This post is just a note about recent technology issues that keep costing me time on the island.
I don't know what happened to the other posts from this year and last year. I just found one that was originally from this past April that was missing, and I reposted it. Perhaps the others got archived or lost some other way when I moved the hosting last spring.
Sonny Schneider's memorial service last Saturday was one of the largest events on the island in years. About 300-400 people turned out, and only about 200 of them managed to fit into the Town Hall. Karl Steuk held a wonderful, caring service and about a dozen people talked about Sonny. There was even a slide show of his life. At the end, Pat Chrysler gave Carrie Schneider a folded U.S. flag on behalf of the U.S. Merchant Marine and Sonny's 55 years of service as a ship's captain/master.
My mother, Erika Gora, died on July 31 of this year at the age of 87 in Providence, RI, where I grew up. My wife and I spent about seven weeks in Providence this summer, and I was with my mother when she died. We did manage a few side trips in New England, and went on a day trip to Martha's Vineyard earlier in July. What a crowded place. With a winter population of 20,000 and a summer population of over 100,000, the traffic was awful. And 80% of the island tour is just a drive through the woods with the bus driver saying things like "This driveway leads to the Kennedy compound", "This driveway leads to Walter Cronkite's estate", etc. But all you see is woods.
Middle Bass has been very quiet this year, except for the noise from the backup horns from all the construction trucks at the state park marina site. The number of boats visiting Schoolhouse Bay on a nice weekend was down considerably, and my impression of Put-in-Bay traffic is that pleasure boat traffic was also way down. I hope that ferry traffic wasn't down as much or was perhaps even up.
We haven't been to Pelee Island in a couple of years now but some Middle Bass friends visited recently and told us that traffic is way down and many of the businesses are closed because of the effect of the new requirement that U.S. citizens have a passport with them (or an I-68 card, which is even more awkward to maintain for most of us). I may try to get one of the new wallet-sized passports soon.
I've been posting a lot of marina construction photos and recently added my name to the lower right of all the most recent ones. That's because ODNR and I are sharing the pictures and for the ones they might reuse, it's easier to remember where they came from if my name is on them.
A couple of website visitors have asked what kind of camera I use. Most shots are taken with a Canon EOS 5D and either a 100-400mm IS L or 24-105mm IS L lens. I usually use either a haze filter or polarizing filter, and on the rare occasions when I'm not using one of them, I'm experimenting with one of several graduated filters. Shooting at 400mm, I always use both a tripod and a cable release. And when I'm not lugging the big camera, I use an older Canon Powershot Pro, which is still a great digital camera. I shoot only in RAW, and all photos go through a 4-5 step enhancement and conversion process in Photoshop before they reach the web. Web images are always at 72dpi which allows them to load faster, but keeps them from printing well.
I can't believe it has been two years since I last posted an entry into the blog. We were on Middle Bass much less than usual in 2006 and 2007 because of new grandchildren and a few other issues, but that will all change this year now that my wife and I will both be officially retired as of May 31, which is her last day at work. It's also the day of the signing of my new book at the LEIHS opening party at Put-in-Bay.
We expect to spend half of May, half of June and just about all of July, August and September on Middle Bass. That means I will be able to take more pictures than I have in the past 2 years, and post them on the website. I'm really looking forward to spending more time on Middle Bass.
The site is going thrugh some difficult transitions again. I had to remove the discussion board because of the difficulty in managing junk entries, even if those were never seen by you. Upgrading the bulletin board to one more immune from junk would also have been a lot of work. So for now, there is no bulletin board.
But my biggest problem with the site is that the size is causing technical problems again. A few years ago, I had to split middlebass.org into middlebass.org and middlebass2.org. Well, I may now have to add middlebass3.org to split middlebass2 into two parts. Right now, it is extremely difficult to make changes to middlebass2.org. The solutions are all fairly time-consuming, but I need to find them for them quickly. Just this week, for the first time, I posted some new pictures (the North Bass Island spring pictures with the link on the News page) without adding the new page to the site map or the "Pictures" directory. It's the first time I haven't been able to do that. It's frustrating.
One more note. I can now offer real email addresses at middlebass.net, pib.us, eputinbay.com or northbass.com for free in limited quantities, to anyone who wants them. These are real Google Gmail accounts accessible from anywhere andno, I don't have any access to the email acounts except for the ability to reset the password. If you're interesting in being email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or want some other name, I can probably set it up for you. This offer is available only to South, Middle and North Bass residents and friends, and to Middle Bass Island Yacht Clun members. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the requested name plus your contact info and the reason you qualify.
I just discovered www.sail.tv, a new TV channel on the Internet that is dedicated to sailing. It was mentioned in an article in the NY Times this morning, "As Internet TV Aims at Niche Audiences, the Slivercast Is Born ".
I posted a new Lake Erie Islands - Live News Feed page yesterday, and added an Ottawa County - Live News Feed page today. The stimulus to do this was a combination of three events over the past ten days.
First, I went to the Technology Association of Georgia annual meeting in Atlanta on Feb. 7 mostly just because I wanted to hear the keynote speaker, Ray Kurzweil, one of the top technology futurists of the past 40 years. It it was worth it just for his presentation. But one of the companies with an exhibit there (I don't remember the name) had built a business charging $1,000 per month for live news feeds and another $1,000 per month for each 1,000 distinct users. Well, I knew in principle it could be done for free and wasn't hard. The first news page took about ten hours of nasty work. There were problem with the PHP support on the old middlebass.org platform that took about half that time, and I ended up moving my RSS feed server to my bulletin board server. Additional news pages now take about an hour each.
Second, my wife came down with the flu last Friday (it was diagnosed on Monday) so I was spending more quiet time at home than usual for a few days. And on Tuesday I came down with a milder version of the flu. So I've really been enjoying the warm wireless laptop on my lap. Another factor at home was that we were snowed in on our mountaintop for 3 days, even though all the roads in the valley had no snow at all! The road is steep enough that snow tires aren't good enough. I actually left one vehicle at the bottom of the mountain for emergencies, but never needed it. The hike would be just under 2/3 of a mile, about 500 vertical feet, with two very steep pieces. I drove down at 10PM last Friday night with my dog, after my wife got sick and just before the snow was due, and walked back up in the dark.
Third, on the fairly new site I run for our North Carolina home area, the Hiwassee River Basin Directory, which is sort of intermixed with the Hayesville, NC site, I didn't have any news yet at all, and it isn't a candidate for any local page like the news page on the Middle Bass site. So a live news feed for the different small towns was the best approach. I did that news page first.
I've received two emails so far this year asking asking why St. Hazard's doesn't advertise on the Middle Bass site. Well, you'll have to ask them. I have no idea. They advertised a couple of years ago, and probably pulled the ad because they were unhappy about comments on the discussion board, which at that time was using old technology that made it very hard to manage and edit. So I put up a much better discussion board a year ago and talked to them again. That's all I know.
I think there are going to be a few new ads on the Middle Bass site soon. I have also gotten a couple of inquiries about possibly paying extra for preferred placement. If I had just one or two slots for preferred placement I might anger all the other advertisers. So I'm thinking of putting one or two "rotating" ads in the header that appear on all pages. I should be able to handle half a dozen ads that way, and don't think I will have more demand than that.
I almost forgot to mention that about two weeks ago, I had to turn off the ability for readers to post comments in the blog. Spambots have also found that route for placing ads.
My wife and I have just completed our quietest week in 20 years. Maybe the flu wasn't all bad!
December 3, 2005 was the 5th anniversary of the Middle Bass web site. I'm amazed at how it has grown, and am always curious to see where the next bit of news or other information will come from.
This year I made a number of structural changes to the web site to solve problems that were arising. Most of the web site was moved to a new location at www.middlebass2.org, because of technical problems with the size of the www.middlebass.org platform. The original platform was, and still is, on a Unix server. The "2" platform is on a Windows server. The problem was bugs in the Microsoft Frontpage extensions that have to be installed on a Unix server. Those extensions don't come from Microsoft, and the customer support is non-existent. The extensions have some major bugs if a website is larger than a couple of hundred pages.
The old discussion board was also buggy and difficult to delete inappropriate entries from, so I replaced it with a new one. The new board is very manageable and much better structured than the old one.
And the guestbook was being hit daily by spambots, leaving entries with links to porn sites and lots of other junk. So I installed a new guestbook from a very small vendor in the hope that the spambots woudln't find it. Well, it didn't work. I'm not getting hit by the many large entries that the Microsoft Frontpage guestbook got every day, but I'm still getting 3-5 junk guestbook entries a week that I am currently deleting before most visitors see them. I'm undecided about whether to try to find a permanent solution, or simply delete the guestbook. One simple solution would be to use an email form to have people send me the entries, and then I could put them in myself.
The Middle Bass calendar works fine, but is a problem because it only runs on Unix. So it's one deterrent to putting the entire web site back on a single platform on a new www.middlebass.org running on a Windows server platform.
I just added a new East Point historical poster to the web store yesterday. It's at http://www.cafepress.com/middlebass.42176758. Like the other posters I added this year, this originated in a request that came in via email. The original idea was just to produce a print of the 1886 East Point survey map that someone wanted for his wall. But because of the non-standard size of the 20 inch wide survey map, there was a lot of extra space. And rather than trim the poster, we decided to add information and pictures to it. In the next day or two I will add a more detailed preview of the poster to the main web site.
The crowd on Middle Bass over Labor Day this past weekend was about the same as usual, according to several people I talked with, but there were fewer boats in the state park marina. I didn’t look there until noon Monday, and that that time, there were only about ten boats there in spite of the perfect weather. Friends at Put-in-Bay told me that the crowd there was lighter than usual. And friends on the mainland told me that many more boaters than usual were just spending the weekend sitting in their boats in the marina, without ever going out on the water.
What I noticed most personally was the traffic on the way up last Friday. We haven’t missed that trip in about twenty years, and traffic this year was by far the lightest I have ever seen on a summer holiday weekend. Gas prices and rumors of gas shortages kept a lot of people at home. Truck traffic was fairly normal, but the cars were clearly staying home.
Yesterday I went over to Put-in-Bay to meet a couple of friends from Huron and Norwalk who were interested in selling an old picture of the monument either to the Perry’s Monument group or to the Historical Society. The weather was still perfect, and the A, B and C docks had a total of only 15-20 boats in them. When I pulled out of Roesch’s marina to head over to Put-in-Bay, it was also clear that there were fewer boats at Roesch’s than usual for the week after Labor Day.
The picture of Perry’s Monument that is for sale was found by my friends at an antique shop in Kentucky. It is about 4x5 feet in size, framed, and is a detailed drawing from about 1910-1911 of the winning design for the monument, probably created a couple of years before it was built as part of the competition between different designs. While the park folks at the monument would love to have it, they don’t have a budget for acquisitions like that, and would also have to go through a complicated process to attempt to prove that the picture is authentic.
We offered a bedroom in our home, in the mountains of North Carolina, to Katrina victims last week at www.hurricanehousing.org, but have not had any takers. If you are interested, you can view housing offers at this site within 15 miles of Middle Bass by going to http://www.hurricanehousing.org/results.html?zip=43446&distance=15. I have a feeling that impoverished city folks aren’t eager to live in a very rural area for at least half a dozen different reasons, but I’m pleasantly surprised at the number of people making offers like this from all over the country.
I did receive a couple of emails from the Kuemmel family from just outside New Orleans last week, descendants of the Kuemmels of Middle Bass who ran the fisheries here. They are basically all right. I don’t expect to post those emails but if any of you would like a copy, just send me an email. Because their house survived, they will be having a very large number of house guests for the next few months.
My research into early island history is continuing, and is taking me into some unexpected areas. This month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette contains the article I posted on the web site about a month ago documenting the discovery that Put-in-Bay harbor used to be on Middle Bass. When Sugar Island was still connected to Middle Bass in the late 18th century, the Burgundy Bay area was a large, natural deep water harbor called Put-in-Bay, and Put-in-Bay harbor was called Hope’s Cove. The Lake Erie Islands Historical Society has also recently obtained some interesting and comprehensive new material about the islands between 1820-1850, so there may be an important opportunity to produce a new book about very early island history. My “Lake Erie Islands: Sketches and Stories” book originally started from the idea of just producing an annotated version of Lydia Ryall’s wonderful 1913 book, which unfortunately was full of small errors, but the project grew from there. Now it looks as if earlier island history is also wrong and/or inaccessible to most people, so this should be cleared up at some point in the future.
The big surprise for me last week at Middle Bass was a short meeting between myself, a few islanders, and Dan West, Chief of State Parks, ODNR. A few of us cornered him to discuss ODNR's plans to shut down the state park marina for 1-2 years, and to discuss plans for seasonal slips for islanders at the new marina. ODNR has not yet committed to those seasonal slips even though they have committed to space for the MBI Yacht Club, so I will be writing an editorial about this in a fews days. Check for it on the site. A number of us believe that ODNR is threatening the lifestyle on the island in very negative ways.
It has been a busy year. We have moved our base from Atlanta, GA to Hayesville, NC. Between fixing up the old and the new homes, and spending time with a new grandchild, we have been busier than ever. And my wife can't work from home as much this year as in the past few. So we've been up at Middle Bass a little less.
It has been a good year for accumulating island history. I always wonder where the next "big batch" is going to come from, and this year it was the East Point document collection from the Webster/Lutes families. A few of those have been put on the web.
The biggest recent discovery is a couple of documents from the 1780s and 1790s with some interesting new information about Put-in-Bay that even the historical society was not aware of. Put-in-Bay harbor was called Hope's Cove during that period. I found one map with that label for the harbor, as well as several different text references. And Gibraltar Island was called St. George's Island at that time. This was an even bigger surprise. I'll put out more information about these references at a later time. I have not finished my research about Hope's Cove references at this time. But I think I know where I can find more information.
After three days of beautiful weather, today is stormy. There’s a full cloud cover and 20 knot winds from the north, blowing the last of the leaves off many trees. There’s a small, twin-hulled single-outboard-engine boat near East Point with two people on board. I could barely read the “State Watercraft Officer” markings with my scope. It’s making its way to PIB at a very leisurely pace. Otherwise, there is nothing on the water.
There’s a lot of construction going on at Middle Bass, and there are a lot of construction workers. Some of the workers at the main dock are obviously staying at the new St. Hazards condos, and work is proceeding at a brisk pace at Johnston’s Cottages. And there's a new house going up rapidly at the southeast corner of the Burgundy Bay golf course. At St. Hazards, I was surprised some extensive decks being built at the beach. If you’re facing the beach, they go out along the land to the left for a few hundred feet, and are right between Dean’s place and the beach. The muddy construction area north of the condos has been graded and seeded and is looking as if it will be a nice lawn.
On the way up to MB, I stopped to visit Jim Bretz at the St. Francis Health Center in Green Springs. I’m delighted to be able to say that he seems to be doing very well. That doesn’t mean he will be returning to MB this winter; I don’t want to speculate about that. He would probably enjoy more visitors so if you know him and have time, it’s a good place to visit. It’s also near Tiffin, which I had not been through before, and I was very pleasantly surprised at what a pretty town that is.
On a personal note, our primary residence will be shifting from Atlanta, GA to Hayesville, NC before Christmas. We’ve been busy this year building a house there, and that has cut down our time on Middle Bass a little bit. By the end of the year, we will have spent about 80 days on MB this year, compared to 93 last year. The good news is that the Middle Bass time will definitely be going up again next year. Hayesville is a quaint little town about 2 hours north of Atlanta, and I have started a web site for the area at www.hiwassee.us. Hayesville is in the Hiwassee River Basin, and the picture on the home page is a view from our lot about 400 vertical feet above Lake Chatuge. The picture shows only one small finger of a very large lake, and the border between Georgia and North Carolina runs right through this finger.
We had owned a lot in the North Georgia mountains for many years but sold it about 4 years ago when we decided we would never build on it. It was a low wooded lot with a nice stream, but no view. We bought the new lot because it has as good a view as you could find anywhere in the area, and waterfront prices on any of the lakes there are prohibitive. Besides, who needs a waterfront place on a TVA lake when they have one on Lake Erie. We have to go into Georgia to buy beer and wine because Clay County, NC is still dry, but the border is less than a mile away.
Why aren't there any accurate Middle Bass Island maps? Over the past three days, I have done 3 or 4 rounds of email exchanges with the Cleveland Plain Dealer graphics artist preapring a full-page map of the islands for the July 25 edition. On the topographic maps of Middle Bass and a few others, the labels of Lonz Road and Runkel Road are interchanged, and Runkel is spelled incorrectly as Runkle. Even on MapQuest, Runkel is spelled wrong and Burgundy is incorrectly spelled as Borgondy. Muller Road doesn't have a name on most maps and when it does, it is usually Miller Road. I can't quite imagine any other small community with such bad maps.
For a few days now, I have been using MSN Explorer instead of Internet Explorer for surfing, just as an experiment. You have to pay $5 a month or $49.95 a year to use it, but it also offers web-based calendaring, contacts and more, and your Internet Favorites are the same no matter what computer you are on, because they live on the web. The unexpected pleasant surprise was that MSNE loads significantly faster than the older IE, and my surfing is faster. That alone could be a reason to use it.
I just ordered a few draft copies of my wife's first island book, My Sweetest Libbie. We won't be publishing this one until next year but I needed to print a few review copies for a few contributors to look at to help my wife edit the footnotes. About 8 months ago, I acquired a series of about 50 love letters written between Libbie Magle and Alex Bruce in 1886-87. Both were from Put-in-Bay, but Alex had just graduated from college and couldn't find a job at PIB, so he worked on the mainland for about a year, initially in Lakeside for a few months, and then at several other places before he returned to the island and they got married. The book is a great documentary of island life, and has some mentions of trips to Wehrle's Hall on Middle Bass. I bought the letters to save them for LEIHS, and not to publish them, but after my wife took a look at them she said that lots of people would enjoy them. I expect to have a printed draft with me on July 31 and August 1 when I'll be signing my own books at Aunt Irma's.
The Middle Bass Scum of the Day Award goes to Dunlap's Guide Service, a fishing charter company in Port Clinton. Don't use those guys.
When I arrived back at my dock at Roesch's marina this afternoon, two big Dunlap fishing boats were parked at two of the private Middle Bass docks at Roesch's marina, one of which is mine. Jim Roesch said that they came in and parked without permission or asking for instructions. With all the space at MBIYC and at Lonz's this afternoon because holiday boats had left, this was the height of arrogance and/or stupidity.
So I had to put my boat into someone else's slip, and eventually we'll all have to play musical boats to straighten this out. Because of the heavy wind out, and because I hadn't been in the southernmost "canal" in the marina in a few years, I also scraped my hull and prop on one of the submerged rocks that I had forgotten about.
Otherwise, it was a beautiful day, and even better after the wind finally died down in the early evening. I spent an hour this morning cleaning up some wonderful old pictures of Nortrh Bass Island and Ballast Island that I got recently, and expect to publish these on the web soon.
We left our dock at about 1:30 this afternoon and came back about 3:30 to find it occupied. That's the first time that has ever happened in a good number of years. I guess that means that there really isn't much scum like that around.
The 4th of July had some heavy rain early in the afternoon, but after about 4PM the weather turned beautiful. There was a strong southwest wind, however. So the barge with fireworks at PIB was pulled out into the harbor beside Gibraltar Island, bringing it closer to Middle Bass than usual. Since the wind was also blowing the fireworks towards Middle Bass, I think the effect was that we had the best fireworks display ever. Attendance was great, and some of the little kids around us were clearly awed by the display.
Usually, there are 2-3 fireworks displays on the mainland that can be seen in the distance. This time, I saw only one, probably from Cedar Point. I don't know if the others were cancelled because of the wind or the earlier bad weather, or simply weren't visible.
We have friends visiting from Washington, DC and this was the first time they had seen the firworks here. They commented on how good the display was, and how much easier it was to get to the display than in Washington.
I just tried to start this new blog entry a few minutes ago and was surprised that Blogger started by giving me a one-time opportunity to sign up for Google's new free email service, Gmail which is still experimental. So I signed up and have a new mailbox with 1000 MB (1GB) of free storage. I'm not sure yet just how I'll use it, but it sounds like a great place to do network backups. It looks as if Blogger is offering this to all Blogger users so perhaps it's another reason for you to start your own island blog.
The week leading up to the July 4th holiday has had perfect weather, and the island has been amazingly quiet. On Monday I took a graphics designer from the Cleveland Plain Dealer on a photo-op tour of the island and the north shore of East Point was practically deserted, as were other parts of the island. She's preparing a full-page map of the islands with photo inserts of scenic and nature views, so it will be interesting to see the results. As soon as I know when this will be published, I'll put out an announcement about it. She also promised to get me copies of all the pictures she took, but said that might take awhile.
The cluster of cottages around us has been fully occupied all week, and there are a lot of tourists staying on the island already, but overall many of the summer residents haven't been here this week and the crowds will probably start coming today. I paid a visit to some friends on Ballast Island yesterday and also cruised the harbor at PIB just checking things out, and most of the buoy docks were still available. About a dozen of them were being used by sailboats, but that's not much of a crowd. The A, B and C docks were reasonably full, but no boats were tied up two or three across yet.
Don't think that the lack of boats at Ballast Island means that no one is there. Some of the residents don't bother with their own boats any more, and go back and forth to PIB using Ladd's Water Taxi. The park-like setting at Ballast always amazes me. It's truly a beautiful place, and I can see why it was a wonderful summer camp for several canoe and kayak clubs in the past.
Tuesday we were surprised by the appearance of the Nina in Schoolhouse Bay. The most authentic reproduction of one of Christopher Columbus' ships ever built, it is a MUCH more primitive boat than the typical tall ships that I have seen, and of course it is also much smaller than those. You can view my pictures of it. It was on its way from Buffalo, NY to Mount Clemens, MI, where it is scheduled to be available for touring from July 2-7. I'd love to know how it gets by legally without any external markings at all - no name, numbers, or home port. Is there an exception in the regulations for an historic replica, or is the exception just a courtesy? It stayed overnight and we also noticed that it didn't have any lights on any of its masts. It departed around daybreak on Wednesday. Since the crew uses berths as in the original ship, it can't be very comfortable, but
the crew obviosuly loves it. The cook, Miss Ellie, is 73 and has spent summers on the ship for 4 years now. She also sells tickets and gifts on shore.
Tomorrow we plan to head over to North Bass Island for exploration and picture-taking, with Robin Burris-Cadez as a guide. Now that the state has taken over much of the island including many of the empty but good-looking historic buildings, the state has also decided to tear many of these down quickly so I want to take some good pictures before they disappear. I also want to hike to the hidden old Peerless Champagne Company there and see what might be worth photographing.
Last but not least, as of today you can order the reprint of Lonz of Middle Bass online. It has been updated to cover the last 22 years since it was first published in 1982. Or you can get it at My Aunt Irma's on Middle Bass and at a number of other stores and museum shops.
The web site is getting more popular in unexpected ways. Today, I gave permission to the new Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines to use an airboat picture on the site. It will be one of three used on a graphic panel accompanying an activity in which kids design and test propellers for model airboats, on an air table. The activity is accompanied by a story panel about real-world use of airboats, and the photo will be used alongside one of an airboat ride in the Everglades.
And I'll be helping a reporter from the Plain Dealer next week on Middle Bass to take pictures for a small new feature about the islands. In the past, Northern Ohio Live, Ohio Magazine and several other publications have used some pictures from the site.
My wife and I just had dinner in Atlanta with a friend who moved to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina two years ago. A year ago, she told us that one of the covenants on her expensive home there was that pickups couldn't be parked outdoors overnight. So I guess I couldn't live there. But tonight she told a horror story about medical care there that is making her think about coming back to Atlanta. Apparently a local newspaper found out that the top cardiac specialist at a hospital there had been arrested three times for drunken driving, and each time had the record cleared by a local good old boy judge. The story apparently came out when a nurse refused to let him operate when he was drunk. Yet the hospital won't fire him because he is their highest revenue producer. Well, our friend is a former nurse, and this story really scared her. If there's any truth to this at all, both the legal system and the hospital system there are badly flawed.
I just scanned some great North Bass biographies of George Wires and Roswell Nichols from 1879. As images, these are a 3MB PDF, so I won't post them until I get time to convert them to text, which won't be this summer. But if you'd like a copy of the PDF and your mailbox can handle a file that large, just let me know.
Last but not least, I'll be selling the Lake Erie Islands - Sketches and Stories book, the Lonz of Middle Bass book, and the 1977 Middle Bass Centennial booklet at a small stand at My Aunt Irma's on Saturday, July 31 and Sunday, Aug. 1. At that stand, I'll also have enlarged copies of all my 56 different Middle Bass postcards and 10 North Bass postcards on display in some form, so this may be a rare opportunity for you to see those. I'll also be giving away a historic Middle Bass Lonz postcard from the 1920s with every book sold on those two days. These postcards are pre-printed Lonz grape juice orders that were sent to the winery, not picture postcards. And of course I'll be glad to autograph and personalize any of the new books. There will be more information about this event on the web site sometime after July 4.
I left Middle Bass on the 5:15 ferry last Thursday. Actually, it was the 5:40, because it left about 25 minutes late. The staff first had to back on a huge tractor trailer with a crane that couldn't drive through forwards. Then they had to turn the ferry around and load the rest of the vehicles.
The weather was still just abour perfect when we left, but there were black clouds coming in from the west. About ten minutes before we reached Catawba, the storm hit us, and the weather changed from perfect to about the heaviest rain I have seen in a long time within a few minutes. The weather radio in my truck told me that Woodville had just had 2.5 inches of rain in 20 minutes. Wow!!!
I drove to a book signing in Huron and got there in plenty of time for the 7PM event. I sold a very respectable number of both the new Lonz of Middle Bass book and the Lake Erie Islands - Sketches and Stories book to my pleasant surprise. Earlier the same day, I had delivered the first shipment of the Lonz book to My Aunt Irma's and before I left the store 20 minutes later, the first six has been sold. The first shipment was small, but I'll be bringing up a much larger shipment at the end of this week.
My lawn only had a few small branches on the ground from the big storm the week before that felled the tree in the cemetery. However, while mowing my broher-in-law's lawn I saw that he had an interesting tree damage problem, although no damage yet. He has a large old pine tree right beside the house and I happened to notice a large broken off branch that had fallen and gotten stuck in other branches about 6 feet above the edge of his roof. It wasn't large enough to go through the roof, but would have caused a lot of damage to the gutter if it had fallen further. So I went to a neighbor and we worked out a strategy for getting the branch down. We were successful - almost. We got one tiny ding in the top of the gutter that is visible if you look hard, and were able to flatten out the two larger dents in the side of the gutter, all of which occurred after the main part of the branch swung out as we planned, but the back swung the other way and dropped so close to the corner of the house that we couldn't grab it.
One of my chores for the week was to upgrade my Direcway satellite modem from the old DW4000 to a new DW6000 that would allow me to create a home network. Of course, this didn't proceed as smoothly as it should have. It took a 30 minute service call to someone who was in New Delhi, India to resolve the issue, but I did get the new satellite modem up and running with the single old desktop at the house. The next step, on my next trip up, will be to add a wireless router so that we can use the wireless laptop that we now use heavily at home. Of course, the wireless routers all say only that they work with DSL and Cable connections, and don't say anything about satellite modems. I made a couple of calls to two manufacturers of wireless routers, Linksys and Belkin, to try to figure out what the issues would be. I did manage to convince myself that the issues would be trivial or small, and that while Belkin understood them and had information about the problem in their support database, Linksys did not. Then I found out that Belkin is also offering a $40 rebate on their router through the end of the month, so that allowed me to finalize the choice. Ideally, plugging in the router and configuring it should take less than ten minutes. I'll let you know next week what the actual time was.
Early this spring, we got a new HP laptop with a 17" wide screen as a desktop replacement, and got it running in wireless mode in the city house. We now read the New York Times in bed every morning on the laptop. I'm not talking about the web edition. I'm talking about the edition from Newsstand.com that includes all the ads, pictures, etc., exactly as they appear in the print edition. If I'm lucky, by next Sunday or Monday we'll be able to read the NY Times every morning in bed at Middle Bass. It will be downloading itself automatically every night, and be there when we wake up. With the 17" screen, it's as wide as the real newspaper, so we don't even need to zoom in to read it. The arrow buttons are all you need for navigation, but of course there are other ways to get to any page or section easily, and there is even a full-text search.
I had explored other forms of high speed Internet access for Middle Bass early in 2003, but the only other option seemed to be wireless access. After the wireless service provider missed two appointments with me without making any calls or excuses, I decided that I simply didn't want to deal with anyone who provides service that bad. I understand all about one- and two-man shops and often prefer to use them rather than larger companies, but I won't work with them when I know the service won't be good. Direcway may be a bit more expensive, but the service is great. Speed is decent on the downlink and much slower on the uplink. On the downlink, I measured it at about 1/3 the speed of my DSL link on the mainland, but that's still respectable. On a dial-up modem, I wouldn't be able to maintain the web site from the island or download the New York Times.
When I come up this coming Friday, I'll finally be on Middle Bass for two weeks straight for the first time this year. That means that I should be able to get beyond all the basic house, garden, boat, Internet and other chores that have kept us from spending much time on the porch this year. I've got my fingers crossed.
I got home from Middle Bass last Wednesday evening, after almost a week there. The weekend was cold and wet, but I hoped it would improve enough that I could go to North Bass on Monday 5/3 for a Baptism. Matt Cadez and Robin Burris-Cadez had planned a Baptism of their son Corey for 12 noon, and it was to be the first Baptism on North Bass Island in over 25 years.
I wanted to get my boat in the water over the weekend but I had some unexpected problems, so I looked around for other ways to get there. Dale Burris was planning to pick up a few people at Put-in-Bay at 11:15, so all I had to do was get over there. I took the 7:00AM boat that Art Wolf takes to work, and found that Katie Schneider, who teaches on Put-in-Bay, also goes over on that boat to get there before the school boat that leaves Middle Bass at 7:30. I had coffee at Put-in-Bay with Barb and Tom Cooper, and then went over to the museum for awhile to browse the Middle Bass archives. One surprise was a 2001 archaeological study of over 200 pages that had been done at Misery Acres on Middle Bass before the land was filled in for the new airport. At the south end of the former Schoolhouse Bay beach, Misery Acres had been a known Indian fishing camp, and the team clearly found a number of mostly microscopic but identifiable pottery shards and arrowhead fragments.
About 10AM I went for a walk around Put-in-Bay, and was pleasantly surprised to find that Pasquale's was open for breakfast. So I had a good breakfast and chatted with a few folks. One of the guys I spoke with was an older PIB policeman named Roy (I think) who is one of the regulars on the PIB patrol boat during the summer. He mentioned that he would have to go to Port Clinton next week for the case involving the DUI accident on Middle Bass last summer in whch a 19-year-old female driver crashed a car into a telephone pole. I also got a chance to look at the new Middle Bass Island display at the museum, and know that all of you will enjoy it.
At 11:15 I was at the Boardwalk when Dale pulled in his boat, the Walleye White, to pick up about half a dozen people for the Baptism. We got to the chapel at North Bass in plenty of time for the noon Baptism, with Father Nick presiding. Father Nick used to hold mass on Middle Bass, PIB and Kelleys until 8 or 9 years ago, and is now in Shelby, Ohio.
There was a little glitch halfway through the Baptism. Everything was in the church except water, so we had to pause in the middle of the ceremony while someone drove to a house to get water. But it was a wonderful event, and it was also the first time that I had been inside the beautiful chapel. After the ceremony, we all went to Dale's house for lunch and a celebration.
After lunch there was time for Robin to give me a guided tour of North Bass. I'm going to tell you the traditional way it is done, but I'm not going to tell you whether we followed tradition. The tradition is for the driver and each passenger to start by going to the refrigerator and getting a can of beer and opening it, and then getting into a pickup without license plates to start the tour, which is on county roads.
During the trip, I managed to get a few nice pictures of North Bass and if click on the link you can see them.
It's really sad to see all the old grapevines and vineyards disappearing. Over 80% of them are gone now. By the time Dale and his crew have pulled out all the metal stakes, they will have removed 84,000 of them, which Dale said cost Meiers' about $3 each. They weigh about 7 pounds each, and will probably be sold as scrap metal, currently going for about $65 a ton.
We left at 2:45 to allow a number of people to get back to PIB in time to catch the 3:30 ferry to the mainland. After dropping off the PIB contingent, Dale dropped me off at the Sonny-S dock at Middle Bass. It was a wonderful day that I will remember for a long time.
It’s a very quiet week on Middle Bass, much quieter than it was in February when I was here. In February, we had lots of ice fishing going on including the tournament, and Walleye’s restaurant was open. There were lots of ATVs and other vehicles on the road.
This week, there is almost no traffic. A few of the families who winter in Florida have arrived, but the Ohio people apparently stay home on Easter. Easter is always a very quiet weekend here, even though there will be an egg hunt for the kids on Saturday. And Walleye's is closed until after Easter.
I took my truck over to Put-in-Bay today to deliver quite a few things to the museum. I went over via Catawba, but came back on the direct boat after the Captain’s lunch. It was the first time I had ever had a vehicle of mine on Put-in-Bay. The museum is getting several new displays ready for the summer, the biggest of which is a display of island wineries. I had a few things to contribute to that. But the museum will also have a new Middle Bass display case, and another new display case for all the other islands except South Bass. One of the items I brought to the museum was a CD with my collection of 55 Middle Bass Island postcards, all enhanced and enlarged slightly to a better size for display. Sometime this summer, I’ll put most or all of those on the web site. I also provided the museum with old postcard images of North Bass, Mouse, Ballast, Lost Ballast, Buckeye, Kelleys, Pelee and Catawba for their other new display case.
I made two stops on the way up this time. I stopped in Vermilion to make a trade for some Lonz material. The items were 9 statements for the grapes delivered by Carrie High of Middle Bass to the Lonz Winery, for every year from 1922-1930. It was interesting to see the grape price changes from year to year, and to see the quantities and types of grapes sold. Then I stopped in Norwalk to make a deal for some Middle Bass postcards, including a rare old one of the schoolhouse from about 1906 that I had never seen before.
As most of you know, I spent most of the winter producing a book about the history of the Lake Erie Islands. There will be a signing at the opening party of the museum, for members only, on May 22. If you are not a member yet, you may want to join. The book, Lake Erie Islands – Sketches and Stories, has been on sale online for about a month now, and is for sale on the mainland now at the Vermilion Maritime Museum. On the islands, it will be for sale at the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society on Put-in-Bay (they have copies now and have sold some even though they are not officially open) and at Aunt Irma’s on Middle Bass. It will also be at the Ottawa City General Store on Catawba Island when they open mid-May, and the Shop at the Dock on Catawba has also expressed interest in carrying it.
I brought up a long lens and tripod this visit in the hope of getting a good picture of the eagles, but they have not cooperated. I have a friend who has photographed bald eagles seriously in the past and he said that the only way to see the young ones is to use an airplane. Well, on Middle Bass, that should not be difficult to arrange. But maybe I’ll leave that to someone else. If you ever get any pictures of the eaglets, please send them to me to post on the site.
As of last year, I have officially been the Middle Bass Island Historian for the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society. That has allowed me to see a few things in their archives, and in later blogs, I will be talking about some of the things I have seen and read. Most of all, however, I find that the more that I get into island history, the more people I meet who possess very unexpected items and are sometimes willing to share them, even just to the extent of being copied, but that’s all I need.
The grass is green, but the trees are still very wintery. My wife doesn’t like coming up in the spring when she can’t garden yet, so she didn’t join me on this trip. The house survived the winter well, but as usual was infested by lady bugs during the winter. I have killed or thrown away about 40-50 of them, which is fewer than I had in the house last year at this time.
Last but not least, I brought the museum two copies of the current “Military History Quarterly” magazine that I bought last week. It caught my attention at a bookstore because of a big Battle of Lake Erie picture on the cover. There’s a good ten-page article without much new information, but with half a dozen or so of the best restored color pictures of the battle and of Commodore Perry that I have ever seen. If you get a chance to go to a major bookstore, look for it.
There was heavy frost in the middle of the island this morning, and light frost near the water. I pulled out the last of our tomato plants this morning, and still ate two during the job. We planted too many this year. There were still a few fresh strawberries in our garden, so I ate some of those also.
The two wooden structures at the old Lonz homestead are now completely torn down, and the barn has been mostly cleaned out. All the junk is gone, and it looks as if some of the good stuff will be saved. There are still wine casks and cases full of empty unused champagne bottles there.
The new condo building finally looks fairly complete from the water side. There has been a lot of progress there. Work at the Lonz Winery by the dock is also continuing, but it's hard to see what's really going on there. Maybe I'll ask some questions tomorrow.
Last week my wife had dinner with a friend who recently moved into a new and fairly expensive retirement home on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. She brought a copy of the community restrictions for my wife to look at and the most outrageous one was a rule that pickups can't be parked outside after 9PM. Well, I guess I can't move there.
I stopped at the Rutherford B. Hayes museum in Fremont last Saturday and spent a few hours browsing the archives. I found one new and different view of Wehrle's Pavilion on Middle Bass that I'll publish soon. But I also found an article (actually, a long 4-page feature story) from the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the Lake Erie Islanders dated July 25, 1943. It contains, among other things, a great picture of the Gardners on Ballast Island in front of their house as well as a sketch of the Middle Bass dock area. I'll try to publish that soon also.
The rumor is that the ferry will be running even beyond its usual extension this year because of all the construction. If that's true, I'll be back soon again even before the trip I am planning in January or February if the lake freezes up. My wife wants to be on the island this year when there is a lot of snow, so we'll see if we can manage to come up right after a good winter storm.
I delivered a review copy of the reprint of the Ryall book (see previous blog entry) to the museum at PIB this week. They love it. Right now, it's 398 pages and 255 pictures. The first 320 pages and 212 pictures are from the original book, and the rest are from various sources and include several great pictures of Catawba, Put-in-Bay and other places that have never been published before. The book won't grow more than 2-4 more pages, and it is the first fully indexed history of the islands ever created. I don't expect to publish this before Christmas, but it will definitely be available early next year. I'm waiting for one picture that I was promised, and still need to do a lot of research to find the best way to publish this.
By the way, if you haven't seen the new 2004 Middle Bass Island Wall Calendar, you'll want to take a look. It has 13 great island pictures, and if you click on the link you can see the pictures even if you don't want to buy the calendar.
I'll be pulling my boat out of the water later today, and bringing it to winter storage on the mainland tomorrow. I took it over to PIB on Monday, Tuesday and Friday of this past week for some meetings with LEIHS and other friends. I really got rained on hard on the way back on Tuesday. On Monday, there were a total of two other boats at the A/B/C docks. On Tuesday and Friday I was the only one there. Monday (Columbus Day) and Friday were absolutely beautiful, and perfect fall boating days. Monday was also when all the anchor buoys were pulled out of PIB harbor for the winter.
The island is amazingly busy with construction. The airport tree clearing now extends all the way to the Burgundy Bay marina, so the clubhouse there now has a new lake view to the east. The bad roads in Burgundy Bay have been fixed, there is sewer work still going on, and there is road work inside the state park to improve the old dirt roads close to the winery.
Meeting friends at the ferry at 10AM yesterday, I was surprised to see two trucks fully loaded with sheetrock coming off. The ferry went up about a foot after each one got off. And there was a second overflow ferry right behind it with a third truck and more cars. The sheetrock was on its way to the new condos.
I posted an album of fall pictures and added a few more pictures of the old Lonz Winery on Lonz Road. There seems to be a lot of "collectible" stuff at the site that no one seems interested in preserving, but at least I brought half a dozen old bottles over to LEIHS for the island wineries display they plan for next summer.
I've been working on a 5th historical reprint, viz., Lydia Ryall's 1913 "Sketches and Stories of the Lake Erie Islands" and should be ready to distribute a few review copies in about a week. I decided to add both bonus pictures and bonus articles with biographies of islanders, to provide a more complete history of the islands. LEIHS is pleased, because just about everyone else has always focused just on PIB, and this will be the first comprehensive book about all of the Lake Erie Islands in quite awhile. It will also include a number of early 20th century pictures never published before anywhere. These include a great one of the barge with the first two pieces of construction equipment going over to start building Perry's Monument, and some old Catawba photographs, one of which has a cow on the lawn in the foreground as a ferry is pulling into the Catawba dock. Another will be a picture of the PIB carousel with about a dozen people on it, half of them identifed as members of the Herbster family. There will also be a picture of the long-extinct Johnson's Island Hotel. And so on. The book will be about 370 pages, with close to 250 pictures, and will probably be available around the end of November.
There's a great article in the NY Times today about island cars. It's called "What's Junk on the Mainland Is a Ride on a Maine Island". I was surprised that in Maine, "cars registered for island use bear special state validation decals rather than license plates and cannot be driven on the mainland." That allows island cars to avoid mainland rules for inspection. It's a great idea.
We're heading back up to Middle Bass on a couple of hours. First I need to buy the good Italian bread, Cacciatorini sausage and Asiago cheese that we usually bring up.
In the past two weeks, we added four historical book reprints to the web store. A few days ago, we also added an Island Airlines Tri-Motor t-shirt and poster because someone explicitly requested it. A friend had sent me an image of a sign that he saw on eBay. It took about three hours of work with Photoshop to restore it to silkscreen quality, and word got around quickly. It has already been our most popular tshirt.
It's a strange coincidence that this was released the same day that I published the obituary for Harold Hauck, the Tri-Motor pilot who served Middle Bass for 30 years.
I also added a few news items about a drowning on Rattlesnake Island and a stripped submerged boat off Sugar Island. I hope that's all the bad news for awhile.
Last but not least, I just added a link on my Lake Erie Islands Directory page to John Rees' new set of 68 aerial photos of the islands. This is his third set of aerial pictures.
We got back to Atlanta at about 8PM last night after getting off the ferry around 9AM. It was a typical drive - 3 people pulled over for speeding in Ohio, and none in Kentucky, Tennessee or Georgia. And this morning I got a call from our kids who are still at the island saying that they can't drive anywhere, because a tree is down on the dirt road leading to the house. It will be interesting to hear how they take care of that, or have it taken care of. Getting help on the island for emergencies is usually not a problem. However, getting help for non-emergencies can be extraordinarily difficult. My most recent info was that they couldn't get the chain saw started.
A lot of new material was added during my week up at the island. I added pictures of the Middle Bass Club, of Rattlesnake Island, and of the Walleyes' 5K Race, all taken on August 9.
On Monday, I took my boat to Scudder's dock at the north end of Pelee Island and had lunch up there. I was surprised to see a sleek hydrofoil ferry from Kingsville, the Pelee Flyer, pull in just ahead of me. That's a new high-speed boat that should make the Jet Express seem slow in comparison.
I'm sorry I won't be there for Middle Bass Celebration Day this coming Saturday. Our kids will be there, but forgot their camera. Let's see if someone sends me pictures to post.
Last but not least, I got info this week about a book just published in the U.K. on the Rattlesnake Islands Local Post stamps and the history of Rattlesnake Island. If anyone wants info on that, you can contact us.
Yesterday was a big day for the Web site. On August 6, the total hits on the home page passed the 100,000 mark. Started on Dec. 3, 2000 with a humble beginning, that's a big number for a small island.
I got back to the island yesterday after a quiet week without much site enhancement. A few pictures of Green Island, taken in July, were added. The biggest changes were actually to the Other Islands directory, which now contains a fairly complete list of islands that have ferry service, some tourist amenities, and no bridges, and are located above the 40th parallel that runs just south of New York City.
I picked up the August Put-in-Bay Gazette, to which we had given permission to republish the article and pictures from the Fine Arts Festival Gala at the East Point Stone Manor on July 19. They used three of my pictures, and all of my wife's text. I was surprised to see that the Gazette also ran a separate small story about the Jim Bretz Photo Collection that I put on the site early in July. Unfortunately, the Gazette got the name of the website wrong as middlebass.com instead of middlebass.org. Since mid-2000 or earlier, middlebass.com has been live but defunct, so we have never had a link to them. The problem with middlebass.com is worth asking islanders about because it's a funny story, but since much of it is hearsay I can't print it.
Later today, I expect to make several changes and additions to the Middle Bass Calendar, with the most important change being more detail about Middle Bass Celebration Day on August 16.
I got back home to Atlanta about 8:30PM last night (Sunday) after leaving Middle Bass on the 8:15AM ferry. It was the roughest ferry ride this year for me, and I felt sorry for the young guy who didn't believe me when I told him that if he sat near the front of the ferry, he would get drenched by the spray. The waves were only 3-5 feet, but there was also a strong southwest wind so we got pounded and sprayed more than usual on the way back.
We then took one of our favorite alternate routes to I-75, following mostly the south side of the Portage River to Pemberville, and then heading to the north side for the rest of the ride to Bowling Green, where we got on the freeway and headed south. This route takes us by the Schedel Arboretum and Gardens in Elmore, which my wife would like to emulate on Middle Bass if we had a larger yard.
I put more pictures on the Web during this 9-day trip than ever before in such a short period. There are 15 pictures of the Fine Arts Festival Gala at the East Point Manor on July 19, 24 pictures of the Fine Arts events on July 26, and 12 pictures of a boat trip to Hen and North Harbor Islands on July 25. I had just gotten my boat back from repair 2 days earlier, and both it and I needed a good trip to check it out. Since North Harbor had long been the only island in the Bass Islands Archipelago that I didn't have a picture of, it was all the more worthwhile. My GPS told me that the round trip from Roesch's marina was 29 miles, and with several stops for picture taking, plus some slow cruising in shallow water, it was still just a 2 hour trip.
I hope someone sends me pictures of the Sunday events at the Fine Arts Festivals. I told a few people that I wouldn't be there to take pictures, and overall, I am getting more contributed pictures than I used to. We have tried to make the site one for all the islanders and visitors to share their experiences, and it seems to be working.
The site keeps growing. In addition to a great 1907 postcard with multiple images, I just published 5 images of the Ohio Bicentennial Tall Ships passing Middle Bass Island in or near Schoolhouse Bay.
I also published three recent sunrise and sunset images that were contributed by islanders, and finally finished an ad for Jim Bretz's Ile de Fleurs House & Cottages.
I also did a quick review and found that the site now has about 400 base pages, plus another 115 pictures that appear when clicked on in an image gallery. Add in the assorted discussion board pages, calendar pages and classified ads, and there are over 600 pages to view.
But best of all, I'm heading back up to Middle Bass tomorrow for nine days, and plan to be at the benefit reception at the mansion Saturday evening. There should be pictures of that on the site a day or two later.
I just found out that Blogger permits having a single blog that multiple people can add entries to. So I'll create a separate Middle Bass Islander Blog as soon as the first person sends me an email requesting this, and then I'll add additional islanders whenever requested. Interested? Just send an email to email@example.com, after removing the "nospam." from the email address.
This morning, I added a picture and description of the Elyria High Fiddlers who will be performing on July 26 during the Fine Arts Festival.
I just returned home (Atlanta, GA) Saturday night after five days in Rhode Island visiting my 82 year old mother and spending some time on assorted Rhode Island beaches and islands. There were lots of interesting experiences during that visit that made me think that it is time to start a blog (weblog) that will be added to from time to time.
I got back to Atlanta from Middle Bass on July 7, and have so far spent 44 days on Middle Bass this year with my wife by means of 6 round trip drives. We used to leave a truck in Cleveland and fly back and forth a lot, but now that we both have more time, it means more driving. Fortunately, I-75 usually flows fairly well. And when you're not in a rush, the 700 miles isn't too bad.
Growing up in Rhode Island, I fell in love with islands at an early age, making lots of trips to Newport, Jamestown, Block Island and other islands. Last Thursday night, I had one of the best seafood meals I have had in years at Chopmist Charlie's in Jamestown on Conanicut Island. My mother and I shared littlenecks and clam cakes as appetizers, and as an entry I had a sesame-crusted bass that was just perfect. On Friday, I wanted to go to Newport to take a picture of the memorial to Oliver Hazard Perry there, but weather and schedule changes didn't allow that.
However, on Friday, I did buy a copy of the current edition of "New England Travel & Life" because of a feature article entitled "Isles of Tranquility" and covering smaller New England islands such as Block Island (Rhode Island), Vinalhaven Island (Maine) and Cuttyhunk Island (Massachusetts). With only 35 year-round residents, Cuttyhunk has some similarities with Middle Bass. And on Saturday, flying back to Atlanta from Boston, I picked up a brochure on the small islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park area. I'll be putting links to these on the More Islands page on the Web site in the near future.
I didn't make the transition from Ohio driving style to RI style quickly enough to suit some drivers. In the first two days, I was honked at twice because I did a real "rural Ohio" full stop at stop signs. And I was actually surprised when on a two-lane road with a double yellow line in the middle, a car coming in the other direction started passing the car in front of him, forcing me to squeeze to the right edge of the road. The "Italian" driving style hasn't changed there in the 40 years I have had my license. And on the way home from the beach one day, my mother stopped in a store that supposedly had very inexpensive seconds of Ralph Lauren Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, and a few other brands. The only thing that surprised me there, however, was that my mother was surprised when I told her that the merchandise wasn't seconds, it was counterfeit. I've seen a lot counterfeit name brand clothes in the Far East, but doubt that you will see any in Georgia or Ohio. However, I'm sure the Rhode Island store will be around for a long time.
Driving back into Ohio, I'm always amazed at how the traffic changes when I cross the state border. Traffic just slows down. I find it amazing that the fear of the State Police continues so strongly. But the worst is really in Ottawa County, where an otherwise reasonable and effective Sheriff's department has traffic officers with nothing to do, so officers such as Sergeant York cruise at 3-5 miles under the speed limit on 55mph highways where everyone expects to drive 55-60mph. Oblivious to the traffic piling up behind him, (or perhaps intentionally keeping traffic under the speed limit) a police officer making it impossible to drive the speed limit on a rural road seems to be a local specialty and absurdity that I haven't encountered elsewhere.
Oh well. Sometimes in Atlanta my problem now is not feeling like an idiot when I'm only driving 70mph in a 55mph zone and the majority of the commuters are driving 80mph. I guess you just have to know not only the local laws, but also the local customs.
There have been a lot of additions to the Web site over the past few weeks. About 80 historical pictures have been added from Jim Bretz's photo collection. A few pictures of Gard Island in Lake Erie near Toledo were finally obtained and added. Several new Lonz items were added, and my task list keeps growing faster than I can deal with in my free time. I also had to fix 4 or 5 links yesterday because John Rees recently moved a lot of his personal photos from the LEIHS site to a new one at www.putinbayphotos.com.
Last but not least, I'm using blog software from www.blogger.com to publish this blog even though I could also publish it myself. I'm doing this to show everyone what a blog is, and to encourage islanders to create their own island blogs. Signing up with blogger is free, and if you create an island blog I will link to it so that other islanders can share your thoughts. One neat feature of blogs is that you can add to them at any time, from any computer that has Web access. So you could add to your island blog while on vacation in Europe. Come on, start a blog right now.