The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘Ohio’ category

Bicycling the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

We departed home, en route Ohio, at 6:15 am on the 22nd of September.

We arrived at Cuyahoga Valley National Park shortly before 9:30 am. We parked at the Boston trail head. We rode our bicycles to the nearby Boston Store Visitor Center, where I stamped our National Park Service Passport.

_LG28429The Boston Store Visitor Center sits alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

We rode our bicycles on a portion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Click here for a 2-page map of the trail.

We rode from the Boston Visitor Center south to Lock 26, just past Beaver Marsh, and back. My trip odometer read 15.02 miles, upon our return. The Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail follows the same path that mules walked to tow canal boats loaded with goods and passengers. Within the national park, the trail is level and hard-packed for people using wheelchairs, bicycles, and strollers. It is possible to bicycle one way and return by train for a low cost using the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Bike Aboard! service. We didn’t make use of this service. We rode our bicycles both ways.

We passed by six locks, while on our bicycle ride.

_LG28433Lock 31, Lonesome Lock, was the first lock that we passed by.
Lonesome lock acquired its name from the isolated location.
There are legends of robberies and murders that occurred in this remote area.

During our northbound ride, we stopped for lunch at Szalay’s Food & Market, located just off the towpath near the Hunt House.

_LG28438Outdoor Eating Area at Szalay’s Food & Market

After lunch, we enjoyed looking at all the Autumn things.

_LG28437Colorful Scarecrows

_LG28439Pumpkins

_LG28440More Pumpkins

_LG28441And Even MORE Pumpkins!

During our bicycle ride south, we did not stop in Peninsula. We remedied that by stopping on our northbound ride. We stopped at the Visitor Center, where we learned that a historic steam engine would be making its way through Peninsula soon. We hung around to wait for that train.

_LG28449The first train that arrived (and stopped) at the Peninsula train depot
was one of the regular Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad trains.

_LG28448CVSR train

The historic Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 arrived in Peninsula about 20-25 minutes later.  The steam locomotive did not stop in Peninsula; it rode by slowly.

Click here for a direct link to the video in the event it does not appear or play properly.

Each year, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad works with the Fort Wayne Historical Society to bring historic steam locomotive No. 765 to the Cuyahoga Valley for its “Steam in the Valley” event in September.  During the two-hour trip through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, passengers can hop off the train to take photos. Exactly where is a secret, to keep congestion in the area down.

From Peninsula we continued making our way back to the Boston trail head.

20180922_182019034_iOS
Bob and I alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

Once our bicycles were securely attached to our bike carrier, we departed the park and drove to where we would be spending the night.

We checked into Best Western Plus West Akron Inn & Suites at approximately 3:30 pm. We relaxed in our room until 5:00 pm, when we left for dinner.

We ate dinner at the Outback Restaurant, located near the hotel. The evening’s dinner was celebratory in recognition of our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary (which was on September 26th).

———-

I got up at 5:30 am the next day.   Bob had been up for an hour already. We got showered and dressed. Breakfast wasn’t until 7:00 am, but we wandered down about 10 minutes early and found it ready for the taking. We ate a hearty breakfast of waffles, eggs and sausage.

We checked out of hotel at 8:00 am and returned to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We arrived at the Canal Visitor Center at 8:53 am. We rode our bicycles on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail from the Canal Visitor Center south to the Boston Store Visitor Center and back, even after a tumble and a hit on my forehead! My trip odometer read 18.68 miles, upon our return.

The tumble on my bicycle happened on our way to the Boston Store Visitor Center, approximately 30 minutes into our ride. I stopped to take a picture of a spider web. Unknown to me, the trail was cupped where I stopped. When I put down my foot, it didn’t meet ground. Down I went. My forehead came into contact with a fallen log. The impact snapped off the visor on my bike helmet and bent my eyeglasses.

IMG_20180923_104823My poor forehead

Two joggers stopped, a man and a woman. The man, along with Bob helped me get up and back on the trail. I think the jogger picked up my bicycle. The joggers didn’t leave until I assured them that I was OK. My tumble occurred on the Cuyahoga River side of the trail. It was a gentle slope to the river a distance away. I am glad that my tumble didn’t occur on the canal side of the trail, as there was nothing to stop me from falling into the canal!

Bob was able to bend my eyeglass frame back to close where it needed to be. I stopped at the eye doctor that Monday to have my eyeglass frame better adjusted.

_LG28455Spider Web
I was able to stop safely, when I saw this spider web.

_LG28457It was near this spider web that I took a tumble.

Once I determined that all was well, after my tumble, the first thing I did was look for the spider web.  I feared I had taken it down with me, when I fell.  I didn’t, and that fact made me happy.

I had a slight headache, after my tumble, but it didn’t stop me from completing our planned ride. I did, though, consider turning around and returning to the Canal Visitor Center soon after the accident happened. I am happy that we didn’t turn back. We would have missed seeing two great blue herons, five deer, and a snapping turtle.

_LG28462

One of two Great Blue Herons

_LG28463

I didn’t get any pictures of the deer or snapping turtle.

Along the trail, across the canal and highway, was a beautiful brick home.

20180923_162251687_iOSInformation about the Frazee House

_LG28464This is what the Frazee House looks like today.

The information on the sign invited us to explore the Frazee House’s exterior.  We didn’t do any exploring, opting to do so on another visit.

Earlier I mentioned that the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail follows the same path that mules walked to tow canal boats.

20180923_164215730_iOSThis sign is located at the beginning of the trail at the Canal Visitor Center.

Oh, when we arrived at the Canal Visitor Center this morning, several other bicyclists were there. Many of the bicyclists were headed for the train, with plans to ride south to Botzum and bicycle back–a distance of 18 miles. We hope to ride the train one day and bicycle back. You can’t beat the price of $5.00 each. I know we can bicycle the distance, given we rode over 18 miles today!

Our two-day bicycle miles ridden total was 33.70 miles. We have ridden almost the entire Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We haven’t ridden the 1.8 miles between the Canal Visitor Center and Lock 39 or the 2 miles from the Ira trail head and Botzum. We would enjoy riding the entire trail, in one direction, and hope to do so someday.

We made it back to the Canal Visitor Center at approximately 12:45 pm.

20180923_164232912_iOSBob with the Canal Visitor Center in the background

We departed Cuyahoga Valley National Park shortly after returning from our bike ride.  We stopped for lunch in Medina, OH at Quaker Steak & Lube. A couple hours later we stopped for dessert — custard ice cream — at Mr. Shivers in Waterford, PA.

We returned home at approximately 5:45 pm.

What a wonderful weekend and a great way to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary!

 

Chagrin Falls, OH Visit

In addition to visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park during Easter weekend, we spent approximately 1-1/2 hours in Chagrin Falls, OH.  On Saturday, April 15, we left Cuyahoga Valley National Park and drove to Chagrin Falls, arriving there at noon. We ate lunch at Flip Side. Bob ordered a Black ‘n Blue burger; I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. We shared an order of onion rings. Lunch was delicious; our waitress was efficient and friendly. We would return to this restaurant.

After lunch we checked out the waterfall that gives Chagrin Falls its name.

_LG21085Chagrin Falls

_LG21086Chagrin Falls

_LG21089Chagrin Falls

There are two vantage points from which to see Chagrin Falls, one on each side of the falls.  A boardwalk leads down to an observation platform from each vantage point.

_LG21095Chagrin Falls
This photograph was taken from the second vantage point.

Do you see the boardwalk on the opposite side of the falls?  The first three photographs of the falls were taken from various points along that boardwalk.  The white building that you see above the falls is the Popcorn Shop.

Here is a short video that I took of Chagrin Falls from the second vantage point.  If you are not able to view the embedded video, the direct link may be found by clicking here.

Did you happen to notice anything that is in the video, but not in the photograph?  Look in the tree to the left of the waterfall.  The blue material, shown in the video, is missing in the photograph.  It was an easy edit to remove that distraction from the photograph.  It is possible to edit the video as well, but I forgot to do so!

After photographing the waterfall, we stopped at the village’s famous Popcorn Shop for a vanilla custard cone.  According to reviews, the Popcorn Shop has three of the best things on earth: popcorn, coffee and ice cream.  I had looked forward, since we left on our weekend getaway, for a custard ice cream cone.  The custard ice cream was as good as I remembered it from other visits to Chagrin Falls…so rich and creamy; delicious!.

As we were preparing to leave Chagrin Falls, I spotted the Easter Bunny. We delayed our departure a few minutes, while I photographed the Easter Bunny.

_LG21097Chagrin Falls Easter Bunny

I hope that you enjoyed following along on our Easter vacation in Ohio with visits to Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Chagrin Falls.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Visit (Day 2 of 2)

We spent two days during the Easter weekend, enjoying the sights and sounds of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  This blog post provides photographs and details of our second day in the park.  If you missed reading about our first day in the park, you will find the blog post here.

After a good night’s sleep, I awakened at 5:45 am, took a shower and got dressed. We went to breakfast around 6:30 am. Our hotel accommodation included a complimentary Deluxe Breakfast Buffet. I had scrambled eggs, sausage, Tater Tots and French Toast.

We spent a few hours in the morning visiting points of interest in the central and south regions of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Our first stop was at Brandywine Falls, arriving there shortly before 8:00 am.

_LG21012A boardwalk takes you to upper and lower observation platforms.

_LG21016Brandywine Falls
Bob and I on the upper observation platform

_LG21019
Brandywine Falls is 65 feet high;
it is one of Ohio’s highest waterfalls.

_LG21022Brandywine Falls
Bob and I on the lower platform observation

Here is a short video that I took of Brandywine Falls.  If you are not able to view the embedded video, the direct link may be found by clicking here.

Our second stop was at Blue Hen Falls, arriving there at 9;00 am. The trail leading to Blue Hen Falls begins at a small parking lot and takes hikers down an old driveway to Spring Creek.  The trail crosses Spring Creek via an old wooden bridge.

_LG21026Blue Hen Falls Trail

Just beyond the bridge, we continued to the right and quickly reached the Blue Hen Falls viewing area.

_LG21027Blue Hen Falls Trail
Approaching the waterfall viewing area

Just past the wooden fence we found a trail, something akin to a goat path, that led us below the viewing area. I managed to hike down that trail, with the assistance of a hiking pole. I needed the hiking pole and Bob’s help to hike back up the trail!

_LG21029-EditBlue Hen Falls

_LG21032-Edit
Blue Hen Falls

Here is a short video that I took of Blue Hen Falls.  If you are not able to view the embedded video, the direct link may be found by clicking here.

Our third stop was at Beaver Marsh, arriving there around 9:50 am. We stopped here the day before as well, but later in the day. We wanted to see if we would see anything different earlier in the day.

_LG21039We walked from the parking lot, a short distance, along a tow path to an observation platform.

We saw the same wildlife at Beaver Marsh, as we did the day before…wood ducks, Canadian geese, and tree swallows. What we didn’t see were turtles. The day before there were lots of turtles out, basking in the sunshine.

_LG21041-EditThe goose was still sitting on its nest.

Wood Ducks were grooming, and a pair of geese were having a lively conversation.

If you are not able to view the embedded video, the direct link may be found by clicking here.

_LG21059Wood Ducks are beautiful.
Add in reflections for a lovely scene!

Our fourth stop was at Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park, arriving there at 11:00 am. Deep Lock Quarry features a 1.4-mile loop trail, which leads from the parking lot through the forest to the deepest lock on the Ohio & Erie Canal. We began hiking the trail but decided to turn around, as radar showed rain moving in. We did get to see a train go by, which was very cool as it was close to us.

_LG21081Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Train

We left Cuyahoga Valley National Park around 11:30 am and drove to Chagrin Falls, OH for lunch.  I will share photographs and details of our visit to Chagrin Falls in a later blog post.

After our visit to Chagrin Falls, we returned to our hotel and relaxed for a few hours.

Around 5:00 pm we decided to return to Cuyahoga Valley National Park to see one more point of interest. We drove to Everett Covered Bridge.

_LG21108-EditEverett Covered Bridge crosses over Furnace Run.

We returned to the hotel around 6:00 pm, where we stayed for rest of evening.

It was a nice day, but not as nice as the day before. It was a mostly cloudy and sometimes rainy day. We dodged the raindrops for the most part. The rain fell hardest, as we were driving to Chagrin Falls and while we ate lunch. It began clearing up, when we stopped for the day (around 2:15 pm). The weather didn’t hinder my picture taking. In fact, the overcast day provided great lighting for photographing waterfalls.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Visit (Day 1 of 2)

We spent two nights (April 14-16) at the Clarion Inn, located in Hudson, OH.   We stayed at this hotel one time before for one night, a couple years ago, while en route Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  During that stay, we noted that the hotel was in close proximity to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  When we decided to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park this past weekend, we chose to stay at Clarion Inn.

We left our home in Warren PA around 5:30 am en route Ohio.

We ate breakfast at Richard’s Family Restaurant in Youngsville, PA. We ordered omelets with toast (rye for Bob; wheat for me), one order of home fries to share and coffee for Bob / tea for me. Bob had eaten breakfast there before. I hadn’t. Breakfast was delicious and filling. We were back on the road again shortly after 6:30 am.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located between Akron and Cleveland in Northeast Ohio.  The 32,950-acre park can easily be divided into three regions: North Valley, Central Valley and South Valley.  We used this map, which I found on the U.S. National Park Service website, as a guide during our 2-day exploration of the park.

Points of interest 1 through 5 are located in the North Valley region.  Interest points 6 through 9 are located in the Central Valley regions.  Points of interest 10 through 13 are located in the South Valley region.

We arrived in the North Valley region of Cuyahoga Valley National Park at approximately 9:45 am.  In particular, our arrival point in the park was at the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation. This was our first visit to the North Valley region of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  We discovered there were many points of interest in this region.

Our first stop was at Bridal Veil Falls.  We parked at the trail head and walked across Gorge Parkway. It was a short descent from the road via boardwalk and steps to a platform that overlooks the falls.

_LG20866-EditBoardwalk and stairs to Bridal Veil Falls Overlook

Once you reach the bottom of the boardwalk and stairs, a bridge crosses over the creek.

_LG20867-EditThe waterfall observation platform is visible from the bridge that crosses over the creek.

_LG20874-Edit
Bridal Veil Falls

_LG20876Bob and I at Bridal Veil Falls

Our second stop was at Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook. The viewing area is located next to the parking lot.

_LG20878Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook

This overlook provides a panoramic view of the valley from the rim of the gorge. The view would be spectacular in the Autumn.  The lighting was particularly good, so this was the only photograph that I took during this stop.  We did return to this overlook, and I have a photograph of the view later on in this blog post.

Our third stop was at Willis Picnic Area, which we mistakenly thought was Viaduct Park. The two areas are next to each other. There are several points of interest at Viaduct Park, and we were not finding any of those points of interest. One point of interest was Great Falls. We could hear rushing water, but couldn’t see the waterfall.

_LG20886Willis Picnic Area

We saw a sign at Willis Picnic area that read “trail closed”. It looked like high winds had passed through the picnic area at some point in time, and the downed trees and branches had not been cleaned up. Behind the picnic pavilion we found a “trail” that looked like it led to the bottom of the gorge. Bob hiked down that trail, and it did lead to the bottom of the gorge. Bob didn’t find a waterfall. He found a tunnel, through which Tinkers Creek flows.  We later saw the other side of the tunnel at Viaduct Park.

_LG20890
Willis Picnic Area Trail to Tinkers Creek

If you look closely, you will see Bob making his way back up the trail.  I am glad that I didn’t attempt to hike down that trail. Bob said he had some trouble navigating the trail.

Our fourth stop was at Viaduct Park. This small park features a very nice waterfall, view of a large viaduct, and information signs dotting the trail as you walk through the park.  The parking lot is at street level.  When we visited the park, we had to drive over a curb to reach the parking lot.  From the parking lot there is a paved trail that descends down to Tinkers Creek, where the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek can be viewed from an observation platform.  We spent about an hour exploring Viaduct Park.

_LG20899The Viaduct

The Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad stone viaduct across Tinkers Creek Gorge was completed in 1864.  It replaced the original wooden truss bridge, which opened in 1852.  The viaduct is 225 feet long and towers 120 feet above Tinkers Creek.

_LG20913The Great Falls of Tinkers Creek

IMG_20170414_122104I love this picture of me that Bob took at The Great Falls.

Here is a short video of The Great Falls.  If you are not able to view the embedded video, the direct link may be found by clicking here.

Remember earlier I mentioned that Bob hiked down to Tinkers Creek from the Willis Picnic Area?  He saw a tunnel there, through which Tinkers Creek flowed.  Here is the other end of that tunnel, which is called The Arch.

_LG20925The Arch

The Arch was built between 1901-02.  Its purpose is to control the flower of Tinkers Creek, while providing a base for the railroad above.  The Arch is 512 feet long, with a 20 degree turn inside.  The openings are 40 feet wide and 32 feet high.

Our fifth and last stop at Bedford Reservation was a second stop at Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook. As I mentioned earlier the lighting was better than it was during our first stop.

_LG20935Again, this is Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook.

If you walk to the end of the overlook, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the valley from the rim of the gorge.

_LG20933View from Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook

Leaving the overlook, we continued on Gorge Parkway to Dunham Road. We turned right onto Dunham Road, crossed over Tinkers Creek, and turned left onto Tinkers Creek Road. We followed Tinkers Creek Road to its terminus, at which time we turned left onto Canal Road. About this time we decided it was time for lunch. We were hungry, which was understandable. We ate breakfast around 6:00 am, and it was after 1:00 pm.

We ate lunch at Joe’s Family Restaurant in Northfield, OH. The salad bar and soup were excellent. Service was excellent. Our main entrees (meatloaf for me, boneless pork chops for Bob) were piping hot and delicious. Our side dishes were not so great. My mashed potatoes and our mixed vegetables were lukewarm. Our waitress did bring me a new dish of mashed potatoes, which were piping hot. I am surprised she didn’t do the same with the mixed vegetables. Perhaps she didn’t hear me, when I said that the mixed vegetables were also lukewarm.

After lunch we drove back to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, in particular to the South Valley region. We stopped at Beaver Marsh. It was a short walk from the parking lot, along a tow path, to an observation platform. We saw wood ducks, geese, tree swallows and lots of turtles. Bob saw a muskrat, briefly.

_LG20942Wood Ducks at Beaver Marsh

_LG20944One of several turtles at Beaver Marsh

_LG20946Goose Sitting on Nest

_LG20968
Tree Swallows

From the Beaver Marsh we drove to the Great Blue Heron Viewing Area.

_LG20994One of two trees making up the Great Blue Heron Rookery

_LG21003Great Blue Heron

We didn’t stay long at the Great Blue Heron Viewing Area, as there wasn’t much activity at the heron rookery.

We checked into the Clarion Inn around 5:30 pm. We spent rest of the day in our room. We had picked up a few grocery items, after lunch, so we were able to eat a picnic-style dinner in our room.

**TO BE CONTINUED**

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