Category Archives: Parks

A Walk in the Park in Kentucky, Part 2

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Day 2 of our trip to Red River Gorge was a bit less hiking, but even more to see. When we turned into the park, on day 1, we went right. On day 2 we went left.

The first thing we found was a tunnel in the mountain. Nada Tunnel. IMG_8929

The tunnel used to be a railroad tunnel. It is now a 900 foot, single lane, passage through the mountain for cars.

We came out the other side, to this.

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Pretty much, through out this whole portion of the drive, the road looks like this. It is beautiful, though I wish we had been able to go a couple weeks later to watch those leaves change!

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One thing I found interesting here was that we crossed a lot of bridges. Everyone was very different.

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That last bridge is called the Sky Bridge. It is a natural stone arch, that crosses over another path. The hike is easy, though you will want to be careful walking across the bridge, as you can see, there are no walls. And, the edges are worn down, so the very center is high and flat, and the close you get to the edge, the more sloped the rock becomes.

I found this little guy on our hike.

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I think this may be one of my best pictures!

On the route to the Sky Bridge hike, you will also find a sign that read’s “Devil’s Canyon Overlook” This is the view.

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Now, if you are anything like me, you will decide that standing by the fence is not good enough, and you will walk down a little side path, with no fence.  And the side path will lead you down here.

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Can you see, under that one pine tree, the bright green moss on the edge of the rock? If you are anything like me, you will decide you MUST sit there to get a picture. If you are married to anyone like my husband, you will keep inching over there while he shouts “Get back here!” I made it, and sat on that ledge, and enjoyed every second of my view, while my husband had a panic attack. (Ok, not really, but he was not happy with me and was very tempted to pick me up and move me back about 4 feet.) I took this picture though.

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Those are huge, fully grown trees under my feet.

We eventually had to make our way out of the park. Remember how I said it stormed on day one? This was how a good portion of the roads looked on day 2.

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Next, I’m working on the basic info post. Soon I will have posts from the Las Vegas trip we just got back from as well.

A Walk in the Park in Kentucky

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On a rare week off for my husband, we decided to go on a road trip to Kentucky for some hiking. The trip was off to a rough start. We wanted to go Wed-Thurs. But, on Sunday night we got word my uncle had passed away and we had no details about arrangements. Not wanting to miss his funeral, we bumped the trip up. It poured the whole drive. All 6 hours of it.

And, I had/have a pinched nerve in my back, so my leg is killing me. And, I’m all wobbly. We kept on anyway. I thought, how hard could this be? Thinking of Indiana’s vast corn fields, not of Kentucky’s mountain ranges.

We wanted to go to Red River Gorge, deep in Daniel Boone National Forest.  The website for the forest proudly boasts that this park “embraces some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains.” It would seem I should have done some more research before we left.

We got to the park, it had actually stopped raining at that point. Which was nice, especially since the “Dangerous Cliffs” sign above was the first sign that greeted us.

We started down the Gray’s Arch trail. The sign said it was just a .25 mile hike. Not a problem. So, we began. Above Gray’s Arch the sign read “Rough Trail” we thought it was a warning about trail conditions. We were mistaken. The arch trail was another trail, off the main trail. The main trail was perfectly named, Rough Trail. It was 7 miles long. A fact we did not know until we finished hiking.

The scenery is stunning, the trees turning all different colors. The temperature was perfect, mid-sixties. There are rock formations almost everywhere you look. My kids enjoyed hunting for mushrooms. We know nothing about mushrooms though, so we just looked and took pictures.

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It was definitely a rough trail, but not undoable. All 4 of us did fine. We were about 1.5 miles in when we found the first of several rock shelters.

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It was around this point we also found Gray’s Arch.

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This photo was taken with a filter. I took several pictures, and this is the one that shows the arch best. I just wanted to get to the arch, so we continued. It didn’t seem that far away.

We continued down the trail, and found another rock shelter, and a cave. IMG_8887

This cave is at the top of three very long, very narrow, and very steep sets of stairs. We finally reached the bottom of the stairs, and the trail forked. It seemed if we went right it would head to the arch. Left would head down another trail. As we discussed it, the sky broke open and the rain began. We rushed to the left, to get under cover of yet another rock shelter.  We thought we’d wait it out for a bit. After 30 minutes, it was still pouring, and a bad storm was heading in. It was getting late, we certainly didn’t want to hike in the dark.  And we’d already walked a mile into our “short hike” to the arch. It was another .50 mile to the arch. So, we decided to turn around and go back. The hike back was all uphill.

We realized we had made the right choice when we got up the stairs and saw the path.

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And this was one of the best parts of the path. Wide, and no cliff immediately to one side. We vary carefully headed back to the car.

And that was the end of day one.

More to come soon, but I’m heading out of town again in the morning and I won’t be taking the computer. The next post will probably be next week.

Squire’s Castle, History and a Ghost Story

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In northern Ohio, in the North Chagrin Reservation, part of Cleveland’s Metro Parks District, is a castle. Or what looks like a castle. In reality, it is the shell of what was to be the caretaker’s house for a mansion that was never built.

Feargus B. Squire was one of the founders of the Standard Oil company, so he was very wealthy. (At one point, after the castle was built, Squire served a term as mayor of a nearby town.) He owned a home in Cleveland in the late 1800s, but wanted to live in the country. (Which is funny when you think about how it, how much of a city was Cleveland in 1890, especially compared to now?)  Squire bought himself 525 acres of land in a forest, and planned to build a giant estate, intending to live at this estate with his wife and daughter. The home was built from stone, quarried from the property itself.

Before construction on the mansion began, the caretaker’s home was built. It was 2 stories, though there is some speculation there was a basement as well, though you can’t find it now. Squire was going to live there, while the mansion was being built.

The home was supposedly quite beautiful designed after castle is Europe, with Tiffany glass in the windows, carved moldings, and European finishings.

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Mrs Squire, however, hated the country. She had been raised in the city and that was where she wanted to stay.

Legend says that Rebecca Squire would be unable to sleep at night, and would wander the home, holding her lantern. One night, she was startled by one of her husband’s hunting trophies hanging on the wall, she tripped and fell down the stairs to the basement, breaking her neck in the fall that killed her.

Mr Squire was so distraught, he abandoned the property and moved away. But, you can sometimes see a woman in the upstairs window, or a red glow, as is coming from a lantern, moving through the house at night.

The real story is not as interesting, or as tragic.  Mrs. Squire did hate the country, and Mr Squire abandoned the dream of a country estate.  Squire sold the property in 1922, and Cleveland Parks got the property in 1925.

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This is the fireplace that stands in what was once the library.

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When you stand in the library and look out, this is the view of the rest of the castle. There are 2 large rooms you can’t see from the photo, and once there was a second floor, but, the castle had been left to the elements and the 2nd floor deteriorated to the point the parks department removed everything except the shell; there is no roof either. If you believe the legend, Squire had the basement filled in after his wife died. But, others say there never was a basement.

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Can you see it? This castle as it once stood? Perhaps the window was stained glass, blocking the beautiful view. Or perhaps this window by the fireplace was one you could sit by on a winter day, watching the snow pile up around the home. Maybe the floor had furs as coverings, since Squire loved to hunt and show off his skill.

The park is actually open until 11pm, and as the sun goes down, I’m sure you can also see why this abandoned castle has also lent itself to a ghost story.

More Information

Squire’s Castle, Cleveland Metroparks

Squire’s Castle, Travel Cleveland

Squire’s Castle, Wikipedia

Ghosts of the Prairie

Exploring the Cleveland Area, Part 2

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Trying to fit a lot into 2 days, made a busy day 2.

I went to see the submarine the U.S.S. Cod. It is a World War II era submarine. It was actually hard to find. I know you are thinking “How can this giant thing be hard to find”. Well, water doesn’t have much of an address. So, if you want to visit, make your way over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and if you come in off 9th, the Hall of Fame will be in front of you, turn right. You’ll head towards the Burke Lakefront Airport. It will be on your left, there is a small, gravel parking lot. Parking is free. You will pay your $10 admission at a small booth that looks like the kind you’d find in a carnival to buy tickets to the tilt-a-whirl. Across that sidewalk is the “gift shop” which is a bulletin board with examples of things you can buy. I don’t know where they keep those things though.

You walk up a ramp, and then you are on the submarine. To get into the sub, you go down a hole, with a ladder on the side. So,needless to say, it is not handicap accessible.
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The sub is interesting, there are a lot of signs to tell you about the areas in the sub. There are 4 or 5 audio “tours”. You push the button, and hear about the area you are in. You can sit at a table or lay in a bunk.
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Or, you can pretend to enjoy a cup of coffee.

I really found the kitchen the most interesting part. Just to think about having to cook for that many people in such a tiny space.
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I began to write you out a history of the sub, but it’s really interesting and deserves its own post. So, upcoming is a U.S.S. Cod history post.

After the sub, I decided to go to the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art.

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So, I will admit it, but it’s embarrassing. I walked past this museum several times, trying to find it. The GPS was clear, the building LOOKED like a contemporary art museum. But, the only sign is the one on the door. That says “Mocha a la Carte” the hours talk about lunch time. And, there is a small script on the door that says something like “healthy, nourishing” So, I saw this and thought “what a strange restaurant.” and kept walking. Like, 10 minutes later I decided to go in and ask, and wound up in the gift shop.

It was a bit disappointing in my opinion. There were only 2 exhibits. One was by a nun. The Art of Corita Kent. That will be on display until August 31, 2014. Her art is very pop art inspired.

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The next exhibit was Staging Silence by Hans Op De Beeck. There were only 3 photos, but there was a room where a video was shown, and he slowly moved pieces to create beautiful landscapes. This is also on display until the end of August, 2014.

The admission is $8.

Finally, I ended up at Euclid Creek Reservation. I had read there was once an amusement park there, and some parts remained, such as the entrance, and the beach walkway. I drove through the whole park and found several playgrounds and picnic shelters. Also, there were many places to pull of and view the creek. IMG_7525This pretty flowered area is a monarch stop station, designed to draw the butterflies in on their migration.

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There are a lot of beautiful views of the creek, and the park is just as nice as the one previously mentioned.

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There are signs warning you to stay out of the creek. The creek is only a few inches deep, but many people have drown in it because it is really bad about flash flooding because it is surrounded by all the rock, and the creek bed is rock, so when there is a heavy rain, the water has no place to go, except to flood the creek.

I never found the old amusement park markers, and left very disappointed. Once I got home and could do some more research, and not just look on my phone, I found that this particular park has 2 sections. That are oddly far away from each other. I was in the wrong section. Now I know for next time.

Information

U.S.S. Cod- General information about the submarine

Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art 

Euclid Creek Reservation

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I just thought this was cute, it is the bike rack outside Starbucks.

Summer Time Exploring in Cleveland

This trip was a perfect example of my accidental tourism. I was in Cleveland because my husband was working there. I had no plans and no agenda, so, armed with a full tank of gas, and a charged GPS I set out to see what I could find.

Let me say a couple things about Cleveland. Their Metropark system is AWESOME. Their roads are crap. It is almost like they built a city, and as the number of people outgrew their infrastructure, they just added more. No real rhyme or reason. You end up with two traffic lights, that aren’t timed to each other, within a block. I was trying to get to my hotel, and I got off the interstate, where to get onto my road, I had to make an immediate U-turn, but there was a light halfway through the u-turn. It was weird. I can’t even explain it well. And, because they just randomly add roads, they seem to have run out of names, so Broadway splits and one direction is Broadway and one is Broadway Ave. Another street is Miles Park, the next road is Miles Park Ave. So, if you are not familiar with the area, you will make a lot of wrong turns. A lot. Like, oh, say, 87 in two days.

Day 1, I used Scout Maps, an app on my phone, to look for interesting things to do around there. I found a castle. I tried to find the castle on my regular GPS and I couldn’t. So, I decided to use their GPS. Which delivered me to a very nice neighborhood where a family of 4 was doing landscaping around their ranch home. I suppose on the plus side, instead of an arrow to represent me, it’s a picture of a ’67 Mustang. Which is kind of cool. But not worth getting lost over.

Eventually, I find out that Squire’s Castle is in the North Chagrin Reservation. This is part of Cleveland Metroparks. I was, admittedly, a bit disappointed to find that the castle is right by a parking lot. I had visions of Disney princesses, roaming the dark woods, only to see a dilapidated building peaking through the brush. That was not the case here.

The castle will be it’s own post, because the story is interesting. But, here it is. IMG_7291

I began to go into the woods, but, didn’t go very far. There was a waterfall I was intent on finding as well. The trails are clearly trails, but, wear good shoes. Because, the trails are muddy and in one spot a tree had fallen across, so you will have to climb over. So, while the trails are obvious, they have also been left to nature a bit.

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I continued on, to look for the waterfall. Again, I will praise the parks department. The signs are clear.
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Each trail is color coded, and represented by an animal, so, the waterfall trail is a blue dragonfly.
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The map told of cascading waterfalls and a scenic overlook at Buttermilk Falls. But, I think they perhaps over promised and under-delivered.
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The dragonfly path though was well worth taking, it was only half a mile long but had very pretty views of the creek that lead to Buttermilk Falls.

I then decided to head for Mill Creek Falls, which is it’s own “park”. There is a history center as well. This drive was where I got lost, over and over again. I drove and drove. I finally thought I was getting close, but, I felt I was in a slightly bad area, and a bit nervous. So, my GPS took me down a road that was a dead end. Down a hill, down to some woods. I find a few driveways, but they all say “private, no trespassing” and only seem to lead deeper into the woods. I see the history center. It is a house, and it is closed, in the middle of the afternoon. There is a small parking lot that belongs to some apartment buildings, but I pull in anyway. I can HEAR something, but, surely this can’t be the waterfall. I mean, that tiny trickle had a hundred signs directing you. This has NOTHING. So, I begin to head toward the noise, and begin to realize how much this sounds like the beginning of a horror movie. I continue on anyway. There is a path in the trees that I take, when I find this sign
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I continue toward the noise, and all of a sudden a really nice staircase is in front of me. Just call me Alice (In Wonderland), because it said “take me” so I did. I walked down the stairs. To find this
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A 48 foot tall waterfall. There is no one around, at all. There are benches to sit on and enjoy the spot though, so I did.

and that is the end of day 1.

Information
North Chagrin Reservation- This park houses Squire’s Castle. It also has a nature center, and a gold course. There are trails for horseback riding and even a place to park and truck with a trailer to unload your horses. They allow fishing. And, you can download a PDF of the trails before you go, from the website.

Squire’s Castle-This is a short little blurb about the castle.

Cleveland Metroparks- This is all the information for all the parks. There is no way I could make it to all of them on my limited time!

Mill Creek Falls- The information on this site is about as sparse as the how to get there info! It is located near Garfield park Reservation.