Country Living Series

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Traveling to Ohio

Holy cow, what a trip this has been. Join me as Older Daughter and I make our way to Ohio.

We started by renting a car in Coeur d'Alene and driving to Seattle. It was far cheaper (as well as a direct flight) to fly from Seattle to Cleveland than it would be flying from Spokane (which, we learned, would have necessitated two or three layovers). So drive we did.

Notice the dry, desert-y landscape. Most people don't realize how much of central Washington features this kind of terrain.

We saw lots and lots of enormous dust devils, hundreds of feet high.

We stopped at a dramatic overlook on the Columbia River. It was bakingly hot, dismally hot.

You see that distant bridge across the river?

Well, we crossed it next.

No problems going across -- for US. But traffic in the opposite direction? Oh my goodness. Road work on the bridge reduced traffic down to one lane, and it was backed up for MILES. How many vehicles were overheating in that hot sun? I can't even begin to guess.

I didn't keep exact tabs, but I'm guess it was eight or nine miles of backed-up traffic -- enough that, on my way home, I'm going to avoid this particular route.

Eventually we made it over Snoqualmie Pass and dropped down the western slope of the Cascades, where things were much greener and more dramatic. Oh, and a bit cooler too.

And of course, I hit Seattle just at the end of rush hour traffic.

Then after waiting a couple of hours for the ticket counter to open at the airport, we hit rush hour traffic for checking in as well. Oh, and then security.

By this point we were pretty wiped, having been traveling (which included waiting time) for eleven hours. It was nice to see some homey rocking chairs in the airport, looking over a massive glass wall to the tarmac.

The flight was a red-eye departing at 11:30 p.m. (understand I'd been awake since 3:30 a.m. -- I'm naturally an early riser). It was interesting to see the city lights from above.

Needless to say, neither of us slept worth beans on the flight beyond fitful dozes. The flight was uneventful, but it landed around 7 a.m. at an amazingly disorganized airport, since Cleveland was apparently undergoing a great deal of renovation work and had poor signage. After a half-hour search for the rental car desk, we learned we had to take a shuttle several miles off-site to rent a car. Are we having fun yet?

Unlike the dry hot climate we just left, apparently Ohio is experiencing one of the wettest summers on record. We rented a car and I fetched it in a torrential downpour. We drove the twenty-odd miles to Chagrin Falls in absolute sheets of rain, hydroplaning through standing water and avoiding the side lanes where the rain had overwhelmed the drainage system. One road even had this "Road Under Water" sign because, get this, the road was under water. (Blurry photo, sorry.)

Chagrin Falls was disappointingly blah, particularly after hearing everyone praise its beauty. Naively thinking there wouldn't be a problem to find lodging, I hadn't booked a hotel in advance and quickly learned my mistake. After attempting five hotels (starting at the cheapest and working my way up), I finally found a room for a staggering $150 for a single night. By now desperate for anywhere to rest, I took the door card and we stumbled upstairs, tired beyond thought. Older Daughter took a shower and then crashed on the bed and slept for awhile.

We couldn't check her into her dorm until 3 p.m., so we finally wound our way through several miles of verdant hilly highway toward the school, and made an important discovery. The hotel wasn't in Chagrin Falls -- it was (I think) either Beachwood or Woodmere (signage isn't always clear). The town of Chagrin Falls was several miles away, and oh my goodness, it was gorgeous.

We had half an hour to kill, so we decided to explore the town a bit. It just happened to be the half hour when the rain ceased (notice the ominous clouds overhead).

Chagrin Falls is the location -- no surprise -- of the waterfall that bears its name. It was massively full enough to attract even the locals to gape.

It was muddy from the onslaught of rain, and we thought it looked like the waterfall in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- chocolate churned by waterfall. The noise was thunderous, particularly on the observation platform that was practically in the water.

The falls have two tiers, and we agreed we wouldn't want to be on this porch hanging precariously over the upper tier.

We enjoyed ourselves very much as we walked around the small enclave and admired the sights.

The school is two buildings (converted houses) and a sign welcomed incoming students.

Then it was time to go check Older Daughter into the dorm -- just as the rains moved back in and it poured once more.

We got to the dorm a few minutes early. A fast dash to confirm the doors were locked left us as drenched as if we'd stepped into a shower. So we sat in the car, mopped our head and faces, and watched the staggering downpour.

Just when I commented that it couldn't possibly rain any harder -- well, it rained harder.

At last the rain eased up about the time the administrator unlocked the dorm, so nobody's belongings got soaked.

The dorm is very basic and very clean.

Older Daughter is sharing a room with a 26-year-old woman who was also homeschooled. There are only seven students this term, and all seem very kind, cheerful, and grounded.

There are two small kitchens, a common room, several bathrooms, etc.

Older Daughter made up her bed, put her clothes away, and set up a corner of the dresser with her favorite tea cups and Terry Pratchett books. The administrator also had a meeting with all the new students (non-students were asked not to attend), so I went back to the hotel and allowed our daughter the dignity of entering her new life without mommy tagging along.

In the evening I picked her up for dinner and we shopped for the toiletries we didn't want to bother shipping. She was getting acquainted with her new housemates and liked everyone -- as I said, they seemed like a solid, grounded group of young women -- and she was optimistic. The only cloud hanging over both of us is our upcoming parting.

More later -- still tired from the trip -- but it seems Older Daughter is launching into a very nice life.


  1. Welcome to Ohio. I'm in that neck of the woods, Cuyahoga Falls about half an hour south. I hope your stay is pleasant and fruitful. CLE is an embarrassment of an airport, the construction you saw has been ongoing for some years. I try to fly out of Akron-Canton airport whenever possible - much smaller, calmer, and nicer.

    1. Welcome to Ohio - I hope you enjoy your stay. I'm considerably further south. I also try to stay away from big cities as much as possible, particularly Cleveland, and have never flown through it.

  2. I live about an hour south of Chagrin Falls and I can vouch about all the rain. Hope you packed some mosquito spray :/ Glad your daughter is settling in fine. Tell her there's lots to see and do on the north coast! Hope she likes it here and her new school. ~~ Tricia

  3. Awww.

    I think it's gonna be a long trip back.

    Bittersweet congratulations to you both, and best of everything to Older Daughter in her new chapter of life.

    I'm looking forward to updates.

    A. McSp

  4. Yah, the East Coast was dry back in April/ we're drowning!

    Glad you both got out here safely, sounds like a nice place!

  5. Ha. Welcome to the Midwest. It's been raining like that all summer long. I was in Chagrin Falls on Friday to pick my kids up from camp and a visit to their grandparents (that's where the DH grew up, and his parents still have a house there, tho' they migrate to Florida for half the year now). it is a cute little town. And it has some good restaurants.

  6. My ex job required some travel, about 5-10 trips a year. After 911 it became a huge hassle. The last year I worked I cut my hours to 32 per week and refused to travel. If I could not do whatever on the phone or computer it just did not happen. Had one guy get in my face about it and I told him I was retiring and did not care! He shut up and arranged a conference call. Good luck to older daughter I am sure she will do fine!!

  7. Welcome to Ohio, I live about 2 hours west of Cleveland. When I was younger I used to want to leave Ohio and couldn't stand it, but as I have gotten older I have learned to appreciate a lot of elements of the state. There is a fair amount to do around the area she is at if you gets some spare time.

  8. I grew up not far from Chagrin Falls, I have never seen them that full! It's a beautiful little town, and definitely some great food around! Get some saltwater taffy before you head home! And, yes, Ohio in general has been very wet this June!

  9. Awww, durn. I'm getting all teary-eyed remembering when my children climbed to the edge of the nest, spread their wings, and flew away. Daughter's husband HATES country life. I believe he is personally offended that the livestock do not use a bathroom but will just poop where they will.

  10. So happy that the initial impression is good and older Daughter seems to be settling in.
    Praying for you both. Driving and flying away is hard. We moved away from oldest daughter while she was in college. I had the honor of dropping her off for the ROTC camp. When camp ended, she would be going into the dorm instead of going back to the house, as we had moved to TX during those weeks. It took me hours to get home because I was crying so hard and had to pull over.
    Since that time, she's been all over the world with the military and on church mission trips to Africa. It only happened because we let go, even when it hurt.
    Keep your chin up and carry kleenex!

  11. Patrice
    I live in Montana. Just as dry as Idaho. Please bring all of us some rain. Please. I am wishing to much. I hope that your
    daughter likes her new school

  12. Oh my goodness. I've been reading your blog for years without ever commenting, but seeing pictures of my parents home town was too much. I can remember running down Grove hill (the road with the stone wall on one side)as a boy visiting my grandparents. Dad said it was a popular sledding spot in the winter. The current weather probably precludes it, but there is a small cave on one side of the falls that can be reached from the lower landing. At least there used to be. Haven't been there since grandpa died in 2000. Thanks for bringing back some good memories.

  13. If I remember correctly, Chagrin Falls is where Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes, lives. Also, I believe the comedian Tim Conway, who was a regular on the Carol Burnett Show, grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. I spent some time in Ohio, but I did not like it there (the Columbus area) because the water everywhere tasted very strong of chlorine. --Fred in AZ

  14. On letting go.................. You're really not letting go, the rope is just getting longer.