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Calmness prevails on a vacation to Lake Erie

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By Michael O'Hare
Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 9:04 p.m.

Full disclosure: I have no connection to anyone at the Erie Chamber of Commerce.

That said, I think I should make a trip to that resort at least once every summer. I did so last week.

Mary Ellen, our dog Cami, and I found a hotel that accepts dogs as guests and off we went for a few days with nothing more planned than that.

We stayed in our hotel, walked the Presque Isle State Park trail along Erie Bay and visited those beaches that were closed to swimming and on which pooches are permitted.

As we sat in our tent chairs, on what was a sunny but cool day – especially given the breeze – I looked out at the broad expanse of calm lake and thought that but for the size of waves this could be the ocean. And the drive was just two and a half hours at the speed limit.

The vista did as much for me as any trip I have ever been on and the cost of traveling there was reasonable. We have made the trip up and back in one day, but it was nice to have the breathing room this time, and breath I did, slowly and quietly, even meditatively. The days there and the rest of the week went slowly, as I had hoped.

At one point, sitting in a tent chair and looking out at the horizon on a day when we seemed the only ones on the beach I got the impression that we were sitting in a dome of clear blue sky with an unseen temperature control.

So that's Canada over there? How exotic. Sailboats dotted the view. Seagulls called out.

My mind meandered back to times on the Lake Erie beaches as a kid with my mother and my sister (Dad usually didn't get off work to go); or when our son played in the sand in those days before his first haircut and his blond hair blew about in the breeze; or days when I was a teen or 20-something on a blanket staring at the sky and dreaming of the future.

On that beach last week, the past was pleasant, the future of no concern and the moment was perfect.

There is a TV commercial out these days in which an almost maniac travel planner tells his female companion once they reach their vacation destination that he has no more plans and she expresses chagrin.

Vacations should be that way, I think. No plans, just go where the spirit moves you. If you remember past vacations, well that's OK. But don't compare, just live the one you are on.

Our habit when returning from Erie has been to come down Route 8 through the town of my birth, Titusville. With the refreshing air of the lake shore in my lungs, I relax and am further renewed by the beauty of the northwestern Pennsylvania landscape.

We stop at the cemetery where Grams is buried, not far from the grave of famed discoverer of oil in underground Pennsylvania, Col. Edwin Drake, thus satisfying the need to take history into account on a vacation.

We stop for some fast food and sit in a grassy area near Oil Creek on a beautiful day and Cami sniffs about. Then we make the final leg of the journey.

I find such low-key vacations make the return to work less jarring, and as we get older less jarring is a good thing.

The writer is Leader Times news editor. Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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