Fizzy Lifting Drinks

A day exploring the Lake Erie communities landed us in Vermilion at lunchtime.  In all my years in Northeast Ohio, I had only been to the city once, years before.  Needless to say I didn’t know much about the area.

Driving Lake Road took us into the heart of town.  Our curiosity raised as we saw little antique stores and mom and pop shops.  We pulled off and walked along some restaurants for a closer look.  Then we saw it.  Big Ed’s Main Street Soda Grill.

IMG_0331Antique bottles decorated the long, tall wood shelves that must have once served in a pharmacy.  On the other wall, past the cooler filled with ice cream, stood the soda counter where the servers made up the magical elixirs.  By look, we knew we had the right place, perfect for a Lake Erie beach town.

Being a soda shop, I had my heart set on a tall chocolate malt.  That changed when I saw it…the egg cream.  Something I’ve picked up from trips to Brooklyn, I’ve had to settle with making my own at home.  I didn’t think they were well-known enough that I’d find a place serving them around Cleveland.

IMG_0327Tasting the egg cream, I realized my version had never been too far off.  Chocolate milk with a mix of metallic tang, and a fizz at the end.  Lucky for me, my wife got the malt and let me have a sip.  Win-win.

Staying in a Brooklyn state of mind, I ordered the Coney burger, a hamburger covered in chili sauce, onions, and shredded cheddar.  The burger had good flavor, although it overpowered the chili sauce.  A little more chili flavor would have been good.  A sip of egg cream blended well, savory and sweet all together.

IMG_0330Why soda shops fizzed out in the first place, I don’t know.  Malts, egg creams, floats, all of them done right, all some of the best parts of summer.  Especially in a beach town like Vermilion.

Claim Estuary

IMG_0275When talking about Cleveland’s parks and natural spaces, the Metroparks get top billing.  And rightfully so, with so many reservations waiting to be discovered.  But another local area,  often not talked about in the shadow of the Metroparks, holds its own prestige.

Sitting on Route 6 about 45 minutes west of the city is Old Woman Creek.  A national estuarine research reserve, the park holds importance to biologists and ecologists.  But it also gives all nature-lovers a place to learn about and enjoy the unique ecosystem. Trails go through woods and over swampland and lead to a viewing deck overlooking the creek.

IMG_0295Looking out over the creek, visitors may spot a number of creatures.  Great blue herons and egrets coast above the water’s surface or stab the water for fish.  Turtles bask in the sun.  Some visitors are lucky and see the creek’s star attraction, the nesting bald eagles.

Juvenile bald eagles rest on a branch across the creek.

Juvenile bald eagles rest in a tree across the creek.

A visitor’s center discusses the importance of estuaries and how they contribute to the health of the region and the lake.

At a second site down the road, the creek spills out into the lake.  On a small beach, people see the two waters mingle and swirl.  The beach isn’t big enough to lay out a towel, but for a few minutes, visitors can enjoy the lakeside.

IMG_0313Old Woman Creek, just another of the natural beauties that bless the North Coast.

The Simple Life

On the edge of Amish Country sits Kidron, a small town surrounded by miles of open land and rolling hills.  But a multitude of day-trippers flock to the town throughout the year to visit a popular stop, and one of the coolest stores I know.  Lehman’s.

Think of Lehman’s as the Bed Bath & Beyond for simple living.  The store, housed in a connection of old buildings, sells all sorts of gadgets that you’d never think you need.

Their products cover every aspect of life.  Pots, pans, and bakeware for the kitchen.  Soaps and lotions for personal hygiene.  If you’re a camper, Lehman’s probably has anything you need for your next adventure.  Best of all, “Made in the U.S.A.” is a common sight in the store.  Who needs Wal-Mart?

Many of the items offered are electric-free to accommodate the local Amish population.  This Amish influence is also seen in the rows of books on gardening and living off the gird.

And of course there are the old-fashioned pops waiting to be put together in a mix-and-match six pack.  All the old-timey favorites are there: root beer, cream soda, ginger ale, and, my pick, sarsaparilla.

Shopping at Lehman’s feels like shopping in 1900.  The simple life goods can come off as novelties at times.  But like Thoreau said, we can all stand to live simpler.
P.S. With room after room and so many items, a couple hours can easily be spent in Lehman’s.  For the best experience, be sure you have time to linger.