A Quick Trip Out of the Country

Clayton, NY

OK, so we didn’t go to Europe, or Asia, or Somalia.  But we did make a brief trip into Canada and that’s a foreign country!

Each summer when we visit Clayton we like to take a bicycle trip to the city of Kingston, Ontario for lunch.  To get there, we drive the Jeep about ten miles to the southeast along the St. Lawrence River to the tiny village of Cape Vincent.  There is a small ferry boat in Cape Vincent that will take you across a narrow part of the river to Wolfe Island, which is in Canada.

One lonely international traveler waiting for the ferry to depart

For two dollars (fifteen for a car and driver) you can take your bike onto the ferry for the short voyage to Canada.

Docking on the Canadian side with the American side in the distance

As soon as you leave the ferry dock you are met by Canadian Customs, usually two very friendly officers who welcome you and ask a few brief questions.

Canadian Customs on Wolfe Island

Once you clear customs it is 11 km to the next stop.  Its a shorter ride for Americans, as it is only 6.8 miles.  Its good to be an American!

The road across the island is smooth and pretty flat.  You see two things along the way: farms and windmills.

The village of Cape Vincent has been approached by developers who for years have wanted to erect windmills in that area, as the winds off Lake Ontario are fairly consistent.  But the good citizens of the town have fought it out of fear that their view of the beautiful St. Lawrence would be negatively impacted by the sight of the windmills.  But while the Americans had many meetings over the proposed windmills and their impact on the area, the Canadians erected 86 of the structures, most of them in plain view from the American side!

After a bike ride of 6.8 miles we arrived at the largest village on the island, Marysville (pop. 400).  We didn’t see many people on the road but Canadians had to go 11 km, so it probably took them a bit longer than us.

At Marysville we boarded a medium size ferry operated by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (no fee) for another short trip to the city of Kingston.

The Kingston Ferry before boarding

The Kingston Ferry after boarding

As we left the ferry at Kingston, we spotted a car that was of interest to us.  If you’ve ever used Google Maps Street View you know that you can get a 360 degree view of most streets in the US and Canada and move just like you are driving the road.  Below is one of the cars they use to do this, with a 360 camera mounted on the roof.

Google Maps Car

Kingston is a really nice little city (pop. 124,000) with a distinctive European feel.  We decided to eat lunch at the Kingston Brewing Company since they had a nice sidewalk deck.

The Kingston Brewing Company

An American in Paris Kingston

The river edge along the main part of the city is called the Confederation Basin.  The tower in the picture below is the Shoal Tower.  It is one of four such towers built in the 1840s to protect Kingston’s harbor.  A dispute between Great Britain and the United States over the boundary between British Columbia and Oregon that threatened to lead to war and to the invasion of Canada prompted their construction.  Eventually Shoal Tower was abandoned.

Shoal Tower along the Confederation Basin

Turn around from the picture above and you are looking at Kingston City Hall.  The city hall was completed in 1844, with its scale and design reflective of Kingston’s status as capital of what was known at the time as the Province of Canada.  The building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1961.

When we arrived in Cape Vincent to board the first ferry, the area was slowly filling up with a large group of bicyclists.  Fortunately, we were able to board the ferry before this group had gathered to cross the border.  The Canadian customs official said it was a group who ride around Lake Ontario each summer and they were told to expect almost ninety riders.  After lunch (and a stop at Starbucks) we observed the group riding through the Kingston in front of City Hall.

After coffee, lunch, and a visit to Confederation Basin, it was time to reverse the trip and board the ferry back to Wolfe Island.  We then re-crossed the island and arrived back at the Cape Vincent Ferry a bit early so we had to wait a short time for the next trip to Cape Vincent.

A lonely American looking longingly at her homeland across the water

We boarded the ferry and enjoyed the return trip, observing a large freighter as it left the St. Lawrence heading west into Lake Ontario.

We’re enjoying a quiet stay in the village of Clayton and plan to remain here another week or so.  Then it is time to begin our slow trek south that will end in Miami the first of December.  But next up is an extended stay in our former home town of York, PA.

More on that later . . .

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12 Responses to A Quick Trip Out of the Country

  1. Lisa says:

    Looks like a lovely ride…nice bike shorts too! 🙂

    Metamorphosis Lisa

  2. Gay Taylor says:

    First off…you look great! Like skinny great! Way to go…

    Second, we visited Kingston last year in June. We have friends that live there and we had the most fabulous time. Riding your bike to another country is so cool! …well the ferry helps.


  3. Dave Bank says:

    I love Kingston. We used to go there by boat often when we were staying near Alex Bay. Pam, you look wonderful, Clayton must agree with you! Where will you stay in Miami? We have family there and would like to stop for a visit before we get to Holiday Cove in Dec.

  4. It is good to be an American. Much, much shorter ride.

    Egads….that Kingston Ferry was packed. Guess everyone knows a good deal when they see one.

    The Google car is a hoot. How cool to see one.

    I hope that lonely American gets to see her homeland again one day…and us too!

    What a wonderful way to spend the day. Kingston is a beautiful city.

    Your little puns are getting more clever with each blog John…hehe

  5. LuAnn says:

    Thanks for the tour of a city we may never see but does look lovely. I have to agree with your commenters Pam, you and John look terrific!

  6. Looks like a great place for a bike ride, especially with a stop for lunch at a brewery.
    Always wondered how they get those Google maps photos!

  7. Erin says:

    If you have to use your passport, it qualifies as international travel … no matter the distance. When we lived in Tacoma, WA in the early 80s, we made many day trips to Canada … of course, we had to drive since 300 miles each way was a bit too much for a bike trip. Yeah, what were we thinking … 600 miles for a day trip? Young and crazy, I guess.

  8. I would have liked to do this ride if our plans panned out. So thank you for showing it to us instead. The ferry reminded me of our crossing to San Juan Islands for a biking trip, no passports required there.

    Hope that lonely American gets home soon.

  9. Allison says:

    What a great day trip! Kingston is a very attractive town. When we were in Montreal and Quebec a few years ago, we were stunned at the number of military installations built to keep the Americans out of Canada. For some reason, the history we learned did not mention how aggressive the early colonists were. It’s always interesting to view your country from another’s perspective.

  10. frankeeg says:

    Wow! Doing an overseas international visit and back in the same day is impressive, especially on a bicycle. LOL. Cheers

  11. colibabas says:

    Welcome to Canada…and thanks for taking us along to see a part of our country we have yet to see. I have always admired your photos and was wondering what type of a data plan you have that allows for such large pictures.

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