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Sandusky, Ohio: a quick, cold time out

On February 27, 2007

A short break from the wonders across the pond for a quick visit to a frozen gem on the banks of Lake Erie.

It was 80 degrees in Los Angeles the third week in February – 30 degrees in Cleveland, Ohio.  So what else would a thinking person do but fly into the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for a weekend of frigid fun? Actually, by the time my plane set down its wheels, the temp was about 12 degrees.  After a good dinner and a great bed at the Sheraton Hotel adjacent to the airport, we set out by car the next morning for Port Clinton, Ohio via the Ohio Turnpike.  Only a few miles down the tollway though we decided to hit the local roads in search of Internet access and a dart board.  We were able to hit the web sitting at a table in the food court of the Midway Mall in Elyria, Ohio; a city which incidentally has no Starbucks.  Kind of funny considering Elyria is the only place I have ever actively searched for a Starbucks.  No steel tip darts were to be found until we wandered into Sandusky right on the banks of Lake Erie.

Entrance to the ferry in Sandusky

Sandusky is home to Cedar Point Amusement Park, The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.  There isn’t much call for roller coasters when your tongue sticks to the flag pole so in mid February Cedar Point is closed as is most of Sandusky on a winter Saturday afternoon.  We had gotten out of the car for about ten seconds to take a pic of the frozen lake – damn, it’s cold when air is blowing in off a frozen body of water.  Beyond the pier to the east the deserted giant tinker toys of Cedar Point were barely visible against the frosty silver sky.  It was just by luck on the way out of town that we spotted

Daly’s Pub
104 Columbus Street

After ascertaining that it was both open and had a steel tip dart board, we took over the deserted game room for an hour of darts.  I feel compelled to announce that during this hour I claimed the title of undisputed World Champion of Darts; it’s hard to know quite how this happened, considering I lost two out of three games but let’s not quibble.  My darts skills were somewhat abetted by sixties music on the juke box, a couple of Great Lakes Brewing Company beers (always drink local brews if possible when travelling) and a basket full of peanuts in their shells.   (Quick update: unfortunately on our latest visit to Sandusky, I was unable to defend my title as World Chamion of Darts since Daly’s has closed off the room containing the dartboard.) A little after four we were back in the cold, cold car circling the town square on the way out of Dodge.  Fortunately for us, our path took us by the

Merry-Go-Round Museum
301 Jackson Street

The Museum lives in a building which once housed the Sandusky Post Office.  One has to wonder at the genius of putting a museum celebrating merry-go-rounds in the only curved front post office in the United States; could there be a more perfect marriage of form and function?  I wonder if someone was just driving down the street one night, saw the building, slapped his/her head and said, “By George, I think I’ve got it.”  We slid in the front door at 4:31, just 29 minutes shy of closing time.

Restored Allen Herschell Carousel,
the Museum’s pivotal piece

The Museum’s simple execution tells the story of the carousel in a way that is interesting for both young and old.  I particularly liked taking up crayons to do brass rubbings of the various merry-go-round figures; for the more technically inclined there are copies of the original patent documents.  Just walking around the museum was well worth the $5.00 admission; however, our experience would not have been complete without the friendly assistance of Carol.  I’m not quite sure what her exact title is or her last name but the Merry-Go-Round Museum should be happy she’s there on Saturday afternoon when two near frozen visitors come lagging in just before closing.  She didn’t flip the lights and tap her foot hoping we would get the message to leave; no, not Carol.  Not only did she call our attention to the calliope we would have missed, she turned it on for us and told us to go around to the back to watch its innards as it played.

Then, then, best of all, she invited us to ride on the carousel.  We would have left without knowing a ride was part of the package.  How long has it been since you rode on a prancing steed on a merry-go-round?  Twenty-five years ago I held my son on a merry-go-round pony at Dollywood but the attraction then was my baby not the carousel.  Trust me, if you get the chance to ride on a carousel when you’re fifty-two, don’t pass it up; it’s one of those experiences that lives up to your childhood memories.

And so, having played both darts and the ponies, we left Sandusky.

02.27.2007

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