"" Writer's Wanderings

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

The Covered Bridge In Cuyahoga Valley National Park

During the visit with our Florida son and his family we spent a day visiting several places in the CVNP. We started at Szalay's Farm Market which is always a wonderful place to visit for the produce as well as the weekend food stands. Roasted corn and sausage sandwiches. Yum!

It was a bit of a trip down memory lane for our son. He pointed out to his wife and kids all the places he visited as he worked a couple of summers for the EPA testing the Cuyahoga River and some of its fish population. Much to our surprise, he wanted to visit the covered bridge.

"What covered bridge?": I asked.

"The one in this direction," he said as he turned down a road I was unfamiliar with. I thought we'd explored most of the park in that area but apparently we hadn't.

Sure enough there was a sign that said Everett Covered Bridge. We parked and walked down a short path that thankfully was shaded as it was another hot humid summer day. There it was. A beautiful covered bridge. It was originally built in the late 1800s. In 1975 the bridge was destroyed by a spring storm. With funds raised by the community, the bridge underwent historically accurate reconstruction and was finished in 1986. It's a beautiful look at another era in time.

Of course we had to stop at Peninsula where Grandma could tell them all about how this little stop on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway becomes the North Pole at holiday season. They were more impressed with the train that happened to pull into the station and stop. A friendly wave from the engineer made our youngest's day. 

Along the path to the parking lot, we stopped to look at one of the locks that are on the canal that runs through the park. There are many locks along the canal and one that used to be a working lock at the Visitor's Center at Hillside Rd. before COVID shut things down. Hopefully that reenactment will happen again when the world gets closer to normal. 

If you live anywhere near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and haven't explored, you are missing out. And it's all free to drive through! The visitor centers are free as well. This is one of the only, if not the only national park that is. 

We finished the day with a barbecue and s'mores just before a summer thunderstorm welcomed the cold front that promised a better weather day to come. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

In My Backyard--The Cleveland Indians

It's tough to keep a travel blog going when you aren't traveling. There are a few things we've tried to do this summer but we've stayed close to home. We have a granddaughter who plays a mean softball game. There have been a few day trips to see her play. We smile at her speed around the bases and her great fielding skills. It's paid off with scholarship money promised when she starts college next year.

Our Florida grandson who is about to be sixteen spent his COVID year learning to pitch. He watched YouTube videos of several Cy Young pitchers (Bieber being his favorite) and learned their workout routines, what they did to strengthen the pitching arm and stamina, etc. He studied the various pitches to see what worked for him. By the time he joined a team the coaches were pretty impressed. 

When the opportunity arose for the family to come for a visit, my son asked if we could get tickets for an Indians game. Our grandson has the MLB app so that he can watch the games in Florida and he was so excited about seeing a game at Progressive that I think he could have flown here without the plane. 

The week that they were here was expected to be really hot with the possibility of afternoon storms so we bought tickets up high enough that we could be under the overhang out of the sun or rain for the afternoon game and still be behind home plate for a good view.

It was a special handout day and as we entered the ballpark, we all received a very nice ball cap and a bonus--a great pair of sunglasses. Did I mention this kid has three sisters that put up with his claiming the TV at game time so he can cast the game to the television? Not sure they were impressed with the freebies but they donned their caps. We perused the many food venues and all came back to our seats with something for lunch. I opted for the classic ballpark  hot dog with mustard.

My son and my grandson walked around the ballpark to take it all in. It was fun for him to get the real perspective of what he watched on television. They talked a few minutes with an usher and told him that they'd come all the way from Florida to see the game. The usher told them to see another usher and get a pass to stand in the bullpen loge for an inning. Nothing like ratcheting up the excitement. They spent the first inning there.

I was surprised when the girls got excited to see Andre Knott on the sideline as the game started, I guess they did watch the games a bit with their brother. 

When his youngest sister who is seven looked a little bored, her grandfather took her to the Kids Clubhouse where she got to play a few games and pose for some goofy pictures and pick up a couple more souvenirs.

It was an historic game. Not because we won. We lost 17-0. Disappointing in the score but when there were so many empty seats, the three guys in our group spent a half inning sitting front row behind home plate and close up to the batters. Thrilling for our grandson.

We didn't get down to Heritage Park which is out just left of center field. It was so hot that it would have been a short visit since it sits down out of any chance of a breeze and gets a lot of sun,. We'll save that section for another game when hopefully, it will be a cooler day. You see, the only thing he wants for his birthday is a return trip and a chance to see a winning game. Can't promise the winning game but with the good prices on air fare, his parents have bought him a ticket and we get to enjoy another game or two with him before the Indians become the Guardians. Go Tribe!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A Stop At Mentor Headlands

Our outing to the James A Garfield home in Mentor was followed by a stop at the Mentor Headlands. We had never been there and found it very interesting. It was a hot day and there were plenty of people on the beach. The lake looked beautiful and I'm sure many enjoying the cool water. 

The Headlands is actually a state park and under the care of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It is a 35 acre beach on Lake Erie. The combination of lake, wind, and sand has created a rare lakeshore sand dune habitat for an interesting variety of flora and fauna.

It is a premier birding location and apparently there is a nesting bald eagle near there although we didn't look for it. There is also a resident red fox and in the fall, the Headlands is said to be a great place to see migrating monarch butterflies. 

There is a Nature Preserve next to the State Park. The sand dunes provide the perfect environment for switchgrass and beachgrass. There are marked trails through it.

Off in the distance is a scenic Fairport Harbor Lighthouse. There is a museum there as well and another place to add to our local places to visit. 

We needed to make our visit short to the headlands since we wanted to try out a recommended restaurant, Brennan's Fish House. When we got there we were disappointed to realize that it didn't sit at the edge of the Grand River with a view but since it was highly recommended, we still chose that over the restaurant across the street that sat on the water's edge. 

Inside was very nautical and very busy with customers confirming the recommendation that the food was good. Lightly breaded perch was our choice and we enjoyed every bite, 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Lawnfield, the James A Garfield House

 Those of you who like to travel can understand what a difficult time this has been with the world shut down. We have tried to do a few things that are nearby and did manage a trip to Mackinac Island in

Michigan last year. And of course, we spent the winter in Key Largo although we didn't do a whole lot with our grandkids down there like usual. There wasn't a lot open to us and we wouldn't risk their health either. We still enjoyed our visit with them.

So when the travel bug bit Bob back home, we looked for some place close by to venture out for a day. One of the groups I belong to on FaceBook suggested a day trip to visit the James A. Garfield home in Mentor, Ohio.

It was a beautiful Northeast Ohio day with sunshine, warm temps and low humidity. Instead of taking the freeway, we did what we call the Rob Way. Our son likes to take the back roads when he has the time and we had all day. Our mini-roadtrip wound through several lovely communities before we arrived at the home of the 20th president of the United States.

The home is called Lawnfield, named by the reporters who camped out on the lawn during his 1880 campaign but I'm getting ahead of myself. Garfield bought the home and the farm in 1876 to put his boys to work and teach them farming. The property was in bad shape but by 1880, Garfield had cleaned it up and expanded the farmhouse into a 20 room, two and a half story house. 

Garfield ran what was called a "front porch campaign." People literally camped out on the lawn and listened to his campaign speeches delivered from the front porch. He did not serve long as president. He was assassinated in 1881.

Lucretia Garfield, his wife, stayed on at Lawnfield and expanded it yet again to include her husband's books and papers thus making it the first presidential library. Her decorating talents are displayed throughout the house. Because of the house passing on to the descendants, the furnishings have been well preserved and original.

Wall coverings have been recreated and look like the original. 

Our tour guide was a volunteer who really knew her stuff. Not only did she give us a history lesson, she did it with colorful stories and background and humor. I, for one, do not get terribly excited about listening to dry historical facts. She made the Garfield story interesting. Oh, and I found out something along the way I never knew. In the past when the deceased were viewed in their own home, the room was called a parlor but when funeral homes became more prevalent, the parlor became known as the living room.

Lucretia Garfield became quite a fascinating character as our tour of the home went from room to room.

I promised myself to find a biography to read about her. 

Another interesting fact about the home is that it sat near a railway. It was a day's (or night's) train ride between the home and DC. Very convenient. They had to establish another stop near his house because too many people would jump off the train there to get to his front porch. 

If you are ever in the area, stop in and see the house. The acreage is reduced but many of the outbuildings are still there including a windmill that pumped water into the house. If you have a NP pass, the tour of the house is free. Otherwise it is $10 and well worth it. The grounds can be toured for free and you can scan the QR code on the signs to get a narration on your phone. 

We finished our adventure with dinner at the Brennan Fishhouse on the Grand River about fifteen minutes away and stopped for a look at the Mentor Headlands. A great day trip. Looking forward to another.

By the way, the picture on the left is of Garfield's mother. Lovely lady, right? She mourned her son until the day she died. Her room was covered in pictures of him so that any way she turned, he was always in her sight. What a mother. What a  mother-in-law.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Secrets Amid an Irish Castle

 Here's a reading from my newest book, Secrets Among The Shamrocks. It's available at Amazon.com along with the first two books in the Casey Stengel Mystery Series: Murder Among The Orchids and Death Among The Deckchairs. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

It Pays To Have Friends With Connections

 Anyone who knows us knows we are addicted not only to travel but to Pickleball as well. We meet the nicest people playing at home and in Florida during the winter months. One of our fellow Florida players is married to a boat captain who does tours with his six passenger pontoon boat. We followed our Until-Next-Year lunch with a cruise on his boat. It was so much fun as well as informative. A whole new perspective on Key Largo from the water. 

Captain Larry picked us up from Senor Frijoles after lunch and took us out and across Blackwater Sound to a protected area of mangroves. We went through a channel that is part of the Intercoastal Waterway and then into a smaller channel that led to a small lake in the middle of the mangroves that are actually a part of the Everglades. Captain Larry has a special permit to go into the area with his charters. 

Mangroves are an important part of the eco-system. They reduce erosion, protect water quality, provide a nursery habitat for marine life and provide shelter and nesting areas for a variety of other birds and animals. Their roots that go down into the water make them look like they are standing on stilts. 

Along the way we saw a variety of birds including some really pretty herons and an iguana out for a swim. It was interesting to learn that the channel is where they anchor boats when a hurricane approaches. When Irma came through, the water was blown out of the Bay and the boats rested on the bottom but the mangroves protected them from damage. 

Since all of us onboard new what a manatee looked like, he didn't spend time trying to track one down. We did take a peek at the dolphin pens by the Dolphins Plus at MM102. 

Captain Larry was informative and kept us all chuckling with his humor as well. It was a relaxing and enjoyable time with wonderful friends from our Pickleball group. If you happen to be in Key Largo and are looking for a little relaxing and enjoyable time on the water, you might want to look him up. He does morning tours and some sunset cruises as well. 

Monday, March 01, 2021

So What Is A Leprechaun?

 St. Patrick's Day is approaching. And while I don't resemble a leprechaun in any way, I feel like there must be some kinship since I was born on March 17. It has led to my dislike of the color green however since everyone naturally assumes that the best way to celebrate is to give me something green--green cupcakes, green mints, green cookies, green carnations (the worst!). 

The color green has long been associated with leprechauns although in my research, there are said to be leprechauns that do wear red. Apparently leprechauns belong to the fairy family. Small in size and prone to mischief, They are said to be descendants of Tuatha De Danaan, a group of magical beings that served under the Gaelic goddess Danu. According to legend they lived in Ireland long before humans.

There are no female leprechauns. It is said they are they unwanted fairies, tossed aside by the community. They are described as grouchy, untrusting, solitary creatures. Doesn't sound anything like the guy on the cereal box. 

Pot of gold? Leprechauns are cobblers and I guess there's a lot of money in making shoes. They are also the bankers of the fairy world. who take care of the money supposedly for the other fairies who would just spend it frivolously. And of course there are always stories of people trying to steal a leprechaun's gold. (No wonder they're grouchy.)

They are sneaky little creatures though. One story tells of a man who forced a leprechaun to show him where his gold was buried. The man tied a red scarf around the tree trunk the leprechaun showed him and ran off to get a shovel to dig it up. When he returned to the forest, he found that every tree had a red scarf tied around it.

Ah, the stories abound. But wait! There's a whole other story about where they came from and who they are. Looks like my work here is not done. There's still time to explore before St. Paddy's Day.

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