My second annual vacation with Jordan found us plying the Lake Erie coast again, because, hey, if it isn't broken, don't repair it. We did add a couple of things, though, and left out a couple others, just for balance. And variety.
One thing left out was forgetting to pack the Cedar Point season pass. This time, we forgot nothing important (three unimportant things I don't recall right now) and were on our way shortly after church. Didn't take long for Jordan to fall asleep, but that's cool. He'd watched a movie on the way, so a little nap afterwards while the wheels go round couldn't hurt a thing.
We had two places reserved, one a motel with a fridge, coffee maker, microwave, pool, playground, and excellent breakfast. We began our stay there for four days and ended the week with two days of camping out at East Harbor State Park on Lake Erie. I'll spend a few weeks between now and next year thinking about starting out at the campground and winding up up at the motel. Could go either way. The camping really helped us to wind down from the fun of...
Cedar Point amusement park. This year's visit to the park came with the revelation that Jordan had grown just enough to be eligible for the rides that required him to be 52 inches tall. And we took advantage, believe me. The best new ride was Maverick, a twisting, turning metal coaster that had a line an hour long every time we rode, but it was worth it. A close second was Top Thrill Dragster, which also featured a hefty line, but we got there early and only had 30-minute waits.
The weather on Lake Erie (where Cedar Point lies) cooperated with our plans to spend as much time at Cedar Point as possible, but we also visited a couple of other play areas where Jordan got to drive a go-kart, play some putt-putt golf, and his favorite, ride bumper boats. If you've never experienced bumper boats, do yourself a favor and do it.
What can I say about Sandusky, Ohio, the lake, the park that you haven't already heard? Probably not much, so I'll throw some out here and you can make up your own story: Dippin' Dots, Vintage Cars, Dodgems, Ferris Wheel, sea gulls, forgetting where you parked your car, finding your car, the evening fireworks extravaganza. Can you think of more?
One thing different this year was the proliferation of cell phones. I admit to carrying mine around everywhere and taking over 100 pictures during the week with it. My digital SLR stayed in the motel's safe and deep in the darkness of my car during most of the trip. I took four pictures with it. But they were darn good ones.
I even took a picture of some people on the Ferris wheel and tried to bluetooth it to them. We couldn't figure that out. I think my phone might be to blame, although I can bluetooth easily to my old phone and to my computer. Getting to another iPhone and another computer isn't as easy as it should be; indeed, it hasn't been possible yet, so I'm missing some important piece of information. But I was able to message the picture to the folks from the Ferris wheel, which was pretty neat in itself.
We spent half a day on Kelleys Island. (For you punctuation nerds like me, they don't use an apostrophe in the island name.) Jordan likes to go to Kelleys because he gets a chance to drive the golf carts we rent to go around on.
Kelleys has a great beach, where we spent a couple of hours, and an excellent state park, with a couple of rentable yurts that are right on the beach almost. Very Hawaiian feeling. Might consider staying there a night sometime.
One thing we quickly found about the island entertainment: it's largely adult-centered. Very few restaurants that didn't also offer liquor, which is part of the mystique, perhaps, of a maritime-themed business district.
But there's good news, if you're like me and my son and not so big on the drinking and smoking:
Erie Island Coffee Co. and Papa T's, two places on Division Street where you can find good coffee and good food, along with great service. Of course, I zeroed in on the coffee shop because I like coffee and needed to augment my blood-caffeine level. Erie Island Coffee, according to Jessica, the beautiful and helpful attendant at the shop, is based in Cleveland. I think they are giving Starbucks a run for the money when it comes to coffee drinks and non-coffee drinks for the little ones who don't need the added stimulation.
Jessica directed us to Papa T's just up the street for good food and ice cream sans the alcoholic haze. The picture of Jordan eating an ice cream was taken on the porch of Papa T's. The only trouble we had at that place was choosing one of the over 30 flavors of ice cream for the cone. Anyone know what Superman flavor is? Or want to go half on a peach ice cream cake?
Soon enough it was time to go camping, Jordan's first experience with it. He especially liked the idea of the campfire and kept trying to get me to fetch more wood and make it bigger and bigger. So for our final night, we built a monster for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. He ate two hotdogs and half a dozen marshmallows, but the fire burned for over five hours. It had been a long time since I spent the evening watching a fire burn. Felt like a pioneer, albeit one who buys his wood in bundles at the local general store.
Our first evening at the camp, we spent a couple hours at the beach, which was nice, but they're doing some work on the bathrooms. It's not Waikiki or even Myrtle Beach, so it gets a little crowded, especially during July tourist season, and the waves, well, the waves are bigger at the Kings Island wave pool, but that's not the point, is it? The point is, you can go really far out into the water, throw Frisbee, football, whatever, and it's calming and relaxing.
Back to the beach for some sand/mud castle building and to the tent for a night's rest on the ground.
And then it rained.
The gentle thunderstorm wouldn't have been so bad, but it turned out the tent had never been seam-sealed. The manufacturer had kindly included a bottle of sealer in the tent peg pouch. I plan to ask them if anyone ever requested a tent that leaked and was that the reason they didn't just make the seams more water-resistant. Definitely a case of "buyer, pay attention to what's in the bag next time."
But only a pint or so of rain got into the tent and nothing was harmed, except a pillow. I gave Jordan mine and I used a couple of beach towels for the rest of the time there.
All in all, it was exciting. And something else struck me: the honesty of campers. I mean, it doesn't take a lot to unzip a tent and make all kinds of trouble, but you hardly ever hear of it happening. The same for beach people. Beach blankets, cell phones, car keys, all sorts of things get left behind while their owners enjoy the water that feels too cold at first.
We packed up on a Saturday morning. By Friday, the campgrounds, which had been practically empty the night before, had become filled with campers. It got noisy, and not the good kind of noisy that we experienced the first morning after the thunderstorm. That morning, birds of many kinds awakened us. From inside the tent, they sounded like all sorts of creatures: ducks, dogs, hyenas--who knows what?
Jordan had never heard so many so close, and he was amazed and enthralled. I recalled my youth as a child of the country, where I could recognize a lot of bird calls. Was quite an old memory those repetitious bird calls pulled out of me. Those were the days--having the time to memorize bird calls. Wow.
We left around 9 and headed for Cedar Point for one last hurrah on the Dragster before heading south to Uncle Les and Aunt Grace's where Jordan made them uncover the pool, despite it being only 76 degrees. He seemed not to mind. Likes pools, I guess.
And that's it, folks. Vacation 2009. I put a hundred pics in a flickr account that you can see, if you're feeling especially voyeuristic. It's here, and you're more than welcome to take a look.