Friday, February 06, 2009

Road Trip Part Deux!

Making our way home from Erie Pennsylvania, we wanted to stop at a couple of lighthouses east of Cleveland Ohio. If you've ever traveled in Ohio during the summer you know construction is inevitable. Well, today was no exception. While trying to locate the Ashtabula Lighthouse we made a few too many turns and ended up getting lost! The Ashtabula light is not pictured in the guide books we usually carry, so we wanted to see why everyone says it's hard to photograph--we now know why. But for today the detours were hurting us...if you're keeping score it's construction 1, our family 0.

Construction always makes things harder.

It was getting late, and we've been circling for an hour trying to follow the detours with no luck. Before we left on our road trip I tried making our own directions on map quest, but our printer was on the fritz. So I wrote a few directions down hoping they would work, ha ha ha. Maybe in a perfect world without orange barrels and torn down bridges? After the detours were getting us nowhere, we decided to follow our intuition. If you keep the water in your sight long enough you will eventually find a lighthouse. Just when we were about to throw in the towel, there it was!

Ashtabula Lighthouse from the Great Lakes Marine and U.S. Coast Guard Memorial Museum.

As I'm sure any light buff will tell you, this view was just unacceptable and I wanted to get closer! So we headed down Lake Avenue which dead-ends into the Walnut Beach Park. We could really see the large attraction at this park was fishing. Everyone there was carrying fishing gear and poles. But today we had another agenda.

One problem, the lighthouse couldn't be seen anywhere. From this view point, the coastline makes a large curve obscuring the lighthouse behind an overgrown grassy marsh. Through that grass there was a trail that went in the direction of the light, so we went for it. We soon found out it was so overgrown with tall grass and weeds we had to walk single file down the trail. If you know me, I gotta keep going!

So with Taylor riding piggy-backed we started to hike the grassy lane. The deeper we got the less developed the path, the taller the grass. By the time we decided to turn around we were walking in 8' tall grass with no trail and spongy ground. Another couple ahead of us were also trying to walk out to the light. When we caught up to them, they had got separated and his wife was panicking in the grass. Everyone had enough and we all turned around. It was like a bad maze we couldn't find our way out.

When we finally got back to the Jeep, my husband decided he would walk out the uneven breakwall and get a photo for me. The breakwall was VERY uneven and with my clumsiness I would've fallen into the lake! Besides, how do you take a 2 year old out on the rocks? So it was settled, I would stay with Taylor while he walked out. We played games and colored for what seemed like an hour until Matt came out into the clearing. I was worse than a kid at Christmas, I couldn't wait to see what his pictures looked like!

Matt's photo of the Ashtabula Lighthouse

Matt didn't return alone though, he walked back with a local fisherman he met out on the breakwall. The older gentleman was telling us stories about the beach when he was a young boy, walking out to the lighthouse and how everything has changed over the years. He also told us how the walk was very treacherous and ever year it is getting worse. Matt said he almost lost his balance a couple of times on the uneven walk, so I was really happy I stayed in the car.

At this point in the day we didn't know how many more lighthouses we would be able to see before sunset. We decided to continue west towards Fairport Harbor Ohio. Maybe if things would have gone differently throughout the day we may have made it, but it was dark when we finally arrived.

Fairport Harbor Lighthouse at dark.

The village was hopping when we got there. Boy were we surprised to find that they were hosting their annual PerchFest festival. Because it was already dark, and we had a long drive home yet, we put this quiet village on our list of places to return. At this point we are still a decent 3 hours away from home. Making the most of our night visit, I used the night mode on my camera. Not too bad, grainy in my opinion though.

Fairport Harbor Lighthouse using Night vision mode

Below is an excerpt from their website describing the festival.

Lake County PerchFest(TM)
The Lake County PerchFest(TM) is Ohio's largest perch fish fry/festival. The PerchFest is held at a scenic 25 acre Lake Erie beach park, Lake Metroparks Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park. The Lake County PerchFest features live entertainment, additional food and crafts vendors.

A perch fishing tournament with a $1000 first prize attracts hundreds of fishing contestants. A karaoke contest with a $500 in prizes also attracts both contestants and a full tent of visitors. Improved affordable Lake Erie yellow Perch fish fry meals are the main attraction, selling 2,200 pounds of perch and 9,000 meals in 30 hours. The fish vendor uses Lake Erie Yellow perch with a special breading machine on site and fries the fish in canola oil. Walleye fish fries are also included, plus shrimp baskets and steamed clams.

Tours of the Fairport Marine Museum/Lighthouse is also part of the PerchFest plus youth activities . Youth activities include a youth fishing tank, plus other performers. More vendors, both arts and crafts and non-fish food vendors, also are part of the PerchFest(TM). The PerchFest received national publicity with a six minute segment on the Travel Channel program, "Taste of America.".

The Lake County Perch Fest is hosted by the Lake County Visitors Bureau.

Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park is about 40 miles east of downtown Cleveland off Route 2. Dates are Sep 11-13, 2009. Visitors from as far away as Seattle attend.

If you'd like more information about the festival, please visit their website.

End of another day, and a few lights crossed off our list.
More to come!


Carolyn said...

Awesome blog, Christy! I'm landlocked in Oklahoma for the time being, but someday hope to start my own similar lighthouse quest. Meanwhile, I'll do it vicariously. :)

Barb said...

Your persistance and hiking paid off! Very nice photos! Like you I would climb over rocks for a shot of an illusive lighthouse! They are so worth it.

James said...

Matt was braver than we were on the breakwater. We went out on it and thought we had gone pretty far, but we didn't go anywhere near as far as Matt did.

The nighttime pictures of Fairport are cool. I love the nightvision one. We have only taken one nightime photo of a lighthouse - Fenwick Island at the Delaware/Maryland border near Ocean City.

christyzee said...

Thanks! I like them too, but I thought they looked a bit grainy when I printed them out, but they do look better on the computer. Matt says the only reason he did it was for me...awww. I know I couldn't do at all so I'm glad he went.

Missy said...

How cool! The pictures are great - I need a vacation! :)

MAJA said...

Thanks for nice comment on my blog. However: What beautiful pictures you have here on you own blog- and of places I barely knew excisted!!:)Thanks for sharing..It´s like taking a journey from my computer here in Norway-hoping someday to go back visiting the USA and fullfilling the dream of taking another road-trip.
Have a nice day, blessings to you too,
ps. Come to think of it:there is a photo-shot of a lighthouse right nearby where I live on my blog.:)

Rhonda said...

Hi Christy, I've added you to my blog page so I can enjoy your blog, photos, etc. I hope you don't mind. I'm jealous, I can only count on one hand the number of lighthouses I've been able to visit. I live in Alabama but was born in Detroit, I would love to make it back up that way to visit all the ones on the Great Lakes. Take care & travel safe.

Christine said...

Beautiful photos Christy! I love the one taken with the Night Vision mode. I think it would make an awesome print.
Oooh, what's not to love about Lake Erie Perch??? When I was younger I'd drown it in tarter sauce, now I love it with I can really appreciate the flavor. Nothing like it in freshwater, if you ask me.

Baby News said...

Sorry you couldn't get closer to the first lighthouse. I really like the second as well.