Is there a place close by that's inexpensive, beautiful, and unique to our state, not to mention great for outdoor folk? Yes, there is. They call it South Bass Island in Lake Erie.
Last week, I made the latest of many trips to South Bass, driving with my wife up Ohio 53 to the tip of Catawba Island, then boarding a Millers Ferry for a 20-minute trip over to the Lime Kiln dock. We chose to take our car, but there were plenty of other options for transportation. Right at the top of the hill, a bus was waiting to take visitors into downtown Put-in-Bay, and a short walk away were golf carts and bicycles for rent. Or we might have opted to stroll into town, just a good hike from the dock.
Once on the island, there are LOTS of things to do and see, a fun spot for the family and wife and the outdoorsman himself. Much of it is low key and relaxing. For example, kids full of energy can burn some of it in DeRivera Park that parallels Delaware Street. It's shaded and cool, and has plenty of playground equipment. Or walk along the docks just across the street, feed the mallards that are usually waiting there, and admire the sleek craft tied up here and bobbing in the waves.
The whole family can fish at places like the fishing pier at South Bass State Park or rent a kayak or canoe and either fish around Put-in-Bay's harbor or seek perch along the north side of little Gibralter Island which lies in the harbor. You might opt to kayak the Lake Erie Islands Water Trail which will take you all around South Bass. There's swimming too, at the state park, para-sailing and hiking along one of two fairly short woodland trails, hikes that might well turn up some unusual birds for bird watchers.
Wives will like shopping in the multiple stores along Delaware and around the corner. And a very good idea for first time visitors is to take a tour on the Put-In-Bay Tour Train with open seating in one of several cars and a driver who will tour you all over the island giving a constant commentary on things seen in passing. He'll stop here and there, and riders are welcome to get off, explore a tourist spot, and take the next train for no extra cost. It's a prime way to get an overview of the island.
Food is good around Put-in-Bay. We had a bowl of the famous and well advertised lobster bisque at The Boardwalk, and there are several other restaurants, fresh fudge, ice cream, and anything from a full meal to hamburgers and french fries. Kids and adults alike should enjoy the Butterfly House which holds at least 60 different kinds of butterflies and right across the street is Hineman's Winery and Crystal Cave. The family can tour the cave, enjoying its deliciously cool temperatures, then visit the winery for a glass or bottle of wine (or grape juice) and a cheese plate. There are other wineries like the Put-in-Bay Winery with its Doller Estate. Those who stay overnight can enjoy an evening at famous Frosty's Bar, the Roundhouse, or the Beer Barrel Saloon with its longest bar in the world.
And don't forget a visit to the Perry's Monument and Visitor Center. It's a good way to spend a day or a weekend, and something far different from daily life. For ferry boat schedules and information, call 1-800-500-2421 or visit <http://www.millerferry.com/>www.millerferry.com. For information on anything from motels to resorts, hotels, and b & b's see Lake Erie Shores & Islands at 800-441-1271. Then plan a trip that will make everyone happy.
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Hooks & bullets
• Readers who like to make an occasional drive down to Pleasant Hill Lake for fishing or camping might enjoy a new book, Pleasant Hill Lake Park, Making Memories, 1938 to 2018 and Beyond. The book was co-authored by park naturalist Louis Andres and retired journalist Irv Oslin, and is described as a casual history in a scrapbook format. It commemorates the 50th anniversary of the completion of Pleasant Hill Dam, The book is available at the camp store.
• Each year the Division of Wildlife conducts a turkey and grouse brood survey to estimate population growth. The brood survey relies on the public to report observations of all wild turkeys and ruffed grouse seen during June, July and August. Information submitted to the survey helps to predict future population changes and guide management around the state. Wildlife watchers and hunters can report observations at the new Wildlife Species Sighting web page at wildohio.org
• Gun owners who want to keep handguns safe from their children might be interested in a new product called Identilock. The company calls it the world's first biometric finger trigger lock, one that keeps a personal or home defense firearm from being used by unauthorized persons. The fingerprint triggerlock can be used on a number of handguns. Visit Google to hear more details
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You can also visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.