Island-dwellers for just one day: Road Trip Part 3

I blame the fact that I’ve always wanted to live on an island on discovering the excellent books by Robert McClosky when I was a little girl. These sweetly-illustrated books about a family that lives on an island–taking boat rides to get ice cream, digging for clams, and picking wild blueberries–are so delightful that I’ve dreamed about living on an island ever since I was a little girl.

And who says that the books you choose to read as a child (or that you read books at all!) isn’t important?

Of course I could also blame this inexplicable desire on the fact that I’ve lived most of my life in Nebraska, my beloved land-locked state. I am entranced by water, and delighted by the ocean, and would love someday to live near more water than our little muddy farm pond.

So spending a day on an island in Lake Erie sounded like an awesome idea to me. Since it was my idea. 🙂 Lake Erie has many of the charms of the ocean–sea gulls, endless expanses of beautiful water, sandy (and rocky, and stoney, and cliff-lined) beaches, sail boats and tug boats and so forth, to watch and admire and photograph–and none of the hazards. At least I didn’t notice any sharks, jellyfish, stingrays or electric eels, to name just a few.
At first, little Mack and I just dipped our toes in. It was cold! But very tantalizing. . .

At first, little Mack and I just dipped our toes in. It was cold! But very tantalizing. . . Amalia took pictures.

But then we couldn't resist . . . we rolled our jeans up as far as we could get them . . .

But then we couldn’t resist . . . we rolled our jeans up as far as we could get them . . .

Now THIS is livin'.

Now THIS is livin’: slipping and sliding around on those slippery rocks in Lake Erie. I was holding little Mack up to keep him from falling–or was it the other way ’round? (photo cred goes to Bryan Miller)

Lake Erie is the twelfth-largest fresh water lake in the world, and the most shallow one. It is also absolutely beautiful. I’m quite jealous now of the folks who live in that area and who can look at it as much as they want to. I spent quite a bit of time gazing out across it, and I forgot at times that it wasn’t the ocean, because (but for jumping dolphins and huge ocean liners in the distance) it really does look like the ocean to this landlubber.
We chose the little island of South Bass to visit, since it was so close to the mainland, and has lots of traffic to and fro. We took a ferry to the island, and rented a golf cart for tooling around for the day. There were plenty of what my dad would call “tourist traps,” available to explore (which we doggedly avoided), although most of them were closed for the season. The island is very small, though, and we were able to see most of it, from coast to coast, in the day that we were there.
Here are a few of the highlights:
The ferry was operated by Miller Boat Line 🙂 and it was about a 20 minute trip to the island. The seagulls were fun to watch, as they followed us across. They are opportunists, and as anybody who has ever spent any time at all on the coast will tell you, and if you throw out one bread crumb you’ll have an instant following of dozens of seagulls. They seem to be the beggars of the sea bird world. They are also not opposed to having their pictures taken, and we took quite a few. Pictures, that is. Not seagulls.
I loved these plantings: let's see . . . statice. . . mums . .. pumpkins . . . zinnias . . . lime sweet potato vine . . .

I loved these plantings: let’s see . . . statice. . . mums . .. pumpkins . . . zinnias . . . lime sweet potato vine . . . marigolds . . . 

Here's our ferry!

Here’s our ferry!

Both Amalia and little Mack were bummed indeed that the stern instructions clearly stated on our little golf cart included this one: “No drivers under 21.”
Here's our first view of the lighthouse on the near side of the island.

Here’s our first view of the lighthouse on the side of the island nearest the mainland.

Checking out our wheels for the day: good ole' #160.

Checking out our wheels for the day: good ole’ #160.

Zipping around in our little golf cart on the neatly-manicured little roads, admiring the picturesque homes that we passed, including some that were quite grand indeed, in a dizzy fit of island-living longing, I exclaimed “I want to live here!” Amalia agreed, quite enthusiastically, and we started planning how we were going to make this so. By the time we stopped at the Perry monument (more on this later)–which was our first planned stop–we had it all planned out. We would buy a home there on the island and spend summers there, inviting all the grown-up kids (and grandkids!) to visit whenever they liked, and for however long they liked, every summer. We’d have a garden, natch’, but not one big enough to take all of our time to maintain it. We’d own our own golf cart, and of course have plenty of bicycles, with baskets on the front.
Baskets on our bicycles would carry baguettes and bottles of wine from the village. And bouquets of flowers.
We’d wear big floppy hats with satiny ribbons on the back, which would flow in the breeze as we peddled along. We wouldn’t wear watches at all. We’d weave flowers in our hair. We wouldn’t own an alarm clock. We’d keep our screen time to a minimum. Who would want to stare at a screen, with such winsome island sights to take in?? We’d spend most of every day outside, hiking, basking, singing, gathering wild flowers, catching fish for our supper, and sketching the seagulls in their proud and amusing poses.
We walked out on a little isthmus and looked out at another tiny island, all of us agreeing that if Timothy was with us, he would have walked on across. Mack and I wanted to.

We walked out on a little isthmus and looked out at another tiny island, all of us agreeing that if Timothy had been with us, he would have walked on across. Mack and I wanted to, but the rocks were pretty sharp under our tender feet. We all aspire to be as brave and as tough-footed as our Timothy.

All of our Midwestern friends and relations would come visit, and applaud our island choices.
“I could live someplace where the primary mode of transportation is a golf cart,” Bryan noted, matter-of-factly. I (wisely) took that as being his tacit permission to start looking for property on an island, immediately (if not sooner). But maybe it’d be best not to mention it to him yet. 🙂 Best to keep it a surprise. 😉 Agreed?
One of the beaches was made up entirely of these smooth stones.

One of the beaches was made up entirely of these smooth stones.

Little Mack became incensed, which I even jokingly mentioned looking for a place to buy. He is very loyal to his home state, even going so far as to insist–during a trip to New Zealand a few years ago–that Nebraska’s beaches are superior to those of New Zealand. Ya gotta admire that kind of blind loyalty. 🙂
Amalia asked me to do a style shoot for her. She is so cute.

Amalia asked me to do a style shoot for her. She is so cute, isn’t she?

Nice to see that Monarchs make it out to this island, too.

Nice to see that monarchs make it out to this island, too.

Our day went by too fast . . . I wasn’t ready to leave at the end of the day, but the ferry was. So I gave in. It’s an awful long ways to swim.
Next time, we’ll stay longer. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Island-dwellers for just one day: Road Trip Part 3

  1. rita

    Boy, do I ever ‘get’ this yearning, especially when water is involved. Wherever I go, I do exactly this, plan how to live there. In the end, it makes traveling exhausting. I’ve often wondered if I had been born male and in earlier times, whether I’d have been a sailor. Perhaps I have gypsy blood. I guess it’s wanderlust or fernweh. Sigh. Even reading this post brought it on. Every fall when the geese go south (now), I look up and wish…

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      So we ARE twins born of different mothers. Or perhaps the same mother, and separated at birth? Or maybe just kindred spirits . . .

  2. rita

    And don’t you just adore asters? That’s what the monarchs are sitting on. Mine are covered with bees doing their last minute gathering. I have pink ones too, as well as white and purple. Do you know they close every night?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I didn’t know that! I love asters, too. I need to plant some again, since mine didn’t come back this year. There was lots of flora and fauna on that island that I recognized from home–sumac, asters, goldenrod, to name a few. There was just more of it!

  3. Bethany M.

    I just love this recap of the trip. It allows me to live vicariously through you all! That photograph of the seagulls is just stunningly beautiful. Yay for water, lighthouses, and cameras!

  4. Kandas

    I lived on the west coast for most of my life and I certainly long for the water. My husband is from Michigan and insists that the great lakes are far superior to the ocean. Your narration certainly turns the tides in his favor. Beautiful photographs.

  5. Laura Kelland-May

    thank you for sharing your vacation with us.
    My granny had a cottage on lake Erie (ontario side) and we would go to her cottage, get ice cream (orange pineapple) and skip rocks on the beach, and giant foot long hot dogs!
    I love the photos of the ferry and your family enjoying the water.
    Looking forward to future posts.

  6. Ashley

    I LOVE your pictures!!!!!! I’m a baby water myself so anything that has to do with water makes me happy. I also live in Cleveland have access to Lake Erie whenever I want… it is really beautiful, my kids and I have spent MANY days enjoying the lake on the beaches here in Ohio!!!! 🙂

  7. Joan Harrington

    Hi Amy,

    Really enjoyed reading about your travels and your road trip to the islands on a ferry…..loved the pictures! Makes me remember my many trips to North Haven ME in the summers 🙂 Awesome post!!!

  8. Chef William Chaney

    The Sea, the wonderful sea, even when it isn’t really the sea but a large body of water known as a lake. In Wisconsin we live about three quarters of a mile from Lake Michigan and in Mexico we have land that runs along the Pacific Ocean. Indeed I would not like living anywhere more than a few short miles from a large body of water. And yet with all that, we do visit Washington Island in upstate Wisconsin about once ever two years. Just to wonder around and see all the sights of island life and to perhaps buy a little home made fudge from one of the little shops in the area…Be warned once the sand gets between your toes you will be forever called back to visit these water wonderlands

  9. Alana

    Believe it or not, for all the years I’ve lived in New York State, I only saw Lake Erie in its full glory last year. It was amazing! Years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Mackinac Island and turned it down – one of my regrets, as it’s been over 30 years and we’ve never returned to the area. You look like you had so much fun .

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Well. Maybe next year is the year that you must put that regret to bed, and take that trip to Mackinac Island, eh? Sounds like a fun thing to blog about, too . .. I hope you go!

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