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.

Don’t Be That Person- Gate Rushers

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This was the gate for my husband’s flight out of Cleveland yesterday. The only time I ever really see this NOT happening is on early Monday morning flights full of business travelers, and even that isn’t a guarantee.

You guys, YOU ARE GOING TO THE SAME PLACE!

If you are THAT concerned about overhead space, then perhaps you should pack a bit lighter. And, stop using the overhead bins to store your purse, your laptop bag, your backpack, your carry on, your jacket, and your umbrella.

I know, you are sitting there thinking “you are only allowed one carry on.” But, watch sometime. You will see people get on, unload their “one personal item” into 4 or 5 personal items and put it all in the overhead. Don’t be that person either. (personally, I think airlines should do free check and paid carry on, but that’s a rant for another day)

But, anyway, the airplane boards in a certain order. Why are you rushing the door when grandma needs to get around you because she needs assistance onto the plane? You aren’t getting on any faster, AND you get to look like a jerk.

First class passengers get to board before you. Why? Because they paid for that privilege. It is that simple. They paid to be in front of you. If you would like to be first, I’m sure Delta will happily take your money.

Or I suppose you could bring a newborn with you, or become dependent on a wheelchair. Both of those will move you to the front of the line. But they all seem like far more trouble that either a. paying for a better ticket, or b. waiting your turn.

Photo Friday- Boston Chipotle

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Photo Friday, where the picture makes the story. This was supposed to be a quick post, but as I began trying to find the information to give you, it became very interesting. And, really, this is one of the reasons for the blog. So enjoy reading about a restaurant and history.

We were in Boston last month. That is going to require a few posts on its own. It seems every turn you take, you see something historical, but miss 2 things for the turn you didn’t take.

For example, one evening Brad and I decided to go to Chipotle. The restaurant is in an old building.
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Once you order, you can go upstairs. That section was added later, so the stairway is on the outside of the old building. The wall you see in the first photo was built in 1718. The United States didn’t even exist yet!

This building was once known as the Old Corner Bookstore. It was also once home of a printing press, where the first editions of The Scarlett Letter, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Walden were printed.

It was the first building to be saved by Historic Boston, it had been scheduled for demolition in the 1960s.

Repurposing these building is called “adaptive reuse”. It has been used multiple times in Boston with great success.

If you are ever in Boston, go have lunch in a 300 yr old bookstore. It’s pretty cool.

Chipotle Moving to Historic Boston Building

I found this in my search, which while not about travel, is about adaptive reuse and how it may be facing opponents.
Saving the Plant, One Old Building at a Time

The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.
The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.

Road Trips With Kids

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My first road trip with the kids was 3 years ago. We drove from Indiana to West Virginia. Brad was working out there and we decided to go see him.

It was about a 6 hour drive, according to the GPS. The boys were 7 and 5. Brad had flown to work, so it would just be me driving. I was nervous. Especially since I had never really gone anywhere on my own before, and I had certainly never had to figure it out with two little boys in tow.

I am going to share with you today the two biggest things we’ve done, that we still do. It will sound crazy. Hear me out.

1. Establish the “shut up” rule.

and

2. Stop, everywhere.

I have always been tense when I drive through cities. Almost on the verge of tears, when we started this. The bigger the city, the worse I was. I explained, simply, to the kids before that trip we now had a “shut up” rule. If I shouted “shut up” that meant EVERYTHING ceased. The talking, the giggling, the fighting, the crunching chips, the kicking the back of the seat. I was not mad, I wasn’t upset. I was stressed, and trying to get though the city as quickly and as safely as possible.They were not in any trouble. I just needed silence. And, I would let them know when they could make noise again.

When we approach a big city, I say “the shut up rule is in effect” and they are on notice, I may, at any point, yell at them. This will only work if you a. don’t say shut up and b.rarely raise your voice. But, it works. They’ve never made me come up with a punishment for breaking the rule. If you don’t like it, don’t think it will work, or don’t use that phrase in your family, that is fine. Find another thing, that you don’t often say, that will get the message across, that as of this moment the car is silent.

And, actually the rule was used on me last week! The GPS was messed up, there was a lot of traffic, debris in a road from a shredded tire, etc. I was talking to Brad, and he finally shouted “shut up!”. And, I didn’t say another word until he had things under control, several minute later.

Next, make all the stops.

I told the boys this was a 6 hour drive. We had 12 to get there. We could stop EVERY TIME they asked, as long as they never fought, whined, or asked if we were there yet. They also couldn’t abuse the privilege. They might not be long stops, but we would stop. Everybody has to get out at a stop, and everyone has to attempt to use the bathroom. I explained, if they drove me crazy in the car, I would need to get where we were going as quickly as possible and there would be no more stops.

After thousands of miles and more hours than I care to count in the car, I have realized, they naturally ask to stop every 2 hours. But, they have never complained about the trip, or asked if we were there yet.

Where do we stop?

We’ve stopped and ran through Toys R Us.

We’ve spent a bit of time wandering Game Stop.

We’ve gotten drinks at McDonalds. I stand in line, they rush to the play place and play for 5 minutes while I order and pay.

We’ve stopped at rest stop playgrounds.

Once we stopped at a musical distribution center, that happens to have a free arcade in it, and they played pinball for 5 minutes.

Sometimes they say things like “We are good, but we’d really like to stop at the next Starbucks.” (Yes, they are a bit spoiled, but, for no complaints for an 11 hour drive, they can have a frappachino.)

We’ve packed bubbles and jump rope and spent 10 minutes in the Walmart parking lot.

We’ve stopped in parking lots with grassy areas and they’ve ran for a few minutes.

We almost never use the drive thru when we get food. That 5-10 minutes out of the car, and to throw out any trash, makes them happy for another couple hours.

There will be more tips soon, but these are the two big ones.

Niagara Butterfly Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

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My American readers will need their passports for this one, but it’s worth it.

The Butterfly Conservatory is located in Canada, just north of Niagara Falls. There are over 2000 butterflies flying around.

You will enter a large dome, where the butterflies fly around freely. The signs say not to touch, but, the butterflies do what they want, and it isn’t hard to hold them. Be careful though!IMG_4453

There are about 45 species located in the conservatory. And, they are all beautiful, but some are more so than others. I don’t know what you are all used to seeing, around here we have lots of orange and/or white butterflies. The greens and blues there were beautiful.

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Interestingly, the butterflies are not able to reproduce in the dome. This is done on purpose, so they don’t overcrowd the area. The butterflies will only lay eggs on certain food sources, so those flowers and plants are kept out of the dome.

You can walk the conservatory at your own pace, and read the signs as you wish. The employees are helpful and informative.

My son did find out, if you spill syrup on yourself at breakfast, then go to the conservatory, you will end up with lots of company. :)

NEED TO KNOW:

  • Probably not a good place for small children, or kids who may be creeped out by things crawling on them. Lots of kids crying there, and even my 10 yr old got a bit overwhelmed when the 10th butterfly landed on him.
  • It is $13.50 (Canadian) to get in for adults, and $8.80 for children 6-12. Under 6 is free.
  • Parking is $5, but if you plan to go back, there is an annual parking pass for $10. They only take cash at the gate, but luckily they will take American.
  • Plan on maybe 2 hours, tops, to walk the whole dome. It isn’t a huge place (600 ft of pathways), but you might want to wait around for the perfect picture.
  • The hours are varied throughout the year, so check before you go.
  • The parking lot is shared with the Botanical Conservatory, so, that $5 is for both attractions.

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens surround the Butterfly Conservatory. They are free to enter, but parking is $5.

The gardens span over 100 acres, and are cared for by the students of the school of horticulture that is located on site. There are also several water features.

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They are beautiful to look at, and on a nice day you could easily spend several hours walking a couple miles. There is a rose garden boasting over 2,400 roses.

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The paths are easy to walk, and there are horse drawn carriage rides for a fee if you really want to sit back and enjoy the view. I did not check while I was there, but a couple websites say the carriage rides are $18.

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I went in early May and again in July. It is definitely prettier in July, but if you are at the Butterfly Conservatory anyway, wander the gardens and see what you find.

If you are there without a car, or don’t wish to worry about parking, the bus does stop right out front.

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Helpful links

Niagara Parks-Hours, admission, general information for the butterfly conservatory

Niagara Parks-same info, but for the botanical gardens. This also includes a link to download the app, which will take you on a guided walking tour of the gardens. Free wi-fi is available at the gardens.

Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory- Information about the conservatory, it is actually a really interesting read.

Fact Sheet- This is facts about the botanical gardens.

Happy Hammock Day!

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How did I not know there was a National Hammock Day? I love hammocks. I actually asked for one for my college graduation. I intended to look really hard for photos of my family in hammocks. It was not difficult. So, you can get to know my family as well. I promise this won’t turn into a “look at pictures of my family” blog, unless it is relevant. And, it is relevant to the holiday. The best holiday, IMO.

The above photo is my husband, Brad, in Cozumel, Mexico. We went on a cruise for our honeymoon, and his goal was to sleep in all the hammocks he could find.

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This is us, on the cruise. In the middle of the Caribbean.

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My kids and I in our back yard, on my graduation hammock. The one in the orange is Zaster and the other is Chaos. Not their real names, but the names they’ve asked to go by, nicknames they gave each other.

IMG_3789Then, here is my husband and I, this was how we spent Easter this year.

Where is your favorite place to lay out in a hammock and enjoy the sunshine? (or the rain, I suppose, if that’s your thing.)

In case you need some ideas, here are 33 Incredible Hammocks You Need to Nap In

Whirlpool State Park- Need to Know

This is not a park. There are few benches, and no water fountains. You come here to hike and take pretty pictures.

It is free.

Do:

  • Wear good shoes. I had on Walmart tennis shoes, and my feet hurt so badly when we were done, from the jagged rocks on the trail poking the bottom of the shoes.
  • Bring water! We made a terrible mistake and didn’t bring it. So, we were quite dehydrated when we finally climbed out of the gorge.
  • Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Watch out for snakes.
  • Take out anything you bring in!
  • Take your time and be careful.

Don’t:

  • Don’t get in the water. The whirlpool and the rapids are incredibly dangerous. If you live through your adventure, you will be prosecuted.
  • Don’t eat any plants, there are some that look like onions, but are poisonous.
  • Don’t take anything out with you. Leave plants and fossils there.
  • Don’t feed the animals.

The park is open, year round from dawn to dusk. There are restrooms in the welcome center, but they are only open April-October.

There is a playground and picnic tables. Taking a lunch is a great idea, but, take your trash out with you.

You can fish, and the few other visitors we saw there had brought fishing poles.

I, personally, wouldn’t bring anyone here who is under the age of 8 or so. But, I happen to have a very athletic 8 yr old who hates people but likes walking. 10 is probably a better guideline. Because you will be walking miles, and  climbing up and down rocks.

After writing that, I went looking for more information, and found the Niagara Falls State Park website. They agree, no one under the age of 8 should be on these trails.

For More Information:

Visit Buffalo Niagara- This has information, the actual address, a phone number and a map.

Niagara Whirlpool- History and information about the river and the whirlpool.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation- This actually is the site for the park, so there is a lot of information available.

 

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Whirlpool State Park

IMG_7003Whirlpool State Park in located in New York.

It is just off the Robert Moses State Parkway, Niagara Falls, New York. Do you know what else is off the Robert Moses St. Pkwy? Niagara Falls. So, that explains the lack of people when you pull into the parking lot of this state park. If you like people and touristy things, Niagara Falls is where you want to go. There are all sorts of places to spend your money. However, if you are looking for a bit quieter, or maybe you’ve spent all your money at the Falls, but don’t want to sit around your hotel room, than this is the place for you.

I read some reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. The reviews are colored by people’s perspective. I saw many that said “nothing to see except water.” which,is almost technically true. But, let me tell you, it is worth it.

Both parking and admission into the park is free. There is a playground beside the parking lot, as well as picnic tables. There is a small welcome center, with some history, and a couple bathrooms.

If you are not in shape, or not a hiker, this is a difficult place to visit. If you are a hiker, you will think this is an easy day. I felt I got a great workout, and was able to go everywhere, even though I’m not in the best shape.

Come see Whirlpool State Park with me.

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This is toward the beginning of the trails. It looks nice, and simple. This is at the top of the gorge. After walking a half mile or so, there is a break in the railing.  You can continue along the railing, or you can look in the break, to see stairs.

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This photo is taken, looking up, from about the middle point of the stairs. This is the easy part of the stairs.  Take the stairs! This is how you get to the bottom of the gorge. You walk down 300-400 steps. I don’t know how many, I lost count. Please remember though, you have to go back up them.

The stairs will give way to ground. I’d like to tell you it is flat, level ground, but it isn’t. We found a rocky, steep, area, that might have been a path, but we aren’t sure. We took it anyway. (Watch out for snakes and ticks.) If you take these random, rocky paths you might end up somewhere like this.

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This is downstream from the whirlpool. If you look closely toward the top of the picture you can see the Whirlpool Aero Car (click it, it will take you to their website), taking people over the top of the river, to see the whirlpool. That was actually how I found this park, months ago I took the aero car and saw people standing on rocks, 300 feet below, and I needed to find those rocks. I did.

You can sit on the rocks and watch the jet boats, or you can keep on walking. We sat for an hour or so, just watching. Then, kept walking.

This is where you begin to lose the trails. Watch for neon orange spray paint on rocks or trees. Those are the trails. You will eventually find another rocky path. Take it. It leads you to flat rocks, directly under the cable car. Straight ahead, as you walk, you will see the whirlpool and the rapids. IMG_7063

Now, allow me to explain, this is not a whirlpool like you see in the movies. Where the water spins in a perfect circle and creates a sort of underwater tornado. The whirlpool effect is much subtler. It is caused by the river taking a sharp turn at this point, almost a 90 degree turn. The rapids are a category 6 in this place. DO NOT get in the water! You will die.

Once you’ve had your fill of this scenery, you can continue down the path. At some point, you will look up, and see how far you have come down.

IMG_7069The parking lot is at the very top of this rock.

This is about as far as we went, because we planned badly. And, that is actually part of what got this blog started.

Do I have you interested in seeing this? The next post will be the practical side of things, thing you need to know if you are going to visit. Things we’ve learned from experience.

I’m still figuring out how to organize this, so be patient with me.

 Whirlpool State Park 

The First Post!

Let me start off with a bit about me.

I’m Katie. I travel a lot. But, I don’t really “vacation”.  My husband, Brad, has a job that affords us a lot of travel perks, because he is away from home Monday-Friday. Sometimes we, meaning the kids and I, get to go with Brad to work. Sometimes that is awesome, and we go to the beach. Sometimes, it isn’t so awesome and we go to the middle of nowhere, Missouri. Sometimes it’s just me, sometimes it’s all of us. And, we always find ways to stay busy.

Home base is northeastern Indiana. The family consists of Brad and I. Both about 30, and our sons, who are 10 and 8. We home school the kids, and so we end up being able to go to work with Brad a lot.

I realized as I went through the photos, mementos, scrapbooks, and journal entries, I’m gaining a lot of information about HOW to travel, and how to enjoy it no matter where you are. I thought I would share the knowledge I gain, along with information about specific places, and I can share photos without annoying my Facebook friends anymore. ;)

Join me on my travels. Enjoy.

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