Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ride in a 1929 Ford

Ride in a 1929 Ford

As a little girl back in the 1950’s, I can remember my father Charlie and my Uncle Ned, flying from the Ohio mainland to a small island in the western basin of Lake Erie in a small rumbling 3 prop plane. The two men would load their service cycles and gear into the plane and spend days on end out on the island, fishing and riding their motorbikes. The small town they flew from was Port Clinton, just 40 miles east of Toledo and nestled among a multitude of canals, ponds and creeks that all fed into the lake which was lined with summer cottages. The island was Middle Bass Island, home to the famous Perry Monument, which commemorates Commodore Perry’s victory in the war of 1812. The city on the island was known as Put in Bay, home to the world’s longest wooden Tavern bar and the world famous singer - Pat Daley. The Ford Tri-Motor airplane was built in 1929 in Dearborn Michigan and was affectionately known by us all as “the Tin Goose”.

In last weekend’s Toledo Blade Newspaper was an article on another one of the Ford Tri-Motor Airplanes that had been restored. The Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation was offering flights out of Port Clinton at the Erie-Ottawa County Airport. H felt he/we HAD to go ride the “Tin Goose”! Tuesday, July 3rd was the chosen date and we gathered up B&C to share in this latest adventure. Bud was concerned about Carol tho, as she has a tendency to get motion sickness, but she bravely joined in. The weather was unsettled as we left home and was still hazy and overcast with a slight threat of a storm when we reached the airport parking lot and learned that all flights had been delayed till conditions improved. No problem - Jolly Roger Restaurant for fresh Lake Erie Perch dinners and a bit of exploring around the area filled up our vacant time! As we moseyed back to the airport – the Tri-Motor roared overhead! H hurried now in earnest- he wanted to fly! In the back of the hanger where the Tri-Motor was flying out of, was yet another skeleton of a plane. The proceeds from the all the local flights were to be used to restore that plane which will be parked in a designated hanger at the brand new Liberty Aviation Museum! As we waited for the plane to land and taxi to the hanger, we were given a brief history of the aircraft. We found out that there were only 199 planes made and the one we would be flying in was # 58. The plane that I flew in as a child was #38 and was sold for parts for the other 6 remaining Tri-Motors in existence! The narrow 9-passenger cabin area had one seat on either side of an even narrower aisle. The pilot area was open to the passengers who could see him work the 2 big foot petals that controlled the rudders and brakes and 3 knobby handles, which controlled the speed of the plane. On the ceiling was a pretty good-sized crank handle that was for the plane’s horizontal trim. It was interesting to learn that the original plane had NO brakes because they were landed on grass, as there was no cement landing strip back then. Due to passenger liability laws today – these restored planes must have brakes! Thank you VERY much! One by one the large engines that hung right outside the cabin windows, was coughed to life and began their roar as each prop spun faster and faster. As the knobby handles were slowly pushed forward, the plane also moved forward and rumbled out onto the runway. Holding our breath and hoping we didn’t run out of runway before the laboring plane lifted off, we all sighed with relief as she slowly reached for the sky - just in time! We never did “reach the sky” – we rose just high enough to view the scenes below as though we were looking down at a miniature train setup! You could see the tiny cars on Rt 2 and the miniature boats coming and going out of the never ending ribbons of water that lead from a million boat docks out to the calm waters of Lake Erie. The water tower looked like a dainty pearl balanced on a tiny matchstick! All four of us were snapping pictures as fast as we could press our camera buttons. H took time out to check the airplane’s speed on his hand held GPS - 65 mph at takeoff, up to 100 mph in flight and landing at 73 mph! Safely back at the hanger we continued to bombard the pilot and co-pilot with questions before sadly exiting the plane, ducking as we went because the doorway was a small oval opening just barely 4 feet tall.

Of course, the day was topped off with a stop for ice cream on our way home!

On July 5th, the Ford Tri-Motor was to fly to Kalamazoo, Michigan and then return to its home base in Oshkosh, Wisconsin the following week. If you want to learn more, go to: or

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Central Ohio

Central Ohio

It all started with Grandpa H taking our 2 grandsons tent camping and kayaking down in the Mohican area. The reports from each said they had a great time on the river and at the state park, swimming and cooking hotdogs along with Mac and cheese! Three of the four basic food groups, eh? Grandpa H came home with a 1-800 phone number to call for “FREE” camping at Wally World RV Resort! The hitch was that we had to take a 2-hour tour and listen to a sales pitch on buying into the resort. Since H has a firm grip on the word “NO” we decided to go down for our “Free” weekend. What could it hurt? Free camping, free lunch and free passes to camp at their other resorts!

Wally World Is an old campground/resort that has been taken over by Travel Resorts of America and is now selling memberships for admittance to all 6 of their resorts. For a much younger family, this deal may have been a good thing. However, it came with too many zeros to work for us! Our young tour guide was very friendly and the sales pitch was very soft sell. The park is still more rundown campground with crowded sites and less than adequate public facilities. The pool was great and we made good use of the putt-putt course. At the far end of the resort is the pick up point for one of the local canoe liveries and was a great source of entertainment since there was NO TV, NO radio and NO cell reception! Our awning-to-awning neighbors were a very nice younger couple with 3 well-behaved children and their children’s 3 well-behaved friends! The neighbor on our backside who came in on Friday, was a monster fifth wheel toy-hawler that just barely fit end to end on the pull thru lot. His slides were within 2 feet of our slide! Yes, our blinds stayed closed on that side of the condo. Their 3 big dogs let everyone know when anyone went past their territory!

Anyway, we arrived at the park on Thursday afternoon and proceeded to spend the rest of the day out exploring the beautiful rolling Amish farm country that surrounds Loudonville, Millersburg and Berlin Our evening was topped off with a refreshing swim and a round of putt putt. Friday morning, our little orange bubbles were slid into the water of the Mohican River at the River Run Canoe Livery and we headed down river to repeat the ride that Calvin and Levi took the week before! Like them, we also encountered really shallow areas with lots of rocks, hidden under churning water in the several rapids that broke up the boredom of the otherwise slow moving brown river. We knew to avoid the reversed white caps that meant a BIG rock was underneath and must be skirted around quickly! Friday afternoon was taken up with our “tour” and the day was topped off with us falling asleep while listening to one of H’s recorded books! Saturday was a crowded day on the river and we were glad to be sitting on the shore, watching all the drunks making fools of themselves, young folks dumping their canoes for the fun of it or dragging their tubes because it was faster than floating or novices getting really REALLY stuck on the biggest rock in the river! The canoe livery guys earned every bit of their pay that day! Those teenage boys were just as much fun to watch! So intent on goofing off between take out groups, they ignored the warnings that they had left the headlights turned on. When it was time to turn down the blaring radio and take the full load of canoes and rafts back to the livery, it was no surprise that the truck would not start! And when a young couple got stuck on that rock – all 10 teens huddled behind the truck and tried to smother their laughter. Not one of them offered to venture out and help the distraught couple!

Sunday was a beautiful day to take the winding (yes, sometimes gravel!) back roads down to Cumberland Ohio to visit “The Wilds”, one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world. Located on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed strip mine land, it is home to more than 28 rare and endangered species from around the world in an open-range habitat. The “Safari Transport Pass” is an air-conditioned bus ride throughout the park with frequent stops to view and take pictures of all the extremely interesting animals. It was also the least expensive tour – especially when our Toledo Zoo Membership took off half of the cost! We could have taken an open-air vehicle or even a Zipline Safari that included 10 ziplines built into a series of observation platforms. Each guided zipline took you farther down the broad grassy slopes over the free grazing animals below. The temperatures got into the low 90’s so we were very thankful for the cool air on our bus. Our guide did a wonderful job and the neat thing was that there were only 4 of us on this tour! We saw Eland, and Oryx and Sable Antelope! Persian Onagers (wild donkeys!) and huge shaggy brown Bactrian Camels! Very stubborn Przewalski Wild Horses and several weird kinds of deer and strange looking cattle from Asia! Along with seeing the White Rhinos, the One Horned Asian Rhinos paraded right by our dusty tour bus. I kept snapping pictures, as they got closer! Besides all the hooved creatures and various birds, the animal list also included the African Wild Dogs, the Cheetahs and a pair of Dholes, which is a beautiful red fox like creature with a full thick black tail. Our young guide dropped us off back at the visitor center and it was a quick shuttle ride back to our dusty hot Big Blue truck. We cranked up the air conditioner and took the scenic, very winding Rt 83 back north and then to the campground, which was by then way less crowded from all the weekenders! We were just in time for another bunch of laps in the pool, followed by TWO rounds of putt-putt! I let H beat me the second round. We headed home on Monday to rest from our long weekend of travel! Now it’s time to get the bigger boat out and into the water. It’s time to go catch some fish. Just wait - - there’ll be another adventure next month!