COASTAL OHIO: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE GREAT LAKES

Last weekend Rob and I safely ventured out in public to the National Museum of the Great Lakes.  What a treat! This museum completely exceeded our expectations and we could have easily spent much more time exploring the history of the Great Lakes.   

The National Museum of the Great Lakes consists of an indoor museum with over 300 photographs and artifacts that tell the story of the Great Lakes, a self guided tour of the 617-foot iron ore freighter the Colonel James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship and the historic Museum Tug Ohio. In terms of safety during COVID, the museum requires face masks, social distancing, reservations, and the regular cleaning of surfaces. They also closed all hands-on and interactive exhibits. We were one of four parties the entire two hours we were there (two sets of couples, us, and a family of four). I felt very safe the entire time.

The museum itself tells tales spanning hundreds of years, beginning with the fur traders of the 1600s and ending with the sailors who sail the waterways today. I have never truly thought about the thousands of years of history of the Great Lakes and I was blown away by how dramatically the Great Lakes have impacted the North American continent. I loved learning more about Lake Erie, but I especially loved learning about the other Great Lakes. I realized I knew virtually nothing about Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. I also found it fascinating that because the Great Lakes are so large, they create their own weather!! So crazy!

We spent the majority of our time exploring the freighter and tug boat. The freighter was absolutely fascinating and it was my first time on a vessel this large. Walking up the gangway was incredibly terrifying for me (I am not a fan of heights), but once I was aboard the ship, I very much enjoyed the coastal views of downtown Toledo.

The first stop on the boat was the cargo hold – wow! What an enormous space! This was one of three cargo holds and this room alone can hold up to 5000 tons of bulk cargo (sand, stone, coal, iron ore, etc.). After the cargo hold we moved on to the First Engineers Cabin. I love seeing how sailors live and was fascinated by the living quarters.

Up next we ventured into the Crew Mess and Kitchen, which was quite spacious in my opinion! Off the kitchen was the Fantail, which just below this area is where the anchor chain locker is that holds a 4100 pound anchor – amazing!! After the Fantail we saw the Engine Room which is quite extraordinary – I for one could never work in this part of the ship though!

Having completed this side of the ship, we headed back down the deck and entered into the Passenger Hall, which compared to the rest of the boat was quite luxurious! With oak paneling and a grand staircase, one might they think they were on the Titanic (not really, but it was fancy!). Pretty much this entire side of the vessel is the Captain’s area – containing the Captain’s Lounge, Captain’s Offices, and Captain’s Cabin.

After we explored the Schoonmaker, we made our way to the Tug Ohio boat, which compared to the ship was quite tiny. It only took us about five minutes to explore the entire tug boat, but it was still fun to see how one operates and compare the difference in size between the two boats.

As with anything lately, I was nervous to explore this museum during COVID, but I’m very glad we did as it was truly fascinating. Plus, we enjoyed some panoramic views of downtown Toledo and the Maumee River, which even on a hazy gray day, was very beautiful.

If you are local to Northwest Ohio or are coming through the area, be sure to add this museum to your list of sites to see. It truly won’t disappoint.

Slainte,

Shannon

COASTAL OHIO: EAST HARBOR STATE PARK

It’s literally been months since Rob and I have done anything just the two of us.  We were supposed to be going away overnight this weekend, but we just aren’t comfortable staying somewhere else or straying too far from home.  We decided to take advantage of the fact that we have babysitters available and are enjoying a day trip to the lake.  

Last summer we stumbled upon East Harbor State Park and loved it.  Earlier this week when we were brainstorming places to go on the lake, we knew we wanted to go somewhere where there wouldn’t be a lot of people and where we could social distance.  East Harbor State Park seemed the perfect option.

Nestled along the Lake Erie shore, East Harbor State Park is a hidden jewel.  Visitors can enjoy everything from boating, fishing and swimming, to picnicking, camping, and hiking.  Last year we enjoyed the public beach, and my guess is this trip will also result in some beach time.  We are interested in exploring the marina and perhaps the hiking trails.  We plan on spending about an hour or two here so it may just turn into reading our books and relaxing on the beach.  

Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram as I’ll be posting to my stories!

Slainte,

Shannon

COASTAL OHIO: LOCAL’S GUIDE TO THE BEACH AT MAUMEE BAY

We’ve had several people reach out to us with questions about the beach at Maumee Bay State Park so I thought I would put together a quick little guide for anyone thinking about visiting! It’s no secret that our family loves this beach. It’s only a 25 minute drive from our house and the beach offers some gorgeous views of Lake Erie. And since it’s a state park, the beach and the marshy trails surrounding it are open to the public during Ohio’s Stay at Home Order (just make sure you social distance yourself from others and bring your masks!).

Even though the beach is currently open, there are some limitations due to the current public health emergency. For starters, there are no public restrooms available. Under the Ohio Governor’s Stay at Home Order, all public restrooms are currently closed. Second, it is mandated you practice social distancing, so make sure to remain six feet away from others (park rangers do drive around regularly). Third, and this is true all the time, there are no lifeguards on duty on the main beach so you swim in the lake at your own risk!

Even though it’s probably obvious, I do need to point out that Ohio beaches are much, much smaller than beaches on the East Coast, in Florida, or California beaches. Because they are so small, what they lack in amenities such as access to refreshments, they make up for in less crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere .

So, without further ado, here are a few tips:

  1. Bring your own beach towel, blankets, or chairs (I love to bring our Turkish beach towels from Anchors Aweigh Supply Co.).  During the summer months I recommend a beach umbrella, too. 
  2. Pack a picnic basket or cooler with snack and refreshments.
  3. Bring extra clothing – it’s always at least ten degrees cooler along the shore than it is inland. 
  4. Get there early, especially in the warmer months.  Because Ohio beaches are smaller, they do fill up quicker.  We always get there around 10 a.m., which is at least an hour or more before the crowds.  This past weekend we had the entire beach to ourselves and it was amazing!
  5. Bring toys if you have kiddos – shovels, pails, buckets, bath toys, etc. 
  6. If you are an adult, bring a book, some music, or a magazine. 
  7. The beach is more gravely than sandy, so just keep that in mind.
  8. This beach doesn’t boast a ton of shells, so if you are looking to search for seashells by the seashore you will be quite disappointed.
  9. I’m not an expert on high tide and low tide, but currently it appears as though spring low tide is between 10am-1pm.  I include this because you have much more beach to walk around on. 

Another local tip, if the main beach is too crowded, the park also boasts a 57-acre in-land beach and lake! It’s about half a mile from the main beach and offers a much quieter atmosphere. Plus, you can swim, fish, paddleboat, and rent canoes on this lake!

Hopefully if you are planning a safe trip to the bay, these tips will help and prepare you for a lovely day at one of Ohio’s many Lake Erie beaches. 

Slainte,

Shannon