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Monday, February 17, 2014

A sunday drive to see Frozen Lake Erie, Conneaut Lake and Waldameer

Earlier in the week we heard about the cool formations that are on Lake Erie as a result of this Polar Vortex which is shifting the Arctic air down here as opposed to places like Alaska that are facing avalanches due to warm weather. Naturally with how much we love the "lake life" we wanted to go check out these ice formations because there is a possibility these may never happen again in our lifetime. This extreme weather is rare. Pittsburgh is close enough to Erie that you can drive up to it, spend a really nice day there and then drive back with plenty of time to spare. We decided to take a little detour to Conneaut Lake. The fantastic recent track work on the Blue Streak by the Adams and the abrupt Vettel designed hills look even more amazing all snow covered. I had never gone down the side road by the coaster. It is tough to get good shots or a full good view because the track layout is so long and it is so wooded back there. The trees around it are spectacular with many of them being way taller than the coaster itself. The coaster is pretty large at 78 feet tall, with multiple large hills in succession after the drop. The design is so radically different from the rest that came out of this era, almost reminiscent of El Toro's multiple drops in succession. The intensity of these hills in an old NAD train and tradition wooden track makes these drops seem as intense. This is one of those rides that you hold on for dear life. The work the Adams did from the top of the first drop to the turnaround is nothing short of spectacular. Here is the view of the lead up, turn-around and the return. This section was absolutely terrible before the Adams rebuilt this. The lack of banking makes it very intense. The way they rebuilt so much of the track on this ride is nothing short of spectacular. 
In the bottom shot especially, you can see the relatively new wood in that turnaround. 
Experimenting with panorama today, bear with me :-)
Welcome to snowy and desolate Conneaut Lake!
The sign is looking lonely! I prefer seeing the letters on it saying "unveiling something in August!"
Park Avenue and I believe that is hill three of the Blue Streak in the background.
Beautiful in the snow!
Now off to the side road. I believe this is the second hill. It is tough to see through the thick trees.
The giant layout of the ride, hidden by the trees
This shot really shows how great the start of the layout is. The 78 foot hill leads into that very large second hill. I am not sure of the exact height of it, but look at how abrupt the angles are on both the first drop and the second hill. It is really quite spectacular. I hope this coaster does not remain threatened because it is such a gem. Those abrupt drops and hills are more intense than most of the coasters out there, even modern rides. Additionally, those trees are HUGE. That first drop is 78 feet and those trees have at least 20 or 30 feet on the coaster. We are talking trees over a hundred feet, undisturbed. Not many places have a coaster that is completely covered in trees. 
Being a relative newcomer to Western Pennsylvania I am wondering what this was from. Was this on the train, another ride or was this from another park. I assume that this is the small boneyard for the park.

The side of the Hotel Conneaut. Such a cool Victorian era hotel. The fact that it is near Utley Road shows that folks in Eastern PA should make the trip here.

Conneaut was a cool stop, both figuratively and literally, with all of the snow. It is not often that you see summer attractions all covered in snow. I hope to goodness that the park's situation goes away because it is so beautiful and it has such potential. If folks like the Adams and the community work together at this same rate, the park should be completely amazing in a short amount of time. 

Seeing Conneaut was really neat. It is pretty easy to get up to Erie from this point, we just continued on the road that took us to the park. We went up to see the frozen wonderland that is Presque Isle State Park. Both Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie were fully frozen with some awesome ice formations on Lake Erie. I seriously recommend anyone to go take a trip up before the meltdown happens. It is really something else to see. 

You could see nothing but white when you looked out on the lake. These ice dunes formed here near the shore. The state park patrols were warning not to walk on them since often times these formations are hollow. They were really something to see though!
On the bay side it was hopping with activity. In the middle of the shot you can see some kids dug out snow and were playing some traditional pond hockey. On the left you can see the "Joe Roots Frozen Open" going on. They were golfing on the icy Presque Isle Bay. We had to take the opportunity go up and see this. I have a smile on my face just thinking about how awesome it was yesterday. Presque Isle State Park really has something to offer during every season. Cross country skiing across the flat peninsula is another popular activity in the snow in addition to ice fishing. Once the snow starts to melt, bicyclists and runners will start showing up. The following photo is a comparison to what the bay looks like on a summer day.

Golfers on the frozen bay
Kids playing hockey
The Perry monument to the man that saved us during the Lake Erie Naval Battles in the War of 1812. I have  a feeling the fountains are not going today. 
Cold picnic weather. The person on that ice dune was not well advised. Here is a comparison shot to what it looks like in this exact spot on a summer day:
No need to preserve the sand dunes today. the fencing seems to be creating a nice snow dune though!
A little sand peeking through. 
The Ice Dunes are so cool

We ate at Joe Roots and that was pretty awesome. Very affordable and delicious food. The Bay area was so awesome so we had to go back to it before we left. 
Brit took this shot. I was literally in awe of how amazing it was to be on top of the bay. I had never been on a frozen lake or pond before. 
Brit enjoying the frozen bay

The bright new colors on the Waldameer waterslides are truly awesome. They make the slides look brand new. I am sure they will bring in many locals that see them from the distance and think "oh man we need to get to Waldameer!" The bright colors really catch your eyes. Kudos to the Waldameer team for doing a wonderful job on these. 
Old school filter for this shot. Picture through our car's old style blue sun tinting. 
Another drive by picture!
The bridge is always impressive
Ravine Flyer II's Turnaround is really spectacular. I cannot wait until summer to ride this wonder again.
You should make the trip up to Erie anytime of the year but I highly recommend getting up there as soon as you can. You need to see how amazing the frozen over lake is. Seeing snow covered coasters is pretty awesome too. Be sure to swing over to Conneaut as well. 

Erie makes for a great and affordable day trip or weekend for anyone within range of the two parks. You can easily get to both parks and Presque Isle State Park. Be sure to support both of the amusement parks, but Conneaut is in real trouble and needs everyone's help. I have donated a portion of the book proceeds towards helping out the park. If you are interested our book "Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip," be sure to use the drop down menu at the top of the page and I will also send you your choice of either a Conneaut Lake Blue Streak ticket or a Lakemont Leap the Dips Ticket. 

The book is also available through Amazon, all Bradley's Books locations, and many independent bookstores. 


  1. GREAT update. Wishing the VERY best for Conneaut Lake Park.

    1. Thank you Leighton! Yeah I am trying everything in my power to help out. We cannot afford to lose another park.