Tagged with "road trip"
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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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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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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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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Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love
By     |    Dec 29, 2016
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Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love

For someone who has spent almost 40 years living near mountains, I sure do love the beach. I love the sound of the waves crashing. I love the feel of sand in my toes. I love the pure joy my kids have in the water. However, I don’t love what the salt does to skin or hair. I don’t love the smell of the saltwater-soaked towels or swimsuits. This summer I learned the perfect substitute for the ocean is the... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Discovering History
By     |    Dec 28, 2016
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Take a Trip: Discovering History

We’re only a few weeks into winter in Wyoming, and I’m over it. The mounds of snow followed by hurricane-strength winds, seriously 70+ miles per hour, wears me down and makes me irritable. I’m finishing 2016 with a few posts looking back on our summer adventures while I begin planning our 2017 vacations. For me, gifting our children with experiences is the most ideal way to teach them. We travel a lot by car because it allows us to see... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
By     |    Nov 10, 2016
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Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

All outdoor enthusiasts or lovers of beautiful landscapes should place Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan on a must-see list of places to visit. The foliage-covered sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks rise above the aquamarine water of Lake Superior lending itself to picturesque views around every bend. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape. While the view was truly mesmerizing, our nemesis on the trip, stable flies, were in full-force. Stable flies are quite possibly the worst insect we’ve encountered... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Apostle Islands and Keweenaw Peninsula
By     |    Nov 9, 2016
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Take a Trip: Apostle Islands and Keweenaw Peninsula

There have been several places we’ve visited that we hope to visit again when children are older and physically capable of doing more. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin is one of those places. I hope to go back and try kayaking Lake Superior. During our July vacation stop at Apostle Islands we enjoyed hiking a mainland trail to view “sea” caves. We hiked most of the Lakeshore Trail which begins at Meyers Beach. We only saw a handful of... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park
By     |    Nov 8, 2016
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Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park

We’re in the middle of a crazy warm November in Wyoming. The temperature has been hovering in the mid-60s with sunny skies for weeks now. I’m not going to complain about beautiful, fall weather, but it makes me itch to travel. By this time most years, we’re settled into shorter days and cold, blustery weather. Dry, snow-free ground makes me want to plan a trip and hit the highways again. School schedules and extracurricular activities have us staying at home.... [Read More]

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