Saturday, January 11, 2014

Frozen Dunes & Houseboats

© Stuart Pearl 2013 - Click on Image to Enlarge for Slideshow

There is an interesting place about 90 minutes east of our home in Erie, Pa.  This time of year you will see houseboats frozen in silence and ice encrusted sand dunes resembling parts of the moon.  These are the ponds and dunes of Presque Isle, Pennsylvania.

Horseshoe pond lies among the dunes and marshes of this 3,200 acre peninsula.  It is also home to 24 houseboats that are permanently anchored in the quiet waters. 

In the early part of the 20th Century houseboats were scattered throughout the western part of Presque Isle Bay.  For a time after that Misery Bay was their designated area, and by 1964 they were allowed only in Horseshoe Pond.  The houseboats can be no larger than 40' x 60' and they get power from the mainland via underwater cables. (From "A Concise History of Presque Isle".)

Unless you want to brave a walk across the ice, access to these homes is typically by kayak or small boat during the warmer seasons.  A pale sun mixed with fog created hazy illumination across this unique site.  It's amazing how the this area looks during the summer.
Less than a mile north of Horseshoe Pond there is a series of ten sand beaches on the shore of Lake Erie.  Waves spray across the grasses and sand hills during the winter and create otherworldly ice crystal dunes.  While fascinating to view, they are unstable for people.  Park rangers warn hikers to avoid walking on them since they can hollow inside.  Sometimes as high as 10' they will hide gullies and pools of frigid water.


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