News & Feature Articles Written About People & Places in Lake County, Ohio            

We've Got Sand
The best beaches around Lake Erie for biking, birding, camping and more.
It’s that time of year. Loaded-up minivans head south for the wide-open beaches of the Carolinas and the fun of Florida. That makes sense in March, but at this time of year, one really ought to reconsider. Think Presque Isle and its miles of pristine beaches, Ontario and a sand scene so lively it draws folks from all over, cottages and flags fluttering in the wind, biking and hiking and camping. Think beach glass and birding. These are the things of a breezy Lake Erie summer. Why leave? After all …

We've Got Sand
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Best Beach Glass
Mentor Headlands State Park in Ohio

I found it. Right there. That smooth white pebble with a hint of shimmer. Yep, that has to be beach glass. I squeal, grab it and rush to show my find to my companion Lorie Dalrymple, beach glass artist and co-owner of Beaches Jewelry Studio & Gallery in Ashtabula, Ohio.

“That’s a rock,” she says. Again. That’s pretty much all I’ve heard for the past 15 minutes.

It’s my first outing to search for Lake Erie beach glass. We’re at Mentor Headlands State Park, where the beach offers a mile of potential finds. It’s a sunny, windy morning, too chilly for beach-goers but ideal for beach-glass hunters.

We’re one of a few groups today searching for these treasured chunks of lake-smoothed glass. Our compatriots are noticeable by their slow, shuffling steps and hunched posture, eyes trained to the shoreline.

I might not be off to a good start, but I’m heartened by the promise Dalrymple offered when we scheduled this expedition. “You won’t go away empty-handed,” she told me.

I heed the advice she offers: Stay focused on the pebbly edge of the shoreline, where the waves continually unearth new treasures. Walk in both directions to catch the sun glinting off glass from different angles. When possible, search the morning after a storm, which churns up new glass. Train your eye to recognize wet and dry glass.

“The wet ones are the easy picks, but up here,” says Dalrymple, gesturing to the dry band of rocks between sand and shore, “there’s a ton of glass that people miss.”

Not all beach glass is created equal. White is the most common color, clouded from its original clear state. There’s a hierarchy of color rarity, starting with the common browns and greens through blues and aquas to oranges and reds, the rarest. It takes 10 to 15 years in the water for the sharp edges of glass to smooth. By the time its surface clouds into a soft patina, the glass has likely been adrift for 20 to 30 years.

Beach glass is tougher to find than it once was. There’s the rise of plastic bottles and aluminum cans, plus the largely successful efforts to discourage littering. Yet as a hobby, searching for beach glass is as popular as ever, requiring little more than sharp eyesight and a plastic baggie.

These beach-glass hunters are a congenial group. On this day, one woman skitters over to show us the rare red fleck her husband scored. She drove more than an hour to get to Mentor Headlands, her favorite glass-hunting beach. Why? “It’s like a treasure hunt,” she says, cheeks flushed with excitement.

Sure enough, after staring at the shoreline as if it were an M.C. Escher painting, my eyes begin to see beach glass standing out from the pebble-laden tableau. I find a piece, a real one this time, and many after that — plenty of whites and browns, but also a few greens and even two periwinkle blues.

An hour later, I understand the woman’s giddiness. I’m starting to feel it, too. The treasure hunt is on, and I’m its newest fanatic. Mentor Headlands State Park, 9601 Headlands Road, Mentor, Ohio; 216-881-8141, ohiostateparks.org

— Jennifer Keirn, Lake Erie Living Magazine


Eat Here
There’s no better way to end a day at the beach than with Lake Erie perch or walleye at the maritime-themed Brennan’s Fish House, located in a 160-year- old building on the Grand River. 102 River St., Grand River, Ohio; 440-354-9785, www.brennansfishhouse.com

Stay Here
Fitzgerald’s Irish Bed & Breakfast is located in a restored 16-room Tudor mansion just three miles from Headlands. 47 Mentor Ave., Painesville, Ohio; 440-639-0845, www.fitzgeraldsbnb.com

Insider Tip
Indulge nearly any outdoor fancy — hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking — at Mentor Lagoons, Ohio’s newest nature preserve, located just south of Headlands Beach. 8365 Harbor Drive, Mentor, Ohio; 440-205-3625, www.cityofmentor.com
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