Friday, February 20, 2009

Off to the Island

I finally got to visit Wolfe Island this past summer. I loved the experience, and I would like to share it with you.

I first learned of its existence and its proximity to Kingston on a TV program- 2 ladies who visit people who are having problems with ghostly apparitions. These 2 gals visited a couple on Wolfe Island, and what developed was quite intriguing. I won't reveal the entire story, but my interest was aroused to investigate this special place.

My daughter and her family have made the ferry trip to Wolfe Island many times. She reported that the Wolfe Island Ferry runs all day, 365 days a year in all kinds of weather. A special technology prevents the ferry lane from freezing up in cold weather, so it is rare that a trip is cancelled. Many people who live on the island work on the mainland, so getting there and back every day is of great importance. I have driven to work, taken a bus, and even a train, but taking a ferry to work was a new concept to me. The part that really wowed me was that the trip is FREE- no charge either way. What more could one ask?

Anyone making the trip can drive on (take a vehicle), or just walk on as a foot passenger. The trip lasts about 20-30 minutes. It departs right near the Holiday Inn's parking lot.

The day we went was warm and sunny. My daughter kept warning me that, as walk-ons, we would be limited in what we could do once we got to the island. Apparently the cemetery mentioned on my TV show was probably NOT within walking distance so I had to scratch that off my list. In spite of this set-back I decided that I wanted to go on foot for my first time.

We landed at the wharf with perhaps 20 other walkers, and a full contingent of vehicles, including a huge transport truck. We walked the little main street, and I found it delightful. There is a grand hotel, an ice cream shop, a variety store, some craft shops, and a restaurant or two. Whether by chance, or pure design, we arrived at supper time. We decided on one of the restaurants, and were shown through a little pub to a back ivy-covered deck with a view over the lake. We enjoyed a delicious and reasonably priced meal, then cruised the main street, visited the stores, bought an ice cream, and returned to the wharf just in time to catch the ferry back to Kingston.

I have since often thought I would love to live on Wolfe Island. It seems to have a lifestyle all its own. The whole excursion was a great experience. We were gone about three hours and our only real expense was the cost of our meal. What a great way to spend time on a warm summer afternoon. This summer I hope to take a vehicle. I do want to visit the graveyard, and I hear there is a nice beach that I didn't get to see.

Make Wolfe Island a stop when you visit Kingston. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Linda (Smith)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Girls Just Want to Have ...

... fun in Kingston! Check out this link to read a great article on why Kingston is a great spot for a girls only getaway spot.


Friday, February 6, 2009

A weekend to Celebrate

Well, it's a 10th anniversary for the reelout festival. The weekend has a ton of things to offer - just check it out. . When I was checking out things to do in town for a gay relative and friend I realized this is the perfect time to visit Kingston. Gay or not - the festival offers so many great events. And if you need a place to stay, I was happily surprised to see a local accommodation listing site displaying the pride flag on their site...

Take a Hike

Most of my favourite Kingston sights and sounds involve walking. No one could be more surprised than me, because I'm the lady who takes the car to go to the corner store. If I can do it, almost anyone can, so do come with me as I describe another wonderful experience- and try it for yourself if you get the opportunity. But if you're really opposed, you can always take the Tour Trolley!

As previously mentioned, I'm sold on Kingston's downtown district. Part of the allure of going downtown is actually the sights I see on my way there. I have mapped out three different routes, all about 20 minutes in length. Twenty minutes is a good little hike (for me, anyway), but there is so much to see that I'm at city centre before I know it. Since all the routes I take are the close to the core, I am walking through the oldest residential districts. So much of what I see reflects an historical record- one quite different from my home town. The residences put me in mind of pictures I have seen of "olde" England, Ireland and Scotland. Some of the streets are quite narrow, and the houses close together. As in most older neighbourhoods, the front yards are tiny- in fact there is so little room from front door to the street in some places, telephone poles are actually on the road. There is no room for a boulevard. Even a lot of the downtown Inns are like this.

Many houses are "row houses", 4 or more identical adjoined units. This is quite common in Britain- but seen here more often in newer neighbourhoods. I love the older versions. The owners sometimes opt to keep each unit identical to its neighbour- same coloured trim, same coloured roof, similar landscaping. Other owners seemingly compete with their neighbours- which unit boasts the brightest colour scheme, or the most eye-catching front garden. Many of the homes I see have landscaped the entire front "lawn" as a garden. No grass to cut, whatsoever, and what a pretty picture it makes. Again- it gives the feel of an old-style English country garden. How absolutely delightful! Another source of interest on these older houses is the prevalence of wooden trim- some extremely ornate and intricate. It is obvious that some owners love and value this special trim work. They often paint all the wood in bright, unusual colours- vibrant yellows, apple greens, bright fuscias and deep purples. The result, especially when combined with a full front flower garden can't help but draw the eye and lift the spirit. So much more fun than the neatly trimmed lawns and bushes so prevalent back home.

I have another subject to add to my list of what makes Kinston number one in my books. Almost every other home I pass, or person, for that matter has a dog, or at least a fat puss cat lolling on the sidewalk. This pleases me no end- I make a lot of four-legged friends on my journeys. I never see a dog-walker without a plastic clean-up bag- and I have never seen a pooch" deposit" that has been left for someone to step in. (this goes for the parks I visit as well). Now I KNOW no city has this problem licked- and I am sure I have just been lucky in my travels- but all-in-all, I think most Kingston dog owners do what is expected of them. I'm certainly impressed. Even the buskers on main street bring their pets to work. I met a gorgeous pooch who wears sun-glasses, and a cat who sits on "Mom's" lap while she plays the violin. Now the dog was a total "ham", obviously loving "playing to the crowd"- but the CAT??? Again- I was pretty impressed!

So much to see, so much to enjoy. Before I know it, I'm downtown. Even I am amazed that I not only walk in Kingston- I look forward to it. I guess two advertisements sum it up:
1. getting there is half the fun, and
2. sometimes you just have to do walk-about.

Either is high praise coming from me, and once more I encourage you to give it a try. The limestone churches, which I haven't even mentioned, are spectacular.

Linda (Smith)