Published: June 19th 2017
It was a nice peaceful Sunday morning in Cleveland when we awoke. It had been threatening rain all weekend, and today really looked like the day. The clouds were ominous, but we only had to travel 10 miles for the first stop on our adventure for today. The plan today was a 26 mile each way train ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at 9:00AM. Originally, I meant to book the observation car, but they had a continental breakfast option, so we decided to skip breakfast at the hotel and have breakfast on the train. It turned out that the continental breakfast is served in the parlor car called the St Lucie Sound which is a restored 1946 luxury car with comfortable chairs and couches. Only 7 of us had booked this option, so we had the whole car to ourselves and we had the nicest lady, Carol who was our hostess, waitress, whatever you want to call her.
We boarded the train at 8:30 and immediately we were asked if we wanted coffee, which really hit the spot. They also had Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s for an extra charge, but that’s not really for us. We chatted with
the hostess and the other couples for a while, and the train got under way promptly at 9:00. Carol went through the history of the parlor car which was originally used on the East Florida Railroad founded by Henry Flagler and ran from St Augustine to Miami. It was wonderfully restored by mostly volunteers and looked beautiful. There was even a carved linoleum mural bar that they were still working on restoring as the previous owners had glued carpet on top of the mural and since the linoleum would dissolve with any solvent, the volunteers had over 800 hours in removing the glue with surgical scalpels.
The ride itself was incredibly smooth, partly because we were in a parlor car, but mostly because a few years ago they had updated the rails by welding them all together as a continuous ribbon. This eliminated the clickety-clack normally associated with train travel and the ride was just smooth. The track is actually mostly inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and follows the Cuyahoga River from just south of Cleveland to Akron, a total distance of 26 miles. The train passed through a few stations along the way, occasionally picking up passengers.
One of the principal claims to fame about the Cuyahoga National Park is the 26 mile tow path that follows the tracks and is used primarily for bicycle riding. You can rent bicycles at either end or along the path and ride as much as you can. The cool thing is that the train has a special fare for bicycle riders where you only have to ride the tow path in a single direction. The train runs 3 round trip passes each day, and anytime you get tired of riding your bicycle, you just stop at the nearest station and for $3 you can load your bicycle on the train and it will drop you back off where you started. Such a deal!
The ride was fun, and the other people in the car with us were nice. The scenery was pretty but not a spectacular as some other trains we have ridden, but it was over 3 hours roundtrip and we took lots of pictures anyway. It was just a nice relaxing ride. By the time we returned to the original station, there was still an ominous cloud overhead, but it didn’t look imminent. We followed the internal
National Park roadway from the northern entrance to the southern exit. It also followed the river and the train tracks, and Jody remarked that the scenery along the roadway is actually a little better than the view from the train. The roadway was wet the further we headed south, so it must have been raining after the train had passed, as we saw no signs of actual rain while riding the train, and we were retracing the train path back on the motorcycle.
It was getting close to 2:00 when we reached the south exit of the park. We hadn’t made any stops along the way,as we are planning on riding the motorcycle and hiking to some of the waterfalls tomorrow. Today, we were trying to make it to our second stop of the day. Akron, Ohio is the place where Alcoholics Anonymous began, and since Jody and I each have been clean and sober over 20 years (24 for her, 21 for me), we wanted to stop at a place called Dr. Bob’s House, the house of Bob Smith, one of the founders of AA, and the place where AA meetings began. It is just an unassuming house
in a suburban neighborhood, but has now been named a National Landmark. The only real difficulty is that all the roads in that neighborhood are brick and VERY uneven making it difficult to navigate on a motorcycle, but we managed. Jody and I were able to visit and get a tour of the house, which has been restored back to as it would have looked in the late 30’s when AA began. Next door was a second house used to display some of the archives and also contained a small gift shop where we could buy t-shirts and a couple of souvenirs to bring back to our friends in Orlando. Jody and I really enjoyed our visit to Dr. Bob’s house and plan to visit the other founder, Bill Wilson’s house in Vermont when we pass through in a week or so.
By now the skies looked to be clearing a little, so we headed for the hotel just a few miles away. We managed to make it to the hotel and through the entire day without getting caught in the rain. As we arrived at the hotel, we noticed a couple of restaurants within walking distance with the
one across the street, Tommy Li’s looking the most promising. By the time we checked in, relaxed, Jody called her father for Father’s Day, we were getting hungry. So we walked across the street to Tommy Li’s and it turned out to be a combination America-Asian restaurant. It looked like a chain, but when I looked it up on the internet, there is only this location. We stuck with the Asian food and we haven’t had any yet on this trip, and it was very good. As soon as we sat down to eat, the sky opened up and it began to pour rain. Luckily, while the food was good, the service was slow, so by the time we finished eating, the storm had passed and the sky was sunny again for the walk back to the hotel. While I hear it’s been raining every day in Orlando since we left, so far (knock on wood) we have managed to miss most of it this trip.
Tomorrow should be an easy day. The park is only a few miles away, weather report is partly cloudy and upper 70’s, perfect for hiking. We do have to make a trip to
the post office first thing in the morning though as the suitcase is getting full and we need to ship some t-shirts back home.
51.3 Miles Today
3854.9 Miles Total
0.0 Gallons Today
95.618 Gallons Total
Tot: 0.092s; Tpl: 0.028s; cc: 14; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0237s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 5; ; mem: 1.4mb