It’s Saturday, and as far as Saturdays go, this one begins like all the others: Little boys awake and whispering by 7:30; everyone showered and dressed by 8:30; pancakes on the stove by 9:00; full bellies and clean dishes by 9:30.
With that routine officially under our belts, I pull out my computer and Google the map of Ohio. I call the boys to me, and when they arrive after some coaxing, I position one on either side of me. “Put your fingies together,” I say. “…Yep, together like this. Great. Now point to the map. Wherever you land, that’s where we’ll go today.”
And so they do. They put their pointer fingers to work, and by 1:00, we’re driving along the Ohio coastline, breathing the crisp Lake Erie air.
There’s no itinerary for this excursion, which is all very well; 36×37 assignment #32 includes picking a place the day of the trip, then going there without additional planning. Now that we’re here, we have nothing to do but drive around to search for adventure. And so we find a few things. They jump out at us the way tourist attractions sometimes do.
First, there’s lunch in a time-warped bistro—Barardi’s Restaurant. Based on our friendly and attentive server’s teased-up, platinum hairdo, I’m guessing we’re trapped somewhere between 1968 and 1972. The gargantuan burgers are slathered in cheese. The fries are hand-cut and doused in salt. There are flaky, fresh-baked pies in the pie counter. (Can you believe it? A pie counter?) Not only is that quaint and slightly adorable, but I’ll bet every last one of those cream-filled beauties is packed with unspeakable deliciousness.
H is more adventurous than usual with his meal. By that, I mean he actually eats it, and I think that has more to do with his newly loose tooth and his desire to extract it than it has to do with anything else. He’s trying to show it off for you in this photo:
We stop next at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, which sounds like a snooze but—surprise—it actually isn’t! First, as it turns out, the Maritime Museum happens to employ the nicest man in the world who smiles at the boys and lets us all in for the family price of a wee $6.00 total.
Secondly, the place has all kinds of photo opportunities, like this:
The boys get to “test drive” a vintage Lyman Boat simulator that rocks like it’s on water and comes complete with working horns and windshield wipers…
They make boats…
Tie nautical knots…
And admire the pristine models.
Later, when I ask the boys about their favorite part of the trip, they agree that the Maritime Museum wins hands down.
If you’ve heard of Sandusky, it’s either because you’re from Ohio, or you’ve visited Cedar Point Amusement Park, which boasts the largest collection of roller coasters in the world. However, for much of the late 19th and early 20th century, Sandusky was known for something else—the largest fresh water harbor in America and the finest fish market in the world. It produced more fish than all the Great Lakes combined.
But it wasn’t just a fishing town. In the down season, when the lake froze 18 inches thick, Sandusky morphed into the largest ice shipping port west of the Hudson River. Its harvested ice was used predominantly to ship fish and beer, and would travel as far as Havana, Cuba—10 lbs of ice for every lb of fish.
Sandusky also was an active stop on the Underground Railroad. As Harriet Beecher Stowe described in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, many runaway slaves sought freedom in Canada, and arrived at this nationally known port of escape to cross Lake Erie with the help of a captain willing to take the risk.
The American shipping industry died in Sandusky years ago. These days, when you watch the Great Lake waters and spot an industrial boat, chances are that boat is Canadian.
We end up at the Marblehead Lighthouse.
It’s chilly, so we don’t spend much time there, but for a Maryland kid like GB, it’s nice to be back on the water. We take a different route for the ride home—one that takes us along the coast, so we can watch for just a few minutes longer the icy waves waking up to a Northern Ohio spring.
To Be Continued
That’s not all we do. Between the Maritime Museum and the lighthouse, we make another stop. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow because I need real estate for all the truly strange and excellent photos I took. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a riddle: What has two legs, a long neck, and goes up and down in a circle? The answer is “Stork.” You’ll find out why tomorrow.
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