East Coast Fall 2021 – Erie, Pa, Part One

October 9 -11

With another longish day on the road ahead of us our primary concern was that we would hit a lot of Covered Bridge festival traffic around the town of Mansfield as we drove down to the interstate on highway 59 but given the early hour, we faced only a small amount of congestion. After passing through the small town of Brazil and just before getting on the I-70, we stopped at a McDonald’s for a large coffee and one of their seasonal pumpkin cream fried pies.  Nothing like a little caffeine and sugar to get you down the road.  The rest of the day was uneventful and so by late afternoon we found ourselves pulling into the Erie KOA Holiday, about 10 miles outside of the center of town in a quiet rural setting. 

Rockville to Erie

We made camp quickly, both of us settling into roles we’ve developed over years of camping, a little easier this time around as we had our smaller REI tent and had decided not to mess with the camp stove or our chairs.  Hungry and ready for a beer, as we were driving out of camp, we encountered hordes of kids in costumes trick or treating at many of the trailers and motorhomes present that day.  It was a nice sight to see, a small return to the life we knew before Covid.

Our Smaller REI Tent

Our destination for the evening was Lucky Louie’s Beer Wieners, an oddball establishment halfway to Erie.  Our first pass at getting there set us off in the wrong direction as the Garmin had the address wrong.  A quick check with our phones directed us to the correct location and we parked in back, walking around front to the entrance.  Inside it is a small space, with a short bar and just two tables.

But there is a large dining tent outside with space heaters and that is where we would land.  We checked out the menu board and proceeded to order.  Faithful readers of the blog will not be surprised that I ordered the Dixie Normous (Chili, Shredded Cheddar, Slaw, Mustard) and Joanna went for the Hollywood connection by getting the Don’t Hassle the Hoff (Smith’s Cheddarbest Smoked Sausage, Kraut, Horsey Cheddar Sauce, Honey Mustard on a Buttery, Salted Pretzel Bun).  Initially I was going to order a draft beer but then noticed a Stone 25th Anniversary Triple IPA that I’ve been wanting to try, and I did.  Twice. 

The dogs were delicious as was the beer and as the WIFI out on the patio was very good, much better than that at the KOA, we decided to have that second beer, enjoy the warmth of the heat lamps, and do some work on the laptop.  We returned to camp for our first couple of nights of camping since July, nice and snug in the smaller of our two tents. 

Stone 25th Anniversary Triple IPA

There is not much sightseeing to do in Erie and so we had booked a cruise on the lake on the Lettie G Howard, a wooden Fredonia schooner built in 1893 in Essex, Massachusetts.  This type of craft was commonly used by American offshore fishermen and is believed to be the last surviving example of its type and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

The Lettie G. Howard by Nelson Michael Chin – Own work

She is a 74.6 feet long two-masted wooden-hulled fishing schooner with a beam of 21 feet and a hold depth of 8.4 feet.  Gross tonnage and a net tonnage are 59.74 and 56.76, respectively. Her hull has a frame of oak timbers, covered in tree nailed pine planking with a belowdecks area that was historically divided into a forecastle third where the crew quarters were located, the main fish hold in the center, and a smaller storage area aft.

Our Intrepid Captain

After a number of lives and owners, she was restored in 1991 and is currently certified by the US Coast Guard as a Sailing School Vessel training and working museum ship.  She usually cruises along the Northeast seaboard but in 2018, sailed to Lake Erie and is currently hosted by the Flagship Niagara League, offering sailing tours from the Erie Maritime Museum. 

Pulling Up One of the Sails

We boarded the ship with our fellow passengers and soon set sail for what would eventually be a little over two hours out on the water.  It was a beautiful day, warm but not hot, clear blue skies and a slight wind and we sat back to enjoy the captain’s narrative on the ship’s history and its current role as a training vessel.  Soon the crew and a bunch of volunteers pulled from the other passengers engaged in raising the sails, a seriously physical endeavor.  We sailed up the lake, the crew busy trimming the sails and answering questions from the passengers, until we reached the time to turn around and head back to port. 

Joanna Helping the Crew

We docked, bade farewell the crew and our fellow passengers and still early in the afternoon, made our way to Erie Ale Works, one of the many local breweries in town.  Not yet hungry as we’d had a nice lunch at a Panera Bread (it seems that this chain has disappeared from the west side of Los Angeles and our only opportunity to visit is when we are on the road). 

Bringing One of the Sails Down

There we split a Smokehouse BBQ Chicken Sandwich (Smoked, pulled chicken, BBQ sauce, red onions, aged white cheddar, and frizzled onions), a cup of Autumn Squash Soup (butternut squash and pumpkin with honey, apple juice, cinnamon, and a hint of curry, finished with sweet cream and topped with roasted and salted pumpkin seeds) and an Orange Scone. 

Panera’s model seems to be a good one, that is to offer fresh seasonally based high-quality ingredients in a warm and welcoming atmosphere, one that encourages lingering, which is obvious by the number of people who use it as their office.  We’ve yet to be disappointed in any of the offerings we’ve had and if one existed closer to the house, we’d visit regularly.  And in the next post we will move on to what fills our cups fully, that is hitting the breweries. 

Sailor Boy Cisco

Links

Erie KOA Holiday: https://koa.com/campgrounds/erie/

Lucky Louie’s Beer Wieners: https://luckylouiesbeerandwieners.com/

Lettie G. Howard: https://www.tallshipsamerica.org/vessels/lettie-g-howard/

Panera Bread: https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html

Erie Ale Works: https://www.eriealeworks.com/

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