Fishing—and the Governor’s Bassmaster Challenge
Day three of our 1000 Islands adventure begins with an hour-and-a-half drive from Alexandria Bay to St. Lawrence State Park in Messena for the annual Governor’s Bassmaster Challenge, the precursor to the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Tournament running later in the week in Waddington, NY.
After getting our fishing licenses at the New York Power Authority’s Hawkins Point Visitor Center, we board a boat driven by New York Department of Environmental Conservation staffer Andy Preston. He seeks and finds where the Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul is being introduced to fishing for the first time. We approach, not too quickly or too closely, as we don’t want to lessen her chances of catching a smallmouth bass—or spook the State Police protecting her.
Though it doesn’t get much more exciting than snagging a big fish on your line and reeling it in (yep, I caught one: a smallmouth bass, about four pounds), I have to say that the number one most thrilling thing I do this day is ride as a passenger in Bassmaster challenger Joe Sancho’s boat, which tops out at over 75 miles an hour! Attempting a selfie almost costs me my phone, but it’s worth proofing the moment.
Sancho, with his badass braided beard, is a sweetheart and shares with us his love of the sport, as well as an explanation of how the competition works. Looking back, I have no idea how well he did at the tournament, but I hope he caught that big prize.
Frederic Remington Art Museum
We take a scenic hour’s drive to Ogdensburg, where we’re able to visit Frederic Remington Art Museum in the last hour before it closes. This is a particularly special stop for me, as I modeled so many of my horse drawings in my youth after pictures of Remington’s sculptures and paintings.
To see the originals is a bit surreal. The 1810 building became home to Remington’s wife, Eva, after he died in 1909. In 1923 it became the museum, where it now houses some of his best known sculptures and oil paintings.
For the night: The Sherman Inn
Finally, we check in at the Sherman Inn and encounter a building with a wonderful story. Completely unexpectedly, we realize that we’re staying at yet another building that was once a school and converted into a place of lodging. The owner, John Wade, was an elementary student at the Sherman School. In 2013, living in San Fransisco, he learned that this piece of his childhood was for sale, and so he decided to fly home and buy it for $20,000.
The rooms are cavernous yet cozy and lovingly decorated, incorporating a late-20s and early-30s décor with many of the school’s original details and layout intact. Sitting out front, I swear I hear the laughter of kids in the courtyard, though none are there.