Tag Archives: Lake Erie

OHIO: Put-In-Bay

3 Jun

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The Memorial Day weekend officially kicks off the Summer travel season; our car is loaded up and we’re ready to go! We are headed to Ohio for some fun in and along the Lake Erie coastline, our first destination: Put-In-Bay.  As we approach the Miller Ferry in Catawba, we’re pleased to find plenty of room on board, hooray! We park in a local lot, purchase 2 round-trip tickets and board the vessel. It’s a gorgeous day to be out on the water, the only drawback being the cold breeze off the still-chilled lake. Covered in sunscreen and bundled in sweatshirts, the 18 minute trip is over before we know it. Still early on the first Friday of the season, the island seems to be just waking up when we arrive. The Victorian village of Put-In-Bay (PIB) is located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie; the name originally referred to the bay itself, schooners sailing on the lake would “put in” to this bay to wait out bad weather. PIB has been a tourist destination since 1864, it is one of Lake Erie’s most popular resort areas. The island itself is 3.7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide; according to the 2010 Census it is home to 138 people. Let’s see what this place is all about.

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On the island we are immediately greeted by lots offering us rental of golf carts, bicycles and scooters by the hour; we are two miles from downtown and there’s a strong wind, we go for the golf cart….Carts like these are the most common form of transportation on the island–they are everywhere! I sign the lease agreement, am given a yellow copy and a map of the island, Kris takes his place behind the wheel of our newly rented transportation and we’re off…. We are both excited to visit  Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, last time we were here, the line to go up to the observation deck stretched out the door. The only international peace memorial in the National Park System, it was built by a commission of nine states and the federal government from 1912 to 1915. The remains of three British and three American officers killed during the Battle of Lake Erie lie under its rotunda.  The memorial commemorates that battle in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led a fleet to victory in one of the most significant naval battles to take place in the War of 1812; it is from this battle Perry coined the phrase: “Don’t give up the ship”.

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We follow Langram Dr until the memorial comes into view, the 352 ft monument is the world’s most massive Doric column; it is among the tallest monuments in the US and quite a sight. Inside, we climb the narrow, curving stairway to the elevator, a ticket to the top costs us $3 each. The ride to the top goes quickly, we exit the elevator and walk out onto the observation deck with its stunning panoramic view, wow! From here we have a bird’s-eye view of our surroundings; the lake, islands, city, even Canada. The sky is Robin’s egg blue, low clouds hover on the horizon, the water is cerulean, everything else is a vibrant green; indeed, nature has sprung to life after a long, harsh winter, it is quite spectacular. The structure is made up of limestone blocks, ornate grates appear here and there, an 11 ton bronze urn tops the granite column. Maps are placed on each of 4 sides identifying what we see in the distance; Kelley’s Island, Pelee Island, mainland Ohio, Sandusky Bay, Marblehead and Lakeside. Roads are laid out clearly, docks jut out into the bay, marinas wait patiently for the boats to arrive; in the distance it appears sky and water meet. It’s hard to leave such incredible scenery, but we have lots of island left to see.

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We cart on over to Perry’s Cave at the Family Fun Center; I go inside to buy tickets, when I come out I find Kris at the Antique Car Museum. It seems Skip Duggan, lifelong resident of PIB, had quite a passion for antique cars; favoring Ford Model T’s and A’s, his personal collection is on display for all to enjoy. When it’s tour time, our guide, a native of PIB, leads us down the 44 steps into the 208 ft long, 165 ft wide Perry’s Cave, which is a stable, but chilly, 50 degrees. This is a natural limestone cave discovered by Commodore Perry in 1813, they say he and his men slept here during the war. Calcium carbonate covers the ceiling, floor and walls; it is very wet down here today, puddles have formed on the floor, cold water drips on us from above. We follow our guide along the pathway through the cave, hundreds of straw-like stalactites cling to the ceiling as stalagmites are forming on the ground. The ceiling is very low, some of our fellow tourists have to bend nearly in half in certain areas, the floor is slippery too. Our guide shines her light into a pool of water and tells us this is a lake, the water takes on a greenish tone from pennies that have been tossed in on wishes throughout the decades. After looking at the lake we turn around and re-trace our steps, all in all enjoyable…in a tourist-trap kinda’ way.

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On the way to the cave we passed a restaurant with an inviting looking patio, that’s where we’re going now to have lunch. Goat Soup and Whiskey Tavern is a fair distance from the hustle and bustle of downtown, this charming building resides between the church and Heineman’s Winery on Catabwa Ave. Kris parks the golf cart once again, it is #209, important to remember when so many carts look exactly alike. The interior feels old and quaint, turns out this was originally a winery. Round lights are strung from the ceiling of the covered patio, nobody is eating out here this afternoon; a crisp breeze blows and now I know why, we will have to settle for the indoors today. We are seated in a lovely room, sunlight brightens the space through skylights and windows, walls are brick with wood trim, a variety of animal heads are mounted on the walls. We start with a cup of beer cheese soup, it is creamy and delicious. Next up, the blue cheese and bacon burger arrives, the bacon is crispy, the burger cooked just the way we like it, cut in half and served with fries it is enough for two. All of the soups and sauces and made from scratch, vegetables and herbs come from their garden, bread is baked in house and desserts are homemade, yum! Too full for a real dessert, you know what they say, there’s always room for chocolate….. oh,maybe it’s just me who says that…. The lower level of the building is home to a chocolate museum and candy shop. The variety is huge; fudge, truffles, barks, creams, they have nuts, fruits and malted milk balls all dunked in rich chocolate goodness. Kris and I each manage to choose a few pieces, a cup of hot coffee for me and we are back in the cart exploring…but more on that later.

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Roadtrip Cleveland: The Greater Cleveland Aquarium

16 Jun

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Under the blue umbrella sky we started our drive south and east; destination Cleveland.  We love Cleveland, seriously, this town is highly underrated. Each time we visit we find more and more reasons to come back. Since we were here last, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium had opened, so that was the first place we went when we arrived in town. Located in the historic  FirstEnergy Powerhouse on the west bank of the flats, they have even turned the old coal mining tunnels into underwater displays; what a cool way to re-use a 100-year-old building! We paid for our tickets and started to look around.  The fish are all colorful; yellow angelfish, pink starfish, giant seahorses and clownfish with their whimsical stripes. Displays are eye-catching,  the Coral Reef, amazing! With over 35 tanks the variety of fish runs the gamut from Ohio game fish to alligators, octopus and sharks and rays of the Florida Keys. One area features an 11,000 gallon “touch tank”;  pet a horseshoe crab, sea urchin, sea cucumber, maybe even a shark or stingray. Then we made it to the Sea Tube, WOW, this is definitely the main attraction; an acrylic underwater tunnel that allows you a fascinating  walk-through experience. Home to over 18 sharks, fish and sting rays, you are surrounded by sea life. The tunnel goes on for over 150 feet; sharks swim overhead and alongside as you walk, schools of fish seemingly avoid the shark’s path, stingrays look as if they are flying as opposed to swimming. It’s peaceful and relaxing, it’s the place folks tend to linger. With the temperatures rising outside it was a great respite inside, cool and refreshing , just like a dip in the ocean.

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Cleveland is loaded with great districts, we ventured over to Ohio City for lunch. With many options available we selected La Petit Triangle Cafe; drawn in by its charming sidewalk seating we chose a table in the shade. This is one of those great neighborhood hang-outs; diners and staff all seem to know each other. Menu offerings are definitely French influenced, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner they also serve espresso, wine and other alcoholic beverages. We wanted something cool and refreshing, we chose the Triangle Salad; crisp greens, chevre, walnuts and dried cranberries topped off with a raspberry vinaigrette. For a sandwich the Pan Bagna had a winning combination of ham, swiss, tomato, artichoke, spinach and olive tapenade all piled atop a crisp and chewy French baguette, sounds good doesn’t it? It was! The iced tea of the day was a pomegranate green tea, so nice on a summer day. The funny thing was our waitress remembered us from last time we ate there, she said, aren’t you guys from Detroit? Now that’s some memory. She was actually headed to Detroit for the weekend….the electronic music festival, so we gave her a few tips and she did the same for us.

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Just a short drive from the restaurant, we thought we’d check into our room next. As always, we booked a room at Stone Gables Bed and Breakfast; we have been coming here for years, our favorite place to stay in Cleveland. The accommodations and location suit us perfectly; just a couple of blocks from Lake Erie and close to Westside Market and good restaurants it’s no wonder we keep coming back. I read about a new ice cream place that opened recently in the Gordon Square Arts District, so we took a drive over. The district runs up and down Detroit Street from West 58th to West 73rd; home the Cleveland Public Theatre, the newly restored Capitol Theatre, public art, cafes and funky independent shops this area has really come to life. Before we did anything else we had to find Sweet Moses; named after the city’s founder Moses Cleaveland, we had heard only good things about it, now I know why…Walk in the door and you will find yourself in an old-time soda fountain and treat shop. The space has been completely transformed with an authentic Bastion-Blessings soda fountain; framed in 16 feet of Tennessee marble with bar stools and vintage tables with wrought iron chairs it is a step back in time. The ice cream is all homemade along with hot fudge and caramel toppings, toffee, fudge and nut brittle’s, it’s a sweet-lovers dream come true. We had a seat at the counter and ordered a double chocolate malt made with the Belgian Chocolate ice cream, you know what, it would be worth the drive to go get one right now…it’s that good. With a wonderful real chocolate taste it was the perfect proportion of ice cream and malted milk, blended until still thick but not lumpy; large enough to share, it was fantastic! Served with a topping of fresh whipped cream that came from a chrome-like nozzle that pulled out of the soda fountain itself, it was fun to watch them make up orders as we indulged in our malt. Along with sundaes, cones, malts and shakes they also do old-fashioned phosphates and sodas made with carbonated water…..they even make their own root beer.  If I lived in Cleveland this would be a dangerous place for me. Time to walk off some of those calories; walking down Detroit we saw a sign on a corner directing us down a side street to a shop called Artful Living. Following the arrow we made our way in, what a great place; beautiful items for your home, jewelry, artwork and more. I found a pair of earrings I loved so I paid for them then immediately put them on. Little places like this seem to be popping up in the district. After a walk up and back ,taking our time to browse interesting shops, we went back to the room for a little rest and relaxation.

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Tremont is located on a bluff that overlooks the bend in the Cuyahoga River and provides excellent views of downtown, oh, and it has tons of restaurants, really good restaurants. One fine example would be Lolita, which is where we had dinner. Located on Literary Ave, this is one of Michael Symons early restaurants. Always busy, we were lucky enough to get a table right away, one of the advantages of having a late dinner. Service has always been impeccable and this time was no different. We had an appetizer of roasted dates; bacon wrapped with almonds chiles and parsley, they were outstanding. For our entrée the Olive Pizza sounded good; olives, mozzarella, Fresno chiles and oregano it was a nice combo of salty and spicy. One of the days side dishes was a polenta, I’m thinking it was made with cream cheese, it was so good.

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There was one more place we wanted to check out before the  night was over; The Prosperity Social Club. Opened in 2005, the original barroom building has stood in this spot on Starkweather Ave since 1938. The decor is vintage; from the stunning Art Deco bar and chestnut walls to the super-cool beer light fixtures, all are welcome here. There’s a wood burning fireplace and a game room that features an old-fashioned bowling machine, pool table and vintage board games. Along with a full service bar they also serve micro-brews and a tavern-style food menu, it is truly a neighborhood gem. There were two open seats at the bar, perfect. We ordered our drinks then kicked back. We met a nice couple from the area and ended up chatting with them for a while, how nice. We have always found Clevelanders to be friendly and fun to talk to, afterall Detroit and Cleveland have shared many of the same ups and downs through the decades; looks to me like both places are on the ups.

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Cleveland; Stone Gables B&B, Lake View Cemetery, Vintage, Quarry Hill Winery, Lakeside

12 Jul

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Sunday was our last day in Cleveland and we awoke to a decadent breakfast of Bananas Foster French Toast at our B & B . We shared our table with another couple, when Richard, the owner, set down our plates we all kind of looked at them in awe, once we tasted them there were small sighs and a series of mmmmmmm’s. First he makes a special banana bread and prepares it as french toast, it is then sprinkled  with warm banana slices that are just right, not too mushy, then the entire dish is topped off with a warm syrup and a dollop of whipped cream, this is seriously delicious! I was the last to finish as I took my time savoring every bite. Guests at Stone Gables Bed & Breakfast are spoiled with lovely rooms, great beds with super-soft linens, private bathrooms, homemade cookies to snack on, comfortable sitting areas, and of course incredible breakfasts. The historic home is located in Ohio City which is across the Cuyahoga River and west of downtown. This is a great little area with Victorian era homes, a community garden, and lots of great restaurants within walking distance of the B&B, you can also walk to West Side Market. We have been staying here for years and have always been delighted.

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Lake View Cemetery was our our first destination of the day, founded in 1869, it is known as Cleveland’s Outdoor Museum and Arboretum. The landscape itself is beautiful, it sits on a hilltop and provides a wonderful panorama of the surrounding area. One thing you have to see is The Garfield Monument, dedicated in 1890 to honor assassinated President James A Garfield, 20th President of the United States. This 180 ft tall building is amazing, you are free to come in and wander around; Start by ascending 64 steps all the way to the outdoor balcony for an uninterrupted view of  downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie, you’ll want to take some photos. As you descend the stairs stop on the balcony level for the best perspective of the outstanding mosaic tilework; The dome ceiling is a work of art, Angels representing North, South, East, and West are surrounded by glistening gold tiles, extravagant archways surround the circular space. A single chandelier lights the space above the statue of  President Garfield himself located on the main floor. The lower level displays the caskets of President Garfield and his wife, this is the only presidential casket on full display.

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 Many famous people are buried at Lake View; John D Rockefeller and his wife; check out their monument, Elliot Ness, inventor Garrett Morgan, and other well known Clevelanders. The monuments are magnificent, it’s a very peaceful place to walk around, you can also visit Wade Chapel and the Lake View Cemetery Dam. Bus and walking tours are offered, check the website for details.  CEMETERY SLIDESHOW

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Cleveland has a great Antiques district over on Lorain Ave; our favorite is Sweet Lorain, this place is groovy! 8,000 sq ft of Deco thru Modern that will have you oohing and aahhing. Everything from furniture and clothing to glass and lighting, very kitsch. Even if you are not a collector you are sure to have fun looking around. Further west in Lakewood there are a couple more vintage shops on Clifton; Flower Child is two floors of  furniture, barware, jewelry and clothing representing the 50’s thru the 70’s, again, very entertaining to see. Next door is a place called Big Fun Toy Store, and that’s exactly what it is; Jam packed with items from the 30’s to present day it is nostalgia nirvana. Plan on spending some time here, everywhere you look are reminders of childhhood days; Lite Brite, Star Wars, GI Joe, wax soda bottles with fruity liquid inside, candy buttons, and board games. On the website it says “Come Shopping, Leave Smiling”. I think that says it all.

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Heading out of town we stopped in at a little market and deli and grabbed some lunch. Afterwards it was to Mitchell’s Ice Cream Shop for a double chocolate malt, they make it perfectly. Properly fed it was time to officially leave Cleveland.

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Kris has worked out a great scenic route home; jumping on Route 6 Lake Erie is nearly always in view. Beautiful parks with scenic overlooks and stately homes enhance the roadway. Just outside of Lorain we drop south and make our way to Ridge/Mason rd and start heading west. We wind through scenic countryside passing inviting  vegetable stands, historic Ohio barns with quilts painted on the side, and tiny villages. Just as you are becoming used to the view,what appears? A winery and orchard! Yep, just sitting out there in the middle of the country is Quarry Hill Winery & Orchards. Located in the town of Berlin Hts, the winery sits on the highest point of the farm, the vineyards peak is 834 ft above sea level, 100 feet higher than the surrounding land. With a distance of three miles from Lake Erie, on a clear day they say you can count the sailboats on the lake. In addition to tastings they also offer a light food menu with indoor and outdoor seating. You can purchase a bottle of wine to take home, or sit there and enjoy the view as you savor your selection. We tasted about six different wines and brought home a bottle of Apple Wine. We also picked up a quart of just picked cherries at the orchard.

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When Mason ends we make our way north crossing the Sandusky Bay then head east on the Marblehead Peninsula to Lakeside. Established in 1873 Lakeside was among the first Chautauqua institutions founded in the United States. Perfectly situated on Lake Erie it is picturesque from one end to the other. Come for the day or make reservations at one of the multiple charming B&B’s or hotels and and stay longer. We love just stopping in for a few hours; Take a walk over to the lake, have a seat in one of the chairs on the deck overlooking the shoreline. Wander along the shoreline path taking in gorgeous gardens studded with lillies and hollyhocks, the largest homes reside waterside. Tiny streets are lined with charming cottages, you could walk for hours here. The compact downtown has everything you need; restaurants, shops, and of course ice cream!  From miniature golf and shuffleboard to kayaks and historic tram tours, you won’t run out of things to do.

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LAKESIDE SLIDESHOW  

 

Take a chance on Cleveland for a weekend get away, you won’t be sorry.