(Thank you to our sponsor Red Roof Inn for providing accommodations on this trip!)
Day two and I’m ‘showing my dog Victor some love this February’ by taking him on a road trip to Erie, Pennsylvania. Today we head to why we’re here: Presque Isle State Park. It’s an incredible site with almost every outdoor activity: beaches, 11 miles of hiking trails, boating, historic sites, lighthouses, campsites and fishing bays.
And it’s dog-friendly – on a leash. Yet one advantage of going in February is few people are wandering around. There’s no one to notice Victor running free on the beach sporting his new Kurgo Loft Jacket to keep him warm. He loves this place.
Presque Isle State Park is on an island surrounded by Lake Erie. Apparently, it’s also the site of the Battle of Erie during the War of 1812 and Perry Monument in Misery Bay marks the spot. It’s also our first stop after a slow drive into the park. A road weaves around the perimeter of the entire island, and today drivers are viewing the park through their windshields.
Not us. Victor wants out. He’s driven a long way to explore and Perry’s Monument and surrounding park near the launch site of summer scenic boat tours is his first, and favourite, stop in the park. With no one here, he’s gleefully enticing me to play and we circle the monument then head toward the boat launch, until the cold sets in. On to the next spot.
Oh, and it’s interesting to read about the War of 1812 from the other side’s perspective. Earlier this week we visited Fort George on the Canadian side, where the U.S. was defeated…. but more about that later this month.
Today, it’s about celebrating a day on American soil, specifically conservation soil.
Despite the fact wild turkey, fox, and deer roam this island somewhere, there is a lot of human impact here, especially in the summer. The beach is popular and we head there next. Ok, it’s not what it looks like on the website – no volleyball nets here in the middle of winter. But chunks of crystal-like ice sculptures line the Great Lake shoreline. Frozen water cascades over a rock like a waterfall frozen in time.
It’s beautiful but cold, and Victor prefers to be out of the wind. The forest is where it’s at apparently.
He had the same reaction at the East Pier facing Presque Isle Bay – where people winter fish along the shore and in ice huts when the lake freezes enough.
However, Victor loved the 1872 lighthouse preserved as a museum and opened seasonally. The dramatic ice formation in the nearby bay shielding some wind didn’t interest Victor as much as all the smells around the historic building. He’s kind of a history buff.
National parks, state parks, and conservation areas are important. Parks are for exploration not excavation. Even my dog knows that. Nature sites preserve environmental heritage and contribute to quality of life. They can also be revenue generators as tourist attractions if maintained effectively. Case in point, Presque is why I headed to Erie with my dog.
Conservation sites need to be protected like never before.
The increasing need to make protection a priority is why I’ve vowed to visit many national, state and provincial parks on either side of the border this year. Vote with my feet, Victor’s paws, admission fees and clicks on visitor counters. Extol the value of outdoor adventure, and maybe help keep the parks protected.
After a few hours, Victor is exhausted faster than I thought. It is cold outside. So, we head back the pet-friendly Red Roof Inn along the I-90, who’s been our host this weekend – before a brief stop at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle (across from Waldameer Water World).
Here you can learn all about the flora, fauna and furry wild life that make this island home. Victor, unfortunately, was not allowed in.
Travel Guide: Presque Isle State Park is open all year every day until dusk. Summer clearly is the most popular time to visit. There’s 13.5 miles of paved bike trails – bikes, tricycles, four-wheeled surreys and roller blades can be rented at the Yellow Bike Company in the park. Rent canoes and kayaks in the summer or cross-country skis in the winter.
A narrated boat tour of the lake runs May to September, three times a day. There are 20 different walking trails. Fishing is smelt perch, bass and trout. Campsites are available in the summer and outdoor restaurants line the entrance, including Sara’s Hotdog hut that’s a local rite of passage.
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Prize pack includes (Approximate value $80):
- Pendleton Portable Pet Travel Bowl (value $29)
- Pendleton Travel Food Storage Bag (value $29)
- Pendleton Friends of the Park fabric bracelet (value $5)
- National Park Collection Green Bandana (value $6)
- Pack of Naturawls All Natural Sweet Potato Chews (value $7)
- Earth Rated Pet Poop Bags and Dispensor (value $4.00)
- One Greenies Dental Chew
- Sample Pack of Zuke’s Power Bones treats for active dogs