Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Lake Erie Island Life

Port Clinton, OH sunset. Yes, that is a nuclear power plant.

The day we left Chicago we headed east to Port Clinton, OH for a one-night stay, with a quick stop at a Best Buy in Granger, IN so Jim could buy a new computer to replace our old Dell that crapped out in Chicago. It was his fastest computer buy ever, as they only had a couple to choose from that had the specs he wanted. This one is an HP and we hope it will last as long as the 7 year old Dell.

We had reservations the following day for the 11:45 Miller Ferry to Middle Bass Island and needed to do some grocery shopping in preparation for five nights on the island. Our Columbus friends Dave and Kim have a summer home on Middle Bass, which we visited back in 2011 when we came east in the Lazy Daze. 

The room at Our Inn and Suites was small and old and way too expensive for the condition it was in, but it was right across from the lake and not far from the ferry. Dinner options were very limited so we waited in line 30 minutes for a Subway sandwich, being the only ones in the long line of people wearing masks, and took it out to a nearby park where we sat and ate at a waterfront picnic table. 

Nice dinner view.

Then we took a pleasant walk along the waterfront to watch the sunset.

The next morning we picked up some groceries on the way to the ferry, a bittersweet ride since the last time we took this ferry in August of 2011 was the day after we had to euthanize our most favorite cat, Oreo. We still miss that little guy to this day.

Miller Ferry leaves from Catawba Island and goes directly to Middle Bass.

Ferry heading to Put-in-Bay

Very cool house built into a boat on South Bass

Another view of South Bass

Approaching the ferry landing at Middle Bass Island. It was a lovely day for a ride.

In case you are wondering, the ferry cost is $10.50 per person each way. If you drive your car on it's an additional $25.50 each way, which we did since we had too much stuff to carry. There is free parking if you want to leave your car, which we did the last time since we brought the Lazy Daze on the ferry, which of course costs even more. Oh, and it is a 7 mile, 45 minute trip.

Since we last visited them, Dave and Kim sold their house, which was not on the water, and bought another one that is. We got the guest bedroom on the second floor and could not believe our view. After Chicago this was such a nice change of scenery, and we were awed by the silence after two weeks of constant city sounds.

Pretty nice beach cottage

Our upstairs deck

Nice to hear only birds and water lapping against the rocks.

The beauty of staying here is forced relaxation as there is really not much to do on the island. We walked every day and tooled around on Dave's golf cart a couple times, but spent the rest of the time just talking and hanging out on the screened porch. And enjoying the company of Jake and Ellie who are very sweet teenaged dogs.

We decided against taking the short ferry to Put-In-Bay like we did in 2011 since it's the tourist and party island, with lots of shops, bars and restaurants, and with Covid numbers rising we thought it best to avoid any more crowds. We had enough of that in Chicago.                                                      
Middle Bass Island has a small general store, a couple restaurants and bars, state park, marina, RV park/campground and an airport. What more do you need? 

The store has a bit of everything 

And there is a cemetery

One of many beautiful old homes on the island

State Park Marina 

Jim and Dave looking out towards the ferry landing.

My phone had an adventure one day, as it fell out of my bag on one of Dave's sharp golf cart turns. (I had to blame someone). When I realized it was missing Jim called it and the ferry driver answered and said it was on its way to Put-In-Bay. Someone brought it to the ferry ticket office but the woman working there was going on break so she gave it to the ferry driver. We waited a half hour for its return and all was well. I doubt I will hear the end of it from Jim (and Dave), since I failed to zip the bag closed that I had it in. I am trying to do better now!

Dave and Kim sipping coffee from the new cafe in the building behind them.

If anyone is interested, here is a bit of history of the island. Lonz Winery at Middle Bass Island

In 2000 a terrace of the winery collapsed, resulting in one death and over a dozen injuries.

After it closed the state bought the property and restored what they could.

Here are a few more photos from our walks. We especially liked walking past the little airport out to East Point since we always saw many shorebirds along the way in the wetlands. This black crowned night heron was in the same place every time we passed by.

                                                                  Great blue heron on his perch

No birds here, I just liked this sign in the mucky water.

This egret had his own hangout, too.

So that wraps up our stay on Middle Bass Island. We told our friends we were giving their Airbnb a 5 star review.😎  Next up, Erie, PA, the easternmost point of our trip. Still near the lake but no views 
and plenty of rain and humidity.                                                                                                                 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

More From Chicago

 I had good intentions of keeping the blog current while we were traveling but somehow the days go by and I don't get around to it. So here is the rest of our two weeks in Chicago, which was mostly spent walking around the city or just hanging out in the condo appreciating the views. 

Low clouds obscuring Sears Tower, now called Willis Tower

On one of our walks we checked out Chicago's most famous public art.

Calder's Flamingo

Chicago by Juan Miro

Chagall's Four Seasons mosaic

The Picasso at Daley Plaza

Monument with Standing Beast by Jean Dubuffet

Some random photos and thoughts:

Advertising a COVID testing site

Speaking of COVID, Jim had a sore throat and congestion for a couple days while we were there and decided to walk to this place for a free test, which thankfully was negative. They did both a rapid and PCR test and had him swab his own nasal passages, which we thought was interesting.

Our good buddy, Sydney. We grew quite fond of him over the two weeks we were there.

Farmer's market at Daley Plaza, one of many small local farmer's markets around town.

Lakefront trail along Lake Michigan with separate bike and pedestrian lanes.

View of Old Town from our table at Happy Camper Pizza

Hostess center at Happy Camper. The vegan pizza and beer were both excellent so we went twice.

One of the lovely Old Town streets

The day before we left we finally got around to taking a 90 minute architectural boat tour of the city, which came highly recommended. It was really informative and entertaining, and always fun to get a different perspective from the water.

 Hillary, our tour guide, in front of The Merchandise Mart

Passing under one of many low bridges


Wrigley Building and Chicago Tribune

Nice day for a boat ride with the overcast skies

St. Regis condos, starting at $1 million for a studio

Marina City condos, a much cheaper alternative to the St. Regis

By the end of the tour we both had sore necks from so much looking up.

Canal St railroad bridge, a vertical lift bridge

Waterfront park in Chinatown

We had a great time being temporary high-rise residents in Chicago, although it would have been better had the COVID numbers not been escalating while we were there. On our last weekend Lollapalooza was taking place, which brought over 100,000 people to town. We tried to avoid the busiest parts of town, like Michigan Ave., but there were more people everywhere we walked. Damn COVID.

Next up, five days on the island and a rather striking change of scenery.