After a great visit with kids, grandkids, and friends from nursing school, we drove to Ohio by way of lower Michigan. Before leaving St. Charles, though, we experienced that rare (rare in California, at least) phenomena of water falling from the sky, otherwise known as rain. A thunderstorm swept through the area on our last night in St. Charles, treating us to lightning, thunder, and a short but heavy downpour. And we had a chance to hear frozen water, in the form of golf-ball sized hail, hit the roof and windows of our room. Rain makes a comforting sound on the roof, but hail of that size is another matter.
Our trek around the south end of Lake Michigan and then up to the Grand Rapids area continued the vistas of green, lush vegetation that began somewhere back in Iowa. Once out of the Chicago area, we saw lots of farms growing corn, soybeans, hay, and other crops, interspersed with mixed hardwood forests. Michigan is known for apples, and we saw farm-stand signs for apples and apple products. For some reason, though, we saw no orchards. Maybe the orchards are all along the older roads?
We had a good visit with family near Grand Rapids and then headed over to northeast Ohio, stopping first at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Relatively new, the Park includes stretches of the Cuyahoga River, historic farms, a covered bridge, mixed hardwood forests, sandstone cliffs, and running waterfalls. We caught up with Brandywine Falls, below, while it was flowing well because of rains across the area just a few days earlier.
The Park includes striking rock formations, including sandstone ledges and cliffs, and what the locals call Icebox Cave. I wonder how many different states have at least one cool, drafty place called Icebox Cave? This one was gated off to protect the bat population that lives inside, so we settled for photos of the adjacent cliffs.
After leaving the Park we visited Amish country (covered in a separate blog post) and then stayed several days in Cuyahoga Falls, first for a high school reunion (the eastern-most destination of our trip) and then for dental work. Some people stop for major car repairs while away from home; instead, we met with a dentist and two different specialists over the course of a Friday and the following Monday. At least the car was working well!
While in Cuyahoga Falls we also had the opportunity to worship at Redeemer Lutheran Church, where we were married almost 47 years ago. That was special.
Our hotel in Cuyahoga Falls overlooked the falls on the Cuyahoga River. Nearby is Portage Trail, a street named for the paths Indians took as they ported their canoes around the falls. This river caught fire at least 13 times between 1868 and 1969 because of industrial pollution. The 1969 fire burned down a timber railroad trestle and sparked an effort to clean up the river and restore it to its original state, to the extent possible. You can see the results below: a beautiful, clean river with trails, walkways, and a nearby river park.
Our next blog post will describe Ambling through Amish Country.