Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is unique.  It’s a recent addition to the National Park System, 1970’s, and was created in an urban area. In fact, it feels more like a National Forest because there are villages and towns and county roads inside its borders.

Civilization intrudes in many ways, like Highway 271.

Many areas of the park are actually city parks in the Cleveland metropark system. The Cuyahoga Valley lies just south of Cleveland, Ohio. It features the Ohio-Erie Canal and has many museums and historic sites. The one on the history of the canal system is excellent.

Other attractions within the park include golf courses, ski resorts, sustainable farms, horse riding trails, and several inns.

The Visitor Center is an historic site itself. It is in the village of Boston Mills and was a tavern/rest stop for canal boats.

There are several nature centers, too. The one I visited is tucked away in the woods.

I did a little hiking, but as you can see, the weather was not cooperating.

All in all this national park is interesting. And, as a bonus, since it is made up of city parks, there is no entrance fee.


Canal Boats and Bicycles

Wandering again, through Ohio, I passed through the town of St. Mary’s. I usually go sailing by it on my way south, but this time I decided to stop and explore. St. Mary’s was one of the stops on the Miami-Erie Canal. The St. Mary’s River runs through the center of town and the canal runs right beside it. Both were used heavily in the 1800’s as trade routes.

The canal has locks in the center of the city and a lovely park has been created there with a history of the era.


Here’s how a canal boat looked with the mule pulling it via a long rope. I think you can go onto the boat, but the gate was closed when I was there.

The park also honors war veterans from the area. This bridge has names of vets and it crosses the river.

The canal itself is still in existence for miles through Ohio. Here’s the towpath along the canal where the mules walked. It’s now a scenic walking/biking trail.


Then I drove on down into New Bremen. Here I found a fantastic museum,. the Bicycle Museum of America. It has almost 100 bikes from the mid-1800’s to present day. The place is loaded with history and the man running it was extremely knowledgeable. Here are some highlights.

This is a precursor of today’s bicycle. Notice the horse head decoration. It has no pedals, you pushed it along with your feet and coasted.

Early bikes including high-wheelers. Apparently they were not as prevalent during the Victorian years as I thought, as they were very expensive.

This is a Minnie Mouse bike, with a comic strip on the wheels.

Look at the frame on this one.

This is one of the 7 actual bikes used in the movie “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”

A military bike used in WWII. Complete with gun and ammo.

This one was made in Dayton, Ohio, my hometown. Dayton was an important part of bicycle manufacturing because several companies were headquartered there including Huffy and Schwinn.

As I’ve said before, small towns are wonderful for discovering little known museums. It’s why I use Google maps so much. You can find all kinds of places to explore.



Ohio Exploring

I often drive south down Highway 33 out of Fort Wayne to get to Interstate 75 to go visit family in Cincinnati. I always knew that 33 continued on past the exit onto the interstate, but I never knew where it went. This time I was going to find out.

It begins at Wapakoneta, OH where the Neil Armstrong museum is located. I didn’t see it this trip because I was there decades ago with a Girl Scout Troop of which I was a leader.

Eventually it goes through Wayne National Forest, the only National Forest in Ohio. Since I do love a good forest, I stopped for the night at a trailhead. It was great because it was the beginning of an OHV trail and had a restroom. I had to look up what OHV stood for. Turns out it’s Off Highway Vehicles, what I always called Off Road. ATV’s, Dune Buggies, Dirt Bikes, and the like. What I found annoying was that they ride at night. There I was trying to enjoy a movie on my DVD player at 1o:00 pm and in comes a trailer full of ATV’s. I finally fell asleep to the sound of racing motors. And they were gone in the morning, so I guess they got some sleep, too.

Stopped at Old Man’s Cave, which you can read about here.

Then I drove on to Athens, Ohio. It’s the home of Ohio University. Lovely little town. It has a bike trail that extends for miles along the Hocking River. And I visited the Kennedy Museum of Art on campus. That’s it at the top of this post. It was built in the mid 1800’s as an insane asylum and used as such until the early 1960’s. The history is that it is located on a farm and the residents were encouraged to do farm work as therapy. The doctors believed being outdoors in the sunshine was good medicine. I agree. Still is!

The main exhibit right now is Navajo blankets. There are about 50 dating from the 1800’s to the present. Some amazing images are woven into these blankets. I learned a lot, since I had no idea that landscapes and scenes of daily living can be hand- woven into a blanket.


Then I continued on down Hwy 33 til I got to the Ohio River. Apparently if goes on into West Virginia and ends up at Richmond, VA. I didn’t go that far. I wanted to travel the Scenic Byway roads again that I was on last spring. They follow the Ohio River across the entire state, and continue along the bottom border of Indiana.

I have an affinity for rivers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like lakes, I enjoy the ocean, but rivers are special. I think it’s because they “travel”, like me. Or maybe it’s because I grew up in cities where rivers played a big part. In Dayton we lived close to the Stillwater River and often went to a park that run along it. And in Michigan I lived in Three Rivers, which had…3 rivers…one of which was a block from our house. I would go back in the woods by the Rocky River when I needed some alone time. And in Fort Wayne, when I had the apartment, I was right next to the St Joseph River and spent many hours wandering the Rivergreenway.

During this journey I experienced the Great American Eclipse. I sat on top of a hill in a wildlife area in another section of Wayne National Forest. I was on the top of a hill in the parking lot of a small country church. Didn’t get dark but the light changed, sort of like everything was pastel. And the wind suddenly stopped right at the moment of totality.  It felt like the temperature changed;  cooler even thought the thermometer didn’t show it. Just different enough to be eerie.

So now I’m heading back to civilization to go mooch off some family for awhile.

Old Man’s Cave

Today I went exploring in Hocking Hills State Park. It’s located southeast of Columbus, Ohio. It’s a place my family visited about 55 years ago. I remember loving it, but strangely today I did not remember any of the scenery. Perhaps that’s because I think this is the place where I developed a fear of falling from a high place.

The family lore goes like this: I was with my dad when he climbed up a narrow trail that went along a cliff. It was very slippery because there was water on the rocky path. He had to pick me up and carry me when the trail got too narrow for two. And he must of been scared and transferred that fear to me, because I will not go near an edge of a cliff or a rooftop or any high place that I can fall off. I don’t like glass elevators either! And I swear this is why I hate driving in mountains.

Anyway, this time I was not scared because all the paths that go up the cliffs are now blocked off and inaccessible. However…the place is absolutely gorgeous! (Pun intended) (Cause it’s a gorge of a river) (get it?) (OK moving on)

The story of the Old Man’s Cave is that a hermit named Richard Rohm lived there in a the 1800’s. He had been a hunter and scout and decided this place was where he wanted to spend the rest of his life. So he did.

Here’s the actual cave where he lived. It’s a shelf in the cliff above the river, created by wind and water thousands of years ago.


The rest of the area is full of rock formations, waterfalls, and woods.


There are tunnels cut through the cliffs for hikers.

Lots of bridges across the stream.

There’s even a “Sphinx Head” rock formation.

I went early in the morning and the sunlight was beautiful.

My kind of place.