Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Hey guys here’s another blog post with Will! Today I will be talking about the James A. Garfield National Historic Site! For those of you that don’t know who James A. Garfield was, don’t worry I didn’t either! Apparently he was the 20th president of the United States of America. We learned all about him from the park center that is actually located inside of the carriage house of Garfield’s farm.

Garfield was the last president known as a log cabin president which means that his family were settlers and built their house themselves. He grew up on the land his father had bought for two dollars and fifty cents an acre. His father was a farmer and a canal construction man, but sadly his father died when Garfield was just 2 years old. His mother tried to educate Garfield and his siblings, and convinced Garfield to go to the nearby school. Garfield learned of his love of education and earned money to go to college and high school through odd jobs, teaching, and working on the farm. He stayed at the school teaching and learning for 4-5 years and then went to college for 2 years. After that he became president of the school he went to originally, but soon grew bored. This was how he started his career with politics. He was in the House of Representatives for 17 years. He was then nominated as president by surprise. He was visiting to nominate a fellow senator when he found out he had become nominated. He immediately rushed home to tell his family and get started.

This is where I am going to pause in the story for a minute to tell you about his house as most of the story after this involves his house. James A. Garfield rented houses for his family, but soon realized that they needed a stable home where they could set up home base. He also wanted his children to learn the morals that he had when living on a farm, and so he bought 160 acres of land out in the countryside. The farm he had bought was run down, but with some hard work he and his family fixed up the house and grew it. He started growing orchards and plants to sell, and he also was very interested in making his farm a modern farm. He bought the latest equipment and pure bred cows to make his farm the most modern farm around. He expanded the old house that had originally been on the property and added new rooms for him, and his wife, and 5 children, and his mom. Once he was nominated for President, he went into the craziness of trying to win. He was told by a former president that to win you sit back, cross your legs, and look wise. This was how most presidents did it. They let the speakers of their party run their election campaign and sat there looking wise. Garfield felt this was not good enough because he was one of the best speakers in his party, so he started having campaign speeches on his porch. Many different people started coming to his house, and since he was near both the road and the railroad many people had access to his house. This caused the railroad company to make a new stop that was right on his property. Over 17,000 people came to see him talk and he won the election! The problem with having so many people come to see his speeches on a working farm, was that when people got hungry they would eat his crops. This left the farmer devastated and he had to re-sod all of the grass that had been trampled.

Now we come to sad part of the story. 120 days into his presidency on his way back home, the president was shot twice in the back. One only clipped his shoulder, but the other buried itself deep into the president’s back. 200 days into his presidency the President died. A memorial train carried his body to the graveyard and thousands of Americans lined up to grieve the death of the late President. Another late mourner of her husband sent her regards to his wife Lucretia. That person was Queen Victoria. Her husband had also died and the Queen had sent a letter of regards and a wreath for the late president’s coffin. Lucretia had the wreath laid on the coffin and then had it dipped in wax to preserve the wreath. Sadly, back then the president’s job was not as good as it is now. The President, when he was alive, couldn’t even afford a carriage for the White House horse shed. The White House was also in tatters. The Garfields had planned on fixing it up during the presidency, but he was not able to fix it up before his assassination. His wife’s friend realized that Garfield’s wife would not receive any payment, as there were no advantages or benefits the president received back then. He started a fund raiser for the wife and raised about 350 thousand dollars ,which today would be equal to about 10 million dollars. With that money his wife added extra renovations including gas powered lights and fireplaces, water running into the house powered by the windmill, and additions to the house. She also paid for her children to go to college, and bought a second house and rented it out to make easy income. She also added to the farm and kept it as modern as she could with the help of her children and brother who came to live in the house with her.

Whiling adding the extra house renovations, the team of carpenters and labor discovered natural gas which was then used to power the house by lighting the house and providing heat. This allowed the family to be entirely self reliant through having water brought to the house from the windmill, crops from the farm, milk, meat, and hide from the animals, and heating and lighting from the gas. She also finished all of the indoors of the house and later built playrooms and areas for her grandchildren to play at. Soon after her death, the house and the farm became a financial burden on the rest of the family and they eventually sold it.

Thank you guys for reading this blog post from me and please keep reading our blog for more cool stuff from around the country, and watch our YouTube channel for some cool places! Thank you guys and have a good day!

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Food, Sightseeing

Geneva On The Lake

Ben and I drove over to Geneva On-The-Lake for our anniversary dinner. We found a location on the lake that had an outside dining area.

We ate at the Old Firehouse Winery. There was live music playing and the views were great of Lake Erie. There were a lot of tiny birds around looking for crumbs.

The food was tasty, although a little slow coming out. Ben got a steak wrap and I got the burger on a pretzel bun.

The town must be very busy during peak tourist season. It reminded me of a smaller Gatlinburg/Myrtle Beach type of town.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Hiking, Sightseeing

Deep Lock Quarry Trail

We found this trail on AllTrails app. The Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park was next to the National Park, so we only had to drive a couple of minutes to get to this trail.

The trail was about 1.4 miles, although we added a little bit on with a side trail. It had a few informational signs about things along the trail. There were remains of Quaker Oat millstones, the remains of sandstone blocks from a loading dock, bases of old derricks used to load boats/trains.

Quarry Trail Signs
click to enlarge

There was the old quarry as well. You could see the layers of cut out rocks.

We took a side trail to see Lock 28, which was the deepest lock of the Ohio Erie Canal and was nicknamed Deep Lock. The lock was a little overgrown, but still easily seen. It was really neat to see the remains of the canal system.

Lock 28 Signs
click to enlarge
Posted in: Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

During our first stay back in Ohio in a year, we stayed up north near Cleveland. We visited the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. After the scenic train ride, we drove around for a little bit and stopped at the Boston Mill Visitor Center. This was a nice Visitor Center and the boys picked up their Junior Ranger books.

Maps via Google and NPS

Cuyahoga Valley is a little bit weird in its shape. It is a long, narrow park that exists around private property and state parks.

Cuyahoga NP Signs
click to enlarge

We went to the Brandywine Falls and managed to find a parking spot in the lot. We walked the boardwalk to the Falls. It was a beautiful area and you could see the remains of a small power plant. It was mostly just the foundations, but still neat to read about.

Brandwine and Champion Electric Signs
click to enlarge

It started to rain on us, so we head back home.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Free. Some activities have a fee. COVID Restrictions: masks required if not vaccinated
  • HOURS: Open daily
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Riding Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

For Father’s Day we took a train ride through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. We had heard it was a good way to see the park, but the only tickets available when I looked were the Donuts With Dad for Father’s Day.

We had a friend in town visiting, so I booked tickets for all of us. The ride was 2 hours long and everyone got a drink and a donut.

Masks were “required”, but it seemed like most of the passengers took them off as soon as they boarded the train.

The train was neat looking and had a variety of different seating arrangements based on the cars. We were in a table car, but I would have loved to have been in one of the other cars. I think it would have made the train ride more enjoyable. You can purchase an all-day pass to get on and off the train. There is also an app where you can track the train and listen to audio clips. When we tried it, it did track the train pretty well, but we could not get the audio tour to work. However, it was a free app, so we weren’t too disappointed. If you are a runner/biker/kayaker/hiker, you can purchase a one way Explorer Pass ($5/bike/hiker, $10/single kayak) and jump on at a stop.

There were several seat types: Coach (padded seats of 4 looking at each other), Table Top (4-seater table and chairs), and Executive Class (this one looked really nice, padded seats, more room). All seating was assigned.

The train also had a snack car that sold drinks (even some alcoholic drinks, but not on Sundays until after 1:00), bagged snacks, granola bars, candy, popcorn, hot dogs. The snack car also sold some souvenir type of items (key chains, shirts, train hats, train whistles, toys).

We did see some things along the way. We went by a state park, a neighborhood, a farm, parts of the National Park.

VIDEO: WALKING DOWN THE TRAIN

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Prices vary based on ride and seat selection. Tickets start at $15/adult, $10/child. COVID Restrictions: Masks required.
  • HOURS: Vary based on ride schedule and pick-up location.
  • PARKING: Parking on street or nearby lots.
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-3.5 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Niagara Falls/Grand Island KOA: Campground Review

For our stay near Niagara Falls, we stayed on Grand Island at the Niagara Falls/Grand Island KOA.

Niagara Falls/Grand Island KOA Campground Map
Click to enlarge

The campground had a camp store, laundry room, paddle boat and banana bike rentals, two pools (1 cool, 1 heated), basketball hoop, pickleball, horseshoes, and fishing ponds. Garbage was placed at the end of your site and was collected.

The campground was located on Grand Island New York. There was a grocery store (Tom’s) close by, a dollar store, post office, and several restaurants on the island. It was about a 15 minute drive to Niagara Falls State Park and a 18-20 minute drive to Buffalo. The one thing to know is that every time you leave the island you will be charged a toll. There was a Tim Horton’s and Adrian’s down the street (just about walking distance). There was also a go-kart/arcade/batting cage/putt-putt within walking distance.

Laundry room and book exchange

There was a change machine in the laundry room/arcade area, which were located on the bottom side of the office building. It was a nice laundry room with plenty of machines. There was also a book exchange shelf in the laundry room.

Arcade and change machines in laundry room)

The smaller pool by the office was the “cool” (aka unheated) pool. There was a dog park, bike and boat/kayak rental, and playground located here as well. The larger pool towards the back of the campground was the heated pool. There was also the basketball hoop, pickleball court, jump pads, and rec building/planned activities were back here. The one thing I did not like was that there was no parking for the larger pool. All parking spots were parked “Cabin Parking”. It wasn’t a horrible walk from our campground, but would have been nice to have pool parking spots for guests who have mobility problems.

Top row: Front/cool pool and pond with boat rentals. Bottom Row: Rec building and heated pool.

You could fish in the pond as well, but you were not allowed to swim in it.

Sites were pretty nice. Each had a fire ring and picnic table. There was not a lot of shade though. This campground had two sewer connections per site! Both were on the same side, but were spread out. It made it nice for being able to choose how to place the RV in the site. The campground also backed up to an Amusement Park (Fantasy Island), but it had been closed. It looked like at one point the train ride stopped directly at the campground. There were tent camping spots, as well as several different types of cabins. There were a few geese and lots of killdeer birds around the campground.

The campground also teamed up with a local tour group to allow campers to see Niagara Falls, ride Maid of the Mist, and tour Cave of the Winds. The tour bus picked up at the campground. We found it to be more expensive than just paying for the Maid of the Mist tickets, Cave of the Winds, and parking at the State Park. However, it is a good option if you do not have a separate vehicle and want to tour the area.

VIDEO: Niagara Falls/Grand Island KOA Walk Through

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3.5/4 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, Back-in (grass/gravel)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit/cable at site, playground, banana bike rentals, paddle boat rentals, planned activities, cool pool, heated pool, pickle ball, horseshoes, jump pad, arcade, laundry room

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No (some grocery items in store)

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Accepts Mail: Yes (will not forward)

Fishing: Yes

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing

Niagara Power Vista

We saw a brochure for the New York’s Niagara Power Vista. The power plant offers free tours. On our last day in New York, we hurried over to the Vista when Ben was off of work. Unfortunately, the brochures were not updated with COVID restrictions and they now required reservations and were full for the day. The woman at the office did give us directions to a service road that led to a fishing pier at the base of the plant. She told us the views there were pretty good too.

click to enlarge

She was right! There was a small visitor parking lot at the base of a hill (before the gated employee entrance). We walked down a few flights of steps to the metal walkway. The waves from the river and plant occasionally splashed up onto the walkway. It was right on the river and we saw butterflies, a snail on the fence post, fighter jets, and some birds.

If you are in the area, I think this is worth a stop!

Posted in: Sightseeing

Western NY Visitor Center

The boys and I stopped here on a whim. We were on our way back from the Carousel Museum and wanted to check out the Visitor Center.

This one is a modern welcome center with electric charging stations, a covered area for motorcycles, a dog park, a playground, and even a food place inside the Visitor Center! They had paper NY state maps, as well as and electronic interactive map to find local attractions and activities. There was another interactive screen that had a New York trivia quiz.

There was truck/RV parking as well.

Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum

The boys and I went to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

It was a lot of fun and we all learned something new as well. The Museum has an audio tour (716)566-2772 with 7 stops. Since the museum closed at 3 every day, Ben wasn’t able to go with us. He did however, look at our pictures and listen to the audio tour later.

The Museum used to be an actual factory where they made the carousel horses. Each horse was carved by hand! The original horses had real horsehair tails and ears that stuck up. However, people started using the ears to pull themselves on and off and to hold on to. When the ears started breaking off, they switched to the ears laid back design that we see now. The horses also just slightly rocked back and forth in the beginning before they went up and down like they do today. Today’s new carousels are made from fiberglass molds.

Other fun facts we learned: The non-horse animals are called menagerie animals, although the only one to wear clothes is the Jumpy Fog! The carousels in the US run counter-clockwise, which means the animal face to the right. If you look at an older carousel next time you ride one, you may notice the public facing side is decorated more elaborately than the inside facing side. It helped save on costs. There is also usually a lead horse, who is slightly bigger than the others.

It was fun to find pieces of Ohio in the museum. The Wurlitzer Company made band organs and began in Cincinnati, Ohio! The organs are what gives the carousel it’s music. King’s Island’s carousel is an Allen Herchell carousel!

It wasn’t too expensive and we all really enjoyed our time there. Each ticket came with 2 ride tickets that worked for either carousel (kid only or the larger carousel).

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $10/adults, $5/child (ages 2-16). COVID Restrictions: masks required
  • HOURS: Wednesday-Saturday 10am-3pm, Sunday 12pm-3pm
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-2 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.