July 2008 Issue
Summit County and surrounding communities offer perfect places to enjoy summer breezes.
Ahh, summer. We wait and wait for it, through winter winds and late spring snows. And then, in a flash, it has come and gone.
Fortunately, there are plenty of places in and around Summit County where you can not only enjoy the season’s balmy breezes but also get your fill of the warm-weather riches Ohio offers.
It Takes a Village
A voracious reader, 8-year-old Caitlin Slusarski is captivated by the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books. So, says her mother Yvette, it’s no wonder she’s right at home at Hale Farm & Village.
The living-history site in Bath replicates life in the Western Reserve during the 1800s.
“Caitlin was enthralled with Hale Farm from the moment she first saw it at age 2,” Yvette says.
Through the years, Caitlin has been a frequent participant in the variety of programs offered there. She has learned how to churn butter and chop wood, bake bread, spin and weave.
Yvette and her husband, Ed, discovered Hale Farm & Village during a ride aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad a decade or so ago.
“My initial impression was, ‘wow,’ Yvette recalls, “because it’s actually located in a place where you do feel that you are back in time. You don’t hear planes flying over, there are no noisy vehicles driving up and down the street. You actually get that essence of quiet peacefulness of nature and what it was probably like in the 1800s –– when everything was secluded, quiet and green.”
As parents who home-school their children, Caitlin and her sister, Meghan, 4, the Slusarskis appreciate the valuable lessons the living-history museum provides.
“Hale Farm teaches them that once upon a time children had to go to the creek to get water for a bath and often had to make their own soap,” Yvette says. “That homes weren’t filled with many rooms like ours are today. That in order to have light, you had to make candles, not flip a switch.”
“It’s an important experience for our kids to see what our world was like and where it has come to.”
For Sandy Jay, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is one of the most serene spots on earth. “It’s a place,” she says, “where time stands still –– a magnificent nature preserve that’s a wonderful retreat from the city.”
“You know whenever you visit and then leave, it will look untouched when you return.”
For 10 years, Sandy and her husband, Brian, have relished the time they spend biking the multi-use recreational trail — a portion of which winds through Summit County –– where canal boats once traversed the Cuyahoga River.
Sandy, who grew up in Fairview Park, has pleasant memories of ice-skating in the Cleveland Metroparks that bordered her back yard. But when she met her future husband and the couple began tandem biking, she realized how wondrous the great outdoors could actually be.
“The Towpath is great for biking, because there are a lot of long, straight areas that are easy for beginners to ride on,” she says. “It’s shaded and cool and filled with benches where you can recoup from your ride and watch nature.”
For Brian, there are no better vantage points from which to enjoy nature than the Bath Road heronry and the bald eagle nesting site near the Station Road Bridge Trailhead.
“What’s nice is that you don’t really have to make it a point to stop at any one location to see wildlife,” he says. “Chances are pretty good you’ll see beavers, herons and deer as you go along.”
These days, the Hinckley couple hit the road with their 2-1/2-year-old daughter Kristen in tow. The youngster took her first bike ride when she was 6 months old, tucked in a carrier her dad made for the trip.
“We started her out early,” laughs Sandy. “Being on the trail is such a great time for her. She can take off running with so many directions to choose from –– although she stops every 5 feet, of course, to watch an ant cross the road. The trail has also helped broaden Kristen’s vocabulary: She reads about trains in her books and then sees the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. She reads about turtles and sees one in the grass. Being there makes the outdoors come alive for her.”
Sharing this time with their daughter is special to the Jays.
“It’s fun for us to re-experience the towpath through Kristen’s eyes,” Sandy says.
Laura Pszonowsky is making up for lost time. The Akron resident and her two children, Lily, 3 1/2, and Gwen, 11 months, while away many a morning at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.
“I missed the field trip here when I was in third grade because I had the chickenpox,” the 28-year-old recalls with a chuckle. “I visited for the first time last year, and realized it’s a great place to pack a picnic and spend quality time outdoors.”
Built between 1912 and 1915 by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. founder F.A. Seiberling, Stan Hywet (which is Old English for “stone quarry”) is the quintessential country estate. Each year, thousands of visitors flock to the manor’s 70 acres of gardens designed by landscape architect Warren Manning more than 80 years ago.
The Pszonowsky children enjoy playing hide-and-seek in the English garden with its quaint reflecting pool and have made friends with the geese inhabiting the lagoon.
As members of Stan Hywet’s Stroller Club –– designed for babies, moms and grandmothers –– the trio comes to the garden on Friday mornings to participate in a workout that includes family-friendly stretching, weight lifting and walking.
“A visit there definitely makes our day,” Laura says.
At Home in the Valley
For Stefanie Krueger, it was most definitely love at first sight. On a sunny spring day four years ago, as she drove through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Krueger felt a peacefulness engulf her. Her cares, which included an impending divorce and an upcoming move, seemed to melt away.
“I was at a point in my life where I needed a lot of uncluttering,” she says. “The park is unschooled in a lot of areas and provided an ideal place to de-stress.”
So much so that Stefanie bought a mobile home in Cuyahoga Falls, located in the heart of the 33,000-acre, 20-mile recreational area that stretches between Independence and Akron.
Stefanie and her son Casey, 9, never tire of exploring. They enjoy visiting the Everett Road covered bridge in Boston Township, which dates to the 1870s. “I’m from West Virginia, so it reminds me of being back home,” says Stefanie.
Another special spot is the beaver marsh, located on the Ira Trailhead, where Stefanie’s 16-year-old son Cody enjoys fishing for smallmouth bass and bluegill.
“We like going there at night,” she says. “There are hardly any people there at that time, so it feels like it’s your very own place. Watching the Canada geese fly in and land on the marsh is an incredible sight.”
For the past four years, Casey has participated in the park’s Junior Ranger program, filled with opportunities to go on archaeological digs, learn the basics of orienteering, visit working farms and capture the wonders of the Cuyahoga Valley through photography.
“I like to find things and study them,” he says. “It’s fun.”
Stefanie, who juggles full-time parenting with being a full-time student at Kent State University, hopes the park and its unbridled beauty will always be home.
“There’s something about being able to just drop what you’re doing and go outside and walk to the lake and watch the sun go down,” she says. “You just can’t beat that.”