Our Maine Event: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

7 08 2017

I had never heard of this national park.  And after I did, it took me a while even to pronounce it correctly: ki-ya-ho-ga.  Located in between Akron and Cleveland, Ohio, it wasn’t even formally a national park until 2000, which helps to explain my ignorance.   And so, we set off to see what this area had to offer.

7/18/17 Day 12: Explored Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Drum roll!  Today was our 30th wedding anniversary and we didn’t have to sleep in a tent!  After a breakfast cooked on the picnic table out back of the cabin (egg burritos, of course) we headed into CVNP.


The bathhouse in our campground:  I didn’t do it!

There seemed to be no central visitor’s center to this park, just smallish stops with signs or kiosks.  We finally made our way to the Peninsula Depot and bought train tickets for the on-off train that ran through the valley.  It was slightly disconcerting when we looked at our tickets to find that:

a. We had 1 ½ hours before the next train came around; and

b. We had been given the senior discount without having been asked.


Our Senior discount tickets and Brian’s iconic Krispy Kreme hat

So, to while away the time, we walked up a path by the river where we noticed a kayaker had left his kayak quite abruptly to take a bath and said kayak was caught in the rocks of the rapids.  Quite an interesting dilemma as he and his friend were now up the river without a kayak.


A kayak caught in an eddy

We boarded the train and got off at the Science Exploration Center, where we had about 20 minutes to explore before the docent gathered us all up for the next leg of the train ride.  Finally, some background into why this is a national park!  But quick.

Apparently, this valley was the site of the Ohio & Erie Canal system constructed in the early 1800s.  Before the railroad came, one could theoretically travel by water from New York Harbor up the Hudson River through the Erie Canal to Lake Erie, then down the Ohio & Erie Canal with only an 8 mile portage to the Ohio and then Mississippi River down to New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico. Bam.

And then there’s the James A. Garfield connection.  As a teenager, our 20th president worked as a mule driver guiding barges along the canal towpath, until he fell (was pushed?) into the canal, took sick with malaria, and decided to go to college instead, a path that led to the presidency but also his assassination some six months later.  Walking in presidential footsteps, we also took the towpath back to Peninsula Station, although our journey was only a mere two miles and didn’t involve mules or malaria.

Our next exploration of this park was at the Ritchie Ledges, a geologic oddity that while lacking in historic significance made up for it in scenic beauty.  The Ledges are a series of moss-covered sandstone cliffs and crevices thought to be millions of years old from the Sharon Conglomerate, a tidbit of information that I’m sure means something to someone.   Giant cleavages in the rocks make narrow canyons of coolness, a welcome change from the humid warmth of the area, with the straight edges of the cliffs lined with layer after thin layer of pock-marked sand and pebbles.

While there were no signs or kiosks with information explaining this area, there were signs very clearly saying DO NOT CLIMB, signs that were quite frequently and very obviously ignored.  For a brief time, we watched two pre-teen girls who had scampered up a steep outcropping before finding it too scary to descend.  And for once, I kept my Teacher Voice in check.  Their father was below giving them encouragement and advice (“Just get your butts down here, you scaredy-cats!”); we left before we could hear the thuds.

We ended the day by celebrating our anniversary with only our second and last restaurant dinner—pizza—and then ice cream at the Dairy Queen.  Let it not be said that we don’t know how to live it up!



4 responses

7 08 2017

[You never *have* to sleep in a tent…..]

I expect that the person who sold you the senior discount tickets was a young person, to whom anyone over 35 or 40 is very old, or someone who assumed that folks who can visit these parks on weekdays (I assume) are likely retired–mostly true for you all — especially if they do not have children of any age with them. If they had very young children, they would be assumed to be grandparents?

7 08 2017

Or maybe it was the sartorial elan of the Krispy Kreme baseball hat….

7 08 2017

Yeah. That.

7 08 2017

Yes, and we all know what happens when somebody “assumes.”

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