Weather, plans don’t bust the myth of a little trip
It was a Friday and I did what was supposed to be a quick trip to the Presque Isle Lighthouse. I was planning to drop off a new supply of books to give to the gift shop until the weekend of July 4th. I should have known that the idea of a fast trip was a daydream.
A misty rain was falling, but I noticed right away that it wasn’t holding anyone back at home, inside or outside the park. For a rainy day, Presque Isle State Park was as busy as ever. Morning joggers, walkers, bikers and runners were out in force. One of the beautiful things about Presque Isle is that people love it. Most don’t let bad weather or bad weather stop them from going out for a visit, whether it’s a drive, short walk, or long bike ride. Oh, also, I can’t forget that routine stop at Sara’s for a touch of orange and vanilla.
This trip made me stop and think about the many reasons people come to the park. Each of us takes this trip for our own reason or purpose.
My reasons usually include fishing, photographing landscapes and wildlife, writing, walking, exploring inland trails, relaxing on a beach, and volunteering at the lighthouse.
Also, I should include talking to visitors and answering their questions. Finally, walk around the park in the evening with my wife and stop at Sara’s for an orange sorbet. However, for my wife, it’s her touch of orange and vanilla. It makes a delicious conclusion to our day.
The multi-use trail is one of the features of Presque Isle that is enjoyed by a large number of people every day. They use it for walking, jogging, skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, running and even walking the dog. I have noticed lately that a lot of old people just sit on the benches and watch people. They just seem to like being in nature.
The park is a bird watcher’s paradise. At any time of the day, you can find people wearing binoculars and looking at the trees and bushes nearby. I discovered that you will see groups of bird watchers in the woods everyday throughout the park, on the beaches and while walking the trails.
As I walk down the Sidewalk trail, just across from Presque Isle Lighthouse, a red-tailed hawk descends from above into an old maple tree and follows the same trail. A worried squirrel that was hiding in a barberry bush shifts its weight and moves around a bit. If he hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have seen him. This confirms to me that the slightest movement can betray the small creatures of nature.
The diverse waters of Presque Isle and the surrounding area offer a number of activities for visitors to the park. For me these include fishing, photography and, for several years, boating the waterways in and around the park. My daughter, her husband and my grandsons love to kayak, canoe, fish and just go to the beach.
Presque Isle is a wonderland for environmentalists and naturalists. A friend used to roam Presque Isle every day. He did it not in parks most people would ever see, but in unusual nooks and crannies hidden away from easy access. He was fantastic because he knew every weed, flower and plant and could tell you their Latin names and common names. He and my wife often ended up on their walks in a few hidden and unusual parts of the park looking for plants he knew were there.
Of course, there are still the beaches of Presque Isle. Kite flying, sunbathing, volleyball, swimming, and picnics are also sure-fire hits throughout the year. Now that the new Beach 8 space is open, I can see that it has quickly become THE spot to enjoy the beaches of Presque Isle.
Many activities organized by the park’s environmental educators, concerts on the beach, Discover Presque Isle, and how about packing a picnic, finding a picnic table and enjoying the outdoors will also be there. At your disposal. When I was young my family loved Sunday morning picnics on Presque Isle. Nothing like eggs, bacon, grilled ham and toast cooked in an oversized skillet on an old Presque Isle cast iron grill.
Now, one would think that winter season activities on the park would slow down almost to a stop. This is not true: what about snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, winter walking, winter programs at the Rotary Lodge, ice boating or ice skating on the bay.
There is plenty to do in the park, but plenty of events, other parks, and festivals abound in Erie County as well. Don’t forget the Tom Ridge Environmental Center and its Presque Isle Gallery and Gifts, as well as the centre’s many exhibits. Yes, there is a lot to do in our community. A considerable number of events are either free or very reasonable.
See you at the park!
Gene Ware is the author of 10 books. He sits on the board of directors of Presque Isle Light Station and is past chairman of the boards of the Tom Ridge Center Foundation and the Presque Isle Partnership. Email him at [email protected].