American Wilderness Campground, Grafton, Ohio
Dripping with sweat, we managed to break camp yesterday morning. It wasn’t really all that hot at 8:00 - at least wasn’t yet in the 80s, but the humidity made everything we did seem extra difficult. But aside from sweating profusely, breaking camp went smoothly and so did the dump. We made our way out of the campground.
Destination was up here in Northern Ohio. We still have one more park to do in this state, and it will take a few days to see it. So we are changing campgrounds. We could have driven Interstate 71 right straight up pretty much all the way to Akron, but since it was less than 200 miles, and we had all day to do it, we decided to take ‘the old highway, US42. Like our other drives on US highways, it was scenic, passing through Ohio farm country and lots of small towns. But it was also slower since, in every small town, we had to navigate stop signs and lights which slowed us down some. We drove through Xenia again, and Wilberforce, both towns we had seen before, and then on up through Cedarville, Selma,
South Charleston, Florence, London, Gillivan, Plain City, Arnold, New California, Delaware, Ashley, Cardington, Mt. Gilead, Shauck, and Lexington. No, I don’t remember all of those towns; I had to look at a map to recreate the list. But we traveled through each of them.
Finally, in Mansfield, Joan found us a lunch spot that had a patio where we could take the dogs. Food had a Louisiana twist to it - I had the Bourbon Burger. It was still a little warm and muggy, but not so bad that we couldn’t eat outside. And I think the girls enjoyed being with us and out of the car for an hour. Besides we had a delightful waitress, some relation to the owner I think, who was the spitting image of Emma Stone. We teased her about it and she took it all in good fun.
Back on the road, we managed, somehow, to miss an important turn and that sent us up the wrong highway for a little while. We managed to get back on track, but by this time we were almost in Akron, so it didn’t matter a whole lot anyway. Found our campground and rolled in
right around 4:30. It wasn’t a real long day and some rain cooled off everything.
We try to camp in the National Parks when we can. However Cuyahoga Valley does not have any RV campsites. So our second best is to go for a state park nearby. Joan tried to find one, but strangely, there don’t seem to be any within an easy drive of the park. So next she tries city and county campgrounds and came up with the same result. So that leaves private campgrounds, which is where we are. Private campgrounds span the range of prices and amenities with the KOA sites usually being the most costly. However, KOA’s usually provide just about everything you might want a resort to offer. They are especially good for families with children. The rest of the private campgrounds can be a crapshoot. Some are basic and cheap. And that’s OK since you are paying for what you are getting. Some are basic and expensive - the ripoffs. Unfortunately, we’ve been to a few of those.
The American Wilderness Campground, where we are, seems to be in-between. It is fairly expensive, as campgrounds go, but part of that is
because we are in the major urban area of Cleveland/Akron. Facilities here, though, are on the basic side. We have a full water and electric hookup, but the nearest restroom is a latrine and the marginally acceptable showers are on the other side of the campground. There are two lakes - one for catch and release fishing (which we aren’t really into), and the other, smaller, one is for swimming. Based on the color and the presence of lots of bugs, and pooping geese all around it, though, I’m not so sure I’d swim in it. It seems that a lot of ‘campers’ here are full-timers - a half-dozen of them left for work already while I’m typing this. And the advertised wifi isn’t adequate enough to allow an internet connection (why have a wifi network if you can’t get to the internet??). So my feelings about this place are mixed at the moment. Maybe they will improve with age.
Have to make a comment about the road system in Ohio. I remember writing earlier about the drive in Kansas and about how the roads all run exactly north/south or east/west. If you want to go diagonally, you have to zig and zag. That just isn’t true here in Ohio. If anything, it is extremely difficult to find a road that doesn’t run diagonally. I think I understand that this all comes from the historical origins of trails and roads that weren’t exactly designed by a civil engineer according to land boundaries divided into townships and ranges. But there are consequences to having roads like this. On the positive side is that if you happen to make a mistake and take a wrong turn down some highway you can almost always simply go to the next intersection and find a road that takes you back in the right direction. It seems that every town has multiple roads going into and out of it. But this also presents a problem for navigation systems. It seems to me that our GPS assistants, programmed to always find the ‘shortest’ route, often take you down minor roads that end up being even more confusing. And if there is a deficiency in the GPS database, it can end up stranding you someplace you don’t want to be with no easy way to fix it. In one case, Gladys told us to turn left on Fair road, which we dutifully did. But the road dead- ended at the fairgrounds instead of intersecting with a highway that would have put us on the direct path. It wasn’t easy to fix that and, ultimately, we just turned the damn devices off and used the map.
So driving out here is a little different. So is the ecology - the forests have changed and become more dense. We are now in a zone called the Erie Drift Plain. The ecology is heavily influenced by the presence of Lake Erie. It tends to have more snowfall, and is cooler than the regions to the west and south. Instead of dominantly beech forests, there is more of a hardwood mix, including evergreens. The area reminds me more of the Wisconsin Dells area (southern Wisconsin), than it does of the rest of Ohio. Hopefully, the ‘lake effect’ will result in less heat.
In case it doesn’t, we’ve decided to change our approach a bit to exploring the park we are here to see, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We are planning on trying to get out of the trailer and into the park earlier, using the cooler mornings to explore the park. Then we can return to the air-conditioned trailer after lunch and take a nap or do indoor activities. That will probably mean a change to my writing schedule - no more early morning posts.
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