I have been meaning to write this post for weeks now … 6 weeks to be exact. Remember that time I agonized over a career change, and then decided to make it and cried and rolled around in the drama of it all for days? Well, after all of that was a wrap, Hank and I packed up the posse and spent a week with our popup, Emma, and my folks decompressing in Port Clinton, OH. And it was such a lovely little vacation.
We stayed in East Harbor State Park, which was clean and shaded and pleasant. The bathhouses were what you’d expect, with a laundry room in the front portion of the building. I know there was a laundry room only because, about 20 minutes after we got settled, the tornado sirens screamed through the black sky as we crowded into the 10×10 room to sweat profusely with 20 of our RV neighbor folk. I prayed the drill and the mayflies weren’t a sign of the week to come.
Let’s talk about the mayflies for a second because they were something worth discussing. There were thousands of these prehistoric-looking winged insects covering every surface of every stationary object. They disintegrated into mush when you brushed them aside, which always made me feel guilty considering their average lifespan is a brief 24 hours as it is. They exist, essentially, to feed fish, reproduce and die. So strange, isn’t it? We were told they were hanging around later than usual.
On our first full day in Port Clinton, we took in a roadside produce stand and the Cheese Haven, which had, you guessed it, a lot of dairy. There was a cheddar blueberry wedge there I think of often and regret not grabbing to this day. We had a short hike along an inlet of Lake Erie that led around the campground, went back, packed a picnic and ate on the beach. The distance from the campsite to the beach is perfect for a quick jog or bike ride, and there’s a roped off section for swimming that only goes about 3 feet and has a smooth sandy bottom. The girls thought that was pretty sweet. Even Sloppy Joan got in on the action.
The following day was my favorite. We took the ferry out to Put-in-Bay (Am I the only one who thought it was Puddin’ Bay?). To my surprise, the chicks acted like the boat ride was something we do on the daily; JoJo even fell asleep on her Papa at one point. It was a clear, breezy day on the island, so we rented a family-size golf cart and putzed around. I totally get how it’s a softer Vegas. I can see the appeal of bar hopping in your cart, getting loaded and going for ice cream. We had lunch on the water, soft serve down the street and basically made our way around in a sloth-like fashion that suited all parties involved. (Fascinating sidenote: Our waitress at lunch was a Put-in-Bay resident. For away games, her basketball team took a puddle jumper to the mainland and her graduating class had like 5 people. #themoreyouknow)
Our last stop was the Butterfly House at Perry’s Cave. Spikey loves butterflies, particularly those which land on her, so we knew this joint would be a crowdpleaser. Admission was a little salty but the look on the older ones’ faces when we walked in and saw all of the flashy, flapping wings was worth it. A gorgeous flutterbug first found a resting place on Hank’s arm. Then JoJo. But Spike, she waited … and waited … and waited. She would get so close to them with her little face; whispering sweet salutations and wishing out loud for them to come over, but nothing. Until right at the end, a very special little butterfly with very special little wings landed on her tummy and made that little girl’s day.
The last full day is when things got really. freaking. interesting. My parents took off around 11 am, and we planned to take in the beach, until it started raining. At first, it was an adventure. We placed the E-Z Up over the picnic table and put out the lunch spread. A game of Liar! (think Bullshit, with kids), and we figured we’d be good. Around 2:30 pm, I looked across the trailer and told Hank it was time to make a plan B. The tension and energy needed to shift. So, we improvised with a 40-minute trek to Fremont, OH, for an early evening screening of Inside Out; a cute movie that also prompted JoJo to hysterically cry over the fact that Sloppy Joan was going to grow up. (??) I, of course, cried, too. I mean, Bing Bong … you gotta be kidding me with that.
The next morning gave us girls just enough time to walk up to the camp store while daddy packed up Emma, and plenty of time to have the kindest/strangest thing happen. We were ambling about, analyzing Snapple options and agonizing over which one treat would make the trip home easier to take … a cheap cappuccino for Mom, a powder/sucker baby bottle thing for Spikey … And this gentleman – about my age I’d guess – was also browsing the Snapple case, looking slightly agitated. I smiled. Spike ran in front of him.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “The circus is in town.” He just shook his head.
“Man, I tell ya, my heart is just racing. This little boy just ran out in front of my car,” he shared.
“Oh my gosh,” I offered, as the proper reaction.
“I know. He ran right out in front of me, and the mom, of course, threw her hands up at me, like it was my fault. I’m shaking.”
“I’m so sorry. I know you must be shaken up.” I said.
“You know what … let me get all your stuff. Please, put everything up on the counter, my treat.”
First thought? Creeper. But then … no. He totally wasn’t. He paid for our sugary petty treats, told me to have a good day and buzzed out the door. How sad is it that pure kindness never comes without speculation? Maybe the truth was he just needed someone to tell him he wasn’t an asshole, and that it was all going to be alright and the little boy was OK. I mean, let’s be real, it was a camp store and the total bill was like $14, including his stuff, but still. A kind gesture I’m sure to pay forward.
Hank insisted we stop by the beach on our way out of town because the chicks just loved it so much. I will say this, it was breezy. Too cold for this mama and sweet Sloppy Joan, but it made for killer waves. I smiled from ear to ear watching those clowns body surf in Lake Erie. It was so cute … until I had to dress and put those sandy mugs in the car. Have you ever pulled tiny Tangled undies over a cold sand-covered bottom? It’s a joke. But we packed ’em in and made the journey home.
I would 100 percent go back, but next time, I’d take bikes for sure and a plan B for what rain may fall.