One of the best things about living in Cleveland is that it has pretty much everything to offer. People like to make all kinds of jokes about the “Mistake on the Lake” and raise their eyebrows in doubt whenever something good about the city is mentioned. There’s a whole brigade of young people hear who could go on ad nauseum about how awesome Cleveland is, so I wont bother. What I will say is that it has beaches, it has skiing, it has city, it has country. It has a train, it’s car friendly, it has history and it has plenty of new. I like to travel, a lot, but when I come home I can usually find a little piece of that vacation right here in my home city. Access to places such as Put-in-Bay, a mere hour and a half away, is just and added bonus. No, we don’t have an ocean, we don’t have salt water, but we do have a pretty darn big lake just to the north. It’s called Erie. And it has islands. Just off Sandusky and Port Clinton lie Kelleys Island, South Bass Island, Middle Bass Island, and a few others (one is called Starve and it looks like that’s what you might do if you went on it). But Put-in-Bay, located on 3.7 mile long South Bass Island, is by far the most fun. It’s been called the Key West of Lake Erie (although, no, there’s not much competition), and from town it’s not hard to see the comparison. But travel away from town and South Bass is a great place to get away from it all in a cottage by the lapping water. Approximately six hundred and thirty one people live there year round.
In attempts to defy my crippling fear of heights I climbed the Garfield Monument in Lakeview Cemetery last year. Next on my list was the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.
So, the Three Shillelaghs ventured off on our Naughty Nautical Adventures.
Our first stop was the Perry Memorial which commemorates United States Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie which took place during the War of 1812, on September 10th, 1813 in the area surrounding South Bass Island. The battle was a decisive victory and lead to Perry’s famous quote: “We have met the enemy and they are ours”. I’m afraid of heights but the views were worth it.
It also led to the good Commodore being inducted as the third honorary member of the Shillelaghs (after Neil Patrick Harris and Rivers Cuomo, respectively).
Next, starving, we made our way over to the town of Put-in-Bay and had lunch at The Keys. Because we all miss Key West,
love conch fritters, and wanted girly drinks.
After my combo rum runner and piña colada we were all feeling tipsy enough to enjoy a good exploration of the island.The marina in town. You can’t really tell but there was a duck with ducklings sitting on the rock at the forefront. South Bass Island Light “Dont Give Up the Ship” was what was printed on the flag Commodore Perry flew during the Battle of Lake Erie. They were the dying words of his friend, James Lawrence, who died in battle on the USS Chesapeake several months earlier. The flag, white lettering on a blue background, was sewn by women in Erie, Pennsylvania and then displayed on the flagship Lawrence during the battle before that ship was incapacitated and Perry took the flag when he changed to the Brig Niagara, which won the battle. It being the bicentennial of the battle of Lake Erie, Dont Give Up the Ship flags were flying everywhere. I may or may not have bought a little one for myself. In the background is Middle Bass Island and the privately owned Balast Island.
It was tired, overheated, and ready to collapse that we left Put-in-Bay behind, with the knowledge that, at just an hour and a half and a short ferry ride away, we’d be back soon.