Friday, November 22, 2013

Hiking to Blue Hen Falls

In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park there are so many trails to hike and explore.  We've been several times to the ledges, but I recently saw a picture of Blue Hen Falls, so about three weeks ago we decided to go and search it out.
It was a beautiful fall day too, with the trees almost at peak color.

The trail was quite short, shorter than I expected, so since there were a few other people down at the bottom of the creek, we decided to find our way down there too.

We followed a rough path downstream until we were able to find a fairly good place to climb down.  It was beautiful at creek level with all the fallen leaves, the rocks, and the trickling water.

 We then hiked back upstream to the waterfall with LittleJ being our guide most of time.  He is known for getting way ahead of everyone else.

We finally made it back to the waterfall, and enjoyed a little time just relaxing.

We've been studying geology and rocks this semester, so this made for a wonderful little trip.  It's fun finding lots of  new little places to see and explore and having it tie into our studies so well.  What a blessing!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Another fall festival we attended this year was at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary located near Mansfield.  This was a fundraising event for them, as they provide sanctuary and rehabilitation for native Ohio birds.

They did a wonderful bird talk/show where we could see the birds close up.
Here are some of them.
Barn Owl
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon, the fastest animal on earth.
Great Horned Owl
This one was my favorite. I was fascinated by it.  So beautiful.

They also had the Columbus Zoo bring some animal ambassadors including a penguin, flamingo, armadillo, small tortoise, a small fox, and this beautiful baby snow leopard.

I'm wishing we lived closer so we could take advantage of their programs. 
It was a nice afternoon and made for a great family field trip. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Festivals

Fall is a great time for festivals, and this year we visited two that were new to us.

First was the Barberton Mum Festival.  Mums are a classic fall flower so why not use them creatively as the center of your small town festival.  Every year they have a theme for their festival, and this year it was Native American Indian.  
I was a warm and sunny weekend as well, which really brought out the colors in the flowers.
They had approximately 20,000 plants making over 1 million blooms!  The pots are set very close together in order to make the designs, so once you are there it doesn't seem as big as you would expect, but the impact is beautiful.

They also had food and craft vendors, musical entertainment by local choirs and bands, native american singers and storytellers, and a water ski show.

As I looked at all the pictures they posted on facebook, I noticed there were a lot of things we missed around the lake... a wood carver, vegetable carver, sand sculptor.  And I didn't get to peruse all the craft vendors quite as well as I would have liked.   So next year I plan to take a picnic blanket so we can just relax and enjoy the atmosphere at a leisurely pace.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

First Day of School Outing!

This year's first day of school was spent with a little math, and a lot of lake, sand, and water!

We have a long-standing tradition that the first day of school deserves an outing or field trip of some sort, so this year we went to Headlands Beach State Park on Lake Erie.  It was a hot summer Monday at the end of August, so it was the perfect choice.  Who wants to be inside on a gorgeous summer day anyway?

A beautiful setting for the afternoon.

Building sand castles.
A walk, and sometimes run, down the beach.
And lots of water time!
It was hard to get LittleJ out of the water!
Ahhhhhh.... {big smile, happy sigh}
A wonderful day at the lake, and wonderful start to our new school year.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lake Michigan, How we love you!

This summer we took a couple mini-trips, but we also included our regular trip to Lake Michigan.  
When we head to the lake, we go to Warren Dunes State Park.  They have nice campground facilities and great sand dunes.    

This year, however, we were setting up our campsite in the rain.  Not so nice, but we managed.  We set up expecting to get more rain than we knew our tents would like, so that's the reason for the tarps.

Both tents received the tarp treatment by those of us who aren't afraid of a little rain,
while some (who shall remain nameless) chose to stay dry.  
It wasn't raining hard, but enough to make things wet and dreary.

OK, so what's to love about Lake Michigan?
Well, once the rain had passed and we accepted the cooler than normal temperatures, we enjoyed the things we came here for.

The camping and family bonding time.

The beach, the water, the sunshine, the relaxing.....ahhhh.

The sand dunes.
We were very glad it warmed up enough to enjoy the dunes and the beach.  The water though, was absolutely freezing, so not a lot of swimming happened.  
We did collect some great rocks for next year's wedding reception though!  WaHOOO! 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

South Bass Island, Lake Erie

We took an early vacation day this summer in June and went to South Bass Island, Put-in-Bay in Lake Erie.  We had a wonderfully relaxing day on the island, and a perfect weather day as well.

Here we are waiting to board the Miller Ferry.
The Miller Ferry is a nice, relaxing 20 minute ride.  There is another ferry line as well, which promotes a speedier ride (and twice the cost), but in all honesty, 20 minutes is not very long and this is a vacation day, so no need for speed.

Once on the island, the main transportation for visitors is the rented golf cart.  It was wonderful and well worth the rental price for the entire day.

One of the main attractions of the island is the fact that during the War of 1812, Oliver Hazard Perry and his men stayed there during the war and the Battle of Lake Erie took place near by.  Perry and his men found a crystal clear, fresh water source inside the cave on the island.  An underground spring feeds the pool inside the cave, which is a wet cave environment where stalagmites and stalactites continue to grow.
It was a steep descent down into the cave. 

The Perry Victory and Peace Memorial is also on the island.  They are celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the victory at the Battle of Lake Erie.

Once inside there is a tribute to the men who lost their lives, and an elevator which took us to the top observation deck.

We were allowed to spend as much time as we wanted at the top.  I particularly liked the interpretive boards which explained exactly what direction you were looking and what you were seeing.

We took along a picnic lunch, we played and relaxed at the park, we shopped, we drove around the island, and we had a very nice dinner at a local Italian restaurant that had excellent chicken alfredo pizza. 

Towards the end of the day, we went on an adventure to find the island lighthouse.  
I love lighthouses, so I wasn't about to leave the island without seeing it.
Ahhh....  Can I live here?  It would be perfect.
I would take very good care of it.  I promise.
We eventually made it back to the ferry, and back to the mainland. 
It was a beautiful, family day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Is A Rookery?

The month of April is finally shaping up weather-wise, so we decided to head out for a little spring adventure.

One of the nature-related field trips on my list has been to find the Great Blue Heron Rookery.  I've seen many pictures of one at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, so I wrote down the coordinates, we entered them in the GPS, and off we went.

So, what is a rookery?  

It's a communal nesting ground for birds, mostly found in wetland areas.
All those "blobs" in that tree are heron nests.  There were 2 other trees filled with nests also, for a total of 100+ nests in this small area.

Here is a closer look where you can see the herons sitting or standing in their nests.
I thought they were amazing birds to watch.

LittleJ said they looked like paper airplanes as they glided.

We stayed and watched for a good 20 minutes.  The rookery is located right along a busy road with the only parking being a simple pull-off, so you are literally standing on the berm while you watch.
Even so,  it's worth a stop.  Enjoy!