Our first Great Lake… Lake Erie


Another year, another crazy road trip for the family.  This time it was two weeks.  Our goal?  Sleep next to every one of the Great Lakes.  Since neither of the boys had ever seen a great lake, and my wife and I had only seen two each, this was a pretty lofty goal.

Our gear loaded up, we hopped into the car and sped west down the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

We stopped off at the ever evolving Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA , something we do each time we’re on this section of the PA Turnpike.

We then spent the night in Altoona with friends, taking in a minor league baseball game with them.  It was fun, even if no Great Lakes were involved.

0808201507Day 2 was slated to be not a lot of fun, as it was designated as “drive across Ohio day”.


Now, my view of the state of Ohio comes largely from my mother, who attended Kent State University back in the 1970s.  They talked funny there, made fun of the Jersey kids who went out to play in the snow, and didn’t know what real food was (answer – hoagies and cheese steaks and pizza).  My mom took her visiting college friends to the beautiful Jersey shore, where they admired the world famous beaches here.  Her college friends took her to Lake Erie, which may or may not have been on fire when they got there.  haha, I kid (okay, not about the lake possibly being on fire).  I’ve seen some lovely parts of Ohio on my own, like the Wright Brothers shop in Dayton, Great Seal State Park, Cuyahoga National Park, both of Cleveland’s buildings (language warning if you click), and, of course, the house from A Christmas Story, but wasn’t counting on Lake Erie being a highlight of our trip.

Our first real view came at Marblehead Lighthouse in conveniently named Marblehead Lighthouse State Park.  This small lakeside park contains the oldest operating lighthouse on the United States side of the Great Lakes… and it’s a scenic little park.  It definitely was not the Lake Erie I’d come to expect from my mom’s memories from the ’70s.

It’s also located directly across from Cedar Point, which bills itself as “the roller coaster capital of the world”.  While I’m too afraid of heights to check this claim, my friends in the know assure me that it’s a really awesome park.

There it is.
There it is.

A few feet above the lake was high enough for me today!



From there, we drove another hour onward to our stop for the night, Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie, just near the border with Michigan.  We arrived and got our tent up just in time to jump in as a fast moving thunderstorm hit.

After the storm passed, we went outside to check this beautiful park.

We drove around to the lakefront, where the park featured swimming in a small, enclosed lake, as well as swimming in Lake Erie.  What a great way to finish the day!  Except…

For those that can’t read the tiny print on the sign, it’s the sign warning you of active algae blooms.  It should be safe to swim, as long as you aren’t young, old, or have a weak immune system.  And under no circumstances should anyone swallow any of the water.  Gross.  The other lake was also closed to swimming for health reasons even worse than an algae bloom. Blech.


The views were still nice though, and we spent some nice time on the sand playing with a ball and chasing gulls.

So our first Great Lake wasn’t pristine wilderness, but it was certainly pretty, even if it still has some cleaning up to do.

Next on our journey…

We cross into Michigan, visit River Raisin National Battlefield, see Henry Ford’s collection of historical artifacts at Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, and get our first view of Lake Huron at Bay City Recreation Area.

The Henry Ford: The Museum I’d Have if I was Absurdly Wealthy

2 thoughts on “Our first Great Lake… Lake Erie

  1. How was the new visitors center at the flight 93 memorial? It opened a month or 2 AFTER we visited- such a sad place!
    And that’s a bummer about the algae bloom- I took my nephew hiking to go swimming this year and the area was closed due to extremely high fecal content- yuck-

    1. I was in the same boat as you, I missed the new visitor’s center by just over a month, as we were there the beginning of August and it opened up September 11th. My co-worker went last month though and she said they did a really, really nice job with it. Just means I’ll have to stop again next year on our way out west!

      The only thing that saved Lake Erie eternal ridicule for the algae bloom is that we had the same problem when we camped on Lake Huron in Michigan the next night. The government needs to invest in those snails that keep your fishtank clean and put them to work in those lakes.

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