Monday, August 24, 2009

Road Trip, The Rest of the Story

We just got back from a family road trip to Ohio. We spent a week touring some of the natural features and state parks, putting on about 1000 miles in a big loop through the state. Some of the more memorable times of the trip were:

1. Spending the first night in a private campground just southwest of Cleveland. This wasn't one of our destinations but was located near Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This campground had a distinctly redneck feel to it. Half of the campers were installed rather permanently, as evidenced by the tall grass, foundation plantings (if I can call the wheels the 'foundation'), and even large decks built off the side of the camper. Our campsite was located just a few feet from what appeared to be a beer tent, complete with large Budweiser and Dale Ernhardt banners, skull and crossbones flags, and guys with no shirts on swizzling from tall aluminum cans. During temporary lulls in the noise, we could hear other parties raging in the distance. The only redeeming factor, according to Josh, was the open wireless network.

2. The heat. It was HOT. The farther south we traveled, the hotter it got. And it wasn't a dry heat, either. We told Abigail when we first got her that it was hot in July, when her birthday was. It was cool most of July and didn't get hot until we were away from home in Mid August. She probably thinks we're a bunch of liars.

3. Stow, Ohio. We stayed two nights in a city campground in Stow, Ohio. Although the campground itself was "rustic" (i.e. no flush toilets), the rest of the park was pretty upscale, including a large lake that was for dogs only--no humans allowed. The entire city seemed to be more on the upscale side with beautiful large homes and immaculately manicured lawns. Even the McDonalds restaurant we stopped at for ice cream was done upscale, with walnut crown moulding and lots of wood trim.

4. Hills. I've always thought of Ohio as flat, kind of like Indiana flat. But we were on some hilly roads that would challenge any mountain road for hills and curves. David, our performace car buff, was lamenting that we were doing these roads in an overloaded minivan towing a heavy trailer instead of a sports car. His idea of a great road trip is doing these kinds of roads in a mid-engine two-seater, at the highest speeds possible.

5. Ice Cave. A natural cave in some small rocky cliffs in Cuyahoga National Park. Aptly named because of its chilly interior. It was a welcome relief from the heat. We could have stayed in there all day.

6. Kidron, Ohio. The location of Lehmans, a company that sells a lot of stuff that could be considered "back to the land", and supplies to the Amish community. Massive store, lots of cool stuff, way overpriced. We left, having only sampled the fudge.

7. P. Graham Dunn. Located not far from Lehmans, but over more of those surprisingly steep and twisting roads, this business makes inspirational plaques from wood and other materials. Deb browsed their store while the kids and I took their factory tour. Laser engraving and cutting. Computer controlled wood engraving. Pretty cool stuff.

8. Hocking Hills State Park. A small canyon in the middle of this hilly country (yes, there is a canyon in Ohio!). Some cool hiking trails along the rim and along the creek at the bottom.

9. Tar Hollow State Park. We called this the Tar Pitts. It took us over 2 hours to drive the 21 miles to get there, and we were led astray by the locals twice ("It's jest up that thar road, ya can't miss it"). Turns out the GPS led us to a remote section of the park, and the 'fastest route' was over many miles of one-lane dirt road. We finally ended up at a fire lookout tower in the middle of the forest where we managed a weak cell phone signal and called the park office. The park was rather unspectacular. Perhaps one of the nicest features was the elusive entrance sign that we were told we couldn't miss. It was big and it was nice and we couldn't miss it--if we were on the right road.

10. Tecumseh. This was the biggest reason we stayed at the Tar Pitts, because it was located near the Tecumseh outdoor dramatic play. Tecumseh was about the life of Chief Tecumseh and the battles at Tippecanoe. The stage included some of the forest and a small lake and the play included gunfire and cannonfire, so it was very noisy at times but very well done. We had to keep reminding Abigail that the people weren't really dead.

11. Ceasar Creek State Park. 10,000 acres of park and recreation area circled around a lake which formed when Ceasar Creek was dammed up. Lots of trails, including mountain biking trails. I discovered that it's really tough to do a mountain biking trail with a tag-a-long attached to my bicycle. Abigail thought it was a hoot, but it wore me out.

12. Campground firewood. There's a reason I try to bring my own firewood. A small bundle of wood bought at the camp office was so wet that it took an hour to get it to a point where we could roast a marshmallow. We used gobs of paper, whatever burnables we could find in the trash bag, and the fan to keep the fire going. Other people seemed to have an easier time, but the distinct odor of charcoal lighter fluid gave them away.

13. Flying bicycle wheels. When driving to a biking trail, I glanced in the rear view mirror just in time to see a single bicycle wheel bouncing behind the car. We searched for an hour but could not find where David's front wheel ended up. Perhaps in the corn on one side of the road or in the soybeans on the other side of the road, but David now has a one-wheeled bike.

Abigail loves camping. She has told people that she went camping twice this summer, and gets to go again in September.

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Dear Friends (pun intended),

Sounds like a great trip. I just wanted to thank you for stopping at Lehman's. I work for the company and you are right, the store is huge and the stuff is very cool. Even after working there for 10 years I think the stuff is cool. Too bad you found it to be so expensive. I'm sure we are more expensive on some items but a lot of what we carry is USA made. Naturally, that will be more expensive than some of the similar products you find in the big box stores. I wish we could find high quality stuff that is USA made and less expensive, but it doesn't exist. Anyway, glad you stopped by and I hope you can visit again sometime.

Bruce DB
VP Direct Sales, Lehman's