“Peace is not something you wish for, It's something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.”
The air is not the only thing heating up in the summer, its also the hormones, the emotions & the attitudes. While the school new year may only be weeks away, in the minutes and hours of each weekend, it often feels like decades. Getting the heck of dodge can help, but many of the area pursuits get boring for teenagers and frankly, very expensive. So we hopped in the Pirate and hiked it to Erie, Pennsylvania to Presque State Park. (www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/presqueisle.aspx)
We packed a picnic, made a pit-stop for ice, a drive-by at Timmy Ho's for Ice Caps and coasted a mere 2 hours; and Carmen the Garmin had us in the right place.
Presque Isle is a natural national landmark that sits on Lake Erie and consists of a 3200 acre sandy peninsula, with 11 beaches, numerous bike trails, fishing ponds, bird sanctuaries and hiking areas. They even give you maps for the best scuba diving if you are so inclined. The swimming areas and beaches were the finest I have experienced anywhere, with fine white beaches and silky smooth shore bottoms that were a pleasure to walk on. The roadway around the park is 13 miles long, perfect for a slow cruise, a long bike ride or a brisk jog.
We started our journey by stopping at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at the beginning of of the park. We picked up our free park maps and received a tip to sign-up for a free, first-come-first-served hour long pontoon boat ride. We hopped back in the truck and started our journey in the park. Coming from the Land-of-the-hungry-tax-monsters-called-New-York, we fully expected a gate and an entrance fee, but there was none. It's free. Yes, you heard me right, its free and amazing. Go figure, there are states that can have recreation for their citizens and not charge them to breathe the air while they do it.
As we drove through the park, looking for the pontoon boat launch, we were amazed at the number of people walking, jogging, bike riding and swimming. We keep seeing these funny yellow scurries that families were biking in. Eventually we found the pontoon boat ride at the boat rental area. We managed to find an open spot for all of us on the 2 p.m. ride so we signed up. We debated renting our own canoe, kayak or paddle boat in addition, but decided to check out one of the beaches until it was time for our cruise.
The beaches were amazing. So many to choose from, many with concession stands in addition to bathrooms. A swim while it was a torrid 95 degrees felt wonderful and very peaceful. Out in the water were dozens of beautiful sailboats moving gracefully in the wind. Even Luke went in the water, despite a teenage sulk that he didn't want to right now. The lull of the water pulled him in and we enjoyed playing in the water and having races. Underwater handstands never seem to get old and sand in the toes feels like a gentle massage.
After our swim, we took the slow pontoon cruise through the backwaters. Our guide pointed out unique plants, birds and turtles basking in the sun. Even Margaret enjoyed it despite a general fear of all things seaworthy. Once we left the boat, we went on a mission to find the bike rental shop and rent one of the 4 person surreys. The twins took turns driving, dear hubby took turns acting as surrey commander & overexcited Dad, and I belted out a rendition of "Surrey with the fringe on top" from Oklahoma & was quickly told to not give up my day job. I guess I'll leave the singing to my talented niece.
We ended the day by grilling our Sahlems hot dogs and Wegmans yummy chicken Italian sausage on one of the many park grilles. Picnic tables are abundant throughout the park and shade or sun are really your only tough decisions. We watched a family volleyball game and chilled out while the charcoal heated. The twins read books and wound down, cooled off from the gentle breeze and occasional sprinkles. We packed up and headed back to Buffalo, with DH driving and the twins and I dozing contentedly.
The park is open year round and would be great for fall picnics and winter cross country skiing. There are many hotels nearby and even one of the countries oldest amusement parks, Waldameer. (http://www.waldameer.com/). This was a great day trip, but it also reminded me that it wouldn't be a bad weekend trip when we need to get away. All in all, it was a nice Sunday family day in peace. It was a keeper, a break from the turmoils of teenage-hood. Too bad we can't just box it up and bring it out when the twins are going at it like they are auditioning for Wrestlemania.
But I can always sing "Surrey with the Fringe On Top" to get them to stop killing each other--they team up so they can find a pillow to throw at me instead.