Ohio and Indiana—Rockin’, Rollin’ and Paddlin’

We’re back in the U.S., crossing the border in New York, then whipping through a small corner of Pennsylvania before landing in Northeast Ohio at Punderson State Park, a lovely little campground next to a lake, where we had fabulous neighbors (Cathy and Dave) and enjoyed fireflies and being in the woods.

Our first reason for being here was to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. If you’re like us, you might have wondered why Rock Hall ended up in Cleveland. Short answer—they had the best bid. It’s a great location, right on the water, and the building was designed by I.M. Pei, and has similarities to his pyramid at the Louvre. The Tall Ships Festival was happening concurrently with our visit, and those are very cool ships to see as well.

But we were there for what’s inside, and it was a fascinating day. They cover the history of rock ‘n roll from its early roots to the present (broadly defining the term “rock ‘n roll”) and include lots of memorabilia from our favorites (e.g., the Beatles).

Rock Hall also has a ton of video footage, including music videos and specially-produced montages, so you can immerse yourself in hearing from your favorites throughout the day.

The piano on which Paul wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand," among others

They regularly have guests, and Alice Cooper and friends were there that day, participating in an interview with a Sirius XM DJ. We also got to nominate our favorite artists that we would like to see in the Hall of Fame and learn more about the recent inductees, Class of 2019, including Stevie Nicks.

If you’re in the area, you should definitely go.

For something completely different, the next day we headed to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which we had never heard of before we started researching this trip. If you’re old like us, you remember when a river in Ohio became famous for catching on fire. The river was so polluted that it burned! That river was the Cuyahoga, and the fire sparked an environmental movement. 

They began to clean up the Cuyahoga and made it a National Recreation Area in 1974, followed by National Park status in 2000. So, because we visit all national parks, we came here to see this transformation. We rode our bikes from the Boston Mills Visitor Center to Beaver Marsh (about 14 miles round trip)—that’s the rollin’ part of our title—rollin’ down the bike path.

Are there really beavers here? Apparently so, but we didn’t see any. What is significant though is that the marsh sits on top of an old salvage yard (aka, dump). After they started cleaning up the park, fish and other wildlife returned, and beavers built a dam structure, creating a marsh on top of this old dump. What a story of nature triumphing over human pollution!

Beaver marsh

The bike path, called the Towpath Trail, extends for 20 miles in the park (and well beyond its boundaries) and follows the old Ohio and Erie Canal route between Lake Erie and Akron, OH. Built in the early 1800s, it became obsolete with the advent of the railroad. 

But now we can ride our bikes where the mules used to pull the boats along the canal. This isn’t the famous “Erie Canal” from Albany to Buffalo (“I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal…”), but it’s another technological, archaeological site that’s interesting to see—lock structures and walls remain, though the canal is filling back in with plants and trees replacing the standing water.  Lots of wildlife attest to the increasing health of the river!

And along the way we stopped at Szalay’s Farm & Market in honor of our good friends Kim and Suzie!

Brandywine Falls are worth a visit within the national park as well.

Next, we headed to Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University, and also home to our dive buddies Tom and Mary Ann. We had a whirlwind of activities with Tom and Mary Ann, including our first pickleball lesson (sorry, no pictures), river kayaking on Wildcat Creek (hence the “paddlin’” part of our title)…

Recovering Cindy and the kayak after a dip in the creek

…and enjoying a boat ride and dinner on Lake Freeman,

Sunset over Lake Freeman

…followed by indoor shuffleboard!

Tom and Mary Ann kept us well-fed, helped us get RV maintenance and laundry done, and were the consummate hosts!

Our last stop in Indiana was at America’s newest national park, Indiana Dunes National Park, on the shore of Lake Michigan. Long a national lakeshore, it became the 61st national park this year (2019), so we had to squeeze it into our itinerary. A quick trip gave us a chance to see the dunes, Lake Michigan itself, and Mt. Baldy, a giant 126-foot wandering dune that is about to overrun its nearby parking lot.

Indiana Dunes meet Lake Michigan
Mt Baldy, beginning to cover the parking lot

Lots of variety on this leg of the trip, and now we’re moving on to Illinois (next post).

1 thought on “Ohio and Indiana—Rockin’, Rollin’ and Paddlin’”

Leave a Comment