Friday, July 28, 2017

Exploring Put-in-Bay with friends

Welcome to Put-in-Bay

Just a day after Nicolas left for Virginia, our friends, Darren & Tyler, who we had met at the Monaco/Holiday Rambler Maintenance Rally in May, arrived at Camp Sandusky.  They were on their way from Florida to Minnesota to visit family for the summer, so they stopped by for a couple days to visit with us.

They arrived in the late afternoon on Monday, and once they had their motorhome all set up across the road from us, they joined us for lasagna dinner, followed by a campfire.  It was a beautiful evening, and even Bryce was home to enjoy the fire with us.

Tom and I hadn’t been to Put-in-Bay yet, and we thought it would be a fun place to explore with the guys.  Put-in-Bay is a small town on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, and it’s pretty well-known as a party island, especially on the weekends.  During the week, it’s a little lower key, though, so we were looking forward to it.

They guys ran some errands in the morning while I worked and Tom put a few hours in at the campground, and then around noon we headed for Catawba Island where we would catch the Miller Ferry over to Put-in-Bay.  We considered taking the bikes, but decided that we would rent a golf cart instead.  For a weekday, it was still pretty crowded and all the free parking at the ferry dock was taken, so we paid $5 and paid in the next lot.  Once again, we arrived as the ferry was loading . . . and we had to wait for the next one . . . at least we were first in line!

Miller Ferry

Waiting for the Ferry Boat

The water was much calmer on this trip than it was during our trip to Kelley’s Island, and we were glad since we were on the upper level of the ferry!

Enjoying the ride

These two were so cute!

These little twins were on the boat with us – so cute!

Almost there!

Arriving at Put-in-Bay

So, somebody told Tom that the golf carts by the ferry dock were more expensive than the ones in town, and that we should take the shuttle from the ferry to downtown and get a cart there.

We didn’t question this information and just jumped on the shuttle ($2.50 each, each way) which takes you the 2-1/2 miles from the ferry dock to downtown.  So, for $10 to get to town and $10 to get back to the ferry dock at the end of the day, you have to save $20 on the golf cart to make the math work out . . . and of course the carts were the same price in both locations!  Oh well . . . live and learn!

So we got our cart and headed out!

Cruising in the golf cart

We left the crowds in town behind, and headed to the less populated areas of the island.  Our route took us past the Boardwalk and the Marinas,

The Boardwalk at Put-in-Bay

Marina at the Boardwalk

Overlooking the Bay

and lots of really beautiful homes.

Pretty houses



The first stop on our tour of the island was the Benson Ford Ship Home.

Benson Ford Ship House

OK, so somebody told me the story of this ship, but I cannot for the life of me remember who it was.  You can read the whole story here, but basically, the Benson Ford was a cargo ship owned by Ford Motor Company and used to transport coal from Toledo, OH to Duluth, MN, and then bring iron ore to the Rouge Assembly Plant in Dearborn, MI.  It was in service for 50 years, and then decommissioned and sold to another shipping company in Cleveland, and renamed the John Dykstra II so that Ford could retain the Benson Ford name for another ship.  It never sailed again, though, and eventually the owners decided to remove the front superstructure and have it transported to the island of Put-in-Bay where they would use it as a summer home.  They tried to get a permit to allow its use as a Bed & Breakfast, but were denied, so it went up for auction in 1999.  The new owners renamed it the Benson Ford, and it looked like they are in the process of making renovations.

Pretty cool story!

They certainly have a beautiful view from this spot,

Nice view of Lake Erie


and there’s a small park next to the home (where we got our view of the ship home) with a chain link fence covered with locks . . . I don’t know the story behind that!

Padlocks on the fence

From there, we passed by several vineyards,



and then arrived at the South Bass Island State Park.

There’s a nice campground,


and even a few rental yurts on the hill overlooking the lake.


We stopped at the beach, which was pretty rocky – hard to walk on --

Swimming area at the campground

Rental Kayaks

Darren & Tyler thought the water was cold . . . it wasn’t (Florida boys!!)

Back on the golf cart,

Ready to keep touring

we continued towards the west end of the island, stopping for a quick hike along the wildflower trail (where we didn’t see a single wildflower!),

Hiking the Wildflower Trail

and eventually reached the South Bass Lighthouse.


Nice view from here too!

Looking back at Marblehead

Pretty flowers on the back of the building.


We were ready for a drink and a snack by then, so our next stop was the Heineman Winery.

Heineman's Winery

No wine tasting here, but they have a nice garden area, so we bought a bottle of Pink Catawba and a cheese tray to share and a bag of Bugles – Darren had to have the Bugles!).

Snacks at Heineman'sWinery

I must say, the wine regions of southern Ontario and northern Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie, are probably my favorites.  The wines here are sweeter and fruitier, and I love them!

We got back on the cart, with Tom behind the wheel (whoa – can you go straight, Tom!?!), and made our way back towards town.  We passed a cute church on the way,

Catholic Church

and an interesting bar on the back of a firetruck.  That’s different!

Bar on a Firetruck

Put-in-Bay is also home to the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. 

International Peace Memorial

The Memorial commemorates Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie (War of 1812) and celebrates the enduring peace between the US, Great Britain and Canada.  It’s the largest Greek Doric column in the world.

Normally, you can ride an elevator to the top of the column (the view must be fantastic from up there!), but it’s currently closed for cleaning through next summer.

Perry's Victory Peace Memorial

From there, we continued on to the eastern end of the island and the Scheef East Point Nature Preserve.



There was a view of a couple surrounding islands, and it was a good location for photos.

Me & the guys


Tyler, Darren, Tom

on the way back, we took a short walk to Massie’s Cliffside Nature Preserve – also a beautiful location.


We finally saw some wildflowers on that walk . . . it should have been the wildflower trail!


After all this exploring, we were ready for some dinner!  We made our way back to The Boardwalk and enjoyed a delicious dinner overlooking the bay.  A great way to end our day at Put-in-Bay!

We still had to get back to the ferry, though.  We decided that Tom would drop the other 3 of us at the ferry dock and then take the cart back to the rental place and catch the shuttle back to the dock.  The cart was due back by 8pm, and we thought that would give us plenty of time to catch the 8:30 ferry . . . but it turns out there isn’t an 8:30 ferry.  The ferry runs every half hour, EXCEPT for 8:30 pm.  Well, OK, we just waited for the 9pm ferry (the last one of the day)!

Time to go home

It was a really fun day, and we were so glad to have Tyler and Darren there to explore the island with us!


  1. Exploring new places and sharing the experience with friends is always lots of Fun.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  2. Nice places. The views are amazing. You made some really cool photos.


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