Cuyahoga Valley NP History

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of our newer national parks, having been designated on October 11, 2000 by President Bill Clinton.  It is the only national park that began its public life as a National Recreation Area, having been designated as an NRA in 1974.  Cuyahoga Valley is unique in several other respects as well; it is the only national park in Ohio, located between Akron and Cleveland in a fairly populated area.  It was already filled with roads, farms, small towns and several existing parks before it became a national park, so the National Park Service coordinates with the towns and the metro park system to administer the park.

The land that Cuyahoga Valley National Park sits on has a long history of use by several tribes, including the Wyandot, Ottawa, Objibwe, Munsee, Potawatomi, and Shawnee, but the Lenapé Nation is considered the grandfather of many of the other tribes in the upper Ohio River Valley.  A series of treaties and white encroachment on their land pushed the tribes off the land in this area in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

White settlement began in the late 1700s, and increasing when the Ohio and Erie Canal established a well defined trade path between Akron and Cleveland in 1827.  Towns and services sprung up along the path of the canal, feeding passengers and workers on the barges, and quenching their thirst at the taverns!  Farming and sawmills were also common in the area.  Even after the railroad came to the valley in the mid-1800s and greatly lessened the use of the canal, it still operated as a method to move coal to the Great Lakes for the ships there.  The canal was finally doomed when a flood in 1913 washed out large portions of its banks, and some of the locks had to be dynamited in order to release the floodwaters.

The park is located along a 20 mile section of the old Ohio and Erie Canal, and it’s towpath has been turned into the Towpath Trail, for walkers, runners and bicyclists.  The park also has dozens of waterfalls, including the 65 foot Brandywine Falls, which is the tallest in the park and the second tallest in Ohio; some of the waterfalls dry up in the dry season though.  There are historic buildings, and living history museums, and some old cemeteries scattered throughout the park.  A rebuilt covered bridge, a marsh and lots of wildlife round out the park!

The park has an annual visitation of 2,096,053 in 2018, and I was one of them!  I spent two days there in August 2018; I’m excited to share my experiences!

 

Book Review: Death in Yellowstone

My aunt and uncle got Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, by Lee H. Whittlesey, for me as a gift.  It’s like they know me!  They have spent a couple of summers working in the bookstore near Old Faithful, so I imagine this book was screaming out at them from the shelves until they couldn’t ignore it anymore!

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First, let’s get this out of the way.  Yes, I appreciate the morbid.  It helps me cope; I get it from my mom…  But who wouldn’t want to know about all the strange and grisly ways there are to die in the nation’s first National Park?  Yellowstone was designated as a National Park on March 1, 1872, so that’s almost 150 years of opportunity to die there.  And Whittlesey has done a great job of compiling a comprehensive list of all of the deaths in the park.

There are a lot of ways to die!  He covers drownings, falling into thermals, deaths caused by horses and wagons, falls, deaths caused by wildlife, exposure, poison gases, suicides, murders and more!  Some, like deaths by wildlife, are less common than I would have guessed, with most of those being caused by grizzly bears (which is to be expected).  It also impressed upon me that you should never, ever, go roaming around Yellowstone at night, in the dark.  There are too many opportunities to fall in thermals, to fall off cliffs, to freeze to death (even if it isn’t winter), or to get eaten by a bear!  I mean I knew this already, but apparently there are people who don’t.

The writing style, leaves a bit to be desired; Whittlesey compiles information and presents it in a matter of fact manner, rather than spinning a excellent story.  At points it almost seems that bullets would be his preferred method.  That said, it is still interesting, and I enjoyed where he was able to get additional information about a victim (or a perpetrator) from the folks that knew them.

If you love our National Parks, and have a fascination with the macabre, you are sure to like this book!

3 stars.

Stay at Home Forever…

Hearts all over Washington State were broken this evening.  “Stay at Home” is extended until May 4.  32 more days of staying home, at a minimum.  UGH…

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree that it is necessary, but ugh all the same.  I was feeling kind of mopey today anyway.  So let’s explore some things I’ve learned about staying home in the time of COVID…

  1. I use more toilet paper. I’m currently mapping this, but I think I am going through a roll a week.  I didn’t hoard, but I did buy 1 package last time I could find some, so I have about 19 rolls.  That will last me a while!
  2. I run the dishwasher way more often.  It’s all that eating at home.  I’m tired of eating at home by the way.
  3. COVID is stressful.  I’m safe at home, but I’m on the front line of decision-making for how to keep my essential government organization safe.  I am back to my stress-induced 3 am insomnia wake up call.  Ugh.
  4. You can’t make everybody happy (see #3).
  5. I never knew it was possible to obsess so much about having to clear my throat.  Was that cough “dry”?!?!?!?!?!?
  6. Working 40 hours a week from home does give me more time at home to get things done in my non-work hours, but that doesn’t mean I will!
  7. I’m really grateful that I had my surgery in December, before all elective surgery got canceled.
  8. Even introverts crave time with people.
  9. Putting on nice clothes doesn’t really have an impact on my mood.  But taking a shower does!  The last time I did laundry, I washed and folded exactly one pair of work slacks from the Board meeting I attended almost two weeks ago; since then the Governor has ruled that all public meetings must be conducted remotely.  I can’t say I’m disappointed!
  10. Coraline enjoys busting in on video meetings!

I like to get out for a walk each day or do some yard work; thankfully I’m only a short walk away from a college campus that is eerily empty…  I’m praying that our efforts are working to flatten the curve and save lives.  I’m heartbroken for the people who have lost their lives, and lost loved ones.  I hope that sooner rather than later, we are able to move on from this.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep doing my part.

 

Book Review: Mary Todd Lincoln, A Biography

I picked up Mary Todd Lincoln, A Biography, by Jean H. Baker, at the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington, Kentucky, when I visited there in August 2018.  I have read a lot about Abraham Lincoln, and have learned much about Mary in the process, but I have never read anything that explores her life as her own person, separate from her relationship with our nation’s 16th President.

Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography

The book covers the entirety of Mary Todd Lincoln’s life, from her birth and upbringing in Lexington, Kentucky.  Her mother died when Mary was six, and her father remarried shortly after to Mary’s step-mother, a woman that Mary had a tumultuous relationship with.  She went to boarding school across town, and received far more education than a girl typically received at the time.  She was versed in politics and could speak eloquently on a variety of topics, in both English and French.

She was, by all accounts, a formidable force, who had strong opinions and a pushy nature.  However, it is likely that Lincoln’s rise to the Presidency was heavily influenced by his wife, her encouragement and her assistance behind the scenes.  She believed she would be the First Lady, and Mary Todd Lincoln often got what she wanted.

Her life was also overshadowed by tragedy.  She lost her mother as a child, and three of her four sons died before they reached adulthood.  And of course, you know what happened to her husband…  She grieved.  Yet she grieved in a way that the nation thought inappropriate, not becoming of a lady of her time.  She was too much to take.

Mary’s polarizing personality bought her many enemies, and those enemies have tainted the historical record.  She certainly was far from perfect, but this biography will help the reader to understand what is true and what is myth surrounding Mary Todd Lincoln.

4 stars. 

Book Review: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer, wasn’t a book I set out to read.  But it was available in audiobook format on an evening I went looking on the library website for books for my commute.  So there you go…

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Amy Schumer is a comedian and actress, who is known for letting it all hang out.  She will say what’s on her mind, in excruciating detail.  She is crass, inappropriate and often laugh out loud funny.  But she certainly has a style that isn’t for everyone.  I’ve known about her for a while, but I’m not really into comedy or slapstick type movies, so I must say, I haven’t seen much of her comedy.

In her memoir, she once again lays it all out there, from her upbringing with dysfunctional parents, her self-esteem issues and what it is like to be a female comedian in an industry still largely dominated by men.  She talks about her career and how she got to where she is, from her teenage job as a summer camp caregiver, to waitressing, to being a pedicab operator in a hilly city…  With all of it, there is a copious amount of drinking!  She talks about dating, being an introvert, learning to accept yourself, and a host of other topics that women everywhere deal with, although perhaps not with as many f-bombs or vagina references.

The book has points where I was laughing in the car, and other sections where I was fighting back tears on my drive to work.  You might not appreciate her style, but she definitely has something to say.

3 stars. 

Circus Trip 2018: National Museum of the Air Force

Day 34, Saturday, August 18, 2018

Dayton, Ohio

The National Museum of the Air Force is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio. It is the oldest and largest military in the world, and it has 360 aircraft and missiles on display. The museum was first created in 1923, with technical artifacts being collected for preservation. In 1954, the museum first opened to the public.

The museum has many rare aircraft and other memorabilia. They have the only surviving North American XB-70 Valkryie, as well as the Bockscar, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki in 1945.

They have a huge collection of planes with interesting and beautiful nose art, which I have long been fascinated with.

One of the artifacts that I love are the goblets and bottle of Cognac given by the City of Tucson, Arizona to the Doolittle’s Raiders. The brave men who participated in the raid each had a goblet with their name engraved on it. When each man died, their goblet is turned over in the case; some men’s goblets were always overturned, as they were killed after they crash landed in China and were captured by the Japanese. The intent was that the last living survivor of the raid was to open the bottle of Cognac and toast the other raiders.  The bottle was from 1896, the year their Commanding Officer, Doolittle, was born.

Several years ago, there were 4 remaining raiders and they decided they wanted to complete the toast before they were down to one; three of them were able to travel to the museum and participate. The museum live-streamed the ceremony and the toast and I had the opportunity to watch. It was powerful to see, and impacted me greatly.  The last Doolittle Raider, Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, died on April 9, 2018.  What a brave group of men they were!

The museum also had a special exhibit on the Holocaust; artifacts and information related to the concentration camps. The exhibit had information both on civilians and the airmen who were captured and held at the camps.  It was hard to walk through the exhibit and see the faces of those who died or whose lives were destroyed.

There are uplifting exhibits at the museum as well.  According to the Museum’s website, John Silver was a homing pigeon “used in World War I to deliver messages when other means such as telephones, telegraph, radio or dispatch riders were unavailable. They proved their value carrying messages from front line outposts to pigeon lofts at command centers, which they returned to by instinct and training.  John Silver was hatched in January 1918 in a dugout just behind the lines in France. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, he was one of the most active pigeons in the Army, and his barrage-dodging skill was apparent in many exciting flights from the front line trenches to divisional pigeon lofts.

On Oct. 21, 1918, at 2:35 p.m., this pigeon was released at Grandpre from a front line dugout in the Meuse-Argonne drive with an important message for headquarters at Rampont, 25 miles away. The enemy had laid down a furious bombardment prior to an attack. Through this fire, the pigeon circled, gained his bearings and flew toward Rampont. Men in the trenches saw a shell explode near the pigeon. The concussion tossed him upward and then plunged him downward. Struggling, he regained his altitude and continued on his course. Arriving at Rampont 25 minutes later, the bird was a terrible sight. A bullet had ripped his breast, bits of shrapnel ripped his tiny body, and his right leg was missing. The message tube, intact, was hanging by the ligaments of the torn leg. Weeks of nursing restored his health but could not give back the leg he lost on the battlefield. The pigeon became a war hero and earned the name “John Silver,” after the one-legged pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. He was retired from active service and in 1921 was assigned as a mascot to the 11th Signal Company, U.S. Army Signal Corps, Schofield Barracks, Honolulu, Hawaii. John Silver died Dec. 6, 1935, at the age of 17 years and 11 months.”  He was a hero! You can read more about him here.

John Silver, the homing pigeon

Outside, they have monuments and sculptures dedicated to various units of the Air Force.

 

I was there for a few hours in the afternoon, but you could easily spend a couple of days here. After two visits, I’m still nowhere near seeing it all, I’m sure!

Wish I Could See the Tulips

So many of us are staying home, and let’s face it, it is sad that so many social events have been canceled.  It can get lonely…  A local pride and joy each spring, the Tulip Festival, will instead be beautiful blooms of millions of tulips, with very few people to see them.

Here’s a photo from the 2019 Tulip Festival, in case you need a little pick me up for your stay at home life…

Stay safe everybody!