Akron / Cleveland Serendipity

After our campground FAIL at Lake Rayston Pennsylvania, we found ourselves, unexpectedly, near Akron Ohio. Why Akron? Mostly because it was about halfway to our next scheduled stop in Sandusky, and neither of us had been there. We found last minute campground availability at a KOA, so that decided it.

Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. This area wasn’t on our radar — we had never planned to stay here — but it all worked out beautifully.

Did you know there is a National Park near Cleveland? Yeah, neither did I. It’s the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Cuyahoga River was once one of the the most polluted in the US, it actually caught fire several times. The last time, in 1969, prompted the passage of environmental protection laws and the formation of the EPA in1970. Cleaned up now, the river is the centerpiece of the sprawling National Park. Many of the buildings in the park are COVID-closed, but we saw a pretty waterfall and hiked around mossy green sandstone ledges. There’s nothing super-spectacular here, but it offers a pleasant outing.

Akron was once known as the “rubber capital” of the US, and still hosts the global headquarters of the Goodyear company, founded by Frank Sieberling. The former home of the Sieberling family is the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (from the olde English for stone quarry). It was built in 1912-15 in the style of stately homes of the era, like the Biltmore. It isn’t as large as the Biltmore, but it has many of the same “modern” elements and features. It was built to be a family home and was used exclusively by the Goodyear family until the 1950’s. The heirs turned over the house, furnishings, decor and all, to the State to be a museum. As a result, it really does feel more like a home, like someone really lived there. The Biltmore is more impressive, but I would have liked to stay at the Stan Hywet. Another historical tidbit — the first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was held in the estate’s Gate Lodge in 1935.

Cleveland hosts a number of museums, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Expecting to be in and out there in a couple of hours, the extensive video clip displays held us transfixed for over four hours. It was an interesting counterpoint to the Country Music Hall of Fame that we toured in Nashville. It’s always fascinating to me to see how musical genres evolve from and influence each other — gospel, country, blues, jazz, and rock. When they get into grunge and rap though, they lose me. I like non-screamy music that has a melody and lyrics I understand. Call me old fashioned.

Nearby Canton is the home to the Football Hall of Fame. I’m not an uber football fan, but I’m always open to learning new stuff. Why Canton, you ask? I learned that was where the National Football League was founded. So there you go. I also found displays on the early days of football to be interesting — so much has changed with regard to uniform, protective devices, even the rules. Everything evolves, even football! The Super Bowl rings now, I think they’ve gotten out of hand. The first ones were reasonable and nicely done, I thought, but over time they have gotten progressively larger and more gaudy. 9 plus carats of diamonds on each ring? Is that really necessary? C’mon people, you can’t even wear it as a ring! It seems excessive to me, but what do I know.

All in all though, for an unplanned stop, Canton worked out quite well!

One sad thing happened during our stay here, though. Our second evening at the KOA, an ambulance showed up at the campsite next to us, the EMTs running into the 5th wheel. Then a police car. Then another fire department car, all with lights flashing. Curiously eavesdropping, I heard the dreaded letters: DOA. Seeing us watching, one of the KOA staffers dropped over and shared that, sadly, the lady next door had passed away, presumably from sudden heart failure. The couple had been staying at the campground while her husband was employed in the area. She was younger than I.

Just another reminder that we should live life to the fullest while we can, as it is sometimes cut all too short.

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