Life and Adventures with Kids

Cuyahoga Valley National Park. #100!!!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park. #100!!!

OMG you guys. We did it. Last December when I suggested (strong armed?) that we embark on our year of adventure I wasn’t confident we could pull it off. I mean. I told Jake that for sure we could do it because excessive confidence in the face of his realism is the foundation of our marriage. But we did it! I will do a full recap of the year later, as well as list some of our faves. But for now I’ll just recap our last one, Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has been bugging me all year. One of my life goals is to visit all the national parks, so obviously it’s on my list, but it’s an awkward distance from the house and when you think of Ohio you don’t exactly think rugged wilderness.

Somewhere along the way I miscounted, lost count, or somehow was unsure of exactly how many parks we have visited this year. So I gathered up all the miscellaneous scraps of paper that I’ve been making our lists on and peeked through my photos and calculated the numbers. We were at 99. How did we make it to 99 parks/adventures and still haven’t hit the national park in our state?

Saturday we had planned on spending the day as a family and doing a hike of some sort, but we didn’t decide to go until maybe 10am? But how could we resist our making our 100th adventure a national park? So by the time we packed enough clothing for an expedition to everest, got dressed, and wrangled the kids into the car it was past lunch time. Except we didn’t eat lunch because we were too busy loading crap into the van. Most of it is still in there…. I’ll clean Odell one day?

Abby in the woods, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Winter hiking is ridiculously beautiful but it requires so.much.shit.

Quick stop at Kroger and we were finally on our way. Drive was uneventful but the kids refused to nap. Which was unfortunate because car naps are a solid 50% of my travel with kids strategy. They only interrupted me and Jake about 7000 times with unnecessary comments, questions, and concerns. I suppose I will have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband in approximately 75 years.

The park itself is more of park lands around a town, which is odd but cool. The little town in the middle of the park is basically the cutest place on this earth. These houses were freaking adorable all lit for Christmas. We stopped briefly at the visitor center and bathrooms, and then headed towards the ledges trailhead.

I had big plans to see this whole trail but I am challenged in the map reading department, so we ended up doing a different segment than I had planned. When we got back to the parking lot and looked at the map Jake goes, “yeah, I thought you were wrong but I let it go”. I mean. Why does this man even let me make directional decisions at this point? He legit claims that he “worries about me”. I can’t even be mad because he’s right. I should clarify. I’m not bad at reading the map, I’m just terrible at remembering the map once I step away from it.


BUT. Even though we wandered aimlessly for a bit, it was so peaceful and serene. I was not expecting snow though. I packed 14 different jackets for all layering situations, but did not pack snow gloves. Sigh. I packed regular gloves, and Olivia’s were soaked after 20 minutes. One parent, not naming names, thought it would be a good idea to start the snowball throwing game…

Playing in the snow
Straight mischief

Guess who ended up forking over her gloves because someone’s hands were cold? Here’s a clue: not the same parent who started the snowball game.

It was pretty late in the day when we got there, so we were seriously concerned the sun would set while we were deep in the woods. We’d probably be the only people who ever needed a ranger rescue in Cuyahoga Valley National Park #ruggedwilderness.  But the late afternoon sun coming through the forest was so incredible that it was worth it. I love the peaceful feeling that a blanket of snow brings.


The kids thought it was just about the best thing ever. Abby kept telling us she was “so happy the snow came back”. I barely caught a second of Olivia standing still to talk her. There were so many things to climb and explore, and the snow added an extra layer of fun.

Cuyahoga Valley Sledding
Sledding on their butts. Waterproof pants FTW
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Snow Fun
Dropping snowballs into the creek. Jake of course had to have the biggest one.

We honestly did not make it very far, but we did spend a couple hours just messing around.

Olivia Drawing a Map
Drawing a map for me. I need the help.

We stopped at Ice Box Cave and did some climbing on the boulders and exploring. Olivia could not keep her feet under her on the flat ground, but apparently is a mountain goat on the uphill. This picture was just before we got into a serious argument on why she needed to look where she was stepping. #safety #don’tmakemeaskagain.

Olivia climbing Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Testing limits – mine and hers

We eventually made our way back towards the parking lot and the kids found this giant snowman that someone had made in the field. Props to them.

Snowman at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Just barely making it out before sunset

Cuyahoga Valley is our seventh national park this year, and I think it was the perfect end to the year of adventure. I have so many thoughts about this year, but I will save that for another post. Olivia has already demanded we go back to this park again soon before the snow is gone, so I think this is a winner!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Winter is beautiful hiking spot for families!

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