Tuesday, June 10, 2014
The route for today was basically to ride to Sandusky, take a ferry to Put-in-Bay, then later another ferry to the Marblehead Peninsula and on to the resort where we’d be staying the next two nights. Since the route to Sandusky went right by our “home base” of Sawmill Creek, the most logical thing to do was to drive from Vermilion to Sawmill Creek, drop the vehicles off in our designated parking area, and ride from there to Sandusky.
However, I had some misgivings about the next couple of days. The weather outlook for Wednesday looked like it could be a repeat of Sunday’s washout, and I really wanted to go around to see Lakeside and other familiar places out on Marblehead. So I decided to skip the first part of the ride and just drive straight out to the resort on Marblehead, from where I could ride to the Put-in-Bay ferry and, with any luck, meet up with the rest of the group when they arrived from Sandusky. Having my car out there gave me a way to get around if it rained and also would make for a shorter final day of the tour.
I got to the South Beach Resort in good time and was surprised when they actually had a room available so I didn’t have to leave my luggage in the car all day. It was about an hour’s ride from there to Miller’s Ferry and I didn’t waste any time riding out in time for the 11AM trip across to South Bass Island where Put-in-Bay is located.
South Bass Island is not all that big, and most people do not take their cars out there. Instead, the place is overrun with golf carts and bicycles that can be rented as soon as you step off the ferry. Miller’s brings you in at the far end, away from Put-in-Bay, but it is only a mile or so from there into town. Put-in-Bay is a favorite spot for boaters, who gather there to party late into the night after the daytime tourists are long gone. I remembered coming out here on family vacations, but it has changed a lot and is a lot more built up, with a typical tourist strip of bars, restaurants, t-shirt shops, and ice cream counters.
The first place I headed to was the visitor center at the Perry’s Victory Memorial, which is run by the National Park Service. As a kid coming out here I was probably bored stiff at all this, but now, having read a lot of history about that era, I was fascinated by the displays that detailed the background and progress of the big naval battle that Oliver Hazard Perry fought here against the British in the War of 1812. The Battle of Lake Erie was the largest naval engagement ever fought on the Great Lakes and contributed to the eventual outcome of the war.
As I was leaving the visitor center I was thinking about how I could ride around the town a bit to see if any of the others had made it over and were gathering for lunch, but just as I stepped outside I saw a whole group of them rounding the corner. So it was an easy meetup as they had just gotten off the ferry and were also thinking about lunch. Off we rode to find a likely place and the Put-in-Bay Brewing Co. certainly hit the spot as again other riders on the tour spotted our bikes parked in front and came in to join us. There were a few glitches in paying the bill as this was just before the real tourist season starts and the summer staff were just learning their jobs, but overall we had a good time there and bought a few t-shirts to mark the occasion.
After lunch I headed back to the memorial grounds to take a look at the monument itself, which was erected in 1913 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the battle; and now another hundred years has gone by. There is an elevator to the top of the monument, and from its 310-foot height there is an excellent panorama of Put-in-Bay as well as views of many of the other islands in the area. What’s more, a panel on the railing shows you exactly where to look to see where the actual battle took place.
After returning to ground level, I headed back to Miller’s Ferry to recross to Marblehead. I managed to catch one just before it left and found a few others from the group already on board. At least I’d get to ride a few miles with some others! Just off the ferry, we turned and went around a gate to ride through one of the neighborhoods where people have the lavish summer homes that look out onto Sandusky Bay. I suppose that we weren’t really supposed to be cutting through that way, but it did make for a very pleasant drive away from the heavier traffic going to and from the ferry.
The final few miles of the route upheld our into-the-wind tradition, but before we knew it we were at the South Beach Resort — our home for the next two nights. This was a much newer property than I was expecting since most of this area was long ago developed for summer vacationers. It had a modern hotel building, several nice looking cottages, two pools, and its own beach and marina.
Since the resort was not really close to any dining opportunities, the BCR folks brought in a pizza and spaghetti meal following the daily wine-and-cheese reception. We had all gotten to know each other by this time and everyone enjoyed being able to eat at the outside tables in the courtyard. It was another fine day that was ending well.