A Thousand Island Dressing-Down

Thousand Islands are literally a thousand islands at the top of Lake Ontario at the start of the St Lawrence River. It is meant to be a pretty part of the world, and also the place where Thousand Island salad dressing was invented! Unfortunately we had a dressing-down of another variety, but more of that later.


Our trip started off promisingly, as we caught the sunset from a beautiful sandy beach Presquile Provincial Park, accompanied only by a few Canada Geese (are they just called “Geese” there? ūüôā )


We drove through Kingston just to see what it was like – very pleasant pretty town with lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants. It would have been nice to spend some time there but we were just passing through.


The next morning we had a very pleasant walk to the Marina at Gananoque and the weather was lovely and warm, which always helps!


We really enjoyed Gananoque and then headed north to Thousand Islands Bridge. We saw some deer close up on Hill Island, and looked for more wildlife (we really wanted to see a Moose after we didn’t see any in Yellowstone!)


After this we made a stupid decision. We decided to cross the border into the US. We only had an hour or so until we planned to leave Thousand Islands and head North to Ottawa. My BF wanted to cross the border and I didn’t, but in the end I relented. We soon realised this was a big mistake when we got to the border and saw big queues of traffic coming back into Canada. (We asked about the delay and asked if we could change our minds, turn the car around, and stay in Canada – but apparently that is not allowed.) We realised this was an even bigger mistake when the Border Agents told us to pull aside as they wanted to search our vehicle. Noooooo!! This is precisely why you should take borders seriously and not cross them if you don’t need to – they can be a real time waster. And I found it to be really upsetting –¬†to have your passport taken from you and be detained for God knows how long is an unsettling experience. As it turned out they didn’t keep us long – probably just had a look through our car and realised we were harmless tourists (our car was full of the usual road-trip detritus of maps, flip flops and empty M&M packets). One of the officers we dealt with was lovely and¬†made the whole process easier, but another was abrasive, which annoyed me – I understand that they have a job to do but you can do it in a nice, professional way. I felt like crying out of sheer frustration but I knew that would probably make it worse – they’d think I had something to hide. So I held it together and remained¬†polite, calm, and submissive, letting them do the checks, searches, and filling in the forms. Once¬†released, we drove off and as soon as we were out of sight I burst into tears¬†– I am not used to feeling so helpless and not-in-control.¬†And yes I appreciate that so many people have it much much worse – but this was the impact on me – a law-abiding, educated tourist with all the correct documentation.¬†At the last border we crossed there was also a nice guard and a rude abrasive guard too – maybe they take the “good cop, bad cop” thing very literally?!¬†

Anyway when we finally made it into the US we drove to Alexandra Bay and had a little look round the Marina and got some sweets for our road trip. We saw a cute Amish family driving a horse and buggy, with kids in straw hats, which was an interesting cultural experience.


We then crossed back into Canada, where thankfully the border crossing was fine and after a dinner stop we were soon on our way to Ottawa.

Next Blog: Ottawa, Canada

Previous Blog: Toronto, Canada


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