Each year the boys get a fall break from school, which is awesome because it’s a great opportunity to travel and spend time outdoors during the cooler fall weather. However, it’s only 4 days, which means that if you plan on going anywhere beyond Indiana, you are going to spend at least 2 of those 4 days traveling. In our case, Luke only took a single day off work, which meant we were on the road for a good portion of our fall break trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northern Ohio. While it’s not ideal, we’ve come to learn that the road trip itself can be just as much fun as the actual destination. This year’s fall break trip was no exception!
Our first stop on the way to northern Ohio was Millstone Creek Park outside of Columbus, Ohio. This park has a stream, wetland area, natural play area, and a truly amazing inclusive boundless playground. Since inclusive playgrounds are designed with all ages and abilities in mind, they typically have a lot of ramps, which are great for babies or toddlers who are just learning to walk, such as Joe. Joe, as well as Matt and Luke, all had the best time playing at the park. After an hour of letting them burn off energy, however, we were back on the road.
Next, we stopped at Apple Hill Orchards in Mansfield, Ohio. Every fall since Luke was born, we’ve gone apple picking. However, as the boys get older we are increasingly busier with their activities (fall baseball, Cub Scouts, etc.) and it becomes more and more difficult to make it to our local orchard. Furthermore, with the growth of our town, the local orchard is packed nearly every weekend from late August through early October. This year the orchard’s U-Pick was literally picked out by fall break. So on a whim, we decided to stop at Apple Hill Orchards for our annual apple-picking trip. Apple Hill was the perfect place for a stop. It was not at all crowded AND they still had apples! We spent a good hour picking apples, eating apples (and apple cider donuts), and generally just letting the boys run around.
By late afternoon we finally arrived at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Our first stop was the Boston Store Visitor Center, which is not only the park’s main visitor center, but also a canal-boat building museum. Cuyahoga contains a portion of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, that was built in the early 1800’s to connect Cleveland on Lake Erie with the Ohio River. The Boston Store, was built in 1836 along the canal as a place to “store” supplies. If you visit the park, I would highly recommend stopping at the visitor center. As you can see, the have some very nice exhibits on canal boats, which the boys thoroughly enjoyed.
Since daylight was waning, we headed out for a short hike before sunset. We decided upon the Blue Hen Falls Trail, which was short, easy and ended at a lovely waterfall, as the name implied. The boys, as per usual, begged to play in the water, but that was not going to happen in 50-degree weather. So instead, we let them continue exploring and took the Buckeye Trail north from the falls for at least a mile. At this point it was beginning to get dark, so we turned around and return by the same trail. All in all, not a bad “travel” day!