For the past 60 years, my family has had a cottage on Kelley’s Island, located in the western basin of Lake Erie. It is our summer home away from home and a retreat that is just close enough, but just far enough away to “get away from it all.” Our cottage is located on the North side of the island, between the state park and the airport. A long, rickety dock acts as a landmark for boater friends anchoring in our “front yard.” The royal blue house can sleep eight guests and our guest cottage, tucked back by the driveway, sleeps four. The title “Squeezum Inn” fares no exaggeration. My maternal grandparents are the original members of the Kelley’s Island Landowner’s Association. Now that they are permanent Florida residents, my mother is now the KILA member.
A typical day at Squeezum Inn begins with breakfast around the vintage, fiber glass white table. As soon as breakfast is done, swim suits are on and the beach chairs unfold. Boating, swimming, and sunning all day long, and maybe a jump off of the 10-foot “Table Rock” (a piece of fallen limestone that darts out over the water) if you’re brave enough. The grill fires up for dinner, squeezing as many as ten at the table and six at the picnic table in the yard. After dinner, the children gather up kindling and the adults find the fixings for s’mores. Everyone socializes around the campfire until their eyes can’t stay open any longer. At last, everyone makes their way to their bed and the sound of the waves lulls them to sleep.
One of the best ways to take in a gorgeous Kelley’s sunset is with a margarita in hand at the West Bay Inn. The West Bay Inn offers an unobstructed view of the sunset, live music, and a great outdoor patio bar.
Traditionally, when friends make their inaugural visit to Squeezum Inn, I insist that they take an “initiation” shot from the Bag the Moon Saloon. The “Strawberry Shot” makes the saloon famous and are purchased by the hundreds daily. A strawberry is hollowed out, filled with liquor, and topped with whipped cream. There is no graceful way to devour this sweet sin, so dig in!
If you are a fan of Lake Erie perch and walleye, look no further than the Village Pump. The owner grew up on Kelley’s Island as a kid and can be seen today serving up drinks and perch take out dinners behind the bar. The fish is caught, cleaned, battered, and fried fresh every day and served up with a smile.
Family and friends come from all over the United States to spend a weekend here. It’s a place for reunion and relaxation.
Olivia Killam is a 27-year old Special Education teacher who works for Bellefaire JCB at the Monarch Adult Autism Program. She helps train adults in vocational and daily living skills.