Day 77 – Drive from Keeseville to Kingston, Ontario
Saturday, September 13, 200
This is our last day in the U.S. and unfortunately not a very nice morning again. But it is dry and that is worth a lot to us these days.
The route we have planned out is Highway #3 which will take us west through the Adirondack Mountains, and also through Lake Placid where the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympic Games were held. This road is marked as a scenic route on the map and scenic it is. It is also an official bike route so we met lots of bike riders going either way. The shoulders on this road were very wide to accommodate those many bike riders using this road.
Lake Placid is a real ‘winter’ town like you see in the movies, much along the flavour of Banff, although Leo thought our Banff is a nicer looking ski town. I am sure that in the winter with snow on the roads this is a very nice place to be. It was not too busy at the time we drove through but busy enough for the businesses to make a living I am sure.
The rest of the drive was very scenic as well and Leo did take some pictures for you to enjoy. As we had set our TomTom GPS navigator to take no major highways we were led through quiet roads to Watertown, New York and then on to Cape Vincent where we took a ferry across a channel of the St. Lawrence River to Wolfe Island where we set foot on Canadian soil again.
Interestingly enough, we had taken our passports along on this trip as we thought we might be asked for them at the border going into the United States. But the customs man there was quite content with the Alberta driver’s licenses which we offered him initially. When we returned to Canada we thought the same identification would suffice and again offered out driver’s licenses. However, the Canadian Customs official was not pleased and indicated she needed some evidence of citizenship as these licenses only showed we were permitted to drive in the province. We then dug out our passports and she was fortunately thereafter mollified by them. We did drive off, however, wondering how they treat the many Canadians who try to return to Canada after a trip “stateside” having not brought any passports as they believed these were not yet required by American customs. But then, one rule in life is that Customs officials are a separate subspecies different from the rest of the human race.
We did not know anything about the ferry we were to take to Wolfe Island (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfe_Island_(Ontario): not about how long the ride across would take, or how much it would cost, or what type of ship she would use but we always had the option of changing our minds and driving north a bit to take the freeway and a giant bridge instead across the river to Ontario. Our ferry was to leave Cape Vincent at 4 p.m. and once we had cleared Canadian customs we would have to drive 11 km. across Wolfe Island to take another ferry which would in turn take us across to the city of Kingston in Ontario. We were told the 2 ferries were synchronized with each other so we would not have to wait to take the second ferry.
Well, when the first ferry arrived she turned out to be a ‘small’ ferry with room for may be likely only 9 cars depending on the size of those cars. It was also a side-loading ferry so the cars would have to make a 90 degree turn on the ferry deck and either back up or drive forward to find their place on the deck. We were told to go on last as we were too big and would have to sit sideways on the ferry from ramp opening to ramp opening. We drove on in this way, scraping our trailer hitch on the loading ramp, and then were asked to back off again, scraping our trailer hitch, as two new cars had arrived in the meantime and these could just be fit on deck after a truck was asked to trade positions with a car as well. Then we drove back on again, scraping our trailer hitch, easing right up against the erect loading ramp on the opposite side which would be lowered in Wolfe Island to let the cars off. But I did not realize until after I saw the pictures just how long our unit was. The loading ramp behind us could not really be raised and was only lifted part way up as high as it could be. This was because our combined length exceeded the width of the ferry`s deck and the rear end of our trailer was actually hanging overboard as you can see in the photos.
The cost for this ferry was $15 for a car and 2 occupants but when it came to our turn to pay the attendant looked at us and our trailer and said ``Ah, give me $20`` so I guess they do not get units like us very often. Actually I don’t think they can take any units longer than maybe the 10 meters total which our car and trailer represent. But we made it across and, as we were the first ones to get off, scraping our trailer hitch on the loading ramp, we would for sure be able to make the next ferry. However, our TomTom navigator (we are now using a French voice so Lucille is her name) gave us the wrong instructions on the last turn to the ferry terminal which allowed some cars behind us to get ahead and once we got to the second ferry, yes … there was no room for us anymore even though this was a much larger ferry which accommodated 30 cars at least. So here we were stranded for an hour until the next sailing. There was nothing to do but to walk through the village of Wolfetown, eat an ice cream cone, and wait.
We were the first ones on the next ferry so we made it to Kingston, Ontario (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston,_Ontario) around 6 p.m., found our campsite near the Rideau Canal and took the evening off. This campsite was supposed to have internet but we just could not connect so alas there was no internet for the next 3 days as we were planning on staying in Kingston until at least Tuesday morning.
Pictures for this day can be found here.
Day 78 – Kingston, OntarioSeptember 14, 2008
We had a fairly nice evening and the day promised to be good as well. Today we were out to explore Kingston and visit Fort Henry as well.
On our way to Kingston from our campground we saw a sign for the Kingston Mills Locks on the Rideau waterway (http://rideau-info.com/canal/history/locks/h46-49-kingstonmills.html) so we took a quick, 2 km. side tour to these locks. They were a very nice surprise for us as there are actually 4 locks, with three being in stairstep one behind the other, and the fourth very nearby. We spent most of our morning watching a couple of pleasure boats come through them, including one which seemed to be a small antique tugboat which had been beautifully restored and had a full cabin built upon her. We even had the delight of finding that the main tracks of the CN railway pass right over the canal at this point on a long bridge, and the railway obliged by sending a long intermodal train over while the boats were still in the locks. As all of this was happening Leo had to film and photograph these events of course.
After this we went to the Visitors Centre in downtown Kingston and from there we went for breakfast (finally) at Morrison’s Restaurant in Kingston`s centre as was recommended by the girl on duty at the Visitor’s Centre. We spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon walking through Kingston, enjoying the old buildings and the waterfront of this city. It is a very nice city with a wonderfully ample history and I think it would be a very nice place to live. As part of our walkabout we cruised through a section of Queen`s University where our daughter-in-law Joanne studied. It was indeed a wonderful sight-seeing stroll through the city and the only disappointing part was the garbage on the streets around where the university students live. Neither the students nor the landlords in this part of town seem to take much interest in cleaning this up.
We stopped for a coffee at one of three coffee houses which were all in business facing each other on the corners of one single intersection. Here we experienced the Klunge incident. As a prelude to this story we should tell you that we have often listened to CBC radio on our drives and have greatly enjoyed the many programs on CBC 1 in particular. While driving through P.E.I. there was a show about the disadvantages of summer on which two guests made a number of very witty comments about the drawbacks to this season, such as the fact that one needs to lather up on sunscreen and insect repellant before going outside, and then wash it all off at the end of the day. As well they pointed out that way too many people go about in bikinis or other short swimwear who really should be sparing the rest of us the need to look at their bodies. In particular too many people in their skimpy swimwear expose us to the cleavage between their buttocks, which the radio guests indicated should be called their ``Klunge``.
Well, while we were sitting at this coffee shop in the student quarter in Kingston a couple of student-type girls were sitting chatting at a table only 5 feet away from us. Suddenly, one of the girls jumped up, turned around, lowered her pants into a half-moon position pointed fully at her friend and at us in the process, thereby showing a major part of her Klunge. She then pointed to this body part and said to her friend ``What`s this?” Leo, having been educated by CBC, he was just on the point of helpfully saying “I learned on CBC radio that it is officially called a Klunge”, but before he could do so the other girl had examined the indicated anatomical part from up close and said to its owner “It looks like an insect byte: you’ll survive it.” and the klunger pulled up her pants again, turned around and sat down. She showed no embarrassment (pun intended) at performing this act in front of two total strangers, and it left Leo and I feeling that we are from a different time zone. You must also know that Leo had his Nikon D300 at the ready during all this and it must have been an almost irresistible urge to capture this scene in 12 Megabyte glory, but I can tell you that he did resist the urge.
This event seemed an untoppable highlight for the day, but we did go on from here and went to Fort Henry to enjoy again the history of the battles for control of this area. Fort Henry was another major military fortification meant to prevent American forces from exerting control over Canadian territory in Ontario during the 19th century and served this function very well for many years. From here we went back to our trailer to try the internet again and Leo went back to the locks to do a little more picture taking.
On his way back he almost drove over a good-sized turtle which was crossing the road in twilight. He stopped to pick it up and carry it the rest of the way, being careful to hold it far enough back on the shell that it could not bite. And that is exactly what the ungrateful amphibian tried to do. It could lunge out with its neck fully extended and curved in lightning fashion to bite any finger which was not at least halfway from the front of the shell. But Leo was able to foil it and deposit in the ditch on the other side. The thing must have been 40 cm. long all told and was moving so slowly that is was sure to have been reduced to 2 dimensions by some car or other had not its saviour come along.
We did not get to bed that early as the temperature was around 26 degrees in the evening and even seemed to be rising, and it was just too hot to go to bed. After 11 o’clock the wind came up and still the temperature stayed the same. Shortly after this it was fully storming and it started to rain strongly. I guessed we were now being hit with the edge of Hurricane Ike and in the morning the locals indicated I was right. This storm went on for most of the night and by early morning it quieted down and we finally got some sleep. This storm had stronger winds than the remnants of Hanna in Saint John, but much less rain than that event.
Hopefully we captured some of what we have seen today with Leo’s pictures which can be found here.