We left Sandusky and headed West to Indiana. We’ve traveled through Gary many times between home and Mark, IL, as a kid, and I never knew this even existed. On the Southern-most end of Lake Michigan is a national park and a state park preserving some natural wetlands and sand dunes.
We hiked through the Cowles Bog area. The bugs weren’t too bad. We hiked through deep sand, up and down steep dunes, so the four-mile hike was a bit strenuous. We saw a couple of blue heron in the marsh, but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera.
Eventually, after a number of steep climbs, we reached the shore of Lake Michigan. The water was surprisingly warm. We spent a relaxing hour in the water, wading out some distance to a sand bar, and playing frisbee.
This view gives you some idea of how steep the dunes were near the water’s edge. The largest of these sand dunes is Mt. Baldy. These dunes normally move about four feet a year, but because of tourists trampling the delicate grasses that hold the dunes, Mt. Baldy is moving 26 feet a year.
They have most of Mt. Baldy roped off. Tourists are supposed to stay on marked trails. You can see the footprints here where people have ignored the signs. The park ranger said each footprint will result in the movement of a ton of sand. In a year or two they expect the parking lot and bath house to be covered over with sand. You can see how the sands have just about covered some trees in this photo.
It was a relatively strenuous day, but we had fun.
We spent the second day of our vacation at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. I hadn’t been to Cedar Point if almost 30 years. When we were kids Cedar Point seemed to be the place you went if you couldn’t go somewhere better. Over the years, I’ve seen Cedar Point mentioned a number of times on the Discovery Channel for having the best, fastest, highest, or some other -est roller coaster in the world.
Both of you who read my blog may remember me ranting a bit about Six Flags New England and how disappointed I was. That’s why we scheduled Cedar Point early in the vacation — so if it was bad, it wouldn’t be the culminating event of this year’s vacation. I told Candy before we started that this was the part of the trip I was least looking forward to. We really had a good time. The roller coasters were fun. The park was immaculately clean. The food was terrific and reasonably priced. The workers were pleasant and all spoke English. Even the patrons were largely well behaved.
For the week of Fourth of July, Cedar Point was giving free admission to active duty military and their families. That was a very pleasant surprise. Since we had the admission money budgeted, we decided to use it pay for Fastlane passes for all of us. That meant we got to move to the head of the line for most rides. As a result we rode everything we wanted before the bad weather rolled in — more on that later.
I remember the Corkscrew, Gemini, and Blue Streak being the roller coasters of choice. At one point they said that the Corkscrew was built in 1976. Wow, did I feel old. These rides are now sort of passé, replaced by Millennium Force (the number one steel coaster in the world several years running), Mean Streak (which might be the best wooden roller coaster I’ve ever ridden), and others.
Halfway through riding the Mean Streak wooden roller coaster, Candy discovered that her glasses were missing (from where she had been shoving them inside her shirt all day during rides). She found them under her shirt, but when we got off the roller coaster, she realized that one of the lenses was missing. We got right back on the ride. Because it wasn’t crowded, we waited for the correct color train and got in the exact same seats. She found her lens! That’s what comes of clean living.
As we were getting off our last coaster for the day, a huge storm rolled through the area. We took cover in a cookie shop — requiring us to spend some cash on giant cookies. We just HAD to do it. I have never been in an amusement park during hail (the size of grapes), so that was a unique experience. After they made the decision to cancel the evening entertainment, we left the park about an hour before closing. The bad weather only served to cut out the kids’ time to re-ride their favorite rides from earlier in the day; we had gone on everything once.
Cedar Point was a far superior experience to our visit to Six Flags New England last Summer. It was a really nice second day of vacation.
We began this year’s vacation, by retrieving Sam. She had spent the previous week camping in Sandusky at the KOA with her friend Emma and Emma’s family. We got on the road Saturday heading West. They got on the road Saturday heading East. We met just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Ohio border.
After picking up Sam, we continued Westward to Cleveland. We stopped there to see the house where much of the shooting of A Christmas Story was filmed. A fan of the movie bought the house on Ebay and restored it. He also bought the house across the street and turned it into a museum.
He’s collected a couple of neat artifacts. He’s also produce a pretty nice video.
Some of the items are not from the movie. For instance, the leg lamp from the movie was thrown away after they broke it for that scene in the movie. He has done a nice job of collecting like items, however.
He’s also done a really nice job restoring the kitchen and bathroom.
We all enjoyed the visit. I’m not sure that I’d make it a destination, but if you’re passing through the area, it’s well worth a stop for 90 minutes or so.
After visiting the Christmas Story house, we continued to Sandusky. As is our SOP, we stayed in a mom and pop hotel on the outskirts of town. It was quaint and clean. We also had time for a little putt-putt golf before hitting the sack.