Neighborhood Series: The North Coast

Missy Backflip and I went kayaking last week.  We put in at Wendy Park, which is on Whiskey Island.  Edgewater Park is just west of these two places.

Just as flying into Cleveland gives you a different view of our city, being at water level also gives a whole new perspective to the northern boundary of our city.

We were using sit-on-top kayaks, which are just about the best way to get around on the close-in water front.  They are stable and easy to maneuver. I appreciated that it was an especially calm day since I am really a novice kayaker.

First, we headed to the Coast Guard Station and old lighthouse at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. There was a big freighter waiting for the bridge to lift. One long and one short blast signaled the ascent then we could see a tugboat coming out to turn the freighter around.  We paddled beyond the mouth of the river and sat mildly bobbing from the waves of speed boats.

We passed Piers 30 and 31 behind the Cleveland Browns Stadium.  Right now those piers are occupied by warehouses. I think the city is considering putting these piers into commercial use for bars and restaurants. At first, I thought that this would put a nail in the coffin of the Warehouse District just as the Warehouse District entertainment area spelled death to the east side of the Flats. But kayaking made me realize that there are no waterfront restaurants in the downtown part of the lake. Captain Frank’s is gone and the restaurant boat over by the 9th Street Pier has been turned into offices. Maybe sitting on a deck looking over the lake to Canada wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Further on we rounded the entrance into the Museum waterfront. We went past the Mather ship and I must say you do feel dwarfed when you are in the water right next to a big ship. We got up next to the rock pilings that buttressed the walkways around this area. Missy turned over the idea of climbing over the rocks and chain fence to fetch a smoothie from inside the Great Lakes Science Center. Risking arrest for this type of pursuit does not daunt her. I would rather risk arrest for much different things like skinny-dipping beside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We bid goodbye to our criminal fantasies and headed to the USS Cobb at the end of the Burke Lakefront Airport. We can see this airstrip from our loft window but I had never seen the west end of the runway where there is a big yellow neon X.  Obviously, if you miss that runway you are in the water.

It was time to either continue east and out around the breakwater, or head back. Guess what I voted for?

By now we were heading up to feeding time. Nevertheless, I wanted to push on. When I realized that we still had a “fer piece” to go to get to the second or third bridge, and when I also realized that it was getting so hot that I was wetting down my clothes, I thought I’d bring up lunch. Missy agreed that the 3 hours we had spent earned us a time to head back to the beach and pull up.

Cleveland skyline from the river

I was thinking of a dip in the lake but it really is murky.  There is enough green in the water so that the paddle disappeared from sight about foot down.  We put in our kayaks and I settled for wading knee deep. The water temp, at 73 degrees, is pleasant, but I wasn’t in my swimsuit.

It was fun. I’m ready to do it again. Missy has said I am not “too pathetic” or words to that affect. She is very kind.

We saw fish, birds of several types, and every mode of water transportation that is made.  Being out on Lake Erie is another way to fall in love with Cleveland all over again.


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  1. Carolyn says:

    You are fortunate indeed to have a friend (?) like Missy! She drives you ONWARD ever ONWARD to do great and fun things!