Tag Archives: adventure

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.

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

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.

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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