Places I Want To Be

Yesterday, I talked about the travel budget being shot to hell for the foreseeable future.  Nita and I, though, have talked about places we’d like to go next year.  Jamaica has been discussed, as has been Florida, Savannah, and the Tennessee or West Virginia mountains.  One place I talk about a lot, though, is the Lake Erie Islands.

Last year, I got to go to historic Put in Bay for the first time.  Both as a place to waste time in bars and a tourist trap, I loved Put in Bay.  Out in the middle of a large inland sea, it stays cool from breezes off the water.  You get around South Bass Island – where the village of Put in Bay sits – mainly by golf cart.  They have a winery, the Perry Monument, where you can see clear to Canada or back to the Ohio mainland and Cedar Point Amusement Park.  Most of the island is a state park, and the island is a place to party.  Plus, Put in Bay has one of the largest marinas in the state.  It’s a great place to dock the boat while you go out to eat or just chill on the beach.

Kelley’s Island, closer to the mainland, is more “suburban” than Put in Bay.  While Put In Bay shows signs everywhere that hardly anyone lives full time on the island, Kelley’s looks more like a small town out in the middle of the sea.  It, too, has a terrific state park, great for hiking, and a winery that fully admits all Lake Erie wines (and Ohio wines for that matter) are sweet because you can’t age the grapes there more than a year.  (A certain nameless winery on the afforementioned island suggested they’re bullshitting you in California.  Kelley’s Island suggests you try Napa Valley for the dryer wines.)  The odd thing about the Kelley’s Island WInery is that it’s more like a bar.  I sat having wine and cheese at the Kelley’s while watching the Nationwide NASCAR Series.

Kelley’s is a fully functioning town with its own school and a working rock quarry.  While tourists pack the island from April through October, there are 367 people who call this place home.  Like South Bass, golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation for visitors.  However, most of the bars are clustered near the marina on the eastern side of the island.

My one visit to Kelley’s involved bar hopping.  After spending the morning exploring the island, I started out at one bar at the beginning of an Ohio State football game and worked may way over to the island’s sole brew pub and back to The Caddyshack for the end of the game.  It was late fall, and the tourists were fewer in number.  All in all, a cheap weekend away while the ex enjoyed Cedar Point on the mainland.

Ziggins and I talk about having a boys weekend out on the lake, starting in Sandusky and boating over to Kelley’s Island, then Put-in-Bay, before heading back to the mainland.  There’s something these tiny, isolated villages in the middle of the water that’s irresistable.