Oops we did it again. Found ourselves on the grandparent’s doorstep for a random visit to that round-on-both-sides and ‘hi’-in-the-middle state, O-hi-o. It was autumnal and gorgeous in The Buckeye State and I can report that the skies were blue and the trees were bustin’ out all over.
Bike Path Adventure
The big girls headed out with the Grandma one day so the twins and I decided to try the bike path I’d been eyeing for some time. My Dad dropped us + bikes off in his wonderful old rusty pick-up truck and we pedaled off for a few miles on a somewhat confusing bike trail.
twins + the truck, Truly and a truly confusing sign
Depending on which sign you believe, we were either on the Maple Highlands Trail or the Metroparks Greenway Corridor. I suppose we were on both since they seem to meet up. However, after a couple of miles, we were abruptly on neither as we were unceremoniously bid adieu and dumped on to a rather busy street with almost no shoulder. And no bike trail that I could see. We biked on that road for about a mile before we came to an intersection with a major freeway (interstate Rt 90) and a hilly country road, again with a pronounced lack of shoulder or bike path or anywhere to be with your twin 7-year-olds and your 3 bikes. So we went back the rather busy road for about a mile again to the bike path. It is a pretty path, and apparently there are covered bridges and a bridge over the interstate at one point, but try to explain that to the younger generation who were tired of biking and would rather take a break and play in the drainage ditch. We had a picnic and found some cool leaves.
Where’s the path? Why does Mama keep making us bike back and forth?
Your intrepid correspondents
Well, despite much-loved rails-to-trails action all over the country, the fact remains that these projects are often non-continuous and full of detours on roads made for cars. After some study of the trail map, it looked like we needed to go on the shoulderless, hilly, two-lane road for over a mile and risk disgruntled government employees on furlough, half-blind retirees, harried stay-at-home moms, the bitter unemployed (7.3% in Ohio as of August 2013), overambitious homeschooolers, or whoever else happened to be on these back roads on a weekday driving like they are on fire and unaware of two small pedalers on two-wheelers and their travel-happy mama. I didn’t want to risk it so we didn’t make it to the other trail sections, maybe another day.
Even though my kids are probably aging out of its target demographic, I have for years kind of wanted to check out the Lake Metroparks Farmpark, another agrotainment facility, this one Northeast Ohio-style and proud of it. We were lucky enough to be accompanied by a genuine Lake County resident, aka my mom, which got us in for free (they have this deal about twice a month). So, the price was right, the piglets were ready for our attention, and we even got to milk a cow.
Cleverly petting Mama pig who is nursing her piglets, Truly milking a cow
The place is big and full of reminders that we Fantastics have progressed beyond toddlerhood. I was all smirking self-satisfaction that I needed no stroller, no diapers, no carrier for my offspring as I watched moms, some of them pregnant, struggling with the unwieldy gear of the under-5 set. Of course I was also practically moved to tears that my brood is growing and we don’t have a toddler to chase after or an infant to carry. No worry, my big kids were happy to wallow in nostalgia as they shamelessly played with the kid tractors.
Yes, that is Cleverly, almost 10, on the left and Fiercely, recently turned 13, being shuttled by Truly on the right.
The cool thing about older kids is that they really paid attention to the demonstrations. Being the freewheeling homeschoolers that we are, we basked in the attention of the cheesemaking demonstrator, and again in the grain milling area. The teachers there loved the 4 highly interested kids – it was worth their while teaching, and the kids proved to be inquisitive about the details of making cheese as well as enthusiastic millers of corn and wheat.
Cheesemaking demo and the grain area.
We were not too cool to take a tractor ride to the Plant Science Building. This turned out to be housing for hydroponic tomato-zilla specimens alongside some educational stations about tomatoes. Most people don’t know this- I happen to know this since I worked on a farm there around 1991 - but the small central Ohio town Reynoldsburg is known as ‘the birthplace of the tomato’. This fact is applied generously to the exhibits in the Plant Science Building, despite its location 167 miles northeast of the famous town, and you can read about tomato lore while gigantic plastic tomatoes watch over your shoulder the whole time.
Tractor ride, Fiercely dwarfed by hydroponic tomato plants, Big Brother Tomato watching Really at a station
Seasons of Love
Not sure what the blank CD was, we put it in the player and hoped for the best. Randomly and without warning, we were subjected to four show tunes, the last of which was that catchy song from Rent. There was something about hearing that song unexpectedly while watching the explosion of color in the hills of central Pennsylvania and contemplating our visits to Ohio, the grandparents, the kids getting older – and they happened to not be fighting for a few minutes- it was just a lovely moment among the 525,600 minutes that we get this year.