Cuyahoga, Cleveland, and Punderson represent the final leg of our three campground, nine night camping adventure.
We dropped off the Mantis and headed to Cuyahoga Valley National Park to catch a Ranger-led Junior Ranger Program. The Ranger took us to Beaver Marsh to spot wildlife. This also gave us the opportunity to get a feel for the area and map out time spent in the park.
Wednesday night and Thursday’s forecast: rain. With our water woes at Dogwood Valley, and wind woes in Loray, we opted to try sleeping with the top down. Sleeping with the top down was fine and didn’t impact sleeping areas in any way. It did make using the toilet and sink a little tricky with only four feet of headroom.
The rain made Thursday a perfect day to see museums in Cleveland after a great breakfast of omelets and eggs at the Punderson Manor in the state park. We started at the Great Lakes Science Center on the banks of Lake Erie. The exhibits were good with a heavy emphasis on space exploration. The Great Lakes Science Center is an ATSC member, so our admission was free. Also an ATSC member was our second stop, the Cleveland Natural History Museum. There we saw a hawk and owl demonstration and enjoyed a variety of nice exhibits. The outdoor exhibits looks great as well, but we opted to avoid the rain.
The rain pursuited into the evening so we stopped at Whole Foods for coffees and to consider our next stop. We noticed that they were hosting trivia that evening and decided to stay. We played four rounds of trivia, fed the kids snacks, found a couple good drinks, and even won one round and a gift card! After trivia, we splurged on pizza at Zeppe’s.
The story of the restoration of the river is incredible. Exactly fifty years before our visit a passing train sparked a fire on the river; the 13th known fire on the incredibly polluted river. This fire sparked a desire to do better. Today the river valley is home to nestling eagles and was selected as the 2019 river of the year. The Cuyahoga was flooded during our ride, but we spotted an eagle, beaver, snake, and turtles, and wildflowers throughout our ride.
We arrived on bike almost two hours early with the hope of finding a snack. There are no concessions at Rockside, but we found a shopping center a short ride away. We grabbed appetizers at Yours Truly and treats at Malley’s Chocolates. After our ride and snack, we throughly enjoyed the train ride back to the 4Runner.
On the train ride back, we got a great recommendation for a Saturday bike ride, Presque Isle State Park near Erie, PA. We rode the 13 mile loop around the isle, really a peninsula, with view of the bay and boaters on one side, and beaches and a lighthouse on the other. We again saw evidence of the wet spring as portions of the trail were under ten inches of water. The loop ended at Sara’s Restaurant, enticing us to stop in for lunch.
We were able to enjoy a couple of evening at Punderson. We journeyed during the day and got back to the campground in the late afternoon so the kids could bike ride, go to the playground, and enjoy a fire and walk the campground. We really enjoyed slowing down to relax a little more, which may become a new camping best practice.
Although we admittedly put this region on our list to check off a National Park, we really loved Cuyahoga Valley, Punderson, Presque Isle, and Cleveland.
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Shane and Jessica
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