His – West Creek Reservation

20170402_160614.jpgWe were back at it again for hike number fourteen of the year. The weather was pristine, the people were out in droves, and they ALL brought their dogs. I’m a huge animal lover; dogs will always have a soft spot in my heart. When I see them, I often tell Tara about how I want to kidnap them and give them a better home. We have a cat, Zooey, who is an only child, so I can’t act on my inhibitions. However, it will never stop me from dreaming of pooch-napping every single one of them… well except small dogs, because those aren’t really dogs.

Tara deserves a lot of credit for her patience with me this week. I was like a squirrel that drank four Redbulls and followed it up with a couple of pots of coffee. Everything caught my eye. Tara’s brakes and maneuverability were put to the test. I really just couldn’t help myself. We usually go a bit earlier, which means lunch is afterwards. I had a full belly and a racing mind. I was overly fascinated and incredibly terrified by my first ever up close look at a couple of cell phone towers. For those who don’t know, the His portion of the blog is deathly afraid of heights. So, looking straight up at something like this causes sweaty palms and raised blood pressure.

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For those who don’t know me, I’m a bit of a country bumpkin in some respects. I don’t wander about in the midst of the city. Towers are just fixtures amongst a city skyline. Other than the towers there were a couple of things I noticed on this hike. One, Western Reserve Creek is not a bad spot. You think a park jammed in between Parma and Independence would lack the charm and outdoorsy rural feel most are looking for when hiking. You’d be wrong about judging this book by its cover. We’ve had our share of urban adventures (please refer to Garfield Heights and Big Creek blogs). This one was surprisingly pleasant.

 

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There were quite a few people out that I wouldn’t expect – (yes, Pokémon Go players are back) but once we made it past the paved portion of trails it was peaceful and serene. It was muddy trails and dense forest. You can tell the trees are on the brink of exploding back to life. The chirping of birds, crickets, and croaking of frogs tell you that spring is in the air. @HisandHerHiking (shameless plug – follow us on Instagram and Facebook) is ready for all the green to come back after 6 months of gray.

The other observation from this week is you need several copies of Rosetta Stone to keep up with all the different dialects. If you want to properly eaves drop and people watch you HAVE to be multi-lingual in this reservation. It always amazes me that even when in the middle of the rust belt you will hear a variety of heavy accents and foreign conversations. All in all, the warm weather brought a longing to go deeper into the woods, escape the wailing sirens and bustling roads, pitch a tent and escape it all. Those days aren’t all that far away. Until then, poor Tara will have to deal with squirrels and their caffeine habits.

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Hers – West Creek Reservation

 

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This past week’s hike was a bit different in that we didn’t get out first thing in the morning. I picked up a shift at my second job for a few hours, so we set off around 4 p.m. It was sunny and in the low 60s – weather that automatically puts me in a fantastic mood. We decided to check out West Creek Reservation because it was only 15 minutes from where we live and we had dinner that needed cooked!

With that said, 15 minutes from where we lives tends to be … how do I put this nicely? … a mecca of hillbillies, cheap motels and discount furniture warehouses. So, I was pleasantly surprised when we pulled into West Creek. There’s a pretty large shelter, a watershed stewardship center with wonderful restrooms and a fairly expansive trail system.

Casey and I decided to take the paved trail to a dirt path that would loop us back to the paved trail system. Judging from our previous trail plans gone awry, I had my doubts about this. We started out on the concrete trail, and like always in the first few spring days in Northeast Ohio, everyone and their brother was out. But it’s ok because they all had their dogs with them, so Casey was in his glory.

There was a ton going on on the trail – dogs, telephone towers, lakes that almost look like you can walk across them on planks – so Casey was distracted and pulling me all over the place. It’s ok, I didn’t mind following wherever his curiosity led him…except I put my foot down when he was going to attempt to walk across the pond on the wooden planks. (In my defense, they weren’t connected to the banks of the pond but rather about three feet away, so that you’d have to jump to make it.)

 

We finally got off the paved trail and into the woods. It was a little muddy, but not enough to be annoying. It surprised me a little that once we got off the crowded main trail, there was hardly anyone venturing into the woods. (There’s probably some kind of metaphor here about following the crowd and being afraid to go off on your own and take the road less traveled, but I’m not feeling super philosophical today, so I’m just going to acknowledge it and move on.) There are neighborhoods and roads close by the trail, and you could occasionally here some traffic noise, but for the most part everything and everyone disappear. And that’s one of my favorite parts of taking these walks – no matter if we go near or far, we can always find a little slice of nature where things disappear. It’s nice not to have to hear traffic, see a flood of billboards, and smell the fumes of a city. We get to replace that with birds singing, trees towering and fresh air.

IMG_20170402_164313434It’s this simplicity that has me addicted to these walks. Over the past two years, I’ve been making a huge effort to simplify nearly all aspects of my life (possessions, hobbies, ethics, etc.), and this is really serving as my weekly reminder to keep after that process. Because it takes time and a very dedicated mindset to live simply. I’m glad these walks have turned into motivation to keep following my goal, which is taking a path that not everyone takes or understands, but I’m ok going on a the road less traveled. (Ok, maybe I did get a bit into that metaphor!)

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His – Penitentiary Glen – Kirtland, OH

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There’s something magical about getting outside and exploring new surrounding areas. I heard a statistic on the radio today: 70% of Americans visit less than ten states in their lifetime. How sad is that? Ever since starting this blog and our quest of fifty-two hikes in fifty-two weeks I’ve been consumed with exploring. It’s easily the highlight of my week, and this week was no exception. Tara had sent me a list on Friday and told me to pick a landing spot (www.naturalohioadventures.com). I scrolled through and found myself in Lake County – an area we already visited last year, but a new reservation to the both of us: Penitentiary Glen.

Overall, this weekend was great. We had such pristine weather for Northeast Ohio – mid sixties with plenty of sunshine. It was also Tara’s birthday!!! (Happy Birthday babe!)  The night before our hike we had a going away party for one of my best friends who is deploying overseas for his first tour of duty as an officer in the United States Army; Bill – thank you for your service and sacrifice.

This could easily be one of my favorite hikes ever. I will admit – I was in a terrible mood going into it. I play rec league basketball every Sunday morning. We were promptly blown out by almost forty points. The other team dropped over one hundred on us. Simply put, I was embarrassed. I was so embarrassed that I just grabbed my belongings and left without saying a word after the game. Yes, I know, its rec league basketball, but the frustrations of only winning one game over the past four months has me thirsting for a win. Sunday, down our best player, felt like we took a huge step back.

Anyway, when I got back to the apartment, hiking was the last thing on my mind. I had half a mind to crack open a beer and park it on the couch all day. Tara and I don’t do well with a day of idleness so we cooked breakfast and got ready to go. We drove the forty minutes to the park and picked the longest trail available – Rabbit Run Loop. This trail sounds innocent, but if you choose this one, be prepared for some serious hiking.

Rabbit Run will at first lull you to sleep. An easy crushed gravel path, relatively flat terrain, and the humming of a nearby road make it seem less than spectacular. I remember opening my big mouth and complaining about the description of – “Length: 2.63 miles / Difficulty: Hard / Trail Description: Best and longest trail in the park. Loop trail that parallels the southern rim of the gorge and descends into it at the trail’s easternmost point.” Tara forewarned me that I’d regret it. I ended up eating crow, and boy did it taste good.

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The description nailed it! It dove deep into the woods. The crushed gravel turned into mud, leaves, and a variety of exciting terrain. We crossed over, under, and across downed trees. We tested our footing and balance in the middle of a stream on some moss covered rocks, and we scaled up the side of a mud filled 100+ foot ascent. The best part about it: all I could hear was nature. Tara and I celebrated the whole way through the trail.

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We’ve recently been messing around with the Boomerang app on Instagram and laughed at some of the crazy videos we created. (Don’t forget to follow us for unseen footage and pictures: @HisAndHerHiking.) We talked and bull shitted our way through the trail and ended up in the Nature Center where we discovered a few woodland creatures on display. As we climbed in the car, we BARELY beat a mid-afternoon downpour and spent the rest of the day on the couch resting and watching basketball.

I did lose the #HisAndHer6packChallenge … those pesky Tarheels won one of the best basketball games I’ve seen in quite a while. This would be a weekend for the scrapbook – if I made such a thing. I encourage all of you to get out and explore. Don’t be a part of the 70% who doesn’t explore the beauty of this country; it’s only a small car ride away.

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Hers – Penitentiary Glen Reservation, Kirtland OH

Did you ever not want to do something but then forced yourself to do it and it turned out to be a ton of fun? That pretty much sums up my hike on Sunday.

I was feeling a little under the weather in the morning (cough hungover cough) from celebrating my birthday a bit too much. I just turned 31. That’s 10 years older than 21, which means I’m 10 years removed from being able to party like I was 21. I’m not good at math, but I quickly learned that lesson over the weekend.

Anyways, Casey and I both rallied Sunday afternoon to get our butts in gear and out to Kirtland, Ohio. We’ve hiked around this area before, and I’m a kind of in love with it. (So in love that I may or may not be house searching on Zillow.) As we left the city limits behind, I began to feel better and better.

When we pulled into the main entrance, I was impressed to find a pretty large nature center, small amphitheater, farm, gardens and paved trails. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot and plenty of families with kids running around, so I was slightly concerned that it’d be a bit too loud for my headache. Luckily Casey and I chose the Rabbit Run Trail, a 2.6-mile difficult loop that apparently most families don’t attempt. We quickly found ourselves alone in the middle of the woods. (Get your mind outta the gutter, this isn’t that kind of blog!)

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The trail started off very easy, as a crushed gravel path that led into the trees. And then it quickly turned into a dirt trail covered with leaves. And then it quickly turned into crossing fallen logs. Mind you my legs were still slightly shaky and my balance certainly wasn’t on point, so I was a little concerned I wasn’t going to be able to handle this kind of trail in my “condition.” But it’s amazing what some fresh air can do for a person. (A new hangover cure? Drink a bottle of Gatorade, take two aspirin and get your butt outside.)

All of a sudden Casey and I were crossing over downed trees, rock hopping across a steam and climbing up a pretty intense, muddy hill. It was awesome!

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I had also recently downloaded the boomerang app, and we had a blast recording funny videos along the way. (Shameless self promotion time! Follow @hisandherhiking on Instagram!) But the best part? The confetti. I’m a firm believer in buying yourself a birthday present, so I thought there was no better way to celebrate the big 3-1 than to purchase a glitter/confetti popper. (Ok, I also got myself a pair of socks and a bottle of bourbon.) I was saving it for just the right moment, and what better moment for confetti than in the middle of the woods?! Guys … I’ve come to the conclusion that the key to solving all of life’s problems is to shower yourself in confetti once a month. Done. Problems solved. Try it and thank me later.

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I honestly can’t tell you how much fun I had on this hike. I feel like Casey and I needed that. We needed to get back to being our silly selves and just not giving a damn out in nature. Fresh air and a long walk really are good for the soul.

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Hers – Columbia Reservation

 

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Another week, another cold hike. That’s what it was feeling like last Sunday when I woke up. I know, I know. I’ve been complaining about the weather a lot. But it’s nearly the end of March, and I’m completely desperate for spring. It doesn’t even have to be warm, I’ll just take a glimpse of sunshine at this point. We had a pretty big snow storm earlier this past week, and it seems like every day since has been gray and gloomy and cold. Sunday was no exception.

My energy level was way down, and as soon as we got into the car to head out to the park, I couldn’t wait to get back home in sweats to just lay on the couch. We drove 25 minutes west to Columbia Station, Ohio. The drive out helped lift my mood a little as we got out of the city and into some more rural surroundings.

Once we got to the reservation and out of the car, I realized I didn’t dress nearly warm enough. Definitely should’ve doubled up on the pants and socks. It was going to be a chillier walk than I anticipated, and I let Casey know that it was probably going to be a fairly quick one.

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We set off on a paved path and into the soggy gray mist. Columbia Reservation is a wetland reservation, so the path weaves around several ponds and marshes and into dense woods. It was a gray, misty morning complete with fog that hung low. A co-worker of mine calls it “history weather.” It’s the kind of weather you imagine during Civil War battles early in the morning.

But as we kept walking, the “history weather” turned straight up creepy. There wasn’t a soul in sight. The fog made it difficult to see through the trees and the ponds were completely still. The trees themselves were barren and blackened with boney, crooked branches. The only sound was that of crows cawing overhead. It was eerie. This was Edgar Allen Poe weather!

Casey and I both commented on the creepiness of it all. We were walking hand in hand when he abruptly stopped and stared at the ground. He went to reach for his phone when I finally saw what he was staring at. A dead mouse. Smack dab in the middle of the trail. It didn’t look like anything had gotten to it. It was just straight up frozen. I took off in a hurry, while Casey was still trying to dig out his phone. I knew he was going to take a picture, and I literally scolded him to do nothing of the sort. I told him that’s where I draw the line with this blog. (You’re welcome.)

We kept walking, and our imaginations started to run wild. Casey went down the route of vagabonds and sasquatches. I went straight to ax murderers that dump dead bodies in the pond. We made a few jokes about it, but I think it creeped us both out a little bit so we picked up the pace (I was also REALLY cold).

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It was an easy trail loop around the main pond and back to the car (thanks to Casey’s keen sense of direction or else I would’ve been going in circles through the forest). While I’m glad we got out for this hike, I have to say my favorite part was driving out to a new area and seeing a new town, not so much the park itself. I’m really hoping this was our final sendoff to the winter season. I promise guys, once it starts getting sunny and warmer you won’t have to read about me complaining about the weather…until it gets too hot. Kidding! 😀

Cleveland Metroparks List

Acacia Reservation – Cedar Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Bedford Reservation – 14505 Button Rd, Walton Hills, OH 44146

Big Creek Reservation – 4101 Fulton Pkwy, Cleveland, OH 44144

Bradley Woods Reservation – 4101 Fulton Pkwy, Cleveland, OH 44145

Brecksville Reservation – 9000 Chippewa Creek Drive, Brecksville, OH 44141

Brookside Reservation – 3900 John Nagy Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44144

Euclid Creek Reservation – Metro Park Drive, Euclid, OH 44143

Garfield Park Reservation – 11350 Broadway Ave, Garfield Heights, OH 44125

Hinckley Reservation – 1953 State Road,  Hinckley, OH 44233

Huntington Reservation – 28728 Wolf Picnic Area Dr, Bay Village, OH 44140

Lakefront Reservation – 12 Cumberland Ave, Cleveland, OH 44110

Mill Stream Run Reservation – Valley Pkwy, Strongsville, OH 44136

North Chagrin Reservation – North Chagrin Nature Center, River Rd, Willoughby Hills, OH 44094

Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation – 1000 Harvard Ave W, Cleveland, OH 44105

Rocky River Reservation – 24000 Valley Pkwy, North Olmsted, OH 44070

South Chagrin Reservation – 37374 Miles Road, Bentleyville, OH 44022

Washington Reservation – 3841 Washington Park Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44105

West Creek Reservation – 2277 W Ridgewood Dr, Parma, OH 44134

His – North Chagrin Reservation – Squire’s Castle

20170312_103008Frigid, blustery and gray – this week’s hike was very symbolic of my emotions this time of year. I don’t bring this up to a lot of people, but I feel like this is a very appropriate forum to pull the curtain back and give some depth and meaning of my love for the outdoors.  A little over two years ago, on March 7th 2015, I sat in a hospital waiting room and was told that my mom, who was fifty years old, had stage four cancer. Eight days later, on March 15th 2015, she was gone.

Life can never prepare you for those words. To lose a parent at any age is rough. To lose a parent at fifty years old, in what is considered to be the “golden years”, is devastating. Two years later, I still struggle to process what happened. Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows how optimistic I am. This week I’ve been down in the dumps on and off. I think about my mom passing away every day. It’s mentally crippling. For anyone who says it gets easier with time is full of shit. Life continues on, but it never gets easier.

Hiking to me has been an outlet. I didn’t know it until I met Tara, but the outdoors and stomping around in nature really do help ease the soul. I’ve never been a spiritual person. Hiking has given me a sense of reprieve. I walked around angry for almost a year and a half. I didn’t have a proper outlet to clear my head. If anything, hiking, and then this blog, have given me a space to creatively clear the inner workings of my brain. I’m fortunate to have a way to express myself. I’m grateful everyday that I found Tara and we’ve started this journey together.

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Speaking of starting, Tara and I started our hike this week by climbing into Squire’s castle.  It’s essentially a stone shell. It’s a drafty stone structure that has no doors or windows, just frames where they should be. We checked it out quickly and felt a little intrusive as there was some sort of photo shoot taking place inside. (We never did figure out exactly who was being photographed, no one was dressed for the occasion.)

We struck out on the trail. Tara had promised me a relatively easy hike and enticed me with food afterwards… guys I think she’s on to how to motivate me. We went up, and up, and up, and up, oh and then we went up. We were hundreds of feet above the castle at this point and the trail we originally sought to be on wasn’t in sight. It didn’t matter though. One, I pride myself on somewhat of an eidetic memory. Two, I was okay with being away from it all for a while. We wove our way back and forth, deeper and deeper into the forest. The windstorm we had last week toppled so many trees.

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It’s really breathtaking to see the power of nature. What can be the most rewarding thing can also be one of the most frightening. To see these mammoth trees toppled amongst each other while others stood tall was mesmerizing. It left me deep in thought.

I would encourage anyone who is having a tough time to take a few minutes to walk through the wilderness. We all need serenity and time to gather ourselves. Avid hikers can attest, no matter how much company you have, you can always be alone outdoors. The simple task of putting one foot in front of the other and being in the moment allows you to go to another place in your mind. I’m always thankful for Tara being by my side on the trail. However, in between our usual laughter and banter, I was deep in reflective thoughts and memories.

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In our walk, I came to this conclusion; like the toppled trees sometimes you get knocked over. There’s nothing you can do about it. All you can do sometimes is grin and bear it. Sometimes you have to embrace the frigid, blustery and gray weather. Just make sure that you keep working towards the warmth that you know will eventually come.

Hers – Squire’s Castle, North Chagrin Reservation

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I’m a planner. I have to-do lists for everything. There’s a printed monthly calendar hanging on our fridge, and I often text Casey a schedule for our weekends.

The plan for Sunday was to hit up Columbia Reservation about 25 minutes west of us. After a late evening, the “Spring forward” time change, and Casey’s 6:15 alarm going off for his basketball league, those plans quickly went out the window. I was moving slow and just felt drained. It was honestly one of the most difficult days to get motivated for a hike. I could blame the time change, but it probably had more to do with the beers I’d had the evening before.

The temperature had also dropped again – hovering right around 25 degrees. I tried to summon some kind of motivation. I found it in the form of Pho for lunch after our hike. I wanted nothing more than a hot bowl of goodness. Naturally, I completely rearranged our plans to center around food. I suggested that we head to Squire’s Castle on the east side of Cleveland and then stop for Pho on our way back. Casey, who puts up with my neurotic ways and is able to go with the flow, was completely fine with this.

In another act of defiance of my usual ways, I also suggested stopping for McDonald’s breakfast before our hike. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had fast food in the past year, but there was just no other way to satisfy my craving for a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. (There is no more telling sign of a hangover than craving McDonald’s so there, I admit it. I was hungover.) I’m not proud of it, but it was damn good. Luckily we were about to hike some of those calories off.

We drove out to Squire’s Castle, which is part of the North Chagrin Reservation in the town of Gates Mills. The castle was built in 1890 as a gatekeeper’s home for an oil tycoon’s country estate that never came to fruition. The castle is now just an empty shell…but a really pretty empty shell!

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We walked around the inside for a bit talking about living in our own castle. Then we decided to hit the trails. And this is where my planning really goes out the window. Perhaps it’s not the best idea, but I tend to leave directions and trails up to Casey. I literally see a trail and start walking with no sense of where I’m going or how far I’m going. Sometimes I’ll check a trail map and make a suggestion, but I don’t really study it to figure out how to get to the certain places I’d like to go. I start walking and hope for the best. Thankfully, the boy’s got a great sense of direction.

The trail was a rugged dirt path that led straight up a hill for what seemed like eternity.

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But when we finally made it to the top, we had climbed up with the tree tops overlooking the reservation below. It had lightly started to snow, and it looked like a scene from a movie. It was gorgeous.

We kept walking and picked up a few different trails. I think we ended up on three different ones and upon the fourth, we decided it’d be best to just turn around and retrace our steps instead of continuing further. But I really didn’t care about the direction. I was finally feeling back to normal. I suppose that’s the power of fresh, frigid air.

On our way back, we got to make our way DOWN the hill (A rare luxury in hiking. Why are there so many up hills but never any down?!). The snow started to pick up and my pinky fingers were pretty frozen. It was perfect timing to get in the car and get Pho. Except that stupid McDonald’s breakfast meant that I wasn’t hungry at all. So instead, we just went home. So much for all those plans I make.

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Hers – Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation

After being out of town last weekend and dealing with getting back to reality this week, we decided to stick fairly close to home and celebrate Cleveland this weekend. We headed to the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, which is part of the Cleveland Metro Parks system and the start of the Towpath Trail that stretches nearly 100 miles connecting Cleveland to Akron.

It seems only fitting that our very Cleveland hike would feature temps in the 20s, a bit of snow on the ground and some biting wind. We layered up, headed out and started off at the trail head off of Harvard Avenue. It’s a multi-use, two lane paved path that’s very clearly marked along the way. The start of the trail is surrounded by quite a few factories and old industry, but we knew we weren’t going to be immersed in nature on this hike. (I made sure to temper Casey’s expectations so there’d be less disappointment this time!)

The trail is really representative of the city. I like to call it “steelyard chic.” To me, there’s beauty in the rusting railroad tracks and brick smokestacks, and that’s exactly what this trail followed along –  industry on one side, the canal and trees on the other.

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For being centrally located, the trail was surprisingly quiet. We saw a few other joggers, but mostly had the place to ourselves. There was a slight hum of the factories, but mostly just the sounds of birds and geese overhead.

Placed along the path are remnants of the industry that used to make its home along the canal. We saw an old railroad car, different wheels and large fixtures that the Cleveland Metro Parks has done an excellent job of turning into educational art along the way.

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I was feeling a bit under the weather (I swear it happens every time I return from vacation…like the coming back to a snow storm after being on a beach isn’t hard enough, my body also decides that it’s time for a sinus infection), so we decided to walk two miles down and back. The first mile down seemed to blow past, but the second mile was dragging a little bit. I pointed out a train trestle bridge in the distance and told Casey that I’d like to turn around once we got there. It just so happened to be our two-mile mark anyways.

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When we turned around, however, we were immediately hit by a bitter wind. I had just warmed up as we were walking into the sun, but the walk back would be into the wind. I was beginning to feel worse and dreading the walk back a bit. But then Casey and I got to talking about our past relationships and future together and all of a sudden we were back at the car. It’s like our surroundings and time kind of disappeared, and it was just the two of us lost in conversation. I didn’t actually mind the cold one bit.

We fittingly ended celebration of Cleveland walk with a trip to the West Side Market. It’s just a few miles from the trailhead, so if you’re out that way, I highly recommend making a stop and stocking up on amazing local food. It’s a Cleveland staple, so we naturally stocked up on bacon, Irish pasties and plenty of pierogis.

 

His – Erie & Canal Reservation

It was the best of times… it was the worst of t… wait, wrong story. Saturday morning got off to a much different start than last week. Last week we were lathering on sunscreen. We were poolside in our shades and bathing suits. This week we got the full Ohio experience… pouring rain, white out snow, blustery howling winds, sporadic peeks of sun. Temperatures jumping from the sixties to the twenties and everywhere in between. March in Ohio is like playing a game of winter roulette. You spin the dial and hope for the best. However, you have to realize the odds are ALWAYS stacked against you this time of year.

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So there we were, March 4th 2017… Tara and I having a weekend of “nothing to do.” Our weekends where we claim we have nothing to do usually end up jam packed with action and events. Tara was feeling a bit under the weather and I NEVER beat her out of bed, so I tried to exploit the situation. It was 07:00AM and I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I snuck out of our bedroom and tried to surprise her with breakfast in bed. As quiet as I tried to be, I got about 5 minutes in and my plot was foiled. Tara caught me red handed cracking eggs and making toast. Defeated in my attempt, I made her sit on the couch while I prepared the rest of the meal.

 

My first try at making over easy eggs quickly turned into “fried eggs for Casey” The second batch was a success. We scarfed it down and bundled up to face the frigid day. Outside looked very inviting. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the sun shining a little too bright if there is such a thing. Snow still sprawled across the ground, it reflected every ray cast upon it. We drove the twenty-something minutes down a familiar route to a reservation I’ve never been to before on the outskirts of Tremont.

 

Tara had already warned me, showing me physical evidence that this would be a very urban hike and the greenery would be at a premium. If I had learned anything about urban hiking is that if it goes poorly enough… I’ll end up drinking pints at a bar. When we turned into the parking lot, I feared the worst. Factories all around us and the parking lot was only a dozen spots or so. We were already there, so we went for it. To my surprise, this wasn’t all that bad.

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They had some art along the way. They had a very pristine and glimmering river that also paralleled with the Erie canal. (I am still searching for the answer as to why the canal was dug separately when they could have utilized the mighty Cuyahoga.) The asphalt path was clear and other than industrial noises from time to time, the path was teeming with song birds of all kinds. Now I have to admit, love is a funny thing. You get to a point where you are just brutally honest with each other. This week’s form of honesty came across as “Babe, you have a boog hanging out.” She’s always honest with me…that’s how I know this relationship is going places. Sometimes you just have to cut through the shit and tell it like it is.

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Other than being brutally honest, one of the things I admire the most about Tara is her stubbornness. Now most people wouldn’t find it to be a redeeming quality. However, I’ve seen this woman put her mind to something and she will keep attacking it until the task is complete. She kept telling me she “was fine” however the sniffles and coughing and sneezing told me otherwise. It would have been easy for her to say that she didn’t feel well and we could hike another day, but she didn’t. She made a promise to me that we’d hike 52 times this year. Just like always, she pushed through it – sickness and all.

 

We walked in total about four miles through the bitter biting wind and cold. All the layers we had on were no match for the stinging daggers thrust toward us in the form of Ohio winter winds. It didn’t matter though. We carried on as if we were back on the beaches of Miami, hand in hand – talking and laughing right through the end of our journey.

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