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Cuyahoga Valley National Park -- Road Trip Day 1


Start of the Road Trip -- Harrisburg, PA to Seattle

Day one of our Road Trip from Harrisburg, PA to Seattle, WA! It's something I've been thinking about for over a decade now. I almost made the move but decided to stick back. 2023 was the year. I gave my resignation at my job. There's no turning back now. I hope we cleaned our car off well. We've been suffering through the Spotted Lanternfly invasion for years now. I'd hate to introduce it to the west so quickly! That would destroy the wine and hop crops I hold so dearly!

We have two dogs, Rapi and Schatzi, in tow. They have the entire back seat of the car all made up for them to live their best lives. We're so excited yet very nervous. We'll be on the road for 3 weeks or more taking a slow ride hitting National and State Parks, and other beautiful areas of the country. We don't move into our new apartment until August, so this is all we have for now! Sleeping from hotel to cabin to hotel to cabin!

Dogs comfortably sleeping in the car
Like I their BEST life

We literally handed in the keys to the house we were renting and hit the road! We got a verrrrrry late start due to some complications upon leaving and doing the final packing of the car. These things happen and are expected. (Darn roof bag!) We had weeks worth of supplies packed into a 4 door sedan!

Our first stop was in Ohio, at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We've driven this way before on our multiple trips to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Man I'm gonna miss that place. Steel Vengeance forever.

Due to leaving late, we didn't get to Cuyahoga Valley National Park until well into the afternoon. No worries, we didn't plan for much in case things like this happened. We did end up doing the Brandywine Gorge Trail Loop or something similar. We kind of followed our own paths on this day, on the trails of course. Do not stray from the trails and certainly don't make your own!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Sign
Boston Mill Visitor Center sign. Since we had such a late start we literally just made it inside the visitor center in time to get a cancellation stamp before it closed for the day. Whew!


Dogs Walking on the Bridge Boardwalk Cuyahoga Valley NP
It's the pups first road trip! And their first trail on the trip! They're getting pampered here with a boardwalk bridge.


Downed Tree Over the Stream -- Cuyahoga Valley
Downed tree on a creek!


Sustainable Agriculture and Countryside Living

Unusually for a national park, sections of Cuyahoga Valley are designated for sustainable agriculture. Local farmers lease land as part of the Countryside Initiative, a program that seeks to balance public enjoyment of the landscape with practical land use. Not only does this add a layer of activity and life to the park, but it also opens up opportunities for visitors to engage with farming through farmer's markets and educational programs. This interaction adds a unique layer to the visitor experience, blending environmental stewardship with agricultural tradition.

Water Reflections at Cuyahoga Valley NP
Reflecting on Water



Historic Traces: Mills, Canals, and Railroads

The park is a historian's delight, I'm not much for history, but those who are might appreciate it more! With a landscape dotted by signs of past eras. The park is definitely more history focused. It was a beautiful area, but to be fairly honest looks like most wooded parks you could find in Pennsylvania. It's national park designation definitely comes from its history rather than pure beauty, especially compared to other parks in the west. This was still a great and easy first park on the trip. Anyway...

The Hale Farm and Village transports you to a living history museum, demonstrating life in the 19th century. Likewise, the Boston Mill Visitor Center showcases how early industrialists harnessed water power for mills. The Ohio and Erie Canal, once a commercial lifeline, has left its marks in the form of locks and lockhouses. These structures, now silent, serve as poignant reminders of the role transportation played in the nation's early economy. It's too bad we didn't get see it on our short trip!


Brandywine Falls Cuyahoga Valley
Who says don't go chasing waterfalls....We go chasing waterfalls...

The Lure of the Trails

For those looking to actively engage with the landscape, the park's myriad trails offer varying levels of difficulty and scenery. The Ledges Trail, for instance, features remarkable rock formations, while the Towpath Trail follows the historical route of the Ohio and Erie Canal, complete with educational displays that enrich the hiking experience. I've heard a lot about this one after the fact, so I'm kind of upset we didn't try it, but oh well.  And it's not just for hikers; mountain bikers and horseback riders also find trails accommodating their needs, making it a multi-disciplinary hub for outdoor activities. We saw many bikers on our way traveling through. I guess bikers isn't the correct term. Bicyclists? Cyclists? Bikers brings images of gruff dive bar parking motorcycle people.


The Pups at Cuyahoga Valley NP
I think the pups enjoyed themselves! First National Park checked off the list!


 All in all this was a great, albeit truncated short first National Park trip on our way to Washington! 

KOA Lodging

We had to backtrack a short bit to get to our first sleeping spot. 

We stayed at a Streetsboro KOA tent site somewhat near the park and quickly realized that tent camping with two dogs was not going to be feasible for the few weeks we were planning on being on the road, haha. Maybe more rugged and acclimated campers could do it, but I guess we're too pampered. (Anyone want a tent?). For the rest of the trip we made sure that we at MINIMUM upgraded to a campsite with a primitive cabin. Also, we have two dogs with us. This is impossible.

The rules said something about alcohol being "allowed" but shouldn't be in plain view and that you could get in trouble for having unobscured alcohol present. I wasn't too worried, I cracked open a heavy dense stout and fired up our propane camping stove for the first time ever. Like I said... I'm not a camper, but we were going to need to use this several times so we bought one just for the fun of it. I definitely had fun! I didn't have the time or the energy to do anything crazy so I literally just boiled some pasta and dumped a can of premade Rao's Marina into the pot. First night roadtrip dinner is served!

Coleman Two Burner Propane Stove in OHIO
Oh yeaaaa. Boiling some pasta

Check out Road Trip Day 2 as we head to Indiana Dunes National Park!


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