High Water In A Shallow Lake

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.  This spring, however, the constant rains have raised the level of the Lake by almost three feet.  In some places, like Sandusky, the water levels are the highest that have ever been recorded.

nqgkc7isfve23fnjclhlsjjowmThe high water levels are doing some real damage, too.  Some docks and parts of shorelines have become submerged, and increased erosion caused by the high waters is eating away the Lake Erie coastline.  From the North Coast communities of Mentor to Vermilion to Sandusky, officials are dealing with the impact of high water taking down trees, rendering docks inaccessible, and leaving low-lying areas underwater, and homeowners along the lake also are dealing with flooding issues.   The water levels in Sandusky are so high that the normal outfalls from Sandusky Bay to Lake Erie have been reversed, and water from the lake is now raising the water levels in the bay — causing officials to take drastic actions to try to pump the excess water out.  And the impact of the rain and high water has been compounded by a persistent wind from the north that is pushing the Lake Erie waters against the Ohio coast of the lake, increasing the damage.

The conditions pose special peril for boaters, in ways you might not expect.  The high waters will affect bridge clearances over lagoons and access rivers and is submerging some break walls that would otherwise be visible.  And, with increased erosion and trees collapsing into the lake, there is increased risk of debris messing with motors and propellers — all of which means that boaters had better watch it when they are close to shore.  And any experienced Lake Erie boater will tell you that the lake is legendary for its sudden storms that can appear in the blink of an eye, whip the water into a frenzy, and, in some instances, put boaters at risk of losing their boat — and their life.  The high waters won’t help in that category, either.

One lesson that you learn from reading about the impact of high water levels — there’s not much human beings can do about it, short term.  What the communities around Lake Erie need right now is a break in the constant rains and a period of sunshine and warm temperatures to allow evaporation to play its intended role and reduce lake levels back to normal.  In short, we need Mother Nature to show us a little mercy.

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In Linwood Park

On our one-day visit to Vermilion for the VHS Class of ’75 reunion, we spent the night in rooms in Linwood Park.  It’s the first time I’ve been to Linwood Park, or even heard of it, and I’ve been going to Vermilion for about 40 years.

Linwood Park describes itself as a “family park,” but it really reminds you of an old-fashioned American summer colony.  Located right on the shores of Lake Erie, it is a quiet enclave of white wooden cottages with lots of kids playing outside on the wide, shaded lawns, a nice beach, a small store, a candy store/grill/ice cream shop, and a tabernacle.  We stayed in rooms above the ice cream shop and treated ourselves to the beach before and after the reunion.

Visiting Linwood Park is like taking a throwback journey to an earlier, more relaxed, pre-cell phone and social media America, when riding bikes and playing on a playground and treating yourself to some penny candy was all a kid wanted on a fine summer’s day.  It’s hard to believe it’s still here — but it is, just like it’s been for more than 100 years.  It’s worth a visit.

Dawn At The Breakers

Hey!  It’s Labor Day weekend!  What else to do but get the family together, go to an amusement park, and stand in line with thousands of other sweaty, oft-tattooed people on the verge of sunstroke?

That’s right — we’re up on Ohio’s North Coast at Cedar Point, the best roller coaster park in the world.  And after giving the park a workout last night we stayed at The Breakers, the sprawling old hotel on the sandy shores of Lake Erie that dates back to the Boardwalk Empire era.  It’s an interesting place, and Cedar Point remains a destination visit for anyone who loves to don a safety belt, shoulder harness, and lap bar and get rolled, tilted, and thrown upside down, all while careening at speeds approaching the sound barrier.

It may be September according to the calendar, but it’s still summer in our hearts.

Erie Setting


We’re up on Lake Erie today for a family reunion of sorts.  We’re staying in a cottage complex on the lakeside.  Today is a bright but windy day, where the breeze has whipped the lake in frothing waves.

The Lake Erie shoreline is interesting and a bit more egalitarian than you would find by many large bodies of water.  It’s not the exclusive domain of wealthy people in McMansions.  There are lots of of small cottage complexes like this one, where the average folks can rent a small cottage — and some of the ones here, like those below, are pretty tiny — and enjoy the waterfront for a few days.

The Leaping Range Of The Wolf Spider

Hen Island in Lake Erie is a spidery place.  You regularly see little spiders scurrying about in the corners of the old buildings, and if you walk around the island you need to be prepared to scrape some stray cobwebs from your arms or your face.

Coming face to face with a huge, hairy-legged monstrosity on a screened-in porch is quite another matter, however.

IMG_6282This beauty showed up on the porch on Saturday morning.  It was not quite as big as a tarantula — but close . . . appallingly, disgustingly close.  It was down by a baseboard, near a table leg, looking bigger than it actually was because it was a female spider toting an egg sac.  As our group of six or seven sat on our rockers, reading and chatting on a pretty morning, one member of the group noticed the spider.  Then, the conversation went something like this:

“Hey, look at the size of that spider.  Holy shit!”

“That’s a wolf spider.  It’s harmless.”

“You may be right, but my conscious mind refuses to believe that anything that looks like that is harmless.”

“Well, they can bite.”

“Yeah, but the bite is not poisonous.”

“It will still leave a pretty good welt.”

“I’ve heard that wolf spiders can leap ten feet.”

Wait . . . ten feet?  At that point everybody on the porch did a mental calculation of their range from the spider, which now looked suspiciously like it was crouching and ready to spring, and whether they were beyond the ten-foot zone of death.  I’m guessing that many of the rockers had the same thought I did — a mental image of a shaggy horror suddenly flying through the air, landing on their face, close enough so you can get a good look at the inhuman eyes and the slavering mandibles, and delivering a sharp, painful bite.  And if that bulging egg sac happened to burst at just that moment, releasing a horde of ravenous, biting baby spiders with Olympic-caliber leaping abilities into an enclosed area . . . .

At that point, getting a cup of coffee from the kitchen in the next building seemed like a really good idea.

One of the staffers eventually came and put the spider, which had remained blessedly huddled near the table, in a jar.  We all took a good look, then released it outside, feeling good and environmentally sensitive about letting the spider back into its habitat but nevertheless unsettled by our brush with the wild world.