Lake County, Ohio, April 2014

Easter came and again we were drawn to Northeast Ohio like… like seagulls to the shores of Lake Erie?  Like bargain shoppers to the Great Lakes Mall?  I don’t know a great metaphor here but I did in fact travel I-80 with my offspring to cross the substantial width of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in both directions yet again.  The trip exceeded my expectations since the kids opted to stay six days instead of four, we had a great Easter egg hunt and an amazing Easter dinner, we celebrated my parents’ 53rd (!!!) wedding anniversary, we had some sunny weather, and we explored a castle ruin on a misty day.   We took advantage of three parks not too far from the grandparents’ place, two of which were new to me!  First, the castle.

Squire’s Castle/ North Chagrin Reservation 

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I cannot believe I had never been to this place in my years growing up not too far away. Besides being in a beautiful 1,700 acre park with wetlands and a plethora of trails and picnic areas, it might be haunted by Mrs. Squire!  It seems that Feargus B Squire, wealthy V.P. of Standard Oil in the late 1800’s, had planned to build an estate here but abandoned plans and sold the property.  Feargus was indeed planning big -what we explored is the shell of the gatehouse, which was used as his residence while planning the rest of the property prior to his ditching and selling the place.  The ghost story goes that Mrs. Squire didn’t like the rural life, died there and haunts the castle.  Deadohio.com, a website I clearly need to spend some time with, has some great photos and a few more details on the legend.  As for us, it was a great place for hide-and-seek and there just may have been unicorns in the distant fog that day!

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 Headlands Beach

Lake Erie beckoned and we heeded the call.  I try to go there every visit, but the January weather this year kept us away.  April was much nicer and we went to the East end of the beach this time.  There are lovely sand dunes there, a unique protected habitat for certain grass species and the birds and butterflies that use them.  It was very peaceful there as it was too cold for swimming so the crowds were elsewhere.  The wind in the grasses was beautiful, as were the driftwood and rocks we found.  This beach doesn’t have the playground on the beach like the Fairport Harbor Beach, but sand, driftwood and stones are just as entertaining, maybe more so.

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We had the place to ourselves, the sun was right, and I took too many pictures.  Really built this amazing driftwood structure and we went back later and it was still there!  And there were ladybugs and headstands at Headlands that day.

Gully Brook

We are always happy to explore muddy areas and creeks, and we did just that at Gully Brook Park.  This natural area has a long history of appreciation from Ohio nature lovers and was made into the park and protected land only in 2011.  It was another new Metroparks park for me, and not too far from Squire’s Castle.  About a hundred years ago, this land was known for wildflowers, hawk and owl habitat, and large elm trees.  As it happened, I-90 was routed through the area in the 1950’s and changed it drastically.  The preservation of a mile of creek and over 170 acres of natural lands is a triumph for people and wildlife here, since it came after years of organizing and since it is bordered by the large highway and could be further ruined and paved over to the detriment of the non-human inhabitants.  As it is, the wildflower-covered hills are no longer.  But we can enjoy the wetlands, ravine, and paths that are now there.

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