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From the delivery room, the first place I went as a young babe was a house on a small Cleveland street that dead-ended just before Lake Erie. My family moved a few blocks away less than a year later and stayed within earshot of the water until I was six. A few years back, my parents bought a small cottage in Saybrook, about 50 miles east and even closer to shore.

Erie has always been part of my life, and I'm glad. Most landlubbers down in Columbus just don't appreciate what a great lake it really is. I'd urge you to try this weekend by heading to Geneva State Park, a small lakeside enclave about three hours from Central Ohio.

[Park homepage]

Looking to swim, fish or boat? The park offers all three, as well as some interesting scenery. Check out plenty of pics after the jump...

View larger image

From the delivery room, the first place I went as a young babe was a house on a small Cleveland street that dead-ended just before Lake Erie. My family moved a few blocks away less than a year later and stayed within earshot of the water until I was six. A few years back, my parents bought a small cottage in Saybrook, about 50 miles east and even closer to shore.

Erie has always been part of my life, and I'm glad. Most landlubbers down in Columbus just don't appreciate what a great lake it really is. I'd urge you to try this weekend by heading to Geneva State Park, a small lakeside enclave about three hours from Central Ohio.

[Park homepage]

Looking to swim, fish or boat? The park offers all three, as well as some interesting scenery. Check out plenty of pics after the jump...

View larger image Much of the shoreline is bolstered with giant rocks to prevent erosion. Don't worry: The swimming beach to the west is sandy.

View larger image The official swimming area is 300 feet long and guarded seasonally. There's plenty of spots to spread a blanket, eat some lunch and take a dip.

View larger image I made my girlfriend, Beth, rouse the ring-billed gulls perched on the beach. They posed well.

View larger image In addition to six miles of hiking trails, staff put in a two-mile paved route that takes you from one end of the park to the other. If you bring your bike, ride into Geneva-on-the-Lake, a small vacation hamlet about a mile east of the park.

View larger image Just below much of the Lake Erie coastline lie extensive marshes -- important wetland habitat for birds, reptiles and amphibians. Here you can see the lake water rushing inland through the shoals.

View larger image A public launch ramp and trailer-parking lot is available. The marina also offers docking and other amenities for a price.