OH to PA to NY
Jun 7, 2010
|To paraphrase Snoopy, “It was a dark and stormy day”
We had planned to go to Cleveland today, but we woke to a hard aggressive storm. Wind rocked the motorhome and rain pelted our windows. Yesterday a tornado hit Sugar Creek, and Sugar Creek is just down the road. It wrecked homes and barns and it killed a man. We decided to stay home and keep a nervous eye on the sky.
By late afternoon the sun was out but another tornado had hit near Toledo. This one killed seven people and leveled everything in it’s path. A police department lost every car they had, wrecked before they could get out of the yard. Where a high school stadium had been, a principal stood in the rubble and expressed gratitude that graduation had been cancelled. “Had the stadium been full . .” he said in a trembling voice, “ . . hundreds could have been killed!”
It looked as if someone was sending us a message.
The storms ended for the moment. A high pressure system moved into Ohio, clearing the sky and bringing down the temperature. It was clear all the way to Niagara Falls - and that’s where we headed.
We turned our wheels east and took route 303 toward Pennsylvania. The day was clear, the road was smooth and the wind was at our back. An hour later we were across the state line. We turned north and headed for Lake Erie.
If you’re used to California where access to coastal beaches is protected, trying to find a Great Lakes beach to walk can be frustrating. With the exception of a few public beaches and marinas, land surrounding the Great Lakes is mostly private property. You can drive for miles seeing the lake from a distance, and never get close enough to get sand in your shoes.
Like our experience three years ago in Saginaw, Michigan, Lake Erie is as elusive as Lake Huron. To even get a picture you may need a zoom lens, but it still beats driving the Turnpike. On this day the once ‘dead’ lake was bluer than the sky - except near shore where the blue turns turquoise. Wind raised white caps on the surface and sent waves against the shore. It was hard to keep our eyes on the road.
Erie, Pennsylvania is a city I’ve heard about all my life. I’ve never seen it, but I’ve always pictured it at it’s industrial worst - pumping smoke and soot into the air, and dumping sludge and filth into the lake at it’s doorstep. And maybe it did once, but today it’s a clean and attractive city. Driving through Erie we saw worker's housing and remnants of it's factories, but time has given them a rust belt patina that mutes the impact and softens the edges.
Erie, Pennsylvania looks better than Flint, Michigan did the last time we saw it, but the jobs are gone with the dirt. Like Pittsburgh, these cities are struggling to balance economic survival with ecological survival, but looking at the lake the future seems hopeful.
Half an hour past Erie we entered New York, and by late afternoon we were within a cannon shot of Buffalo. We found a nice state park on the shores of Lake Erie. From our windows we could hear the waves and watch the sun set over the water. The lake is narrow here and across the water we can see the Canadian shore. There’s something comforting about being this close to Canada again.