Tagged with "adventure"
20 Jul
2017
Posted in: travel, uncategorized
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Cuyahoga Valley: An Urban Park

I had predisposed ideas about Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. I knew it was large with an extensive trail system, waterfalls and a covered bridge. What we found was the most urban national park we’ve visited.

Teen looking at a replica of a canal boat

The park, our first major stop on our epic road trip, is not far from both Akron and Cleveland. It’s a refuge for animals and people alike in the bustling urban sprawl. We visited on a weekend, and the park was busy. The crowd was both tourist and locals escaping into the outdoors for a few hours. We chose to hike part of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail which currently runs 81 miles from Cleveland to Bolivar but will eventually be 110 miles long. Over 19 miles of the trail are on national park land. Mules used to pull boats carrying goods in the canal in the 1800s. There are still remnants of the canal’s history, like locks, throughout the trail.

visitors to Cuyahoga Valley completeing a quest

Part of the junior ranger program our kids did while at Cuyahoga Valley was a guest that used rhyming clues to guide us around the Towpath near the Boston Store Visitor Center. It was similar to geocaching and was a fun means to learn about the history of the area. The park boasts 40 questing opportunities for visitors. There are no GPS coordinates like geocaching, just rhyming directions to follow. Visitors collect stamps from boxes at the end of each quest and sign a logbook. If we were local to the area, questing would be a favorite activity for us. It would be wonderful for other national and state parks to do similar programs helping to educate visitors about the history of an area in an engaging and fun manner.

a canal lock in Cuyahoga Valley

The canal lock covered in moss we found as part of our junior ranger quest made for an interesting discussion about transportation in the area in the past. Our kids were enamored by the many turtles sunning themselves and the croaking frogs. Our 7th grader would have spent our entire three-week vacation near that little pond watching and tracking the animals.

frog half hidden in the water

turtle sunnying itself

Cuyahoga Valley is home to several waterfalls. We ventured to Blue Hen Falls, a short 1/2 mile hike. The hike is fairly easy through a forest to see Spring Creek fall 15-feet over a sandstone top layer to shale below. The trail was busy but not crowded and had a ranger manning the overflow parking lot helping to direct traffic.

Blue Hen Falls in Cuyahoga Valley

hikers on the ledges Trail in Cuyahoga Valley

Ledges Trail is over two-miles total and has some neat geological features which were different from other areas we visited in the park. Rock ledges jutting out of the forest floor seem to come from nowhere while hiking part of the trail. The area begs visitors to scamper down the edges and explore what’s below. The Ledges Overlook offers a view from a rock ledge over the tree-covered valley. While the view is lovely, it wasn’t spectacular for us. It’s difficult to please people who have seen views from Rocky Mountain peaks.

everett covered bridge in ohio

inside everett covered bridge

Our drive through the park took us into several small townships which were full of character. The highlight for our visit, for me, was Everett Covered Bridge. Ohio was once home to over 2,000 covered bridges, but Summit County only has Everett remaining. The bridge, which crosses Furnace Run, is believed to have been built in the late 1800s. It was repaired in 1913 and then rebuilt in the 1970s. The white interior and red exterior of the bridge contrast with the lush green of the surrounding forest. Covered bridges are a symbol of bygone times and something not seen in Wyoming.

Next stop on our road trip: major bucket list destination, Niagara Falls


 
East Coast Road Trip Debriefing
By     |    Jul 18, 2017
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East Coast Road Trip Debriefing

5,905 miles. Three weeks. 21 states. I can guess what people will say each time I recite theses details about our most recent epic road trip. People think we’re “amazing” to take our children on an adventure of that caliber, but cannot fathom doing anything similar. We’ve been called crazy. People think there’s some trick for getting our children to travel for weeks and swear their families would not survive the journey. This was the second time we’ve been on... [Read More]

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Adjusting to a Different Summer
By     |    Jun 21, 2017
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Adjusting to a Different Summer

I miss preschoolers. Maybe I don’t miss everything about having young children, but parenting a teen and a tween this summer has me nostalgic for truly lazy days of summer. I was prepared for life to change when our oldest entered high school. He’s active and involved. I knew certain things, like sports, would require more time. He hit the ground running this summer and his commitment motivated our 7th grader to start his own training program. By 9:45 a.m.... [Read More]

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Fighting Through Travel Anxiety
By     |    Jun 16, 2017
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Fighting Through Travel Anxiety

I’m at the point in vacation planning where I think it’s best to cancel our plans. This happens every time we travel, whether we’ll be gone for five days or three weeks. I’m overwhelmed by the planning process and dreading the packing. My anxiety has me worrying about everything from flat tires to lost hotel reservations to vomiting children to terrorists and everything in between. I can’t even think about the crowds of people and lines we’ll encounter. We’ll stay... [Read More]

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Five Favorite Family Vacation Destinations
By     |    May 25, 2017
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Five Favorite Family Vacation Destinations

My list of places to vacation is extensive while the allotted vacation days are finite. I like picking the brains of fellow travelers for tips on destinations we have planned and will talk your ear off if you venture to ask for ideas of places to visit. This is the time of year I’m asked quite often for vacation ideas. Most of my suggestions are for outdoor lovers and those who don’t have a fortune to spend on vacation. We’ve... [Read More]

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That Time I Danced in a Competition
By     |    Apr 11, 2017
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That Time I Danced in a Competition

I collapsed under friendly peer pressure and danced in a Spotlight Dance Cup Regional competition last weekend…on a stage…with an audience and judges. Gulp. It all started last summer when I took an adult ballet class to better understand my daughter and her passion for dance. I heard rumors that our studio director wanted to do a moms and dads dance for this season. Not happening. I enjoyed class but was not going on stage. I repeat, I was not... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park
By     |    Apr 3, 2017
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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park

We visited Badlands National Park for the fourth time this weekend. After several friends mentioned not knowing about the park, which is four hours from our home, I thought it needed some love. Our first three visits to the park were in the summer months when it’s crowded and hot. A spring visit was much more to our liking. There were no crowds. We didn’t have to circle around for a parking spot at the visitor center or any trailhead.... [Read More]

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Joy in a Staycation
By     |    Mar 27, 2017
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Joy in a Staycation

My preference is to leave town whenever possible. I like to explore and discover new places. We’re on a staycation this spring break, and I was dreading it. I longed to spend our five school-free weekdays somewhere other than here. We’re stockpiling vacation days for an upcoming summer road trip, so home is where we are for the week. Technically we have small getaways planned for the weekends buffering spring break week and a small excursion mid-week. We’re only partially on... [Read More]

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40
By     |    Feb 20, 2017
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40

Forty years…that seems like a lot of life and yet not much at all. I won’t shed tears over this milestone. I’ve been celebrating this birthday since last month when we visited California. We spent my birthday weekend snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park. I said goodbye to my 30s and hello to this new decade with multiple adventures. Growing older has taught me to make experiences happen, and I’m abundantly grateful to have another year of living written in... [Read More]

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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park
By     |    Feb 12, 2017
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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park

Quite a few people in our circle of friends will be spending Spring Break in Las Vegas. I’ve replied to a few inquiries about family-friendly ideas in Vegas on the cheap and outdoor activities that don’t include sitting poolside. We’ve been through Las Vegas numerous times one our way to and from other adventures like Disneyland, Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park. My go-to suggestion for people staying in Vegas who want an outdoor adventure is Valley... [Read More]

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Reasons to Tour Warner Bros. Studio Hollywood
By     |    Feb 1, 2017
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Reasons to Tour Warner Bros. Studio Hollywood

I’ve always been drawn to the magic of movies. My parents owned a video rental store when I was growing up, back when VCRs were just hitting the market and movie night meant watching a video tape. When we decided to spend a day around Hollywood during a recent California vacation, I knew a movie studio tour should be on the agenda. We chose to tour Warner Bros. Studio based on a Harry Potter exhibit, a Batman vehicle exhibit and... [Read More]

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Tips for a runDisney 5K
By     |    Jan 18, 2017
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Tips for a runDisney 5K

Our latest adventure began with me despising winter and ended in a galaxy far, far away at a runDisney event at Disneyland. Living in the middle of Wyoming means roads leading out of the state can be closed for heaven knows how long throughout winter. Weather forced us to drive to California through New Mexico and Arizona. It was ridiculous. I am blessed with fantastic traveling companions. I don’t ever want to do that again, but it was completely worth... [Read More]

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