Category Archives: Ohio

A Very Special Day for a Friend in Akron, Ohio

What we seek out, what we invest in, and what we are willing to spend our time and money on has undergone an uneven and somewhat nebulous transformation thus far this century. Perhaps this is because I grew up in the suburbs, but at the turn of the century, life seemed to revolve around shopping malls and the pursuit of material possessions. Since then, my focus has undergone two major shifts, one at the start of the century and one quite recently.

I now have nearly a decade’s worth of entries in this blog, primarily about travel and experiences. The transition from focusing on the material to focusing on the experiences, society-wide, can be seen on Instagram. The Instagram era, and what many people see in their feeds, is the embodiment of people switching from seeking out bigger homes and more stuff to put into them to seeking out experiences in general, many of which have been shared on Instagram over the past decade.

As I pointed out in two earlier blogs [1][2], this year, after all that recently happened, I suddenly found myself most interested in connecting with people. There are a lot of people who have and/or continue to play an important role in my life. At this point in time, this feels like the most important use of my time and energy.

We’re also seeing this shift society-wide. More people are talking about the importance of connecting with locals and local culture while traveling. People are now sharing tips and even building apps to facilitate this pursuit.

To end the Summer of 2021, I went to Akron, Ohio.

To go to a Minor League Baseball Game.

Traveling 1300 miles (2100 km) to go to Minor League Baseball game is not something that is going to appear on anyone’s bucket list. As was the case with my earlier trips this summer, the purpose of this trip was connection.

That being said due to its location in the “rust belt”, Akron often gets a bad rap. However, there is more to the place than industrial decline. It’s probably not the most desirable place to live but it is certainly underrated.

It has a fairly lively downtown.

There are other interesting neighborhoods with some interesting places to go.

And, there a lot of outdoor places to explore.

The Summit Metro Parks are right next to the city.

In this park there a series of trails with dense deciduous forests and a little bit of terrain!

The Buckeye Trail runs right through the park.

There are also some other hidden gems.

This particular railroad crossing reminded me of another time and place where people would commonly run or dismount a horse and jump into the open car of a moving freight train.

The other gem close to Akron is Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park is fairly similar the Metro Parks hikes. There are the trees and rolling hills.

Cuyahoga Valley is one of the free National Parks. It also does not appear to be as crowded as some other National Parks can be.

Akron is also right in the middle of an 87 mile trail that connects it with Cleveland, as well as Canton and New Philadelphia. Following the Cuyahoga River, runners and cyclists encounter some scenic spots.

As society shifts it focus from the material to experiences and connection, as we shift our priorities, expectations, habits, and how we perceive work, value and power, our patterns of travel will shift. The conciseness on the post pandemic world where we use virtual meetings more, is that there will be less travel for work and more travel for pleasure. It also feels like more combination trips are in our future. This is because, it is possible to meet people and coordinate work virtually, without having to spend time, money and energy traveling. However, to CONNECT, whether it be with other people, with places, cultures or ourselves, will still require significant amounts of travel. What will likely shift is where we go, when we go there and how we get there.

My Thoughts on Turnpikes

The Indiana Toll Road and Ohio Turnpike are not the most exciting of journeys. Much of the area looks exactly the same. The terrain is quite flat. There is corn and soy everywhere. The road connects a series of medium sized cities, coming close enough to efficiently connect them without actually passing through them. It is a form of transportation that maximizes one thing and one thing only: temporal efficiency.

In the Midwest, all roads start and end in Chicago. It took me a while to realize that, while Chicago is right in the middle of the region known as the Midwest, and is its unofficial capital, Chicago is really nothing like the rest of the Midwest. It is a big international city. It moves at a pace that is closer to that of other large cities than the rest of the Midwest.

Once someone leaves the greater Chicago area, they are likely to encounter a completely different mentality and a completely different way of life.

Chicago also kind of divides the Midwest. There are some subtle differences between what lies to the West of Chicago and what lies to the East. These subtle difference are probably only commonly thought of by those of us who have lived in the Midwest and those of us who have driven across the entire region and had time to observe it.

While there are farms everywhere in the region, the Western part of the region, West of Chicago seems to be built more around farmland. They have leveled enough trees to increase surface wind speeds (dense forests tend to reduce surface wind speeds) enough to make it a good place to build wind farms. The economies of many of the medium sized cities in this region are centered around farming equipment,

East of Chicago, trees are more plentiful. Medium sized cities here are a bit more frequent and they have more of a “rust belt” feel.

Cities here tend to have nicknames around what product are manufactured here…

  • Gary the Steel City
  • South Bend the Wagon City
  • Elkhart the RV Capitol of the World
  • Toledo the Glass City
  • Akron the Rubber City

As is the case with the subtle but noticeable difference between the region to the West and the region to the East of Chicago, there is also a subtle but noticeable difference between driving on turnpikes and driving on other highways.

Turnpikes tend to have elaborate exit ramps to facilitate toll collection. As a result, exits are often quite far apart.

Two things happen. First, rather than pulling off at an exit to stop for gas, restrooms and food, it ends up being more common to stop at rest areas.

As homogenized as standard highway driving is compared with traveling on roads that go through the center of town, turnpike driving is even more homogenous. All of the rest areas on the Ohio Turnpike look exactly the same and many of them have the exact same food options.

Also, with the exits fewer and father between, it becomes far less likely that drivers will follow the most direct path from their origin to their destination. Getting to a location is more about finding the nearest exit than the series of roads that provide the most direct path.

Turnpike driving maximizes temporal efficiency, but it is not my favorite method of transportation.

When traveling from place to place, sometimes there are things more important than getting to a destination as quick as possible. There are places to experience along the way. The experience of traveling along the Indiana Toll Road and Ohio Turnpike is a reminder of what we lose out on when we focus on one metric and one metric only, in this case temporal efficiency. While South Bend, Elkhart, Toledo and Sandusky will not top anyone’s list of top vacation destinations, whizzing by them from 10-20 miles away on a homogenous turnpike still feels like missing out on something that has the potential to be a worthwhile experience.

The Cuyahoga Valley

I frequently hear people describe Ohio in a negative manner.  People often describe Ohio as a dull, based on the experience of driving across the state on cross-country road trips.  Much of Ohio is associated with the “rust belt”, a term used to describe heavily Industrial parts of this country that have experienced major decline in the past 40 years.  This area tends to be centered around the Great Lakes.  I’ve heard Cleveland, Ohio’s most historically significant city, referred to as the “mistake by the lake”, and seen an entire episode of TV’s 30 Rock dedicated to mocking the city.

However, there is more to Ohio than most people realize.  Cincinnati is a vibrant, if not glamorous, city and a good place to catch a sporting event.  Cedar Point Amusement Park is the best theme park I have ever been to.  And, prior to my trip to Yellowstone National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Brandywine Falls was the best waterfall I had ever seen!


The Cuyahoga Valley actually offers a plethora of recreation opportunities.  The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located near the Ohio Turnpike between the cities of Cleveland and Akron.  A towpath trail, which follows the Cuyahoga River through the National Park offers a bicycle connection between the two cities through a very scenic river valley.  Surrounding the national park are parks associated with the Cleveland Metro Parks system, as well as Akron’s Summit County Parks.  At these parks, one can find yet more scenic views, hikes, picnics, and recreation.  Overall, it is an entire region of interesting scenery and fun activities that many seem to overlook when they put down the state of Ohio.

I have previously been to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and seen Brandywine Falls.  So, this week I visited two other parks in the area; one in Cleveland’s Metro Park system, and on in the Summit County System.

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Summit County’s Sand Run Metro Park, located on Akron’s Northwest side seems to be a popular place for people to go running/ jogging.  I was actually blown away by the fall colors in this park!  It was among the best colors I had seen on this trip.  My friend’s house actually backs up to this park.  One could simply walk out the backyard of his house, or anyone’s house in the neighborhood, right into this park!  As someone who has lived in urban areas/ apartment buildings for over a decade (including campus related apartments), the idea of walking out of a place of residence straight into somewhere like this comes across as truly amazing to me.



My main hiking excursion in Ohio was at a place called Bedford Reservation, which is part of Cleveland’s Metro Park system.  This park is located just to the east of the Cuyahoga River, along a creek called Tinker’s Creek.  This Creek flows directly into the Cuyahoga, and therefore, this area would still be considered part of the Cuyahoga Valley.

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The hike along the Bridle Trail here at Bedford Reservation is a scenic hike with rolling terrain.  After about 3/4 of a mile, it leaves the river valley and climbs up onto the ridge.  This climb is fairly steep, but also fairly short lived.  It was steep enough to cause someone to lose their breath a little bit, but not exactly tiring.  The rest of the hike also contains kind of a mixture of ups and downs.  This, of course, differs greatly from the typical hiking experience in Colorado, as well as the hike I did at the Smoky Mountains, where the hike is only uphill on the way out and only downhill on the way back.  In this sense, it reminds me of a typical hike in the midwest, where this is more common.



Driving across Ohio on the Turnpike still sounds like a dull experience to me.  But that does not mean we need to judge the value of the entire state from this experience.  The entire Cuyahoga Valley is quite scenic, and contains some interesting recreation opportunities.  I think on my next visit here I would like to try to ride a bicycle from Akron to Cleveland along the towpath.