My first summer road trip is FINALLY here. I had this trip planned last fall but COVID-19 had so many closed I decided to wait until 2021 to make the journey to Cleveland, Buffalo, and the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).
Timing is everything when it comes to the a road trip. You have to know what’s open and what activities are available, especially during the pandemic where things are temporarily (or sometimes permanently) closed. The goal was to hit the ANF mid-week to avoid the crowds and have more time to explore.
Since my first night of camping was almost 8-hours from the house I decided to split the trip up and check out some places along the way. My planned itinerary for this trip was:
- Sunday – Cleveland, OH
- Monday – Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls
- Tuesday – Tracy Ridge Campground – Bradford, PA
- Wednesday – Buckaloons Recreation Area – Irvine, PA
- Thursday – East Harbor State Park – Lakeside Marblehead, OH
- Friday – Return to Indianapolis
I’m glad I left on a Sunday because I-70 was smooth sailing to Columbus. There has been construction (as usual) on the route and several major fatal accidents over the past few weeks that have shut the Interstate down for HOURS. In one case The Indiana State Police reportedly had to wake drivers up once the accident was cleared.
Sunday, Day 1 – I’ve driven to Cleveland before but usually take I-69 to Ft. Wayne and east on I-90. This time I had a few places I wanted to check out in Central Ohio so I decided to take I-70 to Columbus before heading Northeast on I-71 to Cleveland.
My first stop was at Swenson’s Drive-in on the north side of Columbus. They have an interesting burger called the “Galley Boy” which is a double cheeseburger with 2 sauces, one of which is BBQ. I wasn’t quite sure what the other one was but I suspect it was Tatar sauce. Paired with onion rings and a diet soda the combo made a great lunch. Interesting thing about this location. It’s right next to an IKEA and a Top Golf. The IKEA/Top Golf match up occurs in Cincinnati as well. It’s actually a great idea where half the family can shop and the other half can hit the driving range (and BOTH can EAT!).
Next stop was the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. This place was the setting for The Shawshank Redemption. Unfortunately when I arrived the tours were all booked, except for the 4-hour one, so I “toured” the outside & went about my day.
Since I was going to be in the Cleveland area I thought I should make a return visit to the Szalay’s Farm & Market that’s located right next to the rail trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I accidently left my phone in the car and failed to get any pictures. This place was PACKED with people stocking up on farmers market supplies. There were doing a really great food business with pop up shops spread around outside.
Finally it was off to check out Cleveland and find some dinner. Unfortunately it rained every day on this trip and by the time I got to downtown Cleveland it was pouring so I abandoned my sight seeing plans. Once I checked into the hotel & set out to check out a local Mexican place I had heard good things about.
Cozumel Mexican Restaurant is a local chain that has some great reviews online. When I arrived it was pretty busy but I managed to grab a seat at the bar. They had a bunch of containers on the back shelf of the bar where they were infusing all minds of fruit in Tequila and Vodka. My drink of choice this evening was a Paloma and this one did not disappoint. They even rimmed the glass with Tajín for a salty & spicy kick. For dinner I ordered a Chicken and Chorizo burrito called the Burrito A La Diabla and it was delicious, as were the rice and beans server along the side.
After dinner it was time to retire to the hotel room and get ready for another day of driving and sight seeing on my way to Buffalo and Niagra Falls.
Next week we’ll discuss the Buffalo area and continue the trip to the ANF.
I’ve set the alarm nice and early these past few Saturday mornings and getting some miles in on the Road Bike. The weather last weekend was 100% humidity and super foggy around Geist Reservoir. Lucky for me there are some great paths to use and avoid the vehicular traffic in the area.
Yesterday morning was about as good as it gets. 68-degrees, light wind, sunshine. It made for a great 30-mile loop through Carmel, touching Noblesville at 146th St. and back to Fishers via 96th St. The Flowing Well Park is always a nice place to stop for a snack and top off the water bottles. I’d love to know how many visitors this place gets a year. I’ve never been there alone. There are always people filling up dozens of water jugs at all hours of the day and night.
While riding along the River Trail in Carmel I had to stop and take a picture of how the trees line the trail and make for a nice shady stretch. As usual traffic was light and riding on the streets posed no problems.
If there’s a path along a road and it’s in decent shape I’ll happily ride it. Unfortunately a lot of the paths in Hamilton County are starting to deteriorate to the point where it’s dangerous to ride a stiff road bike with skinny tires on them. The road normally offers a smoother surface and when everyone follows the rules (cyclists included) can be safe for everyone.
It’s nice to see that 99% of the drivers out there give you the legal right-of-way (3-foot minimum) when passing. I think the “Share the Road” signs help remind people that cyclists are allowed to be on the roadway the same a cars and trucks. The only exception I’ve witnessed this year has been pickup trucks on country roads and soccer moms that pass a little too close in their mini vans. Not much you can to about a close truck pass in the middle of nowhere. Hand gestures could result in a confrontation where the cyclist is at a distinct disadvantage.
When riding the back roads I’m more concerned about dogs than anything else. They can come out of nowhere and if they have any size to them can outrun a cyclist who is caught off guard. Normally they are more bark than bite but I’ve had a few close calls over the years.
Right now I’m 300-miles into my 1000-mile goal for 2018. I’m looking forward to passing the 1k mark and setting an even higher goal for 2019 (2k?). I have a cycling trip this summer in Northern Ohio that should produce some fun photos, I’m looking forward to it!
If you know me you know I have a lot of hobbies. Some would say I have too many…
This past weekend I took the boy to Ohio and introduced him to Briarwood Sporting Club in Bellefontaine and a really amazing Loose Meat sandwich at the original Maid Rite sandwich shop in Greenville.
Briarwood is located on almost 500 acres of immaculately cared for property and offers 16 lakes with 11 different fish species as well as hunting opportunities in the fall. I was the lucky winner of a discounted 1-year membership at a Ducks Unlimited auction last fall. It’s not a cheap membership but after spending some time there I think it’s going to be a place we escape to many times a year.
Greenville Ohio is the home of Kitchen Aid and it has an amazing store that carries just about every make, model, and color the company currently makes in its factory down the road. It also has a little museum in the basement that helps tell the history of the infamous mixer the company is known for. I always have to stop in and usually end up bringing a new product or accessory home. This time around I picked up some replacement parts for my stand mixer as well as a cold-brew coffee maker (future review in the works).
The Maid-Rite restaurant is about as old school as it gets. Loose Meat sandwiches, chips, and drinks are the only things on the menu. Somewhere in its history people started sticking gum on the building and after all these years it’s practically covered in it. A little gross but it’s a tradition evidently.
Although the weather wasn’t the most cooperative we really enjoyed our day-trip to Ohio and are looking forward to the next one!