Me and my Raven just had a great weekend away at Put In Bay up on South Bass Island, Lake Erie. The weather was just beautiful. Mid 70s on Sunday with light breezes raising a few whitecaps on Lake Erie and Monday we were in the 80s. Hardly any breeze and the lake was as calm as a millpond.
We set off early Sunday morning (my Raven gets Sundays and Mondays off) and of course the first stop was for fuel … body fuel, I needed my Sausage and Egg McGuffin from Maccy Dees and it was duly consumed. We were on our way.
For most of the way we took State Route 4 through Bucyrus and on to Sandusky. About a 2.5 hour drive through some lovely old towns and countryside. The sun shone down on us and I admired some of the lovely old churches on the way doing good business on this fine Sunday. We headed for Port Clinton which is where the Miller Ferry Line operates from but we saw Lake Erie before that. It looked beautiful. Blue and enticing with power and sail boats making the most of the great weather.
We weren’t sure if we’d stay overnight but as we parked at the ferry dock we decided to call a few guest houses on the island. We got lucky and managed to book the only room left at Ashley’s Island House in Put In Bay. And onto the ferry we went.
I love traveling by boat and although this was only a 20 minute ferry ride it was lovely. The lake and sky were blue and the lake breeze was so refreshing on a warm day. After a few ‘Arrrr me hearties.’ And ‘Splice the mainbrace Cap’ns.’ We arrived on South Bass Island. The island is fairly small about 3.7 by 1.5 miles and so it was only a ten minute drive to our bed & breakfast.
Ashley’s Island House was a dream. Built in 1863 it has retained its period charm, surrounded by mature trees and flower beds. The owner Bob welcomed us and showed us to our room. It was the Rose Room and although small and basically fitted it was lovely. No coffee maker or phone and the view was of the roof but we didn’t care. The owners were really friendly, the shower room was plenty big enough and we weren’t planning on spending too much time in the room anyway except sleep. The porch at Ashley’s was awesome. We sat there for a while, taking it easy and watching the world pass by. Very colonial.
The most popular and practical form of transport here is the golf cart and they were everywhere from 2 seaters up to 12 seaters. I couldn’t rent one though as I don’t have insurance. Pity.
Put In Bay itself is small too of course and the center was only a short stroll from our b&b so off we went. There’s plenty of life in the town center including the ubiquitous overpriced gift shops where I duly wasted money on an overpriced P.I.B tee shirt and a P.I.B shot glass for our memory shelf. Gotta be done. And I was…ha.
There are plenty of bars and food places here too but we tried the Wharfside where the food was good and not too pricey. Looked right out over the bay too and the sunset from here was spectacular. The island specialties are fish, not surprisingly, Perch and Walleye in particular fresh from the lake. You’ll see it advertised everywhere and in every form including Perch Burgers and Tacos but apart from Cod n chips I am not a great fish lover. I had the deep fried Reuben Sandwich instead. Not very healthy but very very tasty.
There are plenty of sites to see and visit on South Bass. Walks galore on the beaches. Perry’s Monument which is huge and at 352 feet is the world’s most massive Doric column. There are museums, state parks, amusement parks and an underground lake to visit. Also vineyards and a butterfly house. We visited Crystal Cave which is an underground cave completely comprised of crystal. Amazing.
There’s also wildlife galore on the island. We took one of the trails which took us past a man-made Purple Martin colony. These birds are totally reliant on man nowadays for nest sites (see the pic for the explanation). But best of all we saw wild Bald Eagles. I took their pic although on full zoom so not spectacular quality. These birds were only just outside of Put In Bay too, so not like you have to hike miles to see them.
Unfortunately we only had the one night on the island (I’d love to return for a longer stay) and so the next morning we woke early and took breakfast on the front porch. Delightful. And then we spent a few hours exploring Heineman’s Winery (free sample of Gewurztraminer) and the beach. Our visit also coincided with the May Flys arrival on the scene for their brief 24 hours of life. They were everywhere but don’t worry. They don’t bite.
To sum up … South Bass Island and its town Put In Bay is well worth a visit. The scenery and attractions are fantastic. The pace of life is slower and the food is good. You can rent golf carts, kayaks, power boats etc. even parascend. Highly recommended. Make sure you get there.
© 2014 Stan M Rogers. All rights reserved.