With water lapping the shores of Alexandria Bay, soft winds whispering tales of times gone by, and little boats bobbing up and down in rhythm with the gentle tide at the Clayton dockside, the Thousand Islands region is a soothing repose from stress.
There are about 80 percent more islands here than what is accounted for in the name. And each one has a story. The most famous is Heart Island. The owner of the Waldorf-Astoria, George Boldt, built a castle and shaped an island into a heart to demonstrate his overwhelming love for his wife. But before it could be finished, she died. The home and island were abandoned and left to ruin. Today, excursion boats stop here and tourists walk through the haunted halls of love destroyed. An overwhelming sense of melancholy exists that seems to whisper tales of lost love in the wind and through the vacant halls of the castle.
Driving over the International Bridge is an experience. The seven mile expanse passes five different spans and seems to have a perpendicular climb. The first span introduces Wellesley Island State Park, a 2,636-acre haven for hiking, swimming, golf, a playground, and camping, as well as a museum and wildlife preserve. The Thousand Islands Park in South Wellesley Island is an adorable village of pastel-painted homes that are privately owned and look as though they just stepped off the pages of Hansel and Gretel.
Other interesting towns include Ogdensburg, the state's first town where the Battle of Ogdensburg was fought in 1812; Massena, where the Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock serves as an elevator to ships on the Seaway; Oswego, known for its sportfishing; and Sackets Harbor, site of the Battle of Sackets Harbor in 1812; and, finally, Cape Vincent where the drive along Route 6 is unforgettable.
Island hopping by boat is a great way to view the region and is especially wonderful at sunset. The sky bursts into flame and the water takes on a subdued glow, the memory of which stays in the mind's eye forever.