Tag Archives: Put-In-Bay

OHIO: Put-IN-Bay Part II

9 Jun

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We have finished lunch, with a bag of chocolate and a hot cup of coffee we continue our journey on South Bass Island; time to check out downtown. Back on Catawba Street, Kris points our trusty little green cart towards the business district; most of the tourists and summer residents will not arrive until Saturday, there are no crowds and getting around is a breeze. Cafe’s and bars are prevalent, patios are decked out with pots filled with colorful flowers, patrons linger over ice-cold beer at the Put-In-Bay Brewing Company. Buildings are a mix of Victorian and modern structures, souvenir t-shirts and hats hang on racks outside storefronts, a tiki bar complete with sand is doing a good business this afternoon.

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Delaware Ave serves as main street; boutiques, restaurants and bars facing the harbor give visitors an amazing water view. The first thing I notice when we make the turn is the line of golf carts parked along the curb, ours blends in with the other rentals, many independently owned carts are customized to the owners liking. Walking down the street, each establishment we pass has some variety of live music; a row of artificial Palm trees decorate a patio, tourists can indulge in ice cream and pizza. The Round House Bar is intriguing, we have to poke our heads in to check it out; opened in 1873 as the Columbia Restaurant, it remains an island favorite. Built of wood, it is all original except for the interior floor and front porch; inside a red, white and blue canopy is suspended from the ceiling, the round bar sits at the far end of the space, lovely wood moldings still surround the windows and doors, the neon “Whiskey” light above the front door is cool–clearly the ‘chicken patio’ is a new addition. The waterfront is active, a series of construction projects are in the works, the Jet Express has just delivered another group of folks to the island; yes, the summer season has begun!

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With time left before our ferry leaves, Kris is taking the scenic route back; after passing the excitement on the waterfront he turns on to Bay View, the scenery is gorgeous. On the left, a large estate features an elegant yellow house with a three-story tower overlooking the smallest of the Great Lakes. Built in the 1800’s, the Doller House belonged to Valentine Doller, PIB’s wealthiest citizen, it is now home to Put-In-Bay Winery; a glass of wine would be perfect about now. Making our way to the back of the house, we enter the sales and tasting room. Glass in hand we have a seat at one of the tables that sit on the front lawn, we sip our wine and watch the boats, aaahhh, this is the life.

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The rest of the drive takes us through the residential area; tiny cottages are nestled next to modern vacation homes with private beach fronts. Fishing is popular, charter fishing boats do a good business at PIB. The island offers golf, hiking trails, biplane rides, helicopter tours and para-sailing.We find ourselves back where we started, turn in the golf cart and wait to board the ferry; the group headed back to the mainland is small. Back at Catawba the line of cars heading to the island is super long, cars are turned off, people stand near their vehicles taking cold drinks from coolers, talking to others while they wait. We are headed south then east on 163 along the coastline.

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 Sitting in Sandusky Bay, off the coast of Marblehead Peninsula is Johnson’s Island; a causeway takes us to the island for a $2.00 fee. Driving around, we come across a group of homes surrounding a cove; perched high above the water they are expansive, elaborate winding staircases lead from backyard to marina below. Continuing our exploration we spot an old cemetery; a large sign explains that Johnson’s Island was a Confederate Prisoner of War Depot in 1861. This is actually a Confederate cemetery holding the remains of more than 200 men who were imprisoned on the island. The lawn is freshly mowed, slender white headstones form long straight rows, a black iron fence runs the perimeter of the cemetery. We walk over to the statue of a Confederate soldier atop a pedestal, the sun is low in the sky, the statue casts a long shadow across the open gate, a banner reads: Confederate Soldiers 1861-1912. From reading I learn the first prisoners arrived here in April of 1862, captured at battlefields such as Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, they came from the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. In 1864 rations were cut, the prison was overcrowded, in closed in September of 1865; this is considered Ohio’s most significant Civil War site.

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We are back in the car and crossing Sandusky Bay, so far our journey has led us over bridges and causeways crossing bays and lakes; we are not done…. This time we pay the .50 cent toll for the pleasure of driving on yet another causeway: Cedar Point Road; the homes are amazing, as is the lake view. Back on Route 6 we hug the shoreline through tiny beach towns, when we reach Vermilion we stop for a late dinner. I can’t tell you how many times we have passed The Old Prague restaurant, it just so happens it was never at meal time, that is until tonight. Inside the door we are welcomed and seated at a table near the window; I am extremely hungry and thirsty, our server recommends a Primator Premium Dark, a Czech dark lager, how can I go wrong? After quickly scanning the menu and placing our order we watch as heaping plates of food arrive at nearby tables, the place  has the feel of an old-fashioned family restaurant, servers are on first name basis with customers. First to arrive is the sampler plate: breaded  sauerkraut balls, deep-fried slices of meatloaf, cheese sticks, fried potatoes, applesauce and a horseradish-type sauce; every single thing is delicious! The chicken paprikash and dumplings is outstanding, the chicken is moist and just falls apart, the sauce, a creamy goodness, the dumplings, some of the best we’ve ever had. We are still a good hour or more from Cleveland (via the scenic route) where we will be staying with a friend for the next couple of days. The remainder of the ride on the Lake Erie Circle Tour is an old familiar one for us, but one we enjoy each and every time.

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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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