Monday, August 01, 2011

The Art Of The 24 Hour Turn-Around

**Lyd's left hand held our salvation, a bottle of Amino Vital Endurance!**

The weekend was a blur. Lyd had to be up and out by 6:30a.m. Saturday morning to play for all the athletes at the Giant eagle Tri For The Cure. Done by 10a.m., we then had to pack it all in, drive home, unload...RE-LOAD the outdoor gear and hit the road. The clock starts now, 12:20p.m. The drive north from Columbus to Ohio's only National Park only takes an hour and a half..not bad considering the alternatives. Destination? Not really sure....because it's "Adventure Time!" We were packed and prepared for anything. Be it primitive campground, sleeping under a bench, B&B, or a nasty little road side motel...we were ready for anything. After a short stop for lunch, we landed in Boston Mill at about 2:30 and took a walk. Stopping by the visitor center, we learned that this little town was once a busy trade center and shipyard along a major canal system heading to Lake Erie from the Akron area. Turns out, the Cuyahoga River flows NORTH..a very rare the lake. A flood in 1913 wiped out the entire shipping/canal industry here, leaving numerous little Victorian towns and villages in the lurch until decades later. They would be re-born as the National Park took over. We lucked out and were standing at the office door to Stanford Farm (call them for a reservation at 330-657-2909, ext 135), a recently renovated 1856 home that is now a B&B along the trail to Brandywine Falls. One room left...we'll take it. No a/c in these rooms, but well-positioned in the park to allow you to ride to just about anything you could ever want to see or do, and it's always more fun to crash in historic homes anyway, right?

The trail is well marked. It begins crossing a tall-grass meadow and then crosses a bridge into the woods. You ascend for about one and a half miles along the creeks and hillsides until you reach a split in the trail. Recent work has left the shortcut off the hike is now about twice as long, if not more. Carry water and food, as there are no places to refill and it gets extraordinarily hot and humid in the woods. Don't even get me started on the mosquitos. The trail is in good shape, and the pay-off at Brandywine Falls is well worth the trip. On the way back, be sure to make like Tarzan and swing from a vine or two. I'm about 215 pounds, and they held my carcass just fine! While the hiking trail is off limits to mountain bikes, you can take the tow-path along the old canal system for HOURS through the park. The path goes from gravel to pavement, crossing beautiful bridges over the river and often times right over the top of the old locks used to float boats up and down the waterway. This is what most people come for, and bikes can be rented in Peninsula at Century Cycles (info at and typically begin their rides here. The road rides are breathtaking, and you can actually get in a ton of climbing here if you so desire. Loops abound through the park roads and highways, and there are so many places to stop and eat/get water/sight-see, you'll not be bored at all. Oh...and at peninsula you can buy a train ticket and ride the historic train BACK from wherever you end up along the route in air conditioned comfort. Tickets run about 12 bucks and are WELL worth it.

The trains are comfy, and they even have a snack car that has everything from candy to hot dogs, Gatorade to beer. There is a slight upcharge if you want to take the scenic "Sky Dome" car, but tired legs don't really care, so we chose the regular coach fare for our round trip to Akron and back. Look for the large brass statue of the canoe-wielding native, that spot marks the Continental Divide where water flows either north or south. We spotted numerous deer, birds, and brightly colored roadies wearing their full-yellow "LiveStrong" kits spinning along the tow-path and highway.

We departed the train and headed down to the covered bridge south of Peninsula. The Burning River 100 trail run/race was on that day, and the bridge was an aid station for the runners. Gaunt and near death, we saw the top 5 runners come through and none of them looked very happy at mile 55. I wonder if they know the wheel was invented a loooong time ago? We managed to find the one cut-in below the bridge that would allow us to play in the creek (highly recommended on a hot day), and took full advantage. Giant trees with roots exposed littered the rocky creek bed. A recent storm had decimated the watersheds here, and it was clearly visible.

Dinner at The Winking Lizard was inexpensive (as were all food places we visited), and very filling. We made haste back to the Stanford House and hung out by the large outdoor fire pit and told stories. It was amazingly serene and quiet here, mostly because the campsites were well off the Stanford Trail in the woods, and the house was down the road from the small village about a mile or so. The lights from the kitchen looked eerily "Civil-War" as the embers roiled in the fire pit. I scared Luka bad enough with the tale of The Headless Horseman, he wanted to be in bed before midnight so as not to "lose his head."

The house had a stellar breakfast of fruit, yogurt, granola, coffee and sweet breads ready for us in the morning. A nice chat with other house guests and then we made for the door. Luka enjoyed the train tracks, Lyd was dying to ride the tow-path, and I enjoyed planning my next visit with the bikes. Upon our return in the fall, we plan to ride from Boston Mills to Akron and return on the train. Anyone down to come with us?

OH..and by the way..we arrived home at 2:30pm, just 24 hrs after arriving in Boston Mills...


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