1000 Islands, New York

Day 395

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     So, how did the 1000 Islands come to be? Lore has it that Manitou said to the Indians: “I will give you paradise, if you stop fighting”. According to legend, the Indians did not stop fighting, so Manitou put paradise into a bag and threw it into the horizon. The bag broke apart and a thousand pieces fell down into the St. Lawrence River, creating the Thousand Islands.

     The Islands range in size from 1 foot to 40 square miles. 

    Actually, by my count, there are 1,864 islands that dot the St. Lawrence River and comprise the 1000 Island Region. It took me 3 days to count the Islands. In fact, I did it twice to be sure.

     What are the criteria to be an “Island” here? It must be above water level year round, have an area greater than 1 square foot, and support at least one living tree. 

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    We will be spending the next few days traveling on the St. Lawrence River exploring the islands. If I wrote on all of them, you would be terribly bored, so I will just pick a couple.

     No island is divided by the international border, meaning each is either wholly within the United States or Canada. That causes the international border to zig zag across the water instead of forming a straight line between the two countries.

     Most of the islands are privately owned, with the bigger ones having electricity.

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     Heavy rains during the previous month has caused the river level to rise 2 feet, putting many docks and buildings under water.

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Cape Vincent, New York

Day 394

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     Cape Vincent is located where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River and Seaway.

     The French were the first europeans to explore this area around 1615. In the late 1790’s and early 1800’s James LeRay de Chaumont acquired the land in this area and named the Cape for his son. LeRay, a Frenchman, married and became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, negotiated with LeRay for land that included Cape Vincent. The plan was to sneak Napoleon to Cape Vincent. However, Napoleon died in St. Helena before this was accomplished. Many French Army veterans and evacuees settled in the area and were major contributors to the growth and identity of the region.

    Today the village celebrated it’s annual “French” Festival. It is only fitting that the parade be symbolically led by Napoleon.

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There were display booths, food, a puppet show for the children,

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and, of course the parade:

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    The parade had an abrupt ending as a torrential downpour occurred. However, after it was over, some of the members of the different marching bands had a jam session:

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Alexandria Bay, New York

Day 392

St Lawrence River     

     Alexandria Bay is a village located on the south bank of the Saint Lawrence River near the U.S. and Canada border. It is about mid-way in the 1000 island area of New York. The site of this village was selected by Cadwallader Child in 1804 while surveying a road, with settlement in the area beginning in 1817. The town of Alexandria derives its name from Alexander, son of J.D LeRay de Chaumont under whom much of the land was settled. The township was formed April 3, 1821. However, by 1836 there were only 25 dwellings here. This area is mostly for summer tourists. 

      We chose this area to set up our camp as it is central to towns along the St. Lawrence River, and easy access to the 1000 island area. 

Alexandria Bay

Technical Stuff:

Peru, New York to Alexandria Bay, New York: 198.3 miles

5 hours 11 minutes

9.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.50


Battle of Valcour Island, New York

Day 391

     Research revealed that the only information on the Battle of Valcour Island, New York, also known as the Battle for Lake Champlain, was located in the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, not located in Peru or Valcour, New York, but in Vergennes, Vermont. So we drove to Vergennes, which included a 25 minute ferry ride across Lake Champlain to the museum.

     Although the museum covered a vast amount of maritime history on the Lake, I was mainly interested in the battle. I was directed down to a pier where a replica ship of the Colonial Fleet of that battle, the Philadelphia, was docked and told to talk to Bill, who would be on the ship. 

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     This man had a vast knowledge of the battle, and relayed the following: 

     Colonel Arnold was born on January 14, 1741, a British Subject, as everyone born at that time was, in Norwich, the colony of Connecticut. He served with distinction in the French and Indian War. During the early battles of the American revolution, he was greatly admired by George Washington as a military man that could think outside the box and achieve a military victory where other’s could not. 

     For that reason Washington sent Colonel Arnold to Lake Champlain to build and assemble a fleet to engage the British Royal Navy, the largest and most powerful navy in the World, who were expected to come from Canada and attack the Colonies. 

      On October 1, 1776, Arnold received reliable intelligence indicating that the British had a force significantly more powerful than his. Because his force was inferior, he chose the narrow, rocky body of water between the western shore of Lake Champlain and Valcour Island, in upstate New York, where the British fleet would have difficulty bringing its superior firepower to bear, and where the inferior seamanship of his relatively unskilled sailors would have a minimal negative effect. Some of Arnold’s captains wanted to fight in open waters, the traditional way to fight a naval battle at that time, and where they might be able to retreat to the shelter of Fort Crown Point, but Arnold argued that the primary purpose of the fleet was not survival but the delay of a British advance on Crown Point and Ticonderoga until the following spring. 

     On October 11, 1776, the British Fleet sailed down Lake Champlain. As they past Valcour Island Arnold sailed out and engaged them. Arnold lost to the superior British forces. However, the American defense of Lake Champlain stalled British plans to reach the upper Hudson River valley.

     Although the British won the battle and now had control of the Lake, they abandoned the area and returned to Canada for the winter. This allowed the Colonial Army a year to prepare for the anticipated attack of the British which resulted in the Battle of Saratoga in New York, a battle won by the Colonists, which proved to be the turning point in the Revolutionary War. All because of Colonel Benedict Arnold. 

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Ausable Chasm, New York

Day 389

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     Ausable Chasm is a sandstone gorge and tourist attraction located near we are camping, on lake Champlain in Northeastern New York State. The Ausable River runs through it, and then empties into Lake Champlain.  The river was originally named “Au Sable” (French for “sandy”) by Samuel de Champlain when he first explored the region in 1609 because of its extensive sandy delta. Can you guess where the lake got it’s name? The 1.5-mile-long chasm was opened to the public in 1870 as a tourist trap, sorry, attraction, five years after the Civil War. 

     Today we hiked the Chasm and the area around. We first walked about 2 miles along the rim of the Chasm so we could look down.

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We then took a raft ride through the Chasm,

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and then walked about 3 miles within the Chasm, along the Ausable River. 

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     As always, there was a rock formation in which people see things. Here, some people see an elephant head:

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     I don’t understand how they see that, it is obviously soft serve ice-cream in a cone. 

     Since we are in the Adirondack Mountains, Adirondack Chairs are everywhere. 

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     Aaaah! That was a long walk.

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6 hrs on Lake George, New York

Day 383

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     Took a 6 hour boat tour of Lake George, 32 miles from the Village of Lake George to Ticonderoga, where the lake empties into Lake Champlain, which flows into the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean.

     The Lake was named by the British during the French and Indian War to honor their King, George #2. The lake played no part in the American Revolution, but was prominent during the French and Indian War as it is only 160 miles from Canada. 

     We boarded the ship Mohican, part of the Lake George Steamboat Company, which has been carrying passengers on the lake since 1817. There are over 170 islands in the lake, most of them State owned. 

     Camping is permitted on the State owned islands.

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     About 30 of the islands are privately owned, on which some have houses. 

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     Like all waterways that traverse mountains, there is the inevitable “man in the mountain”

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     To me, it is not the face of a man, but a double scoop ice-cream cone.



Peru, New York

Day 385

     The town of Peru is in upstate New York, south of Plattsburgh, not far from Lake Champlain. The area was first settled in 1772. The Battle of Valcour Island was fought on Lake Champlain in the eastern part of Peru in 1776. The town was formed  Dec. 28, 1792. 

     We drove through the town of Peru and the town of Valcour looking for information on the battle, as I wanted to visit the area of the battle. To my surprise, nothing was here. Since this was an important battle as it delayed the British from reaching Saratoga, I found this strange. I will research the issue. 

     Today, and for the next couple of days, there are severe thunderstorms and flooding. More than likely we will stay in the campground until the storms moves on before further exploring. 

Technical Stuff:

Queensbury, N.Y. to Peru, N.Y. 99.5 miles

2 hours 13 minutes

10.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.45