With confidence borne of personal experience, we now can state with certainty that the west end of Lake Erie is far superior to the east and middle. Maybe except for Lorain. On Sunday, we rolled into the Lake Erie Islands.
On the way to Kelleys Island we cruised about six miles off Cedar Point, where sits one of the world’s oldest and largest amusement parks. On a clear day with smooth water we probably could get a better photo, but Sunday wasn’t even in the same area code as clear and smooth. And we’re not coming back. We don’t even like amusement parks.
Kelleys Island is about four square miles in area, which we can attest takes less than an hour to explore by rented golf cart. Still pretty enough though, even on a dreary day.
“Inscription Rock” is interesting, but not because the petroglyphs have eroded to the point you just have to trust the sign that says there once were petroglyphs on it.
The interesting thing is the sign itself, which also claims that the now-eroded symbols were “pecked” into the stone between three hundred and four hundred years ago by “pre-historic Indians.” WTF? Prehistoric? Four hundred years ago Galileo confirmed Kepler’s theory of heliocentricity. Oxford already had been educating students for over five centuries. Shakespeare had jotted down his last word. That’s hardly the stuff of the Flintstones era.* About all we actually know to be true is that Inscription Rock is way bigger than Plymouth Rock.
Here’s another something interesting.
Again with the misleading signs. The runway that dead ends into the roadway is barely long enough for our drone to use. Without a doubt, landing one of those 18-passenger jets depicted on the sign would yield as many charred bodies as the number of people on board. Of course, we dutifully stopped and looked both ways anyway.
Our loop ended back in “town,” which was small but fun. Everybody said “get the fried perch at The Village Pump.” Everybody was right. The perch was delicious.
They put us nose into a narrow dead end, but except for the unnecessary A/C on the boat down there next to us, we had a great evening. Foyle solved another murder.
Up early Monday morning, which allowed us to reflect on an artsy sunrise under clouds that suggested the possibility of impending doom.
The threats of waterspouts, however, didn’t keep us from the nine-mile journey around Ballast Island and into Middle Bass Island State Park.
Kelleys Island has a population of about three hundred. Only about thirty people live permanently on what they call MBI. Which is why Eddie’s General Store and a church make up the entire “downtown.”
But what the heck, we took another golf cart around to find the island’s hidden gems. Like a boat filled with odd little figurines.
There aren’t enough kids to justify running a school, so they both go back and forth to South Bass Island every day. By plane. On what the sign on South Bass Island apparently says is the world’s shortest airline route. This may not be the flying school bus in a backyard, but maybe it is.
Of all the crazy and amazing things we’ve seen while cruising, a pickleball court on a mostly vacant island is pretty near the top.
When it takes nearly half the residents to make a foursome, getting a game has to be tough.
We also stumbled on some glacial grooves, which are bedrock abrasions left on the Lake Erie islands during the last ice age.** Pretty cool.
The most well-known grooves are back on Kelleys Island, but temporarily are closed to the public for reasons unknown.
In the late 1800s, little Middle Bass Island was covered with cultivated grapes and the home of what supposedly was the country’s largest producer of wine. There’s not much left of Lonz Winery. Just that tall thing in the middle of the drone photo.
The other tall thing is another one of those Perry monuments, this one on South Bass Island at Put-In-Bay. The locals pronounce it “Puddin’ Bay,” which is ironic since they’re all yankees.
Anyway, the whole reason we went to Middle Bass Island is because we could stay at a state park and still go check out the more-hoppin’ Puddin’ Bay via Marty’s taxi boat. Except then Marty decided to not operate his taxi boat on Tuesday, so as screw us over. And it was too rough for a dinghy. Grrrrr.
As part of our trip to South Bass Island we’d fancied a nice meal at one of the many restaurants. In part that’s because the one joint with edible food on Middle Bass is closed on Tuesdays. Double grrrrr. So instead of a fancy meal at a swanky eatery, we cleaned off spiders and spider victims. Triple grrrrr. During a last quiet evening at the state park, however, Foyle solved another murder.
Speaking of pre-historic epochs, since the time Neanderthals used mastodon tusks to whittle boats out of granite, mariners intuitively have known not to leave shore when funky clouds loom on the horizon. Wednesday morning funky clouds loomed on the horizon, with periodic bonus lightening flashes in them.
Of course, Neanderthals became extinct, likely due, in part, to their failure to master the use of radar. Radar showed those clouds moving away, so we headed off for Detroit. Motown. The Murder City. The closest we got to Puddin’ Bay was on our way out.
Not much of interest between the islands and the Detroit River, although we were close enough to barely see a nuclear power plant just north of Toledo.
Toledo is famous as the home of Corporal Max Klingler, who was not a transvestite, did not successfully set himself on fire, whose family was not half pregnant, and whose non-existent brothers did not die in a boiler explosion at the Toledo Harmonica Factory. We gave it a skip.
The water was a bit rougher than we prefer, but not surprisingly the Lake Erie waves went away right about the time we left Lake Erie, heading up the Detroit River. Along Bois Blanc Island we passed another one of those boats that someone is using as a flower pot. We’ve seen dozens of them, but none this big.
Bois Blanc Island, by the way, is known locally as Boblo.
The heavily polluted River Rouge dumps into the Detroit River south of Detroit. Yeah, it’s a touch industrial.
Heck, even the ferries are industrial.
River Rouge is home to what once was the largest single factory in the world.*** Ford Motor Company still pumps out F150s up there. They’ll probably build Doug’s Lightening some day.
Speaking of lightening, more storm clouds gathered as we approached the Ambassador Bridge and the city. Excellent. We love docking in the rain.
Fortunately things mostly cleared up nicely.
So we reached Detroit. The list of important people hailing from Detroit includes VFL Aaron Hayden, both Mork AND Mindy, the Splendid Splinter, and Sixto Rodriguez.**** Doug spent the summer of 1986 working for the Detroit Pistons, but they weren’t in Detroit, they were in Pontiac, and since it was just one summer he wouldn’t count anyway.
Hey look! It’s Canada again!
Actually, seeing Windsor across the river wasn’t all that interesting, since we cruised much of the day back in Canadian waters.
Then into the state park, which seems absurdly placed in downtown Detroit.
Remember all that cool art in Cleveland? In Detroit, so far all we’ve seen is an odd man, with pipes in him, next to an abandoned area which may or may not contain bodies. There’s no sign explaining any of it, so we really can’t offer anything more.
The good news is that despite walking to the restaurant twice—because the first time the nice girls at the hostess stand said we weren’t dressed to their standards—we’ve been here nearly six hours and haven’t been mugged. We’re just here for tonight. Unless Dana’s new friends talk us into staying.
So what’s the new plan? Well the old plan was to join the bottlenecked Looper crowd in Chicago and wait impatiently for the Brandon Road Lock to open and the clog to flush through. Then hustle down the rivers fighting for space along the way. The more we thought about it, the less appealing it seemed.
Now we’re just going to take it easy, spend some time on the Door Peninsula, and winter Tumbleweed in Green Bay. Next summer, we’ll follow Deb’s recommendation and take a month or two to explore Lake Superior. From there, we’ll figure something out.
So what’s the new club? Well if we’re going to be intimate with all five Great Lakes, we should tap the resources offered by the Great Lakes Cruising Club. We’ll add the GLCC burgee when we pick it up in Port Huron. Not that we’re hunting trophies, but next year we can swap it out for the Admiral Bayfield. Woooo!
*“Oh that Barney Rubble. What an actor.” – Leonard
**Of course, given the whole “Pre-historic Indian” thing, it’s likely the folks around here think the last ice age occurred roughly around the time Washington crossed the Delaware.
***Anyone who hasn’t read Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line is missing out.
****Anyone who hasn’t seen Searching for Sugar Man is missing out.