Oh, Hi. Ohio – Part the 3rd

(If you missed yesterday's post while you were out blowing your fingers off on the 4th of July, here's Part 2)  The Tuesday we were in Ohio, we did a little island hopping, Great Lakes style.  Our trip was on the Goodtime I.  Not the fastest way around and between the islands, but a relaxing way to see the sights and to learn a little history while you were at it.


We drove down to the dock to await our ship for the island cruise. 

Island-Hopping-01 Island-Hopping-02

On our left side, was the old coal loading dock.  On the right, Cedar Point amusement park.  I loved the symmetry.  But EVIL lurked in the middle.  Flying, $#!tting EVIL



While some were able to hide under a tree, my sister and I were not so lucky.

That's right, a seagull $#!t right on us while we were talking in the parking lot.  It sounded like rain hitting the ground, but the brown spots on us made it clear that it wasn't rain.  Luckily, I had a washcloth and water on hand to do a little cleanup.


We then started playing with the panoramic mode on Cora's little camera.

And I do mean "playing"  While not perfect, that effect was all done auto-magically by the camera.  Which is pretty cool.

So was Marilyn seeing us off.

Leg #1 Kelley's Island.

Our first destination was Kelley's Island (WIKI).  Island-Hopping-08

The ride out there was about an hour, so we all tried to settle in on the shady side of the boat for the ride.  But then the boat turned around, we were in the sun, so we scurried off to the other side of the boat!  Nature wasn't going to get us a third time!

The weather was beautiful.  The lake breeze was cooling and the water was fairly calm, so no one in our party "chummed" the waters.

On the way out, we saw the Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest active lighthouse on the US side of the Great Lakes.

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As we were pulling into Kelley's Island, the guide mentioned that the island had some of the best glacial groves in the world.  We had an hour and a half on the island.  They mentioned that we could rent golf carts, but the island looked so small, how far could it be, right?


My parent's and Sister's family got a 6 seater and headed off to see the grooves.  After a stop at the gift shoppe for some fudge, the girls hit the restroom, and I found the cops.

Island-Hopping-11 Island-Hopping-12

It was about then that my mom called, and told me that there was no way we were walking to the glacial groves, and to just hang out, and they would give us their golf cart when they were done.  So, being a little early for lunch, we went to a restaurant and got a sandwich to split, and waited for the cart.  With the cart zipping us along, we made pretty good time out to to the grooves.  There was a pretty cool looking old cemetery, and ruins of something, but we didn't really have time to explore.  The boat had a departure time, and unlike at the Winchester Mystery House on our honeymoon, we were not going to miss it!


The grove at the grooves was a nice, peaceful place…


with these beautifully etched lines in the rock from the glaciers …


carving these deep channels in the rock.

We burned rubber (seriously, I think that golf cart got up to 15 mph going down hill) back to the boat dock, and made it back in time to get a picture with my parents.


Leg #2 South Bass Island – Put-In-Bay.

South Bass (WIKI), and the village of Put-In-Bay (WIKI) were our next destination.  We took a bit of a roundabout way there to avoid what we were told was some rough water.  As we sailed along, this little guy tried to follow us.

We saw a lot of his friends hanging out on Starve Island.

As we rounded the island, we saw many cool things along the way:

Island-Hopping-22A house made out of a ship that rumor has it, Johnny Depp will be renting this summer. Island-Hopping-23A castle peaking out of the trees on top of a cliff.
Island-Hopping-24Someone out parasailing… Island-Hopping-26And Perry's Peace Monument.

We put in at Put-In-Bay and while everyone else took off (they ate lunch at Kelley's Island), we went to get lunch at the Boat House Bar & Grill.  The food was good, the service was slow, the decor was "nautical"

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After finally getting our food, and eating, we rushed back down to the boat dock and rented a golf cart.  If we were going to see anything, we had to hustle.

The Daughter was VERY happy about this.  Not sure if it was the "not walking in the blazing sun" part, or the "fun riding in a golf cart" part, but she sure enjoyed it.  First thing we did was head over to Perry's Monument to get some better shots.

Island-Hopping-30The column is being renovated at the moment.  But it was tall and impressive. Island-Hopping-31We then drove until we ran out of road, and The Daughter found this very wet, but very friendly dog hanging out on the beach.

We cruised along the island, enjoying the sun and the breeze and the sights of "Key West of Lake Erie", including this be-finned cart, and this display of relics in the town park.

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It took a while, but we finally found the one ice-cream shop on the island.  We had to ask one of the bartenders.  There are a lot of bartenders.  (And a lot of seasonal help is from Eastern Europe, too.)  On the cruise back, we did a quick stop at Kelley's Island and then back to Sandusky.

Island-Hopping-34 Island-Hopping-35

At the end of a long, fun day, we stopped into the Thirsty Pony for dinner.  And boy was I thirsty.  I must have had 4 or 5 32 oz. --- Diet Cokes.


But, with the good has to come the bad.  While we were having dinner, my brother called my mom to tell her that they wouldn't be joining us on Thursday.  The trip was supposed to be all the family spending time together for my parent's 50th anniversary, and my brother and his wife and son weren't going to be there.  They had some story about their neighbor dying and they couldn't come because of the funeral on Wednesday.  But, they hadn't planned on leaving until Wednesday after work.  Yeah it was going to be an 8 hour drive one way for a long weekend.  I honestly have my reservations that they were ever planning to come in the first place.

To my parent's 50th anniversary party.

It broke my mom's heart.  And it was a cloud we had to try to disperse the whole rest of the trip.


Oh, Hi. Ohio – Part 2

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day…

So, Monday morning we split into 2 groups.  My sister's family & Mom & Dad headed out first, and we followed a little ways behind.  We showed up at the little town of Milan, only to discover that it was basically closed on Mondays.  Milan is the birthplace of Thomas Edison, and it has a cute little town square.  We drove around a little snapped a few pictures, and then headed for the next destination, a few minutes behind the rest.  (We'd return to Milan on Thursday).

My sister wanted to check out a basket factory in Berlin Height.  So we set off after them.  Only to find that the basket factory was out of business.

So, the morning slipping away into basically a nice drive in the country, we headed back to the house, changed, packed lunch, and headed to the beach.

While the house was on the lake, to get to an actual "beach" was about a 10 minute drive.

The beach itself was a typical "Great Lake" kind of beach to me.  Course sand, plenty small rocks at the water line, and pretty cold water.

But the beach had a decent view of the local lighthouse, and we did manage to wade out into the water a ways.



But then, nature attacked.  We tried picnicking on the beach.  My sandwich had a little too much "sand" to be palpable.  The sun started to burn my wife's sensitive skin, so she ran for shelter.  Where a fish was rotting and the bugs were biting.  She tried to be a hero, and not want to leave and spoil other peoples' fun.  Having eaten sand, gotten bit by biting flies, and smelled the rotting fish, I took charge.  Sent her to the car with the air conditioning, and headed back to tell everybody we were leaving.  Ran into my parents on the way back to the beach, and they were headed for shade, too. 

As I approached out little camp, I happened to look down, and saw a driver's license laying in the sand.  I started shouting the name on the card, no answer.  Kept doing it as I got to our camp.  Still no answer.  One last try before giving it to the cops who were in the parking lot, I yelled to a group of teens about 30 yards out in the lake.  One of the kids was like, "Yeah, that's me?"  When I told him to come up and get his license, well, I'm certain his buddies teased him all day.

I let me sister know that I was going to shuttle Cora and Gwen back to the house, and would be back for Mom & Dad.  (I took a seat out of my car to fit all the luggage, so there wasn't enough seats for everybody.  I dropped the girls off at the house, turned around to the beach and as I was picking up my parents at the gate, my sister and her family were leaving, too.


Cora washed the nature off of her, and relaxed for a while.

And another storm started to roll in.


Roll in quick and hard.  But as quickly as it rolled it, it blew thru.  And for dinner, we headed to a joint called "I5's" (It's 5 o'clock somewhere).  This is the place where the waitress and I had THIS CONVERSATION.


On the way too / from the beach, we saw this old grain elevator being torn down.  We had trouble trying to get pictures of it from the road, so we drove down be the demolition sight.


It's a tribute to how well these things are constructed that even at this level of demolition, and the things still standing tough.


Here's the view from the deck of I5's.

Next time: Island hopping.


Happy Second Anniversary!

 Cora, July 3, 2010 – The best day of my life…

I thought I couldn't be happier…

But every single day, I'm happier than the day before.  I love you with all my heart and soul.  You and The Daughter have filled my life with love, and I can never repay you for that.  But I'm going to spend the rest of my days trying.

It's been an amazing two years.

And we're just getting started.


Oh, Hi. Ohio – Part 1

My parents' 50th wedding was back in January.  To celebrate, Mom wanted all of us to spend a week together as a family.  So, last Christmastime, the plan was hatched for us all to all share a house in Ohio for a week in June.

"Us all" = Mom, Dad, Sis, B-in-L, Niece, Niece's FiancĂ©, Nephew #1, Nephew #1's GF, Bro, S-in-L, Nephew #2, Cora, The Daughter, and me.  14.  That's the plan, anyway.  (We'll discuss later.)

So, Saturday, we loaded up the car, and I mean LOADED (we had to remove a seat) and headed to Ohio.  From my place in Chicago to Huron, OH is about 300 miles, dead on.  We got a pretty decent start; a little after 11:00 and hit the road.

It's really an easy drive: The Kennedy to the Skyway to the Indiana Toll Road to the Ohio Turnpike to Ohio 4 to Ohio 2 to Rye Beach Road.  There were some cool sights and stops along the way.


Skyway bridge


Sun, rain and sky in Indina

The girls have spent a fall watching me watch Notre Dame football.  Since we were driving thru South Bend, we hopped off the toll road and did a quick tour of campus, including Notre Dame Stadium,


and of course, "Touchdown Jesus".  We also stopped by the campus book store because it was the day before Father's Day, and I needed to get my dad a present (this year's "The Shirt").  South Bend is literally YARDS from the Michigan state line, so we drove a block into Michigan, the girls each stuck a foot out the door and touched Michigan, and it was back on the road for the final cruise east.

SONY DSC We saw a New York City bus driving along.  That's getting your tokens worth. SONY DSC And then there was the Bat-SUV.

SONY DSCEventually, 300 miles later, the GPS unit said, "arriving at Buster Brown House of right." While I'm not exactly sure what it has to do with Buster Brown Shoes (based in St. Louis), but the house was big and had plenty of rooms for all of us.

And in the back yard had a great view of Lake Erie. On the left side, where the land juts out into the water at the horizon, just not visible in this picture, is Cedar Point amusement park.

On Sunday, Cora, the daughter and I went over to the Ghostly Manor.  The Daughter, a big fan on the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland really wanted to go to it.  The rest of the family opted to go to a winery and drink wine.  The Ghostly Manor is a fairly large, warehouse sized building situated along one of the main roads in Sandusky.  We drove back there and were greeted by a big dragon and an empty parking lot.

As we were getting our of the car, the dragon bellowed and steam hissed and spurted out of his nose, issue the first of many shocks to come.  Unfortunately, they don't allow cameras inside, but let me tell you, if you want to see a well done haunted house and are in the area, this is a good one.  But be forewarned, it's an intense "House of Horrors" type place.  I lead the way thru the twisty corridor filled with animatronics popping out at you, richly layered chilling sound, and hanging objects to navigate.  Ever had to find your way thru a haunted butcher shop wit hams hanging you your way?  I have.  Oh, and there was a clown room, too.  Cora was giggling and squealing and shouting and really enjoying it.  The Daughter?  Well, she liked it, but has not plans to go back thru it any time soon.  Guess we don't have to worry about her becoming a fan of horror movies.

We met up with my family at the Firelands Winery waited out a thunderstorm and then tried to hit my college friend Mike's store Home Brew Ohio (tell him Scope sent you), but it was closed on Sunday.  So, we hit Walmart to get some supplies for the house and hamburgers and hotdogs for the grill.  While in the store, we saw this cool pouch of Heinz Ketchup for $0.99 that was great for the week.

Family @ Firelands Winery.  (Those on the left had grape juice!)

Dad and I out grillin'

The girls out chillin'

And with that we are ready for Monday.  To be continued…