Experience Gallagher Beach
Yesterday was the first day that I saw Gallagher Beach (near the NFTA Small Boat Harbor) used like it should be. We pulled up around 4pm and the wind was ripping off the lake. Off to the left a tribe of windsurfers had set up camp, and they were launching every minute or so into the brilliant blue waters. To the right, a family had set out chairs and towels and were taking turns zipping around on a Wave Runner. We stood on the boardwalk and watched all of the waterfront activity before us. The boardwalk was a pleasant place to be on that last day of summer. The previous Saturday I had brought my dog along with me to take a swim in this stretch of water. There had been a few other dogs running around at the same time. That was not the case yesterday... the windy weather had drawn a fairly good crowd and it was good to see.
This stretch of land that I'm describing is found directly across from the Tifft Nature Preserve. We found ourselves here after taking a five-mile hike out into the Tifft marshes... the change of scenery in just under a minute was awesome. We had gone from observing birdwatchers to scoping out windsurfers just like that. Since we were on our bikes, we decided to follow the trails that wrapped out around the NFTA Small Boat Harbor Park. The park was fairly empty, with a few roller-bladers, joggers, walkers, and a young boy flying his kite with his mom and dad. It was there that we ran into an old-timer who told us that when he was young there were only a couple docks down in this area. "Now there are over a thousand boats here," he said while pointing out over the harbor. "My boat's right over there [pointing again]. This is where we used to hunt ducks... now people still hunt them out beyond the break-wall."
It was interesting to get the old man's perspective as to the changes that had taken place since he was a young boy. After saying "goodbye" we hopped back onto the trail and headed over to Dug's Dive for a beer. Once again, the place was surprisingly empty considering that so many people are constantly saying that there is nothing to do on the waterfront. We spoke to Kevin the Manager, and Allison the bartendress who told us that the bar had been packed until all hours of the morning (the night before). That was good to hear. Since Dug's Dive is owned by Tucker Curtain (The Steer and Lake Effect) a younger crowd has been heading to the water's edge for a different nightlife experience. Supposedly Dug's Dive will also remain open up until January... I highly recommend checking this place out. It's a lot of fun and, as I said, they now have a liquor license.
We never found the time to make it over to Times Beach... and that's a good thing. We're heading back to visit that nature preserve next weekend. I'll have a Part 3 on Tifft Nature Preserve posted later today. I'll also show another example or two as to why the downgrading of Route 5 is so important to this section of the waterfront. Overnight we could have an accessible component of our waterfront... if that's what people want.