Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our first Senior Trip

We have been members of a senior center and have gone on day trips, but we decided to test the deeper waters with a three day trip to the Thousand Islands.

Would we like being told where to go and when ? Would we like being part of a large group every where we went? I went on this trip partly to find the answers to these questions.

We started our bus ride with a rainbow along the beginning of our route. That was a pleasant surprise.

When I packed for the trip, I always plan on my own personal "entertainment" for the bus. Had I a smart phone, I would probably have been on the free wifi, but I was prepared with a book to read, puzzle book, handheld game and paper and pen to write. The ride was more than 5 hours without stops. I was prepared and part of me would enjoy the concentrated time to kick back with these pleasures.

Well, first lesson on a trip like this, the tour guide will provide some entertainment. Whether you want to participate in the games or movies, is your choice, however in our case the speaker was so loud that we had to succumb to the group activities. Scratch my own agenda. Though I will say that I did have some free time too not orchestrated by someone else. I also have to add that I won one of the games--a math problem, no less. I am not great at math either. Won a cute of set of candle holders. If you want to know the math problem, let me know.

We stayed at the Riveredge Resort with beautiful balcony views from our rooms.

The rooms for the most part were quite nice--just a couple of little complaints but not worth mentioning.

We had free time until dinner and first took a stroll along the walk way on the water's edge.

The castles in the distance were our future destination for the next day.

With more time until dinner, we decided to take a walk into Alexandria Bay.

Most unique chess set I've ever seen. The pieces are about 2 feet tall.
Then we returned for group dinner in the dining room. Afterwards a few of us ventured outside again to catch the sunset.

Thus ended our first day.

The next day we all boarded the buses to drive to the Uncle Sam Tour boats that we could see from our rooms. We boarded these for a narrated tour about the 1000 Islands (technically there are 1864 of them). We were blessed with three beautiful weather days for our mini-vacation.

Our first stop was the Singer Castle (Singer sewing machine heirs).

We were led on a guided tour of this awesome castle.

Of all the majestic rooms and designs, this is what I liked most. These little areas set apart to sit in private with someone overlooking the water. I don't know if there is a name for these little areas, but I would love one! 

Another cool chess set.

This is a further away shot of the little sitting areas that I love--there were three, I believe, in a row. 

There were secret stairways and passageways.

Back on the boat, we were told more about the 1000 Islands as we enjoyed the view.

We learned that three criteria exists for it to be deemed an island. It has to be above water 365 days a year, be able to grow a tree and be at least six square feet.

Soon we arrived at our next stop, the Boldt Castle. This one has a romantic history. George C. Boldt came from Prussia and his rags to riches story reveals that he became a hotel magnate in America including the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

I thought I got a better picture of the outside of the castle, but obviously didn't.

George C. Boldt had this castle built as a summer home for the love of his life, his wife, Louise. The island resembled the shape of a heart, and he had it re-shaped even more so to resemble a heart.
The grounds include Alster Tower (the Play House) and a Yacht House.

Sadly, Louse died before the castle was completed. George C. Boldt immediately ordered all work stopped and three hundred workers left the island. The sculptures, tapestries, furniture imported from around the world were never put in place.

When the property was eventually sold, it was with the condition that no one ever sleep even one night in the castle. I should have taken pictures of the three floors of unfinished work. It is a shell of work to be finished.

The bottom floor shows just how elegant it would have been. We were disappointed that this part of our group tour made us go through it all in a whirl wind and most of us would have loved a lot more time to wander the castle and grounds in this self-guided tour.

The lesson we can all learn from Boldt Castle is all the money in the world can't buy everything.


the playhouse

The Boldt Castle is sticking up behind the trees.

Back on the boat, we enjoyed more views of the islands.

Into town to eat, took a couple of pictures of murals. 

After a delicious dinner at the Clipper Inn, we returned to our hotel.

Night view from our balcony.

One of many seagulls always circling the area.
 One last walk the next morning.
A very friendly duck.

Then we were off on the bus for a couple of hours to an Erie Canal boat ride. We had terrific seats in front.

Have to wait for the water level to lower and the gates to open before we can proceed through.

On the way back, have to wait for water to raise the level before the gates can open.

That was the end of our adventures. We went on the bus for more games and a movie and one rest stop before arriving home.

So, the final decision is yes, we would go on a senior trip again. Yes, there were some annoyances. There was the drawback of arriving everywhere as a huge group and having to always wait in line for "fast" food and rest rooms. We had a great group that did not once hold up the bus. Half of the bus was from Barkhamsted area and half from Norwalk. Although we didn't intermingle much, everyone was cordial. 

Another con would be not being able to stop and see other things that we may have chosen to see or do, and being restricted to the timing of tours but all that is expected. Nice to have all the checking in and ticket buying all done. I'm not sure I could go on a long trip, but three days was fine.

It was fun for us traveling with relatives too. Nice to spend extra time with them and explore new things with them. So, ends another adventure of Debbie & George.

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