Friday, May 1, 2015

Presque Isle State Park

We live almost equidistance from Cleveland and Erie. Barley and I have spent a lot of time hiking the Cleveland area because of our awesome Doggin' Cleveland book, but we've explored most of the parks within an hour or so of our house. The other parks sound nice, but they're usually more of a drive than I want to commit to. Since Doug Gelbert hasn't written a book for the Erie area, we haven't ventured very far east.

Lately, though, Barley and I have been craving adventure and wanting to visit somewhere new, so I decided we should investigate the Pennsylvania parks. We started with my childhood favorite, Pymatuning State Park, which was a nice change of scenery but didn't live up to my childhood memories. Last Friday, I decided we should check out Presque Isle State Park. I'd seen the sign when we ventured to Niagara Falls and on our way to Massachusetts last summer, so I knew it wasn't too far from home.

According to the Presque Isle website, the name means "almost an island." The peninsula has tons of interesting things to see and lots of different trails. I studied the website beforehand and knew I wanted to see the Commodore Perry Memorial and the two lighthouses.


The map I looked at online made it hard to tell how far it was between different trails. Few of them connected to one another directly, but there's a multi-use trail that goes around the whole peninsula so I thought that we'd probably be able to piece together the short trails into a nice walk. The speed limit was deceiving, though--it's 25 mph through the whole park, so I felt like we'd been driving forever and finally picked a parking lot off the road, thinking we were close to the Commodore Perry Memorial.

It turns out we were actually 3 miles from the memorial and we could have done the 6 miles it took to get there and back to the car, but then taking the other trails probably wouldn't have happened. We took a short little walk along the main trail just to see the sights.


We drove over to the memorial and tried again. The memorial was interesting. I was familiar with the name Commodore Perry because Great Lakes Brewing Company has a Commodore Perry IPA with a little blurb about him, but I didn't know much about him.

Yum! This has become my official lucky beer for Pirates games.

Perry's fleet stayed in Misery Bay (Erie Brewing Company also has a Misery Bay IPA--who says beer doesn't make you smarter?) during the War of 1812. The Bay protected the fleet while the ships were being built from local timber. According to the signs around the memorial, Perry always seemed to get into situations that seemed impossible, but then at the last possible minute everything would fall into place with him, so people refer to those sorts of situations as "Perry's Luck." Misery Bay got it's name while Perry's fleet was stationed there because his men got smallpox one winter and were quarantined there. Then they were buried in the nearby graveyard pond (which we saw, but we didn't take the trail).


We had the park pretty much to ourselves, so we got to work in some distance on our sit-stays while I tried to get a photo op with Barley and the whole monument.


The map near the memorial suggested that the North Pier Lighthouse was another several miles away, so we hopped in the car and tried to find a closer parking lot to that attraction. The pier was much windier than other locations had been, so I was extra glad I'd brought another layer in the car with me--but I can't complain about the cold because I think in nicer weather there would be far too many other park-goers for us to have a relaxing experience.


As we drove to the pier, we passed Horseshoe Pond, where 24-houseboats are docked year-round, so we had to walk back to check those out as well. I'm not sure what I thought a houseboat was--I guess I thought it was a boat that people lived on that had some "homey" elements like curtains and picture frames on the walls, but these houseboats were magical and weird. Apparently houseboats are houses that are on a raft-like thing.


Barley and I were both a little mystified by them. Some of the houses looked about the size of our apartment, but I can only imagine what it would be like to be trapped with Barley and Soth in the middle of a pond with no easy way to escape. I love my pets dearly, but I think we need a little more space and a little more yard than that. I also just have so many questions about electricity, cooking, bathrooms. Fascinating little things.

The big draw of Presque Isle (besides the swimming beaches in the summer) is the Presque Isle lighthouse. There's a 1.25-mile trail that goes from one side of the peninsula to the other and puts you right in front of the lighthouse. We'd already walked quite a bit, but the trail was completely flat and we decided to find the closest parking lot to it and walk to the lighthouse and back. 


The lighthouse was built in 1872 and was the second American lighthouse built on Lake Erie. Barley and I read some of the signs in the exhibit and the lighthouse is attached to a 10-room home that the lighthouse keeper used to live in. Now, the whole thing is a private residence--and has become my new dream home. Can you imagine how cool it would be to have a reading nook in the top of the lighthouse?


Barley doesn't think this looks like the "loneliest place"--she could totally picture living here!


We ended up walking a total of 7.75 miles our longest adventure yet since our record was 6.4 miles from around this time last year. It was a great adventure to go on with my girl, but it's probably not a place we'll go back to often. With the construction between our house and Erie, it took about an hour and a half to get there and when we have the Geneva State Park minutes away and the Arboretum 30 minutes away, I'd have to be in a special mood to go that far, especially since we saw all the main attractions this time.  It's also a busy spot in the summer with all of the beachgoers--and we saw a bike rental place, so I'm assuming the trails would probably be filled with more people, dogs, and bikes than Barley and I would want to deal with. Maybe in the fall when we're tired of visiting the same trails all summer we'll go back for a visit. We ended the week with 31.58 miles, so we're celebrating this week!

On an unrelated note, today is my 6-year anniversary of being a crazy cat lady, so I needed to make sure that Soth was acknowledged today (even though yesterday was all about him). Happy adoption day, my boy!


16 comments:

  1. What a fun adventure with some interesting sites! New places add variety and keep you motivated, at least at our house it is the case.

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    1. Yes! We have a lot of great parks nearby, so theoretically we could walk at a different place every day if we wanted to get in the car, but sometimes it's fun to go on a big adventure :)

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  2. Happy adoption day to Soth and I LOVE that you are having such a blast exploring so many places in Ohio! www.dakotasden.net

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    1. We love Ohio! It's totally underrated--and we're not good at sharing, so we're ok with keeping it that way ;)

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  3. That's sure some great mileage. It's fun when you have a new place to explore - those miles go fast don't they?

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    1. The adventuring miles definitely go much faster than the plain old neighborhood miles go :)

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  4. Happy Adoption Day Soth! New places are always the best for hikes. That beer also looks perfect right about now :) Stoping by from the hop, come say hi!

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    1. Thanks for the happy wishes for Soth! The beer is pretty good! It will be even better when I get to enjoy it out on the porch while watching a baseball game.

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  5. Happy Gotcha Day! I get bored with going to the same places so we explore. We're lucky to be close-ish to the mountains and the ocean.

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    1. We have a lot of great parks, so when it's time to venture out of the neighborhood, it's nice to have so many good options--and most of them are along water of some sort, so that always makes me happy!

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  6. Love all the pictures! It looks like you had a great afternoon (and I bet you had one tired pup afterwards!). Beer totally makes you smart. Did you know there's a Commodore Perry quarter? I just saw one the other day!

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    1. It was only 48 degrees, so Baby Girl wasn't tired at all after the 1.5 hour drive home. I was :( I'll have to be on the lookout for those quarters so I can add to the Commodore's resume in my mind!

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  7. Those houseboats are definitely something else...not sure I wouldn't get claustrophobic on them...the pups would probably enjoy being able to jump into the water for some splashing fun, but not to relieve themselves ;-)
    That lighthouse reading nook, on the other hand, DOES sound fantastic!

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    1. I knew I wasn't alone with the reading nook! I would lose my mind in the houseboats, though. They were fascinating to look at, but definitely not something I could manage with a border collie mix in my life :)

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  8. I learned some good stuff here, thank you!

    I always wanted to live on a houseboat, but I really don't think it's practical with two large dogs. I can't imagine having to get up in the night to row to shore so one of them could potty. LOL

    Living in a lighthouse would be super cool (IMO.) And I'm also with you on the warmer weather, where were all these people and their dogs when I was walking on ice? LOL

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    1. It was probably our most educational adventure! I feel like we should have some sort of cool badges or t-shirts for surviving the ice while everyone else was hibernating!

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