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Blog #208

David & Joan



Fourth Annual Backyard Bash

On July 19th  we had our 4th Annual Backyard Bash, inviting all the neighbors, whose backyards connect to ours, to a potluck.   We had hamburgers and hot dogs and a host of other food.  It seems everyone brings two side dishes and our tables were full.  Too much food really... we joke that everyone could come back the next day and still be well fed. The weather was hot with no rain.  The regular pool and bubble pool were well visited. We had potato sack races, Kids' Power Wheel races and the ever popular lawn mower races.  This year we added three-legged races and human dogsled races.  All in all, a fabulous time; great food, great people and plenty to occupy the kids.

This year we had a small round pool in addition to the bubble pool.


Both pools saw plenty of action.







The kids get to eat at the special "boat table".




Human sled dog races.





As we were cleaning up, we noticed Anni was nowhere to be found.  We searched frantically in the front and back yards and called her name throughout the house.  It was David who peeled back the covers on her bed to discover Anni, mouth full of crumbs, bathing suit on, sound asleep buried in blankets.  Apparently she had had enough of the party, took one last chocolate cupcake with her and put herself to bed.



Super Microburst

   Last Tuesday our neighborhood was hit by an amazing storm.  The skies were dark and it was breezy.  In less than 10 minutes we had heavy driving rain that turned to marble sized hail and huge winds that knocked down many trees, uncountable limbs, knocked out power lines in several places throughout our neighborhood and closed several roads or lanes.  Ten minutes later it was calm and sunny.  We drove around the neighborhood and surrounding area afterwards.  The significant damage seemed to be limited to our neighborhood.  Less than a mile away in almost every direction there was little sign of a storm.


A neighborhood resident pulled over when visibility from the storm dropped to zero.  Then, a tree dropped on his car.  This was about six houses away.


Everyone was okay.


The top of one of our biggest trees came off in three big pieces.  We first cleared it from our neighbor's yard.


The grey area in this picture (from an older photo) shows how much of the tree is missing.


One of three major trunks of this tree leaned over our house; it had some rot, ants and borers.  For years we've been afraid of it coming down on the house so we had a tree company come and remove it; they also removed a few dangling broken branches.  Between the storm and this amputation we probably have exceeded the rule of not removing more than 1/3 of a tree.  The tree may not survive.  Birch Tree Service had the best price for this job by far.


A couple of candids:





   A few days ago I was biking up north, almost 20 miles from home, and decided to cut over to the Towpath trail.  Once on the Towpath I headed south to Peninsula and followed Highway 303 east back to the Metro Bike and Hike Trail.  This was my first experience on the Towpath; I was surprised as to how smooth it was for a gravel/dirt trail.  It is very well maintained and road crossings are less often than on the Metro Bike and Hike Trail. 


   A few weeks ago I added a garage sale aero bar to my new bike.  Aero bars clamp onto handle bars and allow riders to rest their elbows on pads above the regular handlebars.  The aero bars extend forward so that the rider grips the front of the bar well in ahead of the regular handlebars.  The rider's upper torso is much closer to horizontal which makes the position much more aerodynamic.  I usually find myself riding about two miles per hour faster when I drop into the aero bars.  Stability, bump absorption and steering precision are significantly sacrificed, however.  The biggest incentive for me to use the aero bars is that it takes nearly all of the pressure off of my arthritic hands and onto my elbows.  After a two hour ride my hands normally hurt quite a bit for a day.  Using the aero bars removes most of the extra pain that I would have from riding.  Anyway, although the Towpath is gravel, I was able to use the aero bars much. 


   Yesterday I drove to a Towpath trailhead in North Akron and biked 16 miles north to Brecksville Station and returned on the same path.  On my return I snapped a zillion pictures while riding.  Here are a few:


Brecksville Station


Brecksville Station Bridge


Brecksville heading north




Under I-80


A very long boardwalk


Tunnel under the railway


The Cuyahoga River is visible from much of the Towpath which runs along side and crosses it and its tributaries in many places.


Friends for Dinner

   Last Saturday night we actually had a small dinner party.  We had over the Grimms, the Smiths and the Reikowskis.  Everyone brought something to eat.  The kids played in the bubble and regular pools, jumped in the Air Jumper, climbed the rock wall and had a great time.  the adults sat around the picnic tables eating and talking (they had a great time, too)  It was a nice reminder that we should have friends over more often. 



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Blog #207

David & Joan




Kelley's Island Camping


  Last summer we had a two day reservation at the campground on Kelley's Island.  In the middle of the night it rained and poured; our stuff was soaked and the forecast showed nothing but rain so we left early.  This year Joan made reservations just a day ahead when we could see a clear forecast.  The great weather made a great difference. 

   Last year our camp spot was right next to a restroom but was a quarter mile from the beach.  This time we were about 150 feet from the beach, but were about 250 yards from the restroom.  Although our six trips to the beach were very convenient, Joan ended up walking our children to the restroom 30 to 40 times over our two day visit.  Sometimes she would get back from the restroom, sit down for five minutes and another child would exclaim that she had to go.  Using Google Earth to measure and a bit of arithmetic I figure that she walked 7.5 to 10 miles just between the tent and the restroom.  We also went on several walks and hikes each day.


   Kelley's Island Campground can be seen on this Google Earth image on the north shore just to the right of the words "Titus Road".  The same area also includes a boat launch, rock pier and Glacial Grooves State Memorial.


Our children are always this happy on long car rides.


We borrowed Papa's and Nana's Honda Odyssey; we needed the room and reliability.  Here we are on the ferry.  The $80 roundtrip fee for the 3.5 mile ride might make us look elsewhere next time...


But the ferry was fun.


The chop on Lake Erie was only about three or four feet, but this four car wide flat bottom ferry rolled from side to side quite a bit.  Note the angle between the top of the ramp and the horizon/shore.  A bit of water even made it's way through the scuppers onto the deck.


As soon as we got there, we set up camp and hit the beach; the girls loved it.


Annika wore a little suit with flotation built in, but the swimming area was shallow for quite a distance out.


All three girls loved the feeling of the waves - even though they were really small waves.


Brigitta's volcano, complete with slimy seaweed.


Svea proudly shows the trench she dug from the shore to the edge of the beach.


Annika caught in "mid-jump".


  Joan's pig:


We ended the evening with s'mores and a sunset walk on the stone pier.



  Now THAT'S a happy camper!


Circumnavigation of the Island

   I brought the big red kayak in hope of circumnavigating the island.  Before we left I measured a mostly shore hugging route on Google Earth.  I planned on 11 miles and expected it to take three to four hours at a slow and steady walking pace with pictures breaks. 


   While Joan walked the children back and forth to the restroom on Monday morning, I paddled.  There were strong winds from the west that produced three foot chop.  The Sprinter is only 20 inches wide so it requires constant focus to keep it upright.  It's been quite awhile since I've been in seas that size so I was especially alert.  I started from the campground beach and headed west to get the worst weather/waters out of the way first.  Once I got to the south side of the island the chop calmed down enough in a few places that I dared to take my hands off the paddle and open the zip lock bag that protected the Canon.  In Hawaii I was knocked off of my similar boat hundreds of times, but I never had a camera to worry about.  On Monday, however, I was very concerned about the camera and avoided a dunk as much as I could.  In one spot the wind was driving an actual surf and I was actually able to surf a wave for awhile (quick paddle assisted).


South side in a protected pocket.


Once I made the turn to the south east shore the water became very calm and I could relax.



I could see Cedar Point Amusement Park 6.5 miles away directly south.




Canada Geese, cranes, ducks and even a seagull all getting along.


 The northeast horn of Kelley's Island.


Meanwhile at the Beach

 Mermaids, mermaids everywhere!

The girls created a mermaid sand sculpture and then took turns turning each other into sand mermaids.






Glacial Grooves

  These grooved rocks are the main feature of Glacial Grooves State Memorial.  This point is only about 100 yard from our campsite.



View of the cliff tops we hiked along, from the high point of the park.






About the Island

We walked around the town, viewed Inscription Rock and played at a playground.  We passed on buying expensive ice cream cones and bought a half gallon at the grocery store instead.  The girls had made friends at the campground so our ice cream went much further; it had to be eaten before it melted.




Back to the Beach

  We visited the beach once again after dinner.



Joan took the Sprinter out for a sunset spin.



  Annika joined Joan and I early Tuesday morning.  I'm faking sleep in this picture; Joan and Anni's sleep is genuine.


I got up and viewed the sunrise


Our campsite before we broke everything down and packed up Tuesday morning.  I brought the smallest of our folding bikes.  It was great for zipping me (but not Joan and her tag-alongs) back and forth to the restroom.


Back on the ferry. 

The water was much calmer on our return; this ferry seemed more stable as well.


Goodbye Kelley's Island.


June 26th Island Rebuild

  June 26th Island is the little island that I built last year on June 26th on Mogadore Reservoir.  Last Friday we paddled and rowed to June 26th Island.  The winter ice flows had shaved off the top rocks of the island and I wanted to rebuild it.



This is all that was left of the island when we arrived.


We walked around the submerged plateau and gathered rocks that we stacked to build up the island.


Svea and Brigitta played as much as they worked.


Brigitta found a rock that looks like a heart.


Our finished island; the birds love it and it may save a few props from striking submerged rocks.  This plateau was very difficult to see and is pretty far from shore.





  Last week we took the girls to our letterbox.  Svea had the text directions and Brigitta had the picture directions.  They found it.



The scar on this tree was caused by lightning; I'm guessing.


Prayers for the Russ family

  I've just learned about a horrible traffic accident that took the life of baby Jack Russ and injured his sisters and mother.  I am deeply saddened and shocked.  This tragedy couldn't have happened to a nicer family.  I pray and hope that mother and daughters recover completely and quickly.



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Blog #206




Old European Days

  The last weekend in June we celebrated "Old European Days" at the German Family Society.  This was Annika's first performance; she could hardly wait and did a great job.




Svea was eager to point out that one of Annika's frilly leggings was much longer than the other.


Annika lost a shoe during a dance, but she kept going; a bystander put it back on.







After the performance the girls changed into play clothes and played and danced. 

Brigitta even got Nana out on the dance floor.


We stayed until my shift at the grill was over.


Fourth of July

  We celebrated the Fourth of July by attending the Stow Fourth of July Parade and then went to a party.  The parade was the largest in the Ohio with 175 groups; it lasted almost two hours.  The girls got more candy than at Halloween!



At the party I pedaled and paddled four little girls in the paddle boat around the lake.  There were 15 spiders in the boat which caused the girls to keep their distance by squirming and shifting about.  After this first lap I removed the spiders; the passengers were able to balance the boat a bit more evenly afterward.


Then I took six out in the canoe.


Fifth of July Fireworks in Kent

We caravanned with two of our neighbor families to view the fireworks in Kent.  After securing parking spots with views on Mogadore Road we went for a walk around the Kent Heritage Day Festival in Kent.  Below is a south view of The Pufferbelly Restaurant and Cuyahoga River from the West Main Street bridge.


Below is a south view of the river view park from the West Main Street bridge.






Yesterday I biked 50 miles; last week I did a 40 mile ride.




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