After a much-too-long absence, I finally made it back to Pelee Island, the southernmost part of Canada on Lake Erie.
This sunrise vaguely resembles a nuclear detonation, don’t ya think?
It wrapped up a fabulous 10-day vacation that started slowly and then went BAM! with the Foo Fighters concert Wednesday at Blossom Music Center and then on to the Lake, which had perfect weather, except on the ferry ride over to Pelee, when a lovely rainstorm hit. No biggie, though: It was over by the time we reached the island.
Trouble ahead, troubles behind …
It was a tad buggy the first two days. On Friday, for whatever reason, the biting flies were especially vicious. They would land on a leg or arm three at a time and start chewing away. They leave a nasty sting but usually no visible mark. I probably have more bruises from swatting the bastards than actual marks or welts from the bites. Eric, the Pelee veteran he is, has mastered the smush-three-flies-at-a-time technique and is quite proud of his skill.
He has many skills. Backing up a trailer is not among them. Trying to back a personal water craft (PWC) into water a sandy slope doesn’t help matters. Especially in the soft, dry sand above the waterline, the tractor’s smaller front wheels became glorified sand plows when Eric would cut the wheels to turn one way or the other. We all looked on in horror. And yet we survived.
Eric and his toys
Having been there for the better part of a decade, Yvonne and Eric — along with my niece Natalie and relatively recent addition Finnegan (Finn, or my preferred nickname “Finster,” inspired by a Bugs Bunny episode) (but I digress) — have developed a nice rapport with the neighbors, who are without exception exceptionally friendly and fun.
Finn in his natural environment
The previously mentioned PWC is a relatively recent addition. Once we (mainly meaning Eric) got the sucker in the water, we took turns taking it out for a spin.
Eric and Natalie in action on the water
This was only my second experience with any personal watercraft. Boats? No problem. Water skiing? No problem. Jet Ski? Problem. Especially if you’re trying it for the first time in ocean surf. But this Kawasaki is more like a Seadoo, a motorcycle on water. Toughest part was getting a feel for the throttle and steering, which is waaaay different from a 15- to 20-foot boat. But on the second trip out, I got it up to 52 mph, which can be a bit unnerving bouncing around that close to the surface.
Feeling daring, I allowed myself to be talked in an inner tube ride. And in spite my sister and niece’s best efforts, I survived. Yay! Curiously, I noted the brand name later, and it struck me as completely appropriate: Jolt.
Can’t make this stuff up!
As hard as it might be to believe, there is more to Pelee than water sports and lazing on the beach and swatting flies. There is wildlife. I just missed an opportunity to get pix of the legendary Lake Erie water snake wolf down a goby, one of the most despised invasive species in the lake in part because nobody knew if they had any natural enemies. Huh. Now we know. I remember shouting, “Good job, snake!” As I dashed (lumbered, really) over the sizzling sand to grab my camera. Too late.
Nobody bothers the snakes, which is a good idea because they’re a protected species. Also, they can get a bit bitey, though they are not venomous. Just ouchy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of them on the Ohio side, although that is part of their quite small natural habitat (western basin of Lake Erie, basically), they’re quite common on Pelee. I have proof on previous posts, if I can just find them! Ah, here’s a link from 2009, one of my earlier trips.
On to wildlife:
I spy a birdie in the ditch that circumnavigates the island. Not sure what its original purpose was, but I suspect the ditch serves to contain the farm runoff. There is a lot of farmland on Pelee, and that water is thick with algae.
I had spooked this heron shortly after the previous shot, went on to the lighthouse and violated several local ordinances because the area was closed off because of recent storm damage. Scofflaws! Well, we ran into a few others while out there.
Anyway, on the way back, I spotted our blue friend here chomping away on a snack — a sunfish, judging by its orange coloring and shape and size.
And now a few other images, because I’m running out of useful things to say, except thanks to Eric and Yvonne and that pesky Natalie for a great time and great hospitality.
The obligatory selfie with the legendary Stoneman of Pelee Island
The Horstman crew with neighbor John
Sunset (I know, hard to tell, right?)
Stoneman and his growing family.
Natalie with Stonebridge
Neighbor on maiden voyage on paddleboard. I was there, ready to shoot when she flopped. She did not flop, much to my disappointment
Custom-decorated star rail to the loft
Living/dining area with view of the lake
Another part of living area, also with a view of the lake.
A hummingbird visits the feeder
This is the quintessential island car, a 1990 (I believe) Cavalier. Low mileage, runs just fine, and nobody cares if you get a little sand in it.
An exterior shot of the the place …
Ha-ha! This is the actual cottage. Hard to hide from sunrise here.
A hazard of parking in Sandusky: Gulls poop all over the place, and this isn’t even that bad.
Fully functioning kitchen
Some of the gang hanging in the water
Father-daughter dance, Pelee style
One of the more recent projects, updated deck
To be continued … maybe