Ever since our last trip to Frankenmuth went so well, Adam and I have been trying to plan another weekend getaway. Well it finally happened. Adam and I just came back from a trip to Kingston/1000 Islands and finally we were able to have a weekend without the world crashing and burning around us- well at least not major. We planned for a 3 day, two night stay in Kingston leaving on Friday morning and coming back late Sunday afternoon.Friday morning we left around 8am to make our 1pm boat tour, even though it takes 3.5 hours to get there, traffic would be horrible on a Friday in summer (and Adam doesn’t have a lead foot like I do). On long trips we’ve started playing the License Plate Game to see how many different (states/provinces other than Ontario) and this wasn’t our best record yet. We only saw 27 this time and it was the usual ones, nothing special or far like Alaska or Yukon Territories.
We got to Kingston around 12:15pm and parked across the street from Lone Star and paid $1.50 per half hour (which coming from the burbs where parking is free, is expensive for us). The parking lot was crazy; it’s right downtown near the water and during the time we were there was constantly packed. There was one part to the parking lot (about 50 cars) and then a ramp down to a smaller parking lot with about 20 spaces. Now this is smaller area is the pit of hell; not even smart cars can fit down there. We went down the ramp to find a spot; one car in front of us and two cars followed us like we were the Pied Piper of Hamlin. One car pulled into an alcove thinking there was a parking spot free (which there wasn’t) and we he finally learned of this, he tried to back out. Now here lies the problem about the smart cars; he wasn’t driving one, a big SUV in fact. He was already in too deep to turn around now and would have to back out but was blocked by every other car that was trying to park. The despair in his eyes; it’s like he knows he let his children and his future generations down (pretty sure he was still there when we left about an hour later btw). We got our spot and headed for the boat tour.
This boat tour was from 1000 Islands Boat tour opposite city hall in the white hut. Thank God we bought our tickets before, because we showed up 30 minutes before the boat took off and there was only 2 families in front of us. As we were leaving, the line was out the door (I mentally blew raspberries at the people waiting in line as we walked out the door- with our ticket in our hands and pep in our step). The tour we went on was an hour and a half long and toured north of Wolfe Island. This tour was…ok, it didn’t really take us anywhere too far from Kington. It did give us a history of the area which was good, but we were sitting on the right side of the boat (and most of the time we heard “if you look to your left” and something of importance would be on the left side) so I guess we lost out on that. We were both dressed for the summer (shirts and shorts) and saw people wearing pants and sweatshirts and I was thinking to myself “these must be tourists thinking Canada is under ice all year round.” Ya they were the smart ones apparently. It was so cold that day because of overcast and being on the water we were freezing. We totally played if off that we weren’t cold though- we just acted like the true Canadians we were and go outside in the snow with our bathing suits on. We got off the boat and walked back to our car when Adam noticed it started to rain. It wasn’t raining…we were close to the water and quite a few seagulls…well Adam apparently had a target on his forehead and the bird let loose. It was in his hair and on his forehead (and it wasn’t just white, it was the green poop you see on the pavement near the water). And of course being downtown trying to find a bathroom was ridiculous, but we found one in the City Hall. The building is huge and is composed of white stone. Inside was even nicer and I’m not too sure but I think it had oak staircases and nicely finished wooden walls with oil paintings adorned up the stairs.
Our next stop was Murney Tower which was an artillery fort that houses the big pivoting canons. Now back in the spring, my Mum got me the Discovery Pass (a pass that commemorates Canada 150 by getting into places for free run by the Government of Canada). Ya well better said than done. We have tried to use it twice now (at places that are on the Government of Canada website) but were told both times, the website got it wrong and we don’t accept the pass. Thank God my Mum didn’t pay for it because it would have been a total waste of money. So again we tried at Murney Tower (where it’s listed as one of the places on the website) and low and behold, were told it won’t work there because the website got it wrong. You had one job Canada! Lol. So we were expecting this and budgeted for this fee as well. There are 3 levels in the tower; top level is where the canon is held on a track that wheels around to fire out of windows to the enemy, the main level that has all of the artifacts, and then the lower level which houses the cellar, storage area and 3 or 4 rooms jutting out into the dry moat area. The best part had to be the basement with the rooms jutting out. There was a room with two doors on opposite ends (one connecting to the tower and another connecting to a room with curved ceiling, little windows, and an Iron Gate door. Now what’s so weird about these rooms is the little cut outs to the sides of the doors. In my naïve mind, I was thinking it was for ventilation or if they got themselves locked out heaven forbid lol. But apparently not, my innocent mind is completely wrong. I asked the woman working there and she said if the tower was ever attacked and they got through the walls of those rooms jutting out, the soldiers in the tower could lock the door and put their riffles through those holes and start shooting. And to the enemy’s horror, the walls were made of stone so the bullets would ricochet off of the walls and would rarely miss the enemy. Well that put me in my place. Well what can you expect from a war tower right?
After a half day of driving and a half day of touring, we went to check into the hotel (Motel 6 off of Centennial). It wasn’t the fanciest of places but it was clean and comfortable and it was a place to rest our head and that’s all that mattered. But OMG after walking around all day, a pile of mud could have sufficed. We took a short nap, then went out again for dinner at Lone Star.
Now I plan my trips down to the last minute and give myself extra leeway, but dinner took a lot less time than expected (and good for us) so we walked around the park area in front of City Hall where there’s a water fountain (that has a light show at night), an old steam train, old train station that’s converted into an information spot, and the Kingston sign. The Kingston sign is lit up and it’s a photo op for you to be in place of the I #Iinkingston.
After taking a million photos in the park, we walked across the street for our ghost tour and met the tour guide in front of the George Hotel. I went to the bathroom for the last time in the George Hotel and I saw a woman standing outside the bathroom swaying back and forth. She was looking at the door that said “Nuts” with a male squirrel and another door saying “No Nuts” with a female squirrel. I said to her “we have no nuts” and giggled. She looked at me horrified and confused. So I looked back at her, with an even more confused look and said “unless you do, then we’ve got a whole other problem”. Then I walked into the “no nuts” door and she followed finally figuring out. So at this point I was first in line for the bathroom (3 stalls; 1 out of order and 2 used). When one person came out I said to the “Nutty” woman “you go ahead you were first” and she went in (rightly so). But people, if you have to go number 2 and you know it’s going to take you a while, let the person who has to go number 1 in front of you. The other stall was the same issue, taking forever. Keep in mind, it was 7:55pm and the tour started at 8:00pm and I had just told Adam I would be right back. So after 4 minutes of hearing grunting and heaving breathing, I said screw it and had to suck it up the rest of the tour (1.5 hours!) So I walk out to Adam, who loves to tease me, and said “well you’re cutting it pretty close”. I told him “I haven’t even gone yet!” Lesson learned, you CAN be too nice sometimes.
Our group was fairly big so we were divided into two groups. Our ghost tour guide was dressed in a long black cape with an electric lantern. Can’t remember her name for the life of me, but said she had been there for 8 years, so we knew we were going to hear all the juicy details, more than the other tour. We walked around to churches, the court house, Bed and Breakfasts, and through one alley with a cobblestone pathway.
I think my favourite story had to be back in the 1800’s when Queen’s University medical students had to get their own cadavers to do medical tests on. Apparently, it was getting harder and harder and more expensive to get cadavers the proper way so the students resorted to unethical and illegal ways; digging up bodies, killing people, etc. So one Kingston resident was driving his horse and cart home and stopped at a pub for the night. As he was tying his horse to a post, three men on a cart pulled in beside him and only two men got off and went into the pub. The man went to check on the lone man, who was left outside, because it was an extremely cold night. He found that this was a cadaver dressed up to allude the police. So this man was sick and tired of the students getting bodies illegally, so this man took the body and put him in his cart for safe keeping, and put on the cadavers clothes; wool coat and top hat. He sat where the body had just been where the two men had left him and waited for them to come out. So the men, coming from a pub and being wasted, were still drinking as they were coming out, holding a bottle of rum. They got up onto the seats and one man took a swig from the bottle and passed to it the other man. The second man thought it would be funny and offered it to the cadaver, or what the thought was the cadaver, and the “living” cadaver thanked the men and grabbed the bottle and took a huge drink, much to the shock of the two men, who ran off without their cadaver.
We mainly walked through old residential parts and stopping along the way at bed and breakfasts, but once we got closer to downtown, we had to walk past bars and pubs. The sidewalks were crowded so we lost the guide in front of us for a few seconds, so she was walking alone for a bit. This one drunk girl put her hand on our guides shoulder and slurred “OMG I love your cape” being felicitous. I guess our tour guide has had this happen before and knew what to do and just genuinely said “thank you”. The drunk scoffed and turned to her friend and said “OMG did you see that!” Pretty sure the drunk girl didn’t realize this isn’t her first choice of clothing for a Friday night and that she was hosting a ghost tour, but you’re not in your right mind when you’ve had your weight in alcohol. What I love about ghost tours is not just the stories you hear from the guides, but the fact you get to go off the beaten path of regular tourists and the streets and houses you normally wouldn’t see.
So all in all, pretty good first day! Stay tuned for day 2!