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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Biplanes Are Cool

When we landed on our flight in from Pelee Island this morning, the Griffing Flying Service field in Sandusky, Ohio was covered with brightly colored planes.  Chapter 50 of the Experimental Aircraft Association was having its fly in, drive in pancake breakfast — which meant we had to take a closer look at some of the planes.

There were lots of cool planes there, including some vintage aircraft.  My favorites, however, are the biplanes, with their parallel wings and struts and open cockpits.  I’ve loved them since I was a kid and read a book about World War I aviators called Knights Of The Air.  No Red Barons were visible during our visit, however — or goggles-wearing beagles, either.

In A $59-A-Night Hotel Room

Russell’s plane to Akron-Canton Airport finally landed at about 10:45, and when he came out of the boarding area it was about 11.  We hit the road, drove to Sandusky, and got here about 12:30.

Of course, by then there weren’t many hotel options, so we chose the first one that we saw along Route 250 that had “rooms available” flashing in neon.  It was an Americas Best Value Inn, and we booked a room with double beds from the clerk — for $59 a night, plus tax.

There always seems to be some random strangeness when you go to one of these roadside places.  I had to fill out a detailed registration card that provided lots of personal information — let’s see, what is my license plate number again? — and there were unknown characters lurking in the lobby and in the parking lot and by the ice machine, even though it was well after midnight.  They were perfectly harmless, no doubt, but still a sight outside the normal comfort zone.  The parking lots always seem darker and creepier than normal, too.

But we made it to the room without incident and found a quiet, reasonably spacious room with a clean and functioning bathroom and comfortable beds that immediately bore the weight of two weary travelers who wanted nothing more than to crash into blissful oblivion.  We got a good night’s sleep for a modest price — which is one of the things that makes this a great country.

It’s not the Ritz, of course, but what do you expect for $59 a night?