Sunday, July 25, 2021

Wedding Day - Kaelyn & Ryan

Bride (Kaelyn) Groom (Ryan) Dance

So, how does one write about a wedding in "COVID" 'this' part of the new normal? (A term I have come to HATE about the second time I heard it!)  You get married, just the two of you and a person authorized to marry you, and a year later, on the same day, you have a wedding to celebrate your one-year anniversary.  As I mentioned the reason for us being in Cleveland to people, they all said, "Yep, I went to one of those." -or- "We are going to one of those too..." 

Now, when you are Irish, the one-year anniversary wedding is really a THREE DAY event.  Kinda puts into perspective the term, "Party, Party, Party".  So above, as the Groom (my son Ryan) and his bride (my daughter-in-law Kaelyn) share their first dance together as husband and wife with everyone just before the dinner, after pictures (taken before the wedding), the wedding (about 25 minutes long, no cameras allowed during service except by hired photographer) followed by the reception hors d'oeuvres hour, and after the above dance it was toasting time, dinner time, and then dance time for all (which is when we cut out and called it a day).  At 11:00, those who were still hanging in there, were invited to the bar at the wedding hotel across the street for more party time.  On Friday we were all invited over to Kaelyn's parents house for a pre-wedding dinner followed by a pre-wedding party.  Today it continues with a after wedding pool party BBQ (skipping that, we have a long drive facing us starting tomorrow!)  Yep, it is the wedding of a happy they were finally able to get it done.  Enough said, on to the pictures...

My kids with spouses and their mother and her husband.

Kaelyn (bride) arrives for pictures

Kaelyn with her mother Julie

Kaelyn and Ryan with his mother Shelley and Bryan

We arrived at 2:45 for pictures which started promptly by 3, and were finished by 3:45.  Kaelyn is a meticulous planner, and this part of it worried her the most since the ceremony was at 4:30, and she wanted to 'hide' after the pictures so that guest did not see her until she came down the isle.

The event was held at the Union Club in downtown Cleveland Ohio.  This building was built in the first fives years of the 1900's, dedicated in December 1905.  It is absolutely beautiful inside, which I hope you can see through some of my pictures.  I can't wait to see the professional pictures once they are released.  Kaelyn made it clear that she did not want any pictures of her walking down the isle, or of the ceremony itself, except those by their photographer.  Very understandable...after all, who wants professional pictures of the bride walking down the isle and all the guest have their cell phones out taking pictures ruining the shot?  

Hors d'oeuvres hour held in 3 connected rooms

So many people, don't know any of them...

At the far table is Michael, Anna, Stephanie, Shelley and Brian

Stephanie, Shelley and Michael (sorry Anna, only got your hair)

The hors d'oeuvres hour included open bar, with servers passing through the crowds with coconut chicken, crab cakes, lobster cheese toast bites, and who knows what else.  The servers working the crowd were wonderful...friendly and attentive.

20 round tables and one long bride/groom/family table

That is Marcia at the far left.

20 tables, 8 settings per table plus bridal table

One of 'our' concerns was the ability for Marcia to move around without much interference with what was going on around us.  We had her mobility GoGo and her trusty cane.  I made sure that we were ahead of the crowd for each event, got her seated, and hid her GoGo nearby.  During the hors d'oeuvres hour she remained in the GoGo, and it was the only time we had to transverse through crowds.  All worked out well.  Arriving 10 minutes before the dinner bell had sounded, I got the above pictures which included the band warming up.  What a nice, warm banquet hall this was.

Another shot of Bride-Groom dance

Kaelyn's Parents, Julie and Chris

Kaelyn and Ryan enjoying their Toasting

Before dinner they had a quick dance, and toast-greeting from the bride's parents, followed by a toast by the Maid of Honor and the Best Man.  Getting shots with those windows and not wanting to use a flash which could interrupt the professional photographers (man and woman team) was difficult.

Dinner at the head table

Shot of Michael and Anna with Stephanie and Bride/Groom in background.

Our heart-filled thanks go out to Kaelyn's parents, Julie and Chris, for throwing such a wonderful wedding for Ryan and Kaelyn.  All went off without a hitch, everyone was warm and gracious, and we had a wonderful time.  It was filled with wonderful tears (Kaelyn is a very emotional woman...and her warm tears caused the Pastor, the Maid of Honor, the Best Man, her Husband Ryan, and many in attendance to cry tears of joy with her.)  Love abound, and it was an occasion to be remembered. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Boston Mill Visitor Center

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an easy 20 mile trip from the Fairground's RV Park if you take the Ohio Turnpike (I-80) at a cost of $2 (less if you the EZ-Pass or if you have the 'new' Florida "SunPass Pro"), which works with many other states turnpikes...we have the 'old' reader so we had to use the cashier method.  With little traffic leaving at 11:30, we quickly got to the only Visitor Center open in the park right now, the Boston Mill Visitor Center.  While in the park, you have to be fully vaccinated to NOT wear a mask, and they set up a booth outside at the far end of the building where you can talk to rangers and staff and get your maps and brochures.  The folks working there were very nice and helpful.

The park essentially follows the Cuyahoga River, and varies in width from very narrow (less than a mile) to fairly wide (over 6 miles), and a length of over 20 miles for a total of nearly 33,000 acres (50 sq miles).  Twenty-two miles of the ninety-mile-long Cuyahoga River flow through the park. The park is right between Akron Ohio and Cleveland Ohio, and for the most part is a world beyond either city.  Designated as a National Recreation Area by Ford in 1974, it became a national park in 2000 by Clinton.  It is the only National Park that originated as a National Recreation Area, and it is the only National Park in the state of Ohio.  Unlike most National Parks, there are many homes and business within the park boundaries.

Trains have been moving through the scenic wonders of what is now Cuyahoga Valley National Park for over a hundred years.  Through a mutually beneficial partnership between the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the National Park, park staff offer educational programming for riders of all ages and maintain the railroad other national park in the country offers this type of service. Above is one of the stations where one can enter or exit the train.  Basic price is $15 per adult, $10 per child, or $20 per adult and $15 per child for an all-day pass.  No, we did not partake in the train ride since we had Indy...yes, she is a service dog, but she is not trained for travel like this ... yet.

Above are a two of the many houses within the park, and one of the many churches.

One thing that catches your eye is the immense amount of greenery throughout the park.  As you drive the roads, it is not uncommon to be under a canopy of tree limbs.  All the grass, all the trees are so green this time of year.  I am sure that in the winter there is a vast change, and sometime during the fall, the colors are probably out of this world.

The Everett Covered Bridge was constructed after a person was killed trying to cross the swollen Furnace Run Stream in 1877. The original bridge was destroyed by storm floodwaters in 1975,  reconstructed 1986.

 If you look closely, you can see Furnace Run in the middle of the picture reflecting some of the sunlight.

They reconstructed the bridge the best they could just like the old bridge...but the newness of the timbers and the roof are a sure sign of it not being an original.  

The most popular of the nearly 100 waterfalls within the park is  the 65-foot tall Brandywine Falls (tallest waterfall in the park and in Northeast Ohio).  It is a short .2 of a mile trail along a wooden boardwalk to the falls, with the option to descend many stairs down to the bottom (passed on that portion).  The upper view is totally ADA, although there are two sections where the descent and assent are close to being out of compliance.  This is the only waterfall we saw, and it is worth seeing.

The only critters we saw were these sculptures sitting on the three rocks at the Beaver Marsh Trailhead, although raccoons, muskrats, coyotes, skunks, red foxes, beavers, peregrine falcons, river otters, bald eagles, opossums, moles, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, gray foxes, minks, great blue herons, and bats habitat within the park, along with rare (rare to the park) black bears.

Between Marcia and I we have visited around 35 National Parks.  The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is worth visiting, but it definitely does not make our top 30 parks list. Like Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs Arkansas, it is too close to 'city life', although it has an attraction that I am sure in the Fall is outstanding when the yellow, red, orange colors breakout in all their glory.  Again, this National Park is well worth the visit, so if you are in the area, be sure to visit.  There are a few places within the park where RVs can park, but there is no camping.

Friday, July 16, 2021

From Northern Kentucky to Cleveland Ohio Area


The drive from Berea Kentucky to the Northern Kentucky RV Park in Crittenden was short 90 drive and uneventful.  Yes, the RV Park is another old KOA...and it would have been peaceful except for the railroad tracks just across the street from our site.

Hey Dad...if you looked on Google Maps you would have seen the railroad tracks on the other side of that fence running along the road to the RV Park..

Yes Indy, "IF" I looked I would have seen them.  Didn't seem to wake YOU up though...

Seems like there are more and more full-time park campers now days.  This park was packed with trailers, a few 5th wheels, and even fewer motorhomes.  The large body of the full-timers was on the other side of the A-frame building, farther away from the trains, of course.  Many had very large propane tanks sitting outside, and some with the bottom draped off to protect from the cold.

We stayed here back in 2016 when we visited the just opened Ark Encounter (click here for that blog posting).

Thought about seeing it again, but wondered just how my knees (especially the right one) would feel after all that is 2 football fields long and we decided not to visit this time.

Besides the trains which passed by now and then, and the high price of $45 per night (when you are 'full' all the time, you can get away with charging that price), the thing that I did not like the most was this "Doggy Area" (as they called it on their map) which is just grass on a slope with no fence in which you can let the dog roam.  "Hey...with all that money you are raking in, build a dog fence for this area, will you!"

Our trip from Crittenden to the Cleveland Ohio area was going to a much longer drive than we had between Berea and Crittenden.  We were on the road by 8:30...could have been earlier but I was monitoring the Cincinnati traffic and if we left any earlier, it would be that much harder of a drive.  As it was, it was stop and go as we got close to Cincy, and it was that way until we were well onto I-71 headed to Cleveland...mostly due to construction and ...

...bridge repainting. 

Just before you reach the bridge, you get a pretty good look at the city.

In one spot along the bridge, they had the sides opened up from the draping to protect from wind as they sandblast and repaint the bridge.  Marcia got this picture of the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge built in 1974.  There are four bridges across the Ohio River connecting Kentucky to Ohio right at Cincinnati.  

Both of the major pro teams, football and baseball, are along the river.  Here is a picture of Paul Brown Stadium, home to the Cincinnati Bengals.  

Our next large city to pass through was Columbus Ohio.  It was close to noon, and the traffic was not too bad...but they had major construction going alongside the Interstate and it was not easy to pass through at times.  By this time we had stopped for breakfast at a rest area, stopped for gas at a Flying J, and I had another rest area staked out in our GPS about 30 miles from Columbus.  We stayed at this rest area for about 20 minutes just to rest up and walk Indy, who was happy to do her duty.  We were still 100 miles from our destination near Cleveland, and the white-knuckle driving was taking its toll on me.  We stopped at one more rest area about half-way to Cleveland, and pulled into the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds right at 3 pm.  

By 4 pm we were totally set up.  They only have 50 amp here, so you have to have the pigtail to convert 50 to 30 amp, which we always carry with us.  There is water and sewer.  Although the sign said to check-in before you set-up, I talked to the guy in charge of the RV area by phone weeks ago and he told me to set-up, then check-in when I was up to it.  They DO NOT take reservations, but he said he has never filled up except at fair time and for some special events.

A little after 4 I drive over to the Fairgrounds Office, where the nicest two ladies, Dorothea and Martha, who handled my registration.  Martha asked when we were leaving, and I looked on my phone to give her the date.  Dorothea holds up her phone, looks just like me flip-phone, and she says, "Kindred Spirits!".  I look and see her flip-phone and I said, "I HATE smart phones...if I want to use a computer, I will use a computer, not a phone!"  She said, "Exactly!"  We both laughed while Martha just looked at us like we were a couple of strange people who did not like smart phones.  Martha told me the price she was asking me to pay and I said, "But it is $175 for a week, $30 per night after that...and we are staying well over a week...are you sure that's enough?"  "I am in charge here, and that is what I am putting down!  Enjoy the wedding and I hope you can see some of the sights of the Cleveland area."   WOW!  (and NO, I am not giving the price, don't want them to get in trouble.)  All I can say is EVEN before she told me how much to pay, these two were as friendly and nice as could be.

I drove around the deserted fairgrounds and took the following pictures...I tried to imagine what they put where...

The fair has been held here since 1895, and held every year except for missing one year due to stock market crash, a few years due to WW2, and, of course, last year due to COVID restrictions. 

Hard to imagine that all of this emptiness turns into ...

I have heard a lot of 'bad stuff' about the carnival people...but you have to hand it to them, they can turn empty grounds that have electricity (and there are electrical outlets all over the place here) into a wonderful fair very quickly.  

During the 'non-fair' time, they try and keep those of us who use the fairgrounds for parking our RVs along the north side of the fairgrounds parallel to University Street.  Glad we came in yesterday because eight or nine more came in today so we got to pick a spot which has plenty of room for Indy to run around in.  And yes, many pictures show the hint of rain...which started about 7:30 tonight in earnest and will last till morning...otherwise we had a few sprinkles now and then today.  Oh, and there are no train tracks, although we hear occasional planes which fly out of the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, but not directly overhead, and the sound only lasts for up to 10 seconds.