Saturday, July 14, 2012

Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie

So we cruised along until we hit the village of Put-in-Bay (which is actually the most southerly island) and it was worlds apart from Kelley's Island. PIB is kind of like if Key West met the Canadian side of Niagra Falls met the Jersey Shore.

Tons of people moor their boats here and party all day and night. Drinking is the main activity and tourism is the only economy.

It tends to be more older boat dudes and cougars during the days and college/frat kids at night from what I'm told. I'm sure there are lots of date rapes and regrets the next morning in PIB.

It was interesting to see but the only reason I would come back is to go to Perry's Column which is the most massive Doric Column in the world and the 3rd highest monument in the US (after the Washington Monument and St. Louis Arch). It's 352-feet high and commemorates Commodore Oliver Perry's victory over the British in the War of 1812. I didn't know much about this war but apparently it was the war that finally told the British to get the hell out of here and that we were an independent country (there were still British v American skirmishes after the War of Independence) and it was this victory at PIB that helped give the Americans the upper hand.

There is one other historical fact at PIB in that it sports the world's longest bar in the whole world! (verified by Guiness...records not beer). It's at the Beer Barrel Saloon which is basically the sad place your parents would go hang out. The reason it is the longest (which you can't see from the pic) is that it zigs and zags through a lot of area and it's a really long bar.

Although they do serve PIB specialities like cored strawberries filled with liquor and topped with whipped cream, which are not sexy to see someone eat, and jello shots straight out of a syringe that the waitress squeezes down your throat. Again, not sexy.

We hit a couple of bars (hey, my coworkers are all cops now so bars it was) and just pretty much hung around until it was time to leave. It's a cute island (we walked back through the residential section a bit) but I don't see how people live here. It would be like having 10,000 screaming, hormone raging alcoholics with anger issues as your neighbors.

I guess that's why there are only like 150 people who live there full time. Basically, PIB=not a place I would bring kids (although I read there are some caves to explore so maybe that would be a PG rated activity for them).

Kelley's Island, Lake Erie

I joined up with a couple of my coworkers a few weeks ago to take a cruise of the Lake Erie Islands (yes, an archipelago in Ohio, who would have thought?).

There are several islands (some are privately owned) but the 2 main ones that people go to are Kelley's Island and South Bass Island (with the party hard village of Put-in-Bay).

I drove to Sandusky, which is about an hour away and where Cedar Point Amusement Park (aka the Roller Coaster Capital of the World) is located to catch the Good Time Cruise Ferry. There are direct ferries which are faster but this is more of a cruise complete with narrative history of the area and it goes A LOT slower. But there's a bar (which opened at 9:30 a.m. and had customers the whole day...there were a lot of singles and a bachelorette party on board).

Kelley's Island is known as being more family friendly and laid back than Put-in-Bay. It has about 400 full-time residents but thousands of tourists in the summer. It's also the only island in the US to be designated as a National Historic District.

When we landed, we only had an hour and a half before we had to be back on board, so we had arranged to rent a golf cart (you can do this on the boat) to tour the island. I especially wanted to see the glacial grooves which were left when a glacier receded over limestone during the last Ice Age. The Smithsonian took a big chunk of them, but there are still quite a lot left to see.

This island is great for bird-watching, hiking, biking or just relaxing (not like Put-in-Bay which is what I quickly learned)

We cruised around the island for about an hour and then decided to grab a quick drink before we boarded. My boss had recommended the "world famous" Brandy Alexander's at the Village Pump which sounded disgusting but apparently are fabulous. I know what a real Brandy Alexander is but they put ice cream in theirs which sounds weird but my boss and his wife have gained 10 pounds since learning the recipe and making them at home.