Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Day Observations

This is what I saw when I got up my first morning at the lake and looked out the kitchen window. The lapping of the waves could be clearly heard through the open windows. No bad smells wafted in with those sounds. I was kinda surprised but the odorless nature of the lake would persist day after day.

This is what I saw when I followed the 22 or so wooden steps down to the middle deck. The neighbor's abandoned dock can be seen at the right. I never saw that neighbor. For all I know it might have been years since anybody had used that dock. As was the case during much of my visit, it was easy to imagine that I was the last person on earth.

Canadian waters were allegedly out there somewhere over the horizon some 20 miles away. Canada itself was another 20 miles or so beyond that. I waved but nobody waved back. Maybe everyone was still asleep.

This is how the lower deck looked from the middle deck. It was another 13 or so steps down. The beach was another 22 or so steps down from that. This means it was at least 50 steps from the back yard to the lake. It turns out that 50 steps are a great incentive to remember to take everything you need the first time you set out. Alas, it wasn't always incentive enough.

This is how the right (east) end of the beach looked from the lower deck. Well, the first morning I was there, anyway. By the end of the week almost all those large rocks were buried in sand brought in by waves much larger than these.

A view of the lower and middle decks from the beach. I suppose they could have held 20 or more people. There was seating for at least 8. Many more could have been seated in the yard's 6 lake-facing chairs, at the picnic table, and at the patio table. I felt kinda piggish keeping it all to myself, but I got over that. Oh, I did share it all with my S.O. but it was easy to lose her unless I happened to be close by on the same level.

Who knew that my going to one of Ohio's premier vacation areas would end up being one of the most human-free experiences of my life?

Beach debris. I had half-expected to find tons of dead algae, lost fishing gear, medical waste, dead fish, maybe even a corpse or two. What I found instead were lots of sticks and rocks and shells. The variety of rocks surprised me. So did the numbing similarity of the shells. Only the sticks exactly matched my landlocked mind's preconceptions.

More debris - but you knew that. What you might not know is that the water itself was remarkably clear. The first morning I was on the beach I stooped down into a wave and collected a sample in a plastic container. I thought it would be muddy, or at least cloudy. Instead, it was as clear as tap water. Well, tap water with a bit of mulch thrown it, but I bet that if I had put it through a sieve and served it to you in a glass you would have thought it came from a faucet. Until you tasted it, anyway, then curled up and died. We didn't know it at the time, but there's a good chance that the water was teeming with E. coli. The state of Ohio helpfully unveiled a new website that shows the test results of various areas - the day after we got back home. Some of the readings they've posted are 10 times higher than what's considered safe. This might explained why we didn't see a single person swimming during our trip. We thought it was just because of the cool, wet weather we enjoyed most days. (It's been that kind of spring here - one of the wettest in Ohio history.) Turns out it may have been because of an invisible microorganism that can kill you.

This guy hung out a lot at our neighbor's to the left (west). This is how he appeared early on the first morning. I never saw him catch anything. I suppose he must have at some point....

Same location, different bird. Same stately patience. It was neat to see them gliding around on their huge, out-stretched wings. I never got a good photo of that. On the plus side, I never saw them poop, either.

Meanwhile, off to the east, a contemplative heron....

A Lake Erie water snake! At first I thought it was a stick - then I realized that sticks don't swim against the current. It was about 40 feet out from the beach, about as far out as the end of our two neighbors' piers or break walls or whatever the technical term might be. I thought it might be an omen of nasty things to come but it turned out to be the only snake we saw all week. I've since learned that it's been a very good year for the Lake Erie water snakes. An estimated 12,000 inhabit the western islands.

They say they're harmless. But while I was up there they found a kayaker dead near Cleveland. A water snake was found in his kayak. Maybe it induced a heart attack. I suspect finding one in my kayak would induce a heart attack in me.

The scene from a nearby public park. Even that park seemed unusually empty for this time of year. I wonder if it used to be busier in the days before the Wii and the iPad....

My second sunset at the lake - and probably my favorite.

Not a bad shot considering those cool waters had just gotten overly familiar with my feet, eh?


  1. Any lake you can't smell has a lot going for it in my estimation.

  2. WOW!!! WONDERFUL!!!! I'm SO envious of your getting to stay so close to all these great blue herons! And that sunset is thrilling! (And the part about the e. coli is shocking...) Whenever I've seen those birds in water, they've been wading, and bobbing their heads down occasionally to catch edible small critters in their long pincered beak.