Finishing With a Bang: the big ticket trips

Until now all I have mentioned is hopping on and off one of the regular trolleys to get from one of the many tourist attractions. What I have not included is the actual cost. Fortunately the 
K-Pass is available for 24, 48 or 72 hours $79 – $119 plus tax, with the higher passes offering a lunch or dinner cruise. A quick calculation, based on the three day pass shows this is indeed a fantastic savings considering the dinner cruise alone is a whopping $78-$98 per person, and that is not on the three level Island Queen. The Trolley Tours, keeping with 72 hours, is $ 51.50 plus that glaring tax not including entry fees to any of the sites they stop at. Although I did not add up all the entry fees included in the K-Pass an estimated savings seems to be about $250.00 if all sites are visited. It is important to note that the Kingston Penitentiary Tour is not included.

All Aboard! Island Queen Brunch

First, this was a brunch cruise, the lunch and dinner cruises aboard the Island Star, and the Island Queen for that matter, have different menus. I will also note here that I had the buffet on the Island Star in May of this year. Which leads me to wondering how they could have been so far off the mark for a simple plated brunch. Put bluntly – food mediocre, views fabulous. Gorgeous day. Unfortunately, I found the cruise far too overpriced for what is offered meal wise. Which for us was a comped meal. The set menu – with one of three choices of croissant – sounded promising. 
Miniature Frittata Florentine, pretty basic, easy to make and serve as well as covering dietary needs for many passengers. This should have been a delicious beginning to the meal. However, before even taking a bite I was disappointed with the plating of the food. Simple salad, croissant, frittata looked just okay when everything should have looked pleasing. However, I let that slide. Until I tried the frittata. I know mini size baking can be an issue with balancing ingredients but surely these were made by trained staff – or maybe not. The flavour of the three cheeses was just not there and there was a taste of iron in each bite that I thought might be the spinach unless, in an effort to ensure fluffiness, baking soda was added. 

Next, the Applewood Smoked Salmon on a Croissant, a difficult choice for this westcoast islander to make considering I was inland. However, I made that decision on the assumption it must be Atlantic salmon and I do not care for cranberries with turkey nor did I want the vegetarian choice. Presentation is important, as already noted the plating was not great. The croissant top was falling off its sad bed of salmon and red onion with capers (they were the best part) and appeared to have lost its glory as a trumped up sandwich. More between the covers might have made it more palatable. Fortunately there was not much they could do wrong with the fresh lettuce salad and the strawberry/mint dressing was actually quite nice. Dessert was a small apple danish, far too sweet for me. We were plied with coffee once I suggested leaving the pot on the table and my daughter enjoyed her speciality coffee – no idea what was in it.

Just a little too tipsy in my opinion. That open window was straight down to the lake.

Ah yes, but how was the actual cruise? That was wonderful, somewhat crowded, it was a Sunday after all. With three levels we had the choice of staying at our window seats in the dining area, heading to the first level to listen to the live music, or head topside for the lake breeze and fresh air. We did all three a couple of times. The crowd on the main level was a tough one for the entertainers. Perhaps it was a mix of it being a late morning/ early afternoon cruise and several families – they were just not interested in the entertainment. Being drawn to dance whenever a tune pulls us my daughter and I were far more energetic in our appreciation than anyone else. Talking to my daughter we both felt the mood was just too stifling to strike the centre of the dance floor. Must be tough for the musicians who were pretty decent and the lead did try to keep up a mix of humour between songs. Topside had the best unobstructed view. Overall we had a wonderful three hour Heart of the Islands cruise and were able to put aside the mediocre meal until later. A few days later my daughter sent a response to an email from the individual who had provided us with the tickets asking how the day was. Do I recommend the cruise, YES! With brunch, not so sure. 

Once back on land we came across the firetruck pull. Looked like a lot of fun! Raising money for epilepsy. Loved the guys in their tutus.

The drive back to the country was very strange. Giant grey. Louis loomed ahead, directly over where we were heading, when a sudden downpour burst open on us as we moved towards its direct path – it was like entering a waterfall, dry on one side, soaking on the other. Just walking the few feet from the car to a store we were drenched. I was grateful we had clear blue skies with just whiffs of cloud during the cruise.
All Aboard! Wolfe Island Trip
I am an islander through and through therefore, as though my three hour cruise the previous day had not been enough, I headed over to Wolfe Island with my other daughter just for the fun of it. This was after wandering around downtown a bit and discussing what I had not yet done. It was sort of a lightbulb moment when my daughter asked if I had ever taken the free ferry. I was up for free! 
So inviting….I think I could have made the swim.

The Wolfe Island ferry route is considered part of the provincial highway which means free passage for all vehicles and passengers. Too bad we do not have the same consideration in BC. The ferry runs 365 days of the year. During the summer it goes to the Marysville dock, 20 minute ride. In reality it only seemed a leisurely pace for everyone standing on either side I. The open air, probably due to the lovely day, as it does go at a fairly good clip. Inclement weather probably finds walk on passengers huddled up in the car deck side rooms. The vessel holds 55 vehicles and around 300 passengers. (I kept finding different figures so settled on this) the best part is that the dock on the Kingston side is right downtown, as the Marysville summer dock. Walking on and off was a breeze.
This is plating to please the palate and eye.

Of course, once on the island there is not a whole lot to do unless you are driving. One major attraction, Big Sandy Bay  was closed due to high water. Which was fine as we had plans back in Kingston for later. However, a light lunch seemed like an excellent idea and we headed off to the very nearby Wolfe Island Grill, visible form the ferry. A great place; with nary a patron sitting inside we might have thought it deserted if we had not seen people on the multi-level dock enjoying the view, sun and some very nice boats tied to the pier. This was Island living. Knowing we would be having dinner later we both chose the Wilton Aged Cheddar Cheese Bread. I could stop there, except I had the extras on mine – bacon, caramelized onions and portobello mushroom. I was in heaven. Wilton cheese is an Ontario delicacy. The combination I chose was beyond perfection. Who knew anyone could enjoy a few crusts of delectable bread and cheese so much. I was very nearly tempted to order a fancy drink to prolong the day. I think I stuck to lots of water and probably a coffee. 

I think she is now tempted to get a large spinning wheel.
I think I mentioned the bubbles to prevent the lake from freezing over. This is to show I was not imagining it.
Murals seem popular on Wolfe Island

We visited the local museum, checked out the Wolfe Island Bakery where shared a peanut butter truffle – beyond the heavens deliciousness. Checked outvaclocal craft place hidden at the back of a church, or maybe it was City Hall, and found a very strange painting. A wonderfully relaxing afternoon.
This outdoor painting was just plain creepy. No explanation.

The Numbers: I finally reached the stage of not taking careful note of my expenses. This meant adding up how much I had left to figure out where I was at. Which led to a bit of a dilemma, I did not write down what I started out with! I thought it was $1800.00, then had a vague recollection of having put aside $200.00 for various expenses at home while I was away. As of this entry my remaining funds ($138.00) were lower than how much I would still need. This happens to nearly everyone when they travel. Some of my expenses were for my next trip. It was time to do the math and figure out where to draw the extra funds from.

What I know I spent in the last few days: $85.00 dinner at Mandarin for two including tip$20.00 misc Market purchases; $8.00 coffees; $12.00 items for train trip; $5.00 light snack. 8.00 brkfst; 4.00 snack (Small Batch Cafe carrot cake shared with daughter 3); 36.00 lunch $5.00 coffee Steps: two days, falling behind a bit – only 14,000. Must have been be all the sailing.

Gettin’ My Groove On

I am not sure why that saying fits the last ten days of my time in Kingston – perhaps the pattern of my days fit me, rather than me fitting around others. Not that I was suddenly on my own, I was still staying with and seeing family. That was more important to making my trip well rounded as I could go places during the day while they worked (or played) and then join up for an evening of quality time. So, what did I do with my time? A lot! Which means breaking things down to bite size pieces over time.
Still taking full advantage of my K—Pass I was able to see so much of what Kingston has to interest probably anyone. I hopped on and off the trolley to visit the Pen Museum and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, walked back to town and went out for dinner with my daughters one day.
The Pen Museum – ‘Cedarhedge’ house was built in 1873 for Warden John Creighton and his family after he refused to raise his children within the walls of the penitentiary. It was interesting to be told by the trolley driver that it was Creighton’s wife who refused whereas some written histories say he was the single parent of his five children. We can assume there was a mother at some point. I have absolutely no recollection of any cedars. )I found out later most of them had been removed.) Who built the house – convicts of course. 
Although a relatively small museum it holds many interesting items ranging from confiscated shims (not out of Kingston Pen) to various torture devices….er, correction, including an early, crude, and most likely extremely effective, contraption similar to waterboarding. If anyone was not clear as to how despicable this was (and us still used in some form to this day) look it up. I was aghast to see that visitors willingly sat in the seat and had the bucket shut around their head. One woman said it made her feel claustrophobic – gee, really?

Cannot imagine messing with one of these guys! From around the time of the 1971 Kingston Pen riot.

I believe the write up said over 400 in the case. So, how many were not confiscated? Millhaven Institute is in Bath, ON.

The second floor displays some of what would have been in the house during the time of the first warden to live there. No signs of any items for children though. It did appear they had quite a comfortable life. The cedar hedge that is no longer there would have hidden most of the neighbouring home (maximum 564 but no idea when that was nor how many in 1870s) except for maybe the stairway from the lower yard to the Pen. 
Although not a great shot I liked the view from behind the screen looking down to the penitentiary.

A visit to the more refined Agnes Etherington Art Centre shook off the creepiness of incarceration. The first exhibition – Road Trip: Across Canada with Alan C. Collier, that included short narratives from the artist’s son who had the bounty of travelling with his parents, was very interesting. I am not an artist, very often the subtleties many find in a piece escape me. However, I found all of the work exhibited rather mesmerizing for their simplicity and the ease with which I could recognize some of the landscapes as well as relate to them. For me, that is what makes an artist. His paintings also made me want to keep on exploring Canada.

Of course I had to see the three Rembrandt paintings! What first struck me is that they are relatively small. Then just how difficult it must have been to paint such exquisite work under deplorable lighting. The small size of the pieces, two were on panels, one on canvas, invites close inspection. I came away wondering how anyone could capture expression and tone without a photograph to refer to! 
The Alfred Bader Collects: Celebrating Fifty Years of The Bader Collection was a chance to see the works of the Old Masters from the 16th to 19th century. I enjoyed having the time to really look at the paintings, it was not busy, and left thinking I really do prefer art I can at least sort of understand. This conclusion came after I visited the Les Levine: Transmedia exhibit. I just could not understand the why of it. Which is why art, in all its forms, is so expressive.
The walk along the lake was wonderful. All along one long stretch were Inukshuks, or renditions of them, that kept the art theme in my mind. I took so many photos it became difficult to choose a favourite.

A little wind, sun, and the easy life. For sailor and me.

To end that very busy day I met my daughters for dinner at Curry Original, a wonderful restaurant that serves delicious Indian cuisine. We ordered too much, we ate too much, we had a wonderful evening. A two month early birthday dinner I had requested. 

After dinner: I rarely have photos of me. The awkward pose is one reason.

3.50 brkfst – yogurt with fruit & granola. Free coffee at Crave! (A card from Diva – a salon I introduced my daughters to that they still use for some services. Put that way it sounds nearly salacious) Dinner was a gift from my daughters. Steps over three days approx: 30,000 

Getting to Know You

Canada’s  First Capital

When travelling it is difficult to not be kept up to date about ‘home’ be it your home base, region or the country. About a week after I left the idyllic island of Victoria the news out of the interior of my province, BC, was that forest fires had forced the evacuation of 100 Mile House – my SIL’s parent live near there and are on alert. Things did not get much better over the ensuing weeks, homes were lost, people, pets and livestock on the move in several areas. Scary situation.

With my excellent K-Pass through 1000 Islands Tours I decided it was time to go on an Ontario Lake cruise. A taped history of the area plays for much of the time, I was glad for the breaks. There are some lovely lakefront properties for sale along the route. One had a 6000sq ft house with a houseboat, winch to lift said boats, and a sweeping lawn downs to the lake. All for a mere 2 million – expensive in Kingston expensive but a song compared to where I live. There seemed to be a theme of homesickness threaded through the day when I went back to read my notes. 

There really are many, many islands – 1864 (some research shows 1865) of them. An agreement in 1793 was reached that no island would be split in two. This explains why the boundary between the U.S. and Canada follows a zigzag line. Canada has 1000of the islands while the US has the larger islands. Acreage wise it is roughly the same amount of land. 

The Island Queen, not what I was on. That would be another day.

Wolfe Island is the exception to that arrangement. Under European rule (French then British) since around 1675, the island for is a lovely spot for anyone wanting to work in Kingston while retaining a quiet island life. Pipes built under the lake that emit air bubbles keeps the route of the ferry, considered a section of the highway, to Wolfe Island free of ice. The ferry is free to all vehicles and passengers, takes about 20 minutes to cross, and is a fabulous way to spend a nice day at one of the beaches or have a meal at one of the very few restaurants. In the distance is the ’wind farm’, 86 wind turbines that provide electricity in Kingston for about 76,000 residents. No mention as to how it gets there. More pipes under the lake?
I usually visit Kingston in the harsh cold of winter when there is not much to do other than huddle under a blanket weeping iclcles. However, summer is a time for celebrating the vast outdoor recreation. A major draw for dive enthusiasts, there are at least ten wrecks for divers to check out.

Lasers looking to be mowed down.

The Royal Military College (RMC) has summer sea cadets attend camps where they learn all sorts of sailing and water skills. I think they were still at the beginning of safety and etiquette. As we were approaching a right of way (although sailboats tend to have the right of way it is often not possible for large vessels to easily maneuver away from smaller crafts) the small Lazer crafts the cadets were attempting to master were directly in our path. Our captain had to make a sharp about turn to avoid several leaving passengers with a bare waterside view of the Pen and completely missing a view of the asylum. Fortunately no frantic SOS, flares, or cries of dismay (I doubt they were even aware of how precarious their situation was and should have had a stern lecture upon returning to RMC – they were quite far out) as we motored on our merry way to the pier. It was a glorious day to be on the water with the wind whipping through my hair. We HAD a military college in Victoria, with its very own, bonafide castle. It is now Royal Roads University and the castle is still there.
Kingston Penitentiary, as foreboding from the street as for. The water.

One of the few Martello Towers remaining in the Kingston area. Defending the city. They also look formidable.

As if a boat tour was not enough for the day I went on another trolley tour. In one day I had seen the college and Fort Henry from both sides now. Only as far as the ramparts for the Fort, I was saving the inside for another day. Lake Ontario was still high enough to be lapping at the toes of the cadets – sandbags are not usually laid out so late in the summer. That would be good work for all those budding sailors. 

To allow sailboats and various craft access to the Rideau Canal there is a lift bridge – which was obligingly lifted for a sailboat – we were too far back to see but, like RMC, we HAD one in Victoria until the city decided to build a new one and made damn sure the old could never be used again by selling it for scrap! I remain hopeful that Kingston will not do something as similar considering our new bridge is behind schedule and rising in cost. Someone needs to explain it is the bridge we want raised, not our taxes. Oops, letting politics sneak in.

The green bridge. I have no idea if Kingstontonians have given it a nickname. It never came up.

Dinner was at the popular local Battersea Creekside Bar & Grill. You know a place has great food when they bring the wrong meal and you do not notice! Or I was just very hungry.

It was supposed to be an enchilada. What I got was 3 Mexican chicken wraps and nachos. Very good and probably far less stuffing. (When we went another time I found out this was indeed their version of enchiladas- my SIL pointed out we are not anywhere near Mexico!) 
After that full day I spent the next in the country. Then another day dealing mainly with a possible hacker. They were unsuccessful. It took a good part of my day to get everything figured out to be on the safe side. Despite spending much of the day hanging out with my D at her office (I need a job like hers) I managed to put in well over the figure below. For anyone who wants to write about their adventures losing the use of a keyboard is catastrophic! 
The numbers: daughter bought dinner. I hate to think how much I weight with all this eating out!2.50 coffee; 2.50 Wolfe Island Bakery apple turnover (so flaky!) 13,000 steps (this is how I manage eating out – within reason)

More numbers: 10.00 breakfast; 2.25 Sipps coffee; 2.50 Wolfe Island pretzel ( I did not even have to swim); 8.00 fresh squeaky cheese (the only kind for Poutine – which I do not eat) and Hagan-Dazs ice cream bar (I know, I know) 13,500 step – not sure how many when phone inexplicably shut down. Perhaps another 2500-3000.

4 Day Busker Festival

Being in Kingston for the Busker’s Festival was pure luck. What a wonderful opportunity to see some excellent talent. For many buskers performing is their sole source of income which means they want to draw, keep, and please the crowd. Planning was very good with performances spread over three staging areas. Confederation Park in the morning and mid-afternoon, and street performances that called for the. Losers two blocks of the Main Street. I think this was an excellent idea as it drew people to the downtown core where audiences could follow performers and then eat or shop locally. A winning combination. 

Not more than two minutes later I smudged my dragonfly – fortunately touched up for free.

Getting into the fun. No adoring crowd throwing money.

I did not appreciate the first performance, perhaps because he focussed on children – which is great if the act is any good. Fortunately every other show was fantastic. Fortunately I had decided to get into the act and had a henna done of a sunflower and dragonflies. By the time I was done the second act came on.These individuals, duos and groups work exceptionally hard. They bring humour, daring, magic, dance, feats of strength and daring. Many in one show! All outdoors, in the heat. Their professionalism while performing on the hard cement, in sun and rain, made me appreciate just how dedicated they have to be to their art.
My favourite was DynaMike,,I saw him perform probably four times over the course of the festival. A one man show with mix of comedy, danger and audience participation – he drew in the crowd with his easy banter and quick eye to include moments that others might have missed. One was on the closed down street where there are apartments on the upper floors of shops. Great view for anyone looking down, apparently unsuspected by onlookers – but not by the performer. He was quick to include this sole anonymous spectator from above into his show, inviting all of us below to wave. When a wave back finally came we all enthusiastically applauded. I expect it is moments like these that make the show special for the performer.

Takes concentration when riding uphill and surrounded by an audience!

DynoMike, one D and me – hiding behind my shades.

Duo-Looky, (no idea why the name) from Israel, was my next (perhaps tied – the acts are so different) favourite and I saw one full performance and much of two others. Once again, the ability to move from venue to venue was excellent. Still on concrete. If anyone has beaten the sidewalks for hours on end exploring a city try doing it on pointe! This ballerina has skills. She and her partner could probably do less of the audience participation and still keep everyone enthralled. The wine bottle performance took my breath away, and I saw it thrice. 

Close-up. I am quite sure many in the audience d were holding their breath.
Can you imagine! They showed us how many bottles get broken.

As the heat and humidity increased I needed an escape, what better place but at St. George’s Cathedral for a little lunch sax. The Saxobelles, an all female group, provided the 200+ audience with some pretty cool licks. A little Gershwin, Leonard Cohen, Beethoven and more made for a relaxing, cool respite.

There were four playing. Must take along a better camera for such delights.

As if I had not already done enough for the day I met up with my eldest daughter for an afternoon movie,Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This one was pretty good. Time for Johnny Depp to pack up the make up box on a bit of a high note.

 Then Score Pizza (free from winning hockey pucks at the Market) for dinner at my other D’s house and crash on the sofa. I had to drag my body from the chair where I was dozing.

The next two days I revisited the Festival, not once disappointed, even when caught in the rain. Alas, no piña coladas. I just headed to Sipps, my other go to cafe. It seemed many others had similar plans, I ended up joining four Kingstonians, and hope I did not talk their ears off about my adventures. They all love Victoria, travel a lot, came up with the consensus that, after hearing I stay at hostels, that their idea of a hostel is a B&B without a private ensuite. They provided me the name of a travel agency (I think I managed to make a note of it) for Cuba – one place I would love to visit. They were also gracious enough to have a photo taken with my travel companions. Once the rain clouds had parted it was time to venture out again. Extremely high humidity hit me hard, barely out the door and I was dripping. I am not looking forward to the same in the sub-tropic of Vietnam and China.

Always fun to meet locals!

The zuchinnis were as delicious as they look
Sunday Market (name forgotten). Needed my baozi fix.

By the 4th day of the festival I was beginning to think I must have been a performer rather than an audience member. I somehow managed to fit in another full day – with family – buskers, pedicure (that should have meant more relaxation, not less) and a Ghost and Mystery Trolley Tour. The latter was interesting, made me want to learn more about some of the places we heard about. The Rockwood Lunatic Asylum in particular. In use from 1878 – 1905, built with Kingston Pen convict labour, the asylum was considered a part of the penitentiary when it first housed ‘criminally insane’ patients starting in 1862. Although difficult to believe these days considering 10% of patients were constrained, and the remaining confined to the asylum, the building’s view overlooking Lake Ontario was claimed to have a calming effect on patients. Perhaps the fresh lake air and soft lapping of waves were peaceful and lulling. For some excellent photos of the inside, taken over three years 2011 – 2014, check out, Abandonment Issues: Rockwood Insane Asylum. From what the tour guide told my group, and looking at the structure, it is most likely impossible to easily gain access. Entering such a facility would be more difficult for me than a decommissioned prison. (Which I would finally do two days before leaving Kingston)

Also visited the mosquito infested cemetery where Sir John A. has a headstone.

Note: Upon writing I felt I had not given enough to show my appreciation for the performances; however, I am in the habit of budgeting a specific amount for each day which generally means I tend to not have a lot of extra coin or bills with me. In Canada we have $1 and $2 coins. I suggest if going to a similar festival take low denominations and show your appreciation by paying 

The numbers: (spread over the days of the Busker Festival) 20.00 buskers; 10.40 breakfast. This may explain my dwindling funds! Eating out in Canada is expensive; 10.00 Henna 3.50 lunch (pkg tuna w crackers, apple sauce); 2.50 coffee; 5.00 Buskers; 15.00 Movie; 6.60 Coffee and danish (yikes, need to stop having coffee at Crave, that was my second chocolate croissant in a week!)2.00 Sipps Cafe (better than standing in a downpour);  15.00? Fresh produce at Springer Square Market; 2.00 lunch (dollar store tuna & crackers again) Steps: 12,000; 13,000; 9,000; 20,000

Day 19: Back at full Throttle

Sent off a birthday greeting to my sister and celebrated on her behalf by going for a leisurely walk along a section of the K&P Trail. Built on the abandoned Canadian Pacific Railway rail bed access to the three trails I managed to stumble across starting at the Information Centre (formerly the K&P Station)/Confederation Park, across from City Hall, were connected, the Waterfront and City of Kingston Pathways sections and the K&P sections I took run beside Lake Ontario and Cataraqui River and beyond. I use leisurely loosely, starting from nearby Princess St. then turning back at River St. The route I took included the waterfront pathway, past the boatyard, the former Cotton Mill, a Rowing and a Canoe Club and enough picturesque stops for anyone with a need to just enjoy the view, rest or take photos. As I also took the Waterfront section and  I am unsure how many kilometres I walked but the majority of my steps had to have been during that walk.

The lake and river were still much higher than usual for the time of year. Shy turtles were bathing on the jutting ends of submerged logs, only to jump off if anyone stopped along the path to snap a picture. Of course this meant I only managed a few. In some areas the lake had lapped over the path and one jetty that appeared to be a kayak and canoe launch was looking very precarious. I was rather flabbergasted to see a family fishing from the section closest to shore. My imagination was working overtime with children sliding off the edge. 

The Woolen Mill was a lovely surprise to come up on. It seems to be a bit of an unknown to anyone who does not have to go in that direction. Neither of my daughters knew about it. Now occupied by offices, artisans, a gym and the River Mill Restaurant (est. 1985) (pricey – I did not go beyond the doors), the buildings were constructed in 1882 for the Kingston Cotton Manufacturing Company. It ran as a cotton mill for 50 years before becoming a woollen mill that ran until 1966. Of course it was synthetic material that saw the demise of the mill.

Fortunately it was saved and renovated without losing too much of the original structure. It was declared a historic build no n 1987 which prevents massive, or even minor – other than necessary repairs – renovation. I should have gone inside to see if there is any sign of the machinery that ran the mill over a century ago. According to the original wood floors, pine beams and red brick were only refurbished rather than heavily renovated. The 100 foot high chimney certainly draws the attention of anyone passing by! 

Note:  I had a dreadful time uploading photos for this, thank goodness they all seem to speak withoutadditinal comments!

The Numbers: 8.90 breakfast; 15.00 lunch; 18,500 steps (trying to decide if I should add approx 1500 steps for when my iPhone is not with me each day – I do at home)