The 4th of July found us in the Cleveland, Ohio, area this year.

We left Madison on Wednesday and headed east. Last year, we had stopped at Pokagon State Park outside of Angola, IN, on our way back from Cleveland to eat our lunch and let the kids burn off some steam. The park apparently left us with a good impress because our plan this time was to spend the night there before finishing the always long drive to Cleveland. We got to the park about dinner time and checked into our room. The park has a very nice inn right on Lake James with just about every amenity you could desire. My two big complaints were that the beds were too short (my feet hung off the end of the bed) and that the food in the dining room was nothing special.

After dinner we went out to wander the grounds a bit and quickly found ourselves wading in the water. The lake was very clear and much warmer than we expected so wading was very pleasant. We told the kids to keep their pants and shorts dry but almost as soon as I turned my back Dinah dunked herself under the water. After that, she was dunking herself in the water again and again. She was having so much fun that it was hard to get upset at her and really, no harm had been done.

We eventually got everyone out of the water and into dry clothes in time to take in the communal campfire at the back of the inn. We made a few s’mores (and I got chewed up by mosquitoes) before heading back to our room for a relatively peaceful evening.

Since the beds were small and so are the kids, we decided to sleep one adult and one kid per double bed. I slept with Dinah and Sarah with Garrison. Neither of the adults got much sleep because the kids are such twitchy, roly-poly sleepers. Time after time during the night Dinah rolled up against or on to me. When she wasn’t doing that, she was swiping her hand down my arm which also woke me up. I suspect I was woken up at least once every hour. Garrison pulled much the same routine on Sarah so she got just a bit more sleep than I did.

Regardless, it was better to have gotten off the road and relaxed a bit before continuing our journey, which we did the next day. By the afternoon, we had arrived at Sarah’s parents’ house. We had dinner with her family that night, got the kids into bed, and then crashed ourselves.

Friday was the 4th, and we started the morning with the Chagrin Falls bicycle parade. Garrison and Dinah both rode their bikes in the parade. Garrison is pretty fast on his bike and Dinah is getting very proficient riding the balance bike. Both are easily capable of outdistancing a walking adult.

After the parade we all went out to Sarah’s brother’s house in the country. Garrison had been plotting for days to ride the electric toys there and wasted no time in doing so. Dinah found one and used it to putter around the yard (usually far away from the boys).

After a lunch of pizza in the shade, it was time to get into the pool. The water was chilly, which meant that the kids couldn’t stay in the pool for long without getting pretty chilly.

Once they were all out of the pool, Dinah took a nap in the house while Garrison and his cousin, Kyle, shot off fireworks in the front yard. This was the first year that Garrison had seen bottle rockets and he rapidly took to the art of setting them off. Given how many hundreds of dollars I had spent on fireworks in my youth, I felt like he was really a chip off the old block.

For dinner we joined several other families for the Burton Community Fireworks at the Geauga County Fairgrounds. This was our first year participating so we followed the lead of the others. The others in the group had a big turkey fryer full of oil in which they fried french fries and a grill on which they made brats. We found a stand that made reasonably good funnel cakes and indulged ourselves with a pair. The entire event is essentially setup around a giant grassy parking lot, so we were all gathered around our vehicles when the fireworks started. We were parked in the very front rank of vehicles, so when the rockets exploded they were loud. Dinah was very unhappy with the noise, so she retreated to the inside of the van where she found the fireworks much more pleasant. Garrison and his cousin were so loud and enthusiastic about the fireworks that they could be heard through the din and the closed windows of the van.

Saturday morning we went to Quarry Rock to throw rocks into the Chagrin River and do a bit of wading. After lunch at a local restaurant, Garrison, Kyle, and most of the adults went hiking at another Metropark while I stayed at the house with Dinah while she took her nap.

Early the next morning, it was time to start the long drive home. We had a picnic lunch in Sturgis, Michigan, and set off again. In the past we had been guilty of taking long breaks when we stopped the car but we did much better on this trip. Still, traffic around Chicago was brutal. Even with short breaks, and really fantastic behavior from the kids, the drive took almost exactly eleven hours.

All in all, everyone seemed to have a good time. Garrison really enjoyed spending time with his cousin; shooting off fireworks; and the fireworks display on the Fourth. Dinah seemed to enjoy playing in the pool at her cousin’s; swimming in the lake; and playing in the pool at her grandparents’ (as you can guess, she loves the water).

I was really impressed with how the kids handled themselves in the car. Sure, we got periodic complaints about being bored, but no one threw a fit over the length of the drive or the fact that they were confined in their seats for such a long time. Both kids were also very well behaved during the trip outside of the car. It always makes travel so much easier and more pleasant when they are cooperating with others.

There are a few pictures in my Flickr album from the trip.