RV Life – Our Second Year – Great Lakes Summer, Pt.2

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Our Second Year - Great Lakes Summer
A Lake Erie sunset illuminates the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Our Great Lakes Summer continued in Ohio, becoming a Hall of Fame Summer.

History and intrigue. Natural beauty and exhibits. A season of discovery.

Great Lakes Summer

We spent the first-half of our 2018 Great Lakes Summer exploring Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. When we headed into Ohio for Part 2, it evolved into a Hall of Fame Summer.

The drive from Houghton Lake, Michigan to Mogadore, Ohio is an easy 6-hours along some fairly decent highways. Our destination was strategically positioned near Akron, about half-way between our two target areas for sight-seeing … Cleveland to the north and Canton to the south.

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We parked the rig at the Cherokee Park Family Campground. Our first target was in the Canton area. Fans of the NFL should know right off what the must-see tourist attraction is there. The Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Opened on September 7, 1963, the original building was just two rooms and 19,000 square feet.

The first class of inductees numbered only 17, including players and executives who helped make professional football a reality.

A few names that I recognize from that first group include Jim Thorpe, George Halas, and Curly Lambeau.

Since its opening, the Hall of Fame has inducted over 370 honorees and grown into a sprawling complex that includes nearly 120,000 square feet of exhibits and a grand stadium that hosts the annual Hall of Fame Game.

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When we were there, the Class of 2018 inducted 8 greats of the game, some of whom I watched play in their prime. A few names you might recognize include, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, and Ray Lewis. We spent several hours exploring the amazing player displays, finding dozens of our old favorites and snapping hundreds of photos. A few at the top of our list include …

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We worked up quite an appetite browsing the Hall of Fame and decided to try a new cuisine.

I have to give props and a shout-out to Ms. Melissa Bailey and her Irie Island Jamaican Restaurant in Canton.

This is some of the best-tasting food I’ve ever eaten.

Simply fantastic!

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We ventured north to explore the Cleveland area. Besides the city itself, and the shores of Lake Erie, there were two attractions we wanted to see. First up, the Christmas Story House.

We’ve been fans of the classic Christmas movie ever since it came out in 1983. The house that was used for the movie has since been converted into a tourist attraction and is open year-round to the public for tours and overnight stays. Directly across the street from the house is the Christmas Story Museum, which features original props, costumes, and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Our Second Year - Great Lakes Summer
Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Our Second Year - Great Lakes Summer

It was a joy imagining our favorite scenes from the movie as we explored the house, like the phone call about Swartz, Ralphie’s mouthful of Lifebuoy soap, or the kitchen cabinet where his little brother was hiding. And, of course, the infamous leg lamp in the front window!

We learned many interesting tidbits about the production when we toured the museum. For example, many of the scenes utilized potato flakes as snow. Apparently, 1983 was an unusually warm winter that offered very little snowfall for the movie.

The Gift Shop was great, offering all kinds of movie-related items for sale, including bunny suits and Red Ryder BB guns.

Next in line was another hall of fame. If you’re a music fan then you probably know which one; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Located next door to the Cleveland Browns Stadium, the RRHOF sits beautifully on the shore of Lake Erie near Voinovich Bicentennial Park.

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From AC/DC to ZZ Top, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame honors legendary musicians across the decades. Since rock music’s inception in the 1950s, these artists have entertained generations and transformed the rock genre for their times, and in some cases, all music for all time.

Established in 1983, the Hall had no physical home until 1995. The distinctive pyramid shape with its connected tower and circular walkway is a recognizable landmark on the Cleveland skyline. With over 300 inductees, and hundreds of exhibits, we found ourselves browsing display after display for hours. Our list of personal favorites is lengthy, but here are 12 that make the cut for this blog article …

Our anniversary was coming up, so we found a great dinner option nearby. A short drive to the north of Akron is a little-known slice of natural beauty called the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Established in 1974, the 33,000-acre park borders Cleveland to the north and Akron to the south. The winding Cuyahoga River meanders through deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands.

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For more than 100 years, trains have been moving through this scenic valley. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has established a partnership with the National Park Service, where tourists can enjoy a heritage railroad experience through the park.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Our Second Year - Great Lakes Summer

Several options are available … Scenic Tours, Cocktails, and even a Murder Mystery.

We chose the Dinner on the Train package and enjoyed a fine meal inside a vintage, 1940s era parlor car from a one-of-a-kind vantage point.

We moved the rig about 3 hours south from Mogadore to the small town of Oregonia, Ohio. The Olive Branch Campground is a beautiful 25-acre spot nestled in the woods of Warren County. This was another well-positioned location in-between two of our target destinations … Dayton to the north and Cincinnati to the south.

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We drove to downtown Cincinnati with a couple of places in mind to see. I had personally been there before, because my employer (at that time) has a large office presence in town. One of their top clients has its corporate headquarters right across the street at 6th & Broadway … Procter & Gamble.

We walked around the gorgeous P&G campus and then wandered a few blocks over to Fountain Square. The iconic Tyler Davidson Fountain is a prominent centerpiece in the heart of Cincinnati’s social district. Those who are familiar with the classic 1978-1982 television sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati, will recognize this fountain right away.

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Designed to rival the great fountains of Europe, the bronze and granite fountain emphasizes the blessings of water. Streams of water flow from the outstretched hands of the nine-foot-tall Genius of Water, affectionately known as The Lady. Below her, large human figures represent water’s practical uses, and on the base, figures of children represent the pleasures of water.

We finished the day with a great meal at one of our favorite restaurant chains, Wahlburgers. Sadly, I learned while preparing this article that the Cincinnati location was closed in 2022.

Our next attraction in the area is one that has been on my bucket list for many years. In Dayton resides the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Since childhood, I’ve been an enthusiast for all-things Aviation and Aerospace, so there was no way I would miss out on touring the Air Force Museum while I was in the area.

Four huge hangars encompass nearly 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space, housing over 350 amazing aircraft. A million visitors annually walk this space viewing planes from over a century of aviation history. From the early days of the Wright Brothers 1909 Military Flyer, to the modern-day B-2 Stealth Bomber, aviation buffs can see all the best planes up close and personal.

Some of my personal favorite displays included …

Continuing with the Aerospace theme, we ventured-out into rural Ohio to a small community that produced a very special individual in the industry. Wapakoneta is home to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, hails from this midwestern agricultural region.

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On display are many cool artifacts from Neil’s life and times around Wapakoneta. Also, as a Naval Aviator, Engineer, Test Pilot, Gemini & Apollo Astronaut, Research Pilot, and NASA Administrator. I learned some amazing details about Mr. Armstrong’s experiences and contributions to the field. The Apollo 11 Moon Landing made him famous, but Neil was so much more.

As summer came to a close we moved the trailer southward to our next spot. A five-hour journey across Kentucky along Interstate-75 will take you into the heart of eastern Tennessee.

A half-hour east of Knoxville is the small town of Dandridge. On the north side of Douglas Lake with a prominent view of the Great Smoky Mountains you can find the Anchor Down RV Resort.

We didn’t know it yet, but Anchor Down is our most favorite campground of all. Once we arrived and took-in the breath-taking view, it was over. The splendor of this overlook exceeded all expectations of every campground we had ever seen, and every one we’ve camped in since. Simply … wow.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Our Second Year - Great Lakes Summer

I can’t imagine a better spot to welcome the change of seasons. October arrived and fall colors were beginning to emerge across the forested Tennessee slopes. Our Great Lakes Summer was awesome!

See our next adventure … RV Life – Our Second Year – Smoky Mountain Fall

Psalm 28:7

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Steve Coryell