’t spoken since.

There’s a piece of notebook paper with the name and phone number from a boy I liked from University. We never ended up dating, but we remain friends.

There was a sealed envelope that contained a bunch if poetry written by me and a friend in the 9th grade. I’ve since resealed the envelope. It was bad. Really, really bad.

There are postcards from my friend’s spring break vacations and years lived abroad, postmarked from all over the world…

…and concert tickets from venues that no longer exist.

Going though this stuff was a bit of an emotional journey. There was a lot of cringing. It was like reliving my tragically awkward adolescence all over again, although it was more fun from this distance.

The best part is, I don’t even remember saving these things. I had no idea this time capsule was buried on a shelf under my parent’s basement staircase.

When I first brought this box home, thought I’d just look though it and toss it. I couldn’t though. There’s just too much history in here to just throw away. Instead I weeded out a few things that are not quite as meaningful now. Then, I repacked it.

Hopefully, I can forget about it again, so I can rediscover it in another 10 years!

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