After our thee day stay at West Virginia’s Tomlinson Run State Park, we retraced our drive 45 miles north before turning west towards the Cuyahoga Valley, which boasts one of the handful of National Parks to receive that designation in the 21st century. This would be Kalynn’s last stay with stop with us, so we once again selected a private park with kid friendly amenities close to the national park and within easy striking distance of the Cleveland airport for her departure flight.
Passport America came through once again, leading us to the well reviewed Country Acres Campground near Ravenna, OH. We secured a spacious electric/water site for the $20 per day PA rate. They offered us a nicer full hook up spot that included a wood deck for a higher price, but we stuck with the most cost efficient option, and it was just fine, with a near unobstructed view of their catch and release pond.
Aside from the confusing road system, Country Acres turned out to be a near ideal choice. Large, level sites in an attractive setting, working free wifi, and plenty of things for the kids including a pool, bounce platform, inflated obstacle course and water balloon battle zone. The owners were constantly out and about coordinating improvements and repairs. One of the longer term campers had nothing but praise for them noting that they really seemed to put a lot of their profit right back into the camp, adding new features and activities every year.
We spent two day there without leaving the property except one time for take out pizza. The rest of our time was spent enjoying the amenities, watching the ducks and swan, and trying to keep Kalynn reined in so we could send her back home with but the one skinned elbow from her bike crash. On her last full day we even managed to finish off an extended math tutoring session with only the small amount of opposition. Such is the power of promised ice cream.
On our third day we made the one hour drive to the airport, with Rosemarie escorting her to the gate and waiting there until departure. Though we all had some great times, after 19 days she was ready to go home and we were ready to resume our two person grown up lives again.
While Rosemarie was waiting in the airport, I went geocaching in the area. I snagged a nearby park and grab to meet my “one in every state” goal, but since I still had an hour I headed for a series of five nearby caches in an interesting location. Apparently due to the expansion of the airport, an entire subdivision of homes was bought out and then completely removed; the only obvious trace being the three division roads slowly being reclaimed by the grass and wild bushes. Everything else, including houses, driveways, street lights, telephone polls, have been completely removed.
The streets were blocked off by barriers, but since there was no “no trespassing sign” anywhere, I found my way onto the property in Loki by driving over a low point in the curb of the nearby access road and driving across the fields. It was such fun that after finding one in the series I continued throughout the rest o the former neighborhood, likely driving through what had once been living rooms and the like until i found all five, then headed out the tree lined, empty streets before hopping the curb back to return to the airport and pick up Rosemarie.
Though Kalynn had exhausted us, we took advantage of our first child free afternoon in 19 days to drive to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitor center and at least spend a couple of hours exploring the park. We watched the traditional park movie before getting a couple of recommendations from the rangers short hikes to see the park highlights.
It’s an odd national park, lacking the striking, much less overwhelming natural features that one normally associates with a full national park. It is a very lovey area with an important natural ecosystem, but, aside from politics, it made its claim for inclusion in the NPS system as much on the cultural importance grounds as on natural wonderment. The Ohio and Erie canal tow paths cut through much of the park, which has established a hike and bike trail along the historic canal line.
We did a short hike to see the beautiful Richie Ledges and the opening of the ice cave, though full access to the latter is restricted as part of the national effort against White Nose Syndrome, an easily spread fungus that has been decimating the North American bat population.
We capped off the visit with a climb down to the lower observation level of Brandywine Falls, a 65′ fall that, like several we saw in NY, has a lot less flow volume these days due to dry conditions. The hiking in the park looks to be quite nice, but we didn’t have much time to enjoy such things. We headed back to our campground, extended our stay by one night so as to recover from temporary child rearing, and prepped for our continued journey west.
We have made a big push this last week to catch up on the blog; when I published the 19 Months Fulltiming Report I wrote that we were 18 days, 7 stops and four states behind. We have continued to travel, but we are at least posting at faster rate than we switch locations, so as of today we are only 12 days, 4 stops, and 2 states behind. Progress! Next up: through Indiana and into Lower Michigan.