Saturday, August 18, 2018

Put-in-Bay is a Great Day or Weekend Excursion for the Family!

I want to say, 'What's in your wallet?' but I feel like that would be infringment. ;) Instead, I will say, What's in your hand? In my mom's hand here is a set of tickets that took us on the Jet Express from Sandusky, Ohio to Put-in-Bay with stops along the way at Cedar Point and Kelleys Island. I had been to Put-in-Bay on a school field trip years prior (many years prior), but my mom and youngest had never been, so I was excited to go back, and thrilled that my mom and youngest were on the trip too. There is more than one ferry service that takes you to the island, but I like Jet Express because it docks downtown, which is where we primarily wanted to be.

The island has a lot of history, and the first thing you see when you're pulling up on that big, beautiful boat is Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial. It's not crooked, I assure it was the photographer who was a little lopsided (that would be me). ;)

You can take an elevator up and you will then be standing on the tallest open-air observation deck in the National Park Service. The column is one of the tallest monuments in the U.S.A. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the San Jacinto Monument near Houston, Texas; and the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. are taller. It stands at an impressive 352-feet and the elevator ride will get you to 317 feet of those. A note to those traveling with elderly or small children, you do have to take just under 40 steps up, to get to the elevator. A park ranger is then on hand to answer any questions you might have, and the views are astounding, allowing you to take in not only Lake Erie and some of its islands as well as the mainland of Ohio, but also on a clear day to see nearby islands in Ontario (Canada) and parts of Michigan (U.S.).

The monument itself is also a memorial to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and to celebrate the long-lasting peace between Britain, Canada and the US. Six soldiers are buried beneath its stone floor, 3 British and 3 American. The names of soldiers who were hurt or killed are carved into the walls on the inside of the rotunda.  

The construction of the tower, and how the materials were shipped and moved on the island is really quite interesting, and it's detailed in the Visitor's Center. The granite was shipped via barges to the island. This was no small thing because we are talking about a tower that weighs 18,400 tons. A small railway laid specifically for the project moved the stone from the dock to the construction area.

Flags flown at equal height just outside of Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial.
The history of the war is fascinating and the benefits from it are still felt today, as it allowed Americans to take control of Lake Erie, and prevented the British from penetrating middle United States. In the end it was also pivotal in the peace treaty reached, and many years later we still have an alliance with Britain and Canada.

"We have met the enemy and they are ours..."

A statue of Perry is in the Visitor's Center as well. He was a mere 28-years-old when he won the battle, but already had 14 years of military experience under his belt, as he was appointed a midshipman at age 14 (some accounts say he was even a year younger). When I read or hear about this kind of history it is hard for me to wrap my mind around such numbers. Honestly, I can't imagine sending my sons out to battle at that young of an age. It was a different time, I know, but that doesn't make such information easier to digest in a personal sense.

On a humorous note, I sent my son out into the lawn to 'view' the lake and surrounding area (he thought it was one of those viewing devices where you put a coin in to see far away). When he got out to it and discovered it was an extra large light that lit up the monument at night, covered with bugs nonetheless, hahahahahhaha...he was none too happy with my little joke, but I was a teensy bit delighted... ;) :) 

After our visit to the monument we set about to explore the island via golf cart. You can walk, rent bikes, get a moped, or even drive (though I've heard it's expensive to bring your car over on the boats). We chose the golf carts because a). my mom is in her 70's and we'd had her walking all day, the day before at Cedar Point (an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio) b). my son really, really wanted to rent a golf cart, and c) it added an element of fun to the already pleasant trip that we couldn't resist. Everywhere we looked people were zipping around in golf carts of their own. :) 

My mom has always enjoyed salt water taffy, and I was guessing that if we ventured into the candy store we'd find some, and we did! In fact, when all was said and done, I asked her what her favorite part of the day was, and she said the visit to the candy store to get that taffy. In addition to that, they had tons of old-fashioned candy from my childhood that I'd forgotten about, 

and these!! Bug suckers, ewwww!! They had quite a variety too, and not just crickets...they were reasonably priced too. Did we get any? Nope, not even a moment's consideration. I don't like bugs alive or dead, and I'm certainly not eating any by choice.

There were all kinds of shops, restaurants and hotels in the downtown area to see. One thing we came across was a refurbished fire truck. I thought it looked cool and little man went in to take a picture. For some reason it never occurred to me that it was a miniature bar. Someone popped up out of nowhere and we quickly waved hello and scurried off, lolol. Joke's on me that time. ;)

Our next stop was to Crystal Cave. It had been my second favorite part of my field trip as a child (my first had been riding a tandem bike with my then-bff. It's the little things). :)

It's amazing what you can find inside of the geodes. They are all so very different from one another. The ones above were my faves. It's amazing to me that you can find that inside of a rock.

The tickets were for both the Crystal Cave and the Heineman Winery.

Crystal Cave is actually the world's largest geode (yes, you are walking inside of one huge rock). It is located underground of the winery.

The tour isn't very long, but it is a can't-miss if you are visiting Put-in-Bay. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if you haven't been to the island, and I didn't want my family to miss it.

One thing to note though, the stairs getting down and then back up are very steep. I hadn't taken that into consideration. I'm not used to my mom having restrictions from age. We live 1,200 miles away from each other, so I haven't been able to see the subtle signs of aging catching up with her (but I should have thought of it, because I have noticed some with me!). As I noted earlier, she is now in her 70's and it isn't as easy her for her to go-go-go as it used to be. You can see in the picture that her nose turned red, her face also got flushed I saw bags under her eyes that weren't there when we started down the stairs. We sat and relaxed for awhile when we got back upstairs, until she felt better. She didn't say a word, but I knew. When I asked her she confirmed that yes, those steps were really a challenge for her to climb DOWN. Going up for some reason was easier? Just noting it, so that if you are taking someone older or even a young child at some point in the future, you know.

We hopped into the next available wine tour, after we got some R&R. We all received complimentary grape juice (wine was available if preferred), toasted one another and headed inside.

The guide did a good job of explaining things old and new.

Clearly things have come a long way in terms of making, bottling and storing their products. Everything is electronic now including the capping, but we did get to see a conveyor line that reminded me of Laverne and Shirley (old TV show).

Directly across the street from Crystal Cave and Heineman's was Perry's Cave Family Fun Center. We skipped the cave tour, in case there were steps (I'm sure there were), and looked around instead at the other area attractions. I did hear people coming out of the caves saying how much they enjoyed their tour.

Fort A Maze'N greets you when you come in, and it's a place where the kids and kids at heart can try to find their way out of the structure. You record your time going in and coming out so you can see how long it took you to find your way. My sense of direction is 'nil. None. Nada. Zip. I knew this prior to entry, and kept on a' movin (towards the Butterfly House instead).

There was a Butterfly House and I wanted to go in. We'd seen one at Mackinac Island (Michigan) years prior but didn't visit, so I was definitely curious.

When we walked in my son was eager to have a butterfly land on him. They landed on every kid in there but him, despite him standing or sitting very, very still. One girl even came over (yes, she was walking) to show him a butterfly that was on her, hahahaha. Oh boy, I shouldn't laugh because his face eventually went from this...

to this... You can see just to the left of him was a butterfly. There was also one to the right of him, and one by his feet. None landed on him. Poor guy. This for the record, was not his favorite part of the trip, but my mom and I enjoyed the room. ;) 

One cool area for the kids was a place to sift or 'mine' for goodies. You could purchase a small bag of sand that was guaranteed to have 'gems' in it. 

You could also buy geodes here that were split, or you could pay to choose one that wasn't and have them cut it right in front of you.

There was an area that had old modes of transportation and things that went along with them. This stage coach was there, 

as was this old gas pump.

There were quite a few old cars to see, some models I hand't come across ever before.

There were old tractors (that looked sort of like today's tractors), and even an old snowmobile.

It looked NOTHING like today's snowmobiles.

There were lots of chances to practice parallel parking. ;) There was also a nice selections of restaurants here and on the boardwalk. We chose to have dinner here because it was closest to the park, which of course, we weren't missing. ;)

We stayed for a bit after eating, and waited for the next boat to come in.

Just a note, the Jet Express is right next to this park smack dab in the middle of downtown (woohoo!) and one thing you do need to do is make sure you get your tickets at the window prior to departure. This is super simple, but necessary (for boarding). You could have selected your departure times when you purchased your tickets to ride over, or you could wait until you left so you weren't stuck to a certain time. We did the latter.

Our trip to Put-in-Bay was a huge success. My son loved it, my mom loved it and so did I. The next time we visit in the summer months, we'll book a hotel and at least stay for the weekend because there were still many more things to explore! Rumor has it you have to do this VERY early in the year though. It is a popular destination, and the accommodations fill up quickly. Hurrah for summer road trips. I do have to say, this was one of our favorite stops.


Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That does look like a fun excursion!

1AlwaysNYC 1 said...

Wow! It seems like an amazing place to visit. There are so many things to do.

Sandee said...

What a fun day, but I would do a long weekend too. Too much to see and do for one day.

Your son is most handsome and spending time with your mom is a great thing.

Have a fabulous weekend. ♥

Pat Hatt said...

Blah to the bugs for a snack. Funny how he thought it was a looking thingy only to be met by a light with more bugs. Poor guy wasn't a butterfly hit haha steep steps can suck at any age, but I imagine even more annoying when older. I'm all for the golf cart too, although I'd have to avoid the temptation to play bumper golf carts lol

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosey - it does sound as though you all had a great time ... and it was good that you were able to spend happy times with your mother. That monument is pretty amazing ... loved seeing the outside curves ... the butterfly area - they are delightful to see close up aren't they ... sorry about the lack of landings! Looks fun ... and a good round of visits available ... cheers Hilary

DelhiFunDos com said...

Its always great to know a few more options to take kids to once in a while. Thanks for sharing and clicking such wonderful pics. We are almost transported there.

Adessa Young said...

This is definitely a good place to stay visit for a weekend with the kids. I was surprised that there is a crystal cave in here. The activities you did looks fun and exciting! Thanks for sharing!

Sipho Mazibuko said...

Wow, okay great read. Makes me wanna pack my bags and go on much needed vacay. Awesome and thank you for sharing!

Anne Yedlin said...

I love learning history actually going to places. reading it in books is nice enough but being there to experience it is so much better. I will definitely have to put this place on my list of places to visit.

Paulette said...

This is amazing, so full of rich history. I love exploring this would be great to visit.

alissa apel said...

It does look like fun. I love going through caves. Missouri is the Cave State, and we've been through some.

Angela Ricardo Bethea said...

This looks like a great place to bond with the family. I am definitely checking this out!

MadLibMom said...

Fun trip! It would be neat to visit the caves. Definitely wouldn't be trying one of those bug suckers though. Haha

Theresa Mahoney said...

Even though we live fairly close, I haven't been to Put In Bay. I definitely need to venture out that way and explore sometime!

Alaina Monster said...

Sounds like a great trip. I live visiting historical places like this.

Becca Wilson said...

This sounds like it would be such an amazing time with the whole family. I really love visiting new sites!

Lisa Rios said...

Oh my goodness, this is so much fun! Tours are so awesome because you see the city in a nutshell, and all the most popular/key historical sights. Thank you for sharing this with me!

Lina Andrea Szillat said...

Amazing and funny experience! Thanks for all the insights. I love to explore new places too

Marie Ndiaye said...

Looks like a fun and educational trip -- I always love little getaways like that!

Maartje van Sandwijk said...

Looks like you had a great day out! :)

Carmen Edwards said...

I love all the history here. I'd love to take the kids.

Shaily said...

Wow! What a super fun trip you guys had! There are so many things to do. I like the idea of buying a bag of sand that was guaranteed to have 'gems' in it. The old car models look fascinating - a great step back in time.

Rachael Eberhardt said...

Those are really nice place to visit. I am sure kids would love to be there and I am sure its a lot of fun.

aisasami said...

The only thing I know about Sandusky, Ohio is "Tommy Boy". But now I know there is an awesome place to get away for a weekend!

Nandyz Soulshine said...

Looks like it's an island jam packed with history and action. The crystal cave looks wonder you & your family had a wonderful time there.
- Nandita

Cecilia Harvard said...

Looks like so much fun and you captured some great photos too.

Tizzy-Licious said...

What a cool place to visit with the family. It reminds me of the days when I was a kid and my mom would take me to Old Williamsburg.

GardnerDesign said...

Looks like a great place to visit!