Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

We squeezed It In–Ohio’s National Park

Saturday May 30, 2014
we were staying in
Green Acres Lake Campground
Diamond Ohio



Carrie’s news was much more important than what we’ve been doing these past few days.  If you didn’t read all about it, you can here.

I’m behind again, Judy is not surprised.  As our side bar shows, we are currently at Hartwick Pines State Park  in Michigan where it is raining so I can at least catch up with our first day Post Solar.




Winnona among the big boys on Saturday night.

After our surprise at Brandywine on Saturday and our hurried exit complete with a night in a Service Plaza, we have an afternoon we didn’t expect.  So we decide to squeeze in a visit to Ohio’s National Park.  It’s about 179 miles away and we have cancelled our reservations, and it’s a Saturday night but what the heck.  We got a VERY early start by eating more trash food from Roy Rogers for breakfast.   They have scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and a biscuit for $3.74.  The bacon and potatoes were excellent.  David like the biscuit but then David likes any biscuit.  I thought it was not light and flakey like his are and the eggs were like rubber.   But it got us out about a half hour after sunrise so that was amazing.

I knew, this being a Saturday that I could count out any of the county or state parks near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park so I called a private campground, Green Acres Lake Campground, 40 minutes away from the park and for $32 got their last pull through with water and electric. More than we usually pay but we’ve only got the afternoon to see the park.



We check in, pack some lunch food, get in the car and away we go.



The park is the green area on this map between Cleveland and Akron and has been there since 1974.  That’s 30 years.  I left in 1968 and never looked back so I had no idea they had created a 33,000 acre  park along 22 miles of the crooked Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron.  Mind you this is shortly after the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in 1969.  I guess that really spurred them to clean up their act. In 1974 congress created a National Recreation Area here and in 2000 it became a National Park.

The park reminds me of Ohiopyle State Park  in Pennsylvania near Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water.  Like Ohiopyle this park is in and around an urban area with people who still own property within its boundaries.

There are a lot of things to do here and the park is very popular with the Ohio folks who live nearby.  There are horse trails, bike trails, hiking trails through hemock forest and along sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, a heron rookery, a beaver marsh, a covered bridge, nesting bald eagles, the Cuyahoga Scenic Railway, The Ohio & Erie canal and a bike path on the canal towpath.



The vintage garage is right next to the store of course.  The store is now the Park’s Visitor Center.



We learn all this from our first stop at the Boston Store Visitor Center located in the town of Boston, Ohio.  It is a great old store just beyond M.D. Garage.  Clearly we could spend at least a week in this park but we only have one afternoon.  DARN!  The other days got cut due to the length of the solar install.

So we do something a bit unconventional for us, or for me anyway.   I sadly skip the rookery, beaver marsh, eagles and hemlock hike.   We choose the Railway.  Why?   Because David wants to and it is a unique opportunity to take our bikes, flag the train down and get on board.  The train will then take us as far up the line as we want to go and we can get out and ride the C& O towpath back down to any other stop.   There are 51 miles of track between Cleveland and Akron. 

Unfortunately for us, there was severe flooding here this year and parts of the southern section of the track were washed away so you can now only go a little over half of the way on the train or tow path.







While we are eating our lunch, we see a new version of taking your dog for a walk while on your bicycle.

After we get all our information and sigh over all we will not be able to do, walk across the road and take a look in the little store called the Trail Mix where you can buy snacks, drinks, park T-shirts and other paraphernalia.  None of which do we need since we brought out lunch so we sit outside at their picnic area in one of the Adirondack chairs facing the bike path and watch the bikers going North and South on the tow path which runs right along the side of the Boston Store.






It’s time to catch that train and get this bike ride in gear. 


After lunch, we get the bikes and helmets, stop at the garage so David can check our tire pressures with the old fashioned air hose where you can dial up the tire pressure.  He loves this.  Nostalgia forever is his theme.

We ride the bikes across the river on the totally inferior Boston Mills Road Bridge.  The beautiful covered bridge leading from the Cleveland/Akron road to the town of Boston has been replaced by a totally uninteresting or artistic steel one.  I look down at the river and on a rock in the little rapids I spy a great blue heron fishing.

There is Boston Station just waiting for us to flag the train down and get on.










David flags down the train.



 Can you see its lights down the track?

Aside:(did you notice there is no apostrophe in its?  It doesn’t mean it is here) 

He does a great job, the train rolls in, stops and the guys on the train hand down two bikes as their owners step down from the train.  Then we hand our bikes up and get aboard.










Now David is EVEN happier.


Not only is he riding on an old train, but he discovers they sell beer aboard this train.  So after looking through everything they have, of course, he choose a Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager.   Seems this was bottled especially for the Cuyahoga Scenic Railway.  He pays $3 for each of us and our bikes to ride as far as we like and $3 for his beer.








I prefer watching.

I see the bikes hanging in the next car and watch the scenery pass by out the big windows of the gently rocking train.  When we stop at the next station I see a bride and groom looking back as other members of their party walk up to the bridge.  I wonder if they have picked this spot to get married and if so, why it is special to them. 

















After several stops, they call out ours.



We’ve asked to be let off at the Thornburg Station, 11 miles up the track.  We’ll bike back from there.  If we had more time, we could go further.  I’d love to return once the track and path to the south have been repaired and do both ends as far as it goes.

They bike boys hand down our bikes.  We drag our feet a little to let the other folks who got off here with us get a nice head start  and then we’re off to the tow path and our ride south.   There are many things to see all along the towpath.  We seem to be constantly stopping to read one signboard or another, interesting historic information about the locks and the canal.  Beautiful wildflowers line the tow path which runs between the canal and the Cuyahoga River.  We cross bridges and ride through woodlands. 













Trees to hug; this tow path has everything.

Along one section the tow path has some of the largest cottonwood trees either of us has ever seen.  I can’t believe how many there I.  I’ll  never get back if I stop to hug each one but they definitely deserve it in honor of their long lives under what I imagine were difficult circumstances.  It’s a great ride.





We arrive at the Canal Exploration Center where there are exhibits on how the locks work.  They demonstrate the lock in front of the building.  But today we are too late for any of that, the building is closing.  I peek in the window.  I guess they are closing up.









I spy with my little eye.


One of my favorite spots is at Alexander’s Mill built in 1855 to use water power from Lock #37’s spillway to grind wheat into flour.  It continued to use water power until 1970 and is the only remaining mill in Cuyahoga County.  The signboard shows a canal boat in front of the mill   Today I am taking a picture of the mill and the original building with a very wavy roof behind it when I see something strange looking under a tree.  Like a straight gray or white pipe coming up out of the ground.  Too straight.  I walk around the side to get a better look.  Can you see it in the second picture in about the center.  I zoom in and there he is standing on one leg hiding.  HA!  But not from me.









We finish our ride and return to Ruby to pack up for the 45 minute ride back to Winnona.   It’s been a great day.  I only wish we had more time to spend here.  Who knew there is so much to do. 


The End



  1. I think this is one of your most interesting posts, and I love the photos. Of all the fast food breakfasts, Roy Rogers is probably the best. And riding on a train while drinking a beer has to be right up there in good experiences! I can't believe he got a beer for $3 - 6 yrs ago Amtrak was charging $6 for a can of Budweiser.

  2. Great post...like that park...close to my home in PA...
    maybe if i get my work done i can take sometime and
    travel over that way...thanks for the info.

  3. What a cool thing to do!! We both love trains, and that sounds like a great thing to do.

  4. I'm so happy you still got to see Cuyahoga NP even if it mean moving faster than you like and staying overnight in the service plaza eww! Now go and enjoy Michigan. We visited Hartwick Pines SP and thought the trees were awesome!

  5. That place looks like fun too! Beautiful!!! That rail trail looks like a fun thing to do!

  6. One of the few national parks I haven't been to. Maybe next year. Thanks so much for the great tour!

  7. Oh, now I am the one who is green with envy!! I haven't been to this NP yet. I couldn't tell that there was all that much to do there. But trains?? Trains combined with bikes?? And BEER?? Oh, now I have to go there! What fun you two had! And on the heels of such good news, too....Congrats to Carrie!

  8. So glad to see you are back to touring rather than stressing about the solar and fiddling trying to get it right. It looks like you had a blast!!

  9. I'm glad you got to at least spend one day there. It looks like an interesting place.

  10. Love the the train and bike thing!!! Definitely have to put this on our TODOS list. Shame you only had half a day but you sure made the most of it. Enjoy Michigan and show us all the wonderful places to visit...haven't been to that state yet;o) Safe Travels and Happy Trails....

  11. What a nice National Park, my dad is a model train\trolley enthusiast, spent lots of time growing up riding and searching out old trains with him. This is near where we're planning on staying overnight in Oct, looks like I need to add a few days to our stop, especially if the weather is nice.

  12. It was a short visit but you squeezed in a lot og fun (and tree hugs!). So cool, riding the train. Just like the old days.

    David is a man after my own heart, a brother biscuit lover. :c)

    PS: I see you paid attention in English class!

  13. Never had been to that N.P. Would love to go after reading your post. I loved the train ride and being able to bring your bikes. How cool is that?

  14. Glad you stopped there! What a neat place to train and bike. That place has character! Finally, you are on your way post solar! Congratulations! And thanks for the shout out for my news!!! :)

  15. This is park is on our Bucket List and I was so disappointed when I thought I wasn't going to be able to see it through your eyes. You've just whetted our appetite to get there sooner rather than later. Wonder how it would be in the fall? (P.S. I am in Nashville, Bill got in around 1 a.m. this morning tired after more than 24 hours of traveling, but looking good.)

  16. What a fun day! You can do the train ride with bikes on the Katy trail in Missouri. We never got that done when we lived there but it is on our bucket list.

  17. So it was worth it? I remembered how we were laughing at the thought of the national park! What a wonderful surprise and so much to do and see.So glad you got to go !

  18. At least you were able to spend some time there. What fun....welcome to Michigan.

  19. Leave it to you two to discover a pearl in the middle of an area that we typically just zoom past. You didn't mention it, but I am guessing this will be a coveted stamp in your National Park passport book. Your power of observation, like the discovery of this park, is evident again in seeing the heron (crane?) by the mill. Thanks for reminding me to open my eyes more to the treasures around me.

    I won't forget that line:"nostalgia forever is his theme." Sounds like something out of a classic novel.

    The bike and train ride combo sounds delightful.

  20. Oh, this looks like so much fun. I love the idea of riding the train and bike-riding, too. It's marvelous. I will say that I got a start as I was reading that one could buy "snakes" at the Trail Mix instead of "snacks." I think that I need to change my contacts . . . .. What is with the dog cart? Was he an elderly dog? Bless him and bless his owner.

  21. A really fine day. I was shocked to hear I could have a locally brewed craft beer (Thirsty Dog Brewing is in Akron) for only $3 AND they had some great options in the cooler, including the Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager which is their version of a German Schwarzbier - a style I like. The towpath ride was awesome when it left the roadside as was the weather, Another of my lucky days!

  22. What a full, fun day! I'm so happy that you were able to at least get one day of the time you had originally planned there -- this will just have to go onto your "return" list so that you have something to look forward to next time. Eric and I would love that train/bike ride combo. Especially with the beer. (BTW, I hope you will correct my grammar on my blog if you see something awry…)

  23. I cracked up at your grammar lesson! Improper apostrophe use makes me crazy, but I'm much less crazed about other grammar errors. I get especially perturbed when I see it on business signs. They pay big bucks to advertise their business and then make themselves look foolish by not having someone knowledgeable check it over. BTW I just can't resist now...you used the wrong spelling for "peek" when you looked in the window. The worst thing about spell check is it doesn't catch those kinds of things. Sometimes I don't catch a mistake I've made until the third time I've read back through my post. I seem to have a bad habit of typing "the" two times in a row and then have a hard time seeing the mistake. Like anyone cares, right? In the super old days it was spell it whatever way you liked, everyone knew what you meant and seems to be heading back that way in modern times.

  24. Thanks Pam for noticing the peek/peak error, I've fixed it thanks to you. Could I hire you to be my proofreader?? The its thing is just such a pet peeve of mine. It's so easy for heaven sake.

  25. I am behind on posting and reading too. This is a great National Park to visit, there are not many NP in the Midwest.


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