Sunday, June 21, 2015

Road Trip

City Lines
I'm back!

Once again it has been far too long since my last post. I honestly haven't had too much to talk about lately and the prospect of dedicating time every Sunday to updating has become somewhat daunting. However this week I do have something to talk about, so put the kettle on, rest up and prepare for a long read!

Rob and I finally got to take a break and left the shores of Nova Scotia on a road trip bound for Toronto to visit our friends there. We started our journey on June 5th, we picked up our rental car in the afternoon and drove 6 hours to Grand Falls, New Brunswick. It seemed the most convenient place to stop overnight as it is close to the Quebec border. Grand Falls is pretty small and it's main attraction is the Falls and Gorge. Rob and I had been there before years ago, but the last time we visited there didn't seem to be much water there, so it was great to re-visit them this time on a sunny morning (June 6th) and find tons of water and rainbow! After a quick stop we headed on, we had a long drive of 8 hours to complete to reach our next destination, which was the town of Gananoque which is situated in the heart of the 1000 Islands. If you have never heard of the Islands, let me tell you, it is an absolutely stunning area and a must see. Here's some info on them from Wikipedia:
The Thousand Islands constitute an archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River as it emerges from the north-east corner of Lake Ontario. They stretch for about 50 miles (80 km) downstream from Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian islands are in the province of Ontario, the U.S. islands in the state of New York.
The 1,864 islands range in size from over 40 square miles (100 km2) to smaller islands occupied by a single residence, or uninhabited outcroppings of rocks that are only home to migratory waterfowl. To count as one of the Thousand Islands, emergent land within the river channel must have at least one square foot (0.093 m2) of land above water level year-round, and support at least two living trees.
We checked into our motel in the late afternoon having driven along the parkway which was such a pretty ride in. After the lovely scenery on route our motel was somewhat disappointing to say the least, it was very musty and what was advertised as a steak and pancake house at the front of the motel on the website was now a Chinese restaurant. The motel was run by a Chinese family, the rooms were old and small, the WiFi was non existent and out front there was a rancid old swimming pool. Needless to say I wouldn't recommend a stay there! However, they are renovating and I found out later that it had been closed the whole of last season. (I can only assume that is why everything smells musty). Aside from the accommodation we had a lovely time in the 1000 Islands, we took a boat trip the following day which takes you around the bulk of the islands including millionaire's row and Boldt Castle which is one of the main highlights. The weather was gorgeous and we got a little sun burned that day. After the boat trip we drove out to the observation tower which is on an island half way between the US and Canada. From there we drove up to a small town called Delta where we visited The Old Stone Mill, which is an Historic site and one of the best preserved Stone Mills in Canada. We rounded off the day with a lovely dinner on the water's edge in Rockport, which is just gorgeous.

The next day we were up and on the road again, heading to Toronto. We stopped on route at Kingston to visit the Penitentiary Museum which is located in the old warden's quarters of the recently closed (2013) Kingston maximum security prison. Now being a huge Prison Break fan, I absolutely loved this museum. It was fascinating, the history of the place is very interesting as are the exhibits, including some rather evil looking, crude, home made weapons (which are pretty scary to say the least). You can read about the ingenious escape attempts and the people that run the museum are all ex-correctional officers who have some great stories to tell. I would absolutely recommend a visit to this museum if you are ever in the area.

Having stopped there, I didn't factor in the traffic and road works that we would encounter as we got nearer to Toronto, so the drive took us a lot longer than expected. As we got nearer and nearer to the city the traffic got heavier and heavier The lanes on the 401 (which had started of as essentially duel carriageway) ended up as 16 lanes of heaving traffic (8 lanes in both directions). Now being from Nova Scotia and barely seeing any cars on the road, this came as quite the culture shock for us...I found myself wincing quite a bit and hanging onto to the overhead hand gripper, poor Rob had to figure out where and what we were doing as the Sat Nav decided to have a fit on us, and couldn't work out that we had ended up on the express way. It seemed to take forever to get off the bloody thing, but we did eventually and arrived around 4.30 pm at Eunice's house in Royal York.

It was so lovely so see Eunice again, it had been 7 years since I last visited and longer since Rob had been out there with me. We spent the evening catching up with her and (son) Tim, and enjoyed the best roast beef dinner we have had in a long time. The following day we took the subway down town and went up the CN Tower (always a favourite of mine), the price to go up these days however is shocking. $35.00 per person to the observation decks, and if you want to go up to the sky pod, you can add on an extra $12.00 per person. It was a bit grey in the afternoon, so the views could have been better, but it was still enjoyable, afterwards we had a late lunch on Front Street and headed back.
In the evening we enjoyed a night out with Tim, Paul (his brother) and their nephew Blake. We went to see the Blue Jays play Miami at the Rogers Centre (which to me, will always be the Sky Dome). 

Tim and Paul, had a method to getting in. They bought tickets after the game had started outside from a tout, the idea was them to take these 'nose bleed' seats in the 500 section and then sneak our way into one of the lower preferable sections. As their were 5 of us this didn't prove so easy. I think we got booted out of 3 sections before finally finding a spot. It was a gorgeous evening but a little too hot for me as I was sweating like a horse after all the running around. The roof was open in the dome and the view of the CN Tower from there was as always, excellent. The game was pretty exciting (even for me who, as you know is not a baseball/sports fan). It was looking doubtful the Blue Jays would win, but then in the final moments of the game, they pulled it back and won by one run. Which is just as well as Paul and Tim said if our presence there made the team unlucky they would never take us again :o)

The next day we bit the bullet and drove down town, the Sat Nav did us proud and we parked  the ferry terminal that runs over to the Islands. We headed over to Centre Island and walked 4 km to Hanlan's Point which has the best view of the skyline. Halfway along the sky got darker and darker and the heaven's opened, it was quite the down pour and just for good measure there was some thunder and lightening (poor Rob). I am terrified of storms so I wasn't at my best.
We took cover at the Art Centre near the lighthouse and fortunately it didn't last long. Afterwards the sun came out and it was as if it had never happened.

Later that day we said farewell to Eunice and headed to Georgetown to spend the next two nights with Eunice's daughter Lisa. Lisa made a fabulous meal for us upon arrival and we had a good catch up that evening, she has recently moved to a new house, so it was nice to see it, it a lovely town house with 3 levels and 2 walk out decks. So neat and tidy. The following morning she cooked us a lovely breakfast and we headed off to Niagara. We stopped briefly at Niagara on the Lake on route, it was so busy with tourists and parking was a nightmare. At Niagara, the amount of people was again staggering, but we parked and then got the hop on, hop off  bus to the Skylon Tower for my favourite views of the Falls.

We got back around 7.00 pm to Lisa's and were hoping to meet up with Paul again for dinner, but sadly he couldn't make it so Rob and I ate out in Georgetown. The following day Lisa had to be at work early and we had to be on our way to Montreal, so we said farewell and headed off at around 6.45 am. I wish we could have stayed longer but time just didn't permit.

The journey to Montreal was long. It seemed to take forever, I miscalculated the time it would take.
We were heading to see a friend of mine (who I have known online for many years, but had never met in person). Rosy and her hubby Edwin live not far outside of the city (although you would never know it), in LaSalle which located in the south-west portion of the Island of Montreal, located along the Saint Lawrence river. The area is mostly English speaking and looks very English. It is a Gorgeous area, I was instantly enamoured with the location.

As soon as we met, Rosy and I clicked, I always new we would and we enjoyed a wonderful evening chatting, we stayed in with Chinese food, and what a feast it was, such  a great night. Even Benny their dog, who is 'mature' and can't walk so well these days, got so excited to see us that he even made a huge effort to make it up the stairs when we took our bags up. Rosy and Edwin are writers, but they have been renovating upstairs into a photographic studio as Rosy is moving more towards the photographic side of things, undertaking newborn shoots and glamour photography.She is extremely talented. I have no doubt this new venture will be a roaring success. I just wish she lived nearer, as I know we would pretty much be inseparable. The next day we were up fairly early (although to be honest I could have stayed in bed). Rosy cooked up a storm with breakfast  and then took Rob and I to her happy place. A migratory bird sanctuary/park on the river near the Lachine Rapids. A truly beautiful spot, where you can commonly see Blue Herons (although we didn't that day). We did see river rafters on the rapids which brought back a few memories for me!

Sadly we had to leave at around 2.30 pm. Our time was brief and I really didn't want to leave, but we had to get back to Grand Falls (6 hours driving). So off we went. Of course we lost an hour in time as we crossed back over from Quebec into New Brunswick so we finally reached the motel at around 9.30 pm. Our last leg was the 6 hours home the next day. All in all we did around 2,500 km.
It was tiring but such good fun!

I have only really just begun to edit images, but here are a few for now. Don't forget to click on all the links in this article to see where we went and what we did.

Oh and finally here's what you need to know about the origins of 'Thousand Island Dressing' in case you were wondering:
A fishing guide's wife, Sophie Lalonde, gave the recipe to an actress, who in turn gave it to another Thousand Islands summer resident, George Boldt, who was building Boldt Castle in the area. Boldt, as proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, instructed the hotel's maître d'hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the menu.

Grand Falls

View form the 100 Islands Parkway -
Nice little crib with boats houses and bridge

Rockport Island Lighthouse

The Old Stone Mill, Delta Ontario

City Heights - My favourite Skyline view from The Islands


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