Monday, July 11, 2016

Cuyahoga National Park

As much as I'd like to do my entire road trip written in reverse, I suspect it'd be hard to follow and actually keep events straight. With that, I'll back up to the beginning.  The big beginning. A long time friend of mine Joe accepted a job in Colorado- once I made the connection that he'd be driving, I immediately invited myself along for the journey. (being a teacher has so many benefits)  We had a few ridiculous plans - including swinging out of the way to hit Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons we even wanted to find a way to visit some friends in Idaho, but ultimately realized it would leave us either flying through the parks or spending a full extra week on our already planned 2 week road trip.

We knew we'd stop in Ann Arbor Michigan, Madison Wisconsin, and then Badlands, Mount Rushmore & Wind Caves National Park. I mostly focused on finishing out the school year and making accommodations for Marcy dog.

We left mid morning on June 22nd with the goal of making it to Cleveland.  A few days before we left, I had discovered that there is a National Park in Ohio - and while it wasn't on the original plan, it worked in well for a day one. Especially since we had left late and it would had been a struggle to get all the way to Ann Arbor in one afternoon.

The day we arrived in Cleveland was the day of the Cav's parade -  we got there well after it ended, but the city was a ghost town.  Most people had celebrated early, hard.  We had tried to go to Great Lakes Brewing Company for dinner & drinks but they were closing early after the long parade day.  We ended up rounding the corner and finding a nice place with a patio.  We each enjoyed some pizza and beers before making our way to the hotel.

Our goal for Thursday was to visit Cuyahoga National Park and drive to Ann Arbor which was only a 2.5 hour drive. Joe has a friend working on a post-doc there and she wouldn't be free until the afternoon, so we had no rush.

We enjoyed the free hotel breakfast before heading over to the park.  Our first stop was the visitors center.  We were curious why this area was designated as a national park - its unique in its proximity to a city- most other national parks tend to be more remote. As someone who has grown up on the east coast -  the landscape isn't all that different, but I suppose if you're from the west - the green-ness and abundance of water would be different.

The visitors center mostly focused on the boats that would travel the river, we had wanted to catch a ranger to ask a few questions but one was on the phone the whole time we were there and the other was in a long chat with a traveler. We opted to head over to Brandywine Falls, which was recommended on the website.

The drive through the park was nice and we found the parking lot easily.  It had started to mist a bit, but it didn't stop us, I pulled on a hat and we headed off onto the path. A portion of the boardwalk is wheelchair accessible - allowing a view of the falls from the upper level.

Because of the weather, we didn't see any other people until we were walking out.  Cuyahoga National Park seems like it'd be a nice local park ( similar to Saratoga but much much larger!)  It didn't have the same wow factor as the drive into Yosemite but still a nice place to visit!

After our walk we plugged Ann Arbor into the GPS and were on our way to our next city & state!

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