Upstate New York >> Cleveland, Ohio =
344 miles, 5 hours 22 minutes hours
We experienced a lull in the the storms when we landed in Ohio. In Cayuhoga National Park, Native Americans like the Hopewell and Whittlesey cultures, once canoed the lower Cayuhoga River as it offered a favorable portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Later, in the 19th century, early American settlers built an extensive canal system in order to move goods and products down from Lake Erie to the people who lived between what is now Cleveland and Akron.
Along the flat terrain of the towpath that runs beside the green, marshy bog of the Cayuhoga River, Cee and I rode over 14 miles on our bicycles. On the way, we spied a Great Blue Heron in the wetlands; talked about the architectural design of the canal locks on water breaks; and gazed at a snapping turtle as well as some lotus flowers that were floating beside the wooden boardwalk above Beaver Marsh.
In order to ride back on the Cayuhoga Valley Scenic Railroad train to Boston Mill, where we began our trek, Cee and I pedaled almost 4 miles in less than 45 minutes in order to make the last train north for the day. Experiencing a small fall from his bike along the dirt path, Cee pulled himself together in the midst of his tears and exclaimed, "We have to make that train!"
An employee noticed us from a front train car as it passed on its way into Akron station. This older man was so impressed with Cee’s performance that he gave him a fist bump and congratulated him after we managed to board the train right as it was ready to pull away. Happily exhausted, I then drove us over to the scenic Pymatuning State Park where we set up our campsite for the weekend.
My first time setting up our full camp this year, and I finally was able to comb through all of the things that primarily constitute our life here in the USA. Taking stock of our inventory, I remembered that we need a new shade tent (or some type of overhead shelter.) Ours has a broken, plastic joint. However, I feel good knowing that this tent provided shade to dozens of children who participated in the backyard preschool we had at our home in San Diego County. I can't find our headlamps or the cool LED laser light I have for stargazing, though. 😒 I know these things made it back from Ecuador but somehow they didn't make it through the purging of the winter things left inside of our van. Ruh-roh. :(
Cooking under the sky; busting out my yoga mat and foam roller; blowing up our inflatable raft and paddling around Lake Pymatuning; were all exactly what my soul needed. As was the playground that lay between our campsite and the lakefront and along with it a small group of kids for Cee to befriend. The hot showers to enjoy (no quarters required!) had me cheering for the Ohio State Park system.
At Pymatuning State Park, we were surrounded by expensive RVs and meaty trucks pulling trailers. I am/we are certainly an anomaly with our California plates, yoga mat and South American style of dress. Still, I choose to unapologetically show up as myself.
On the banks of Lake Pymatuning, I remembered my practice. For over 20 years, yoga, dance and movement have been an outlet and a refuge for me. As you might understand, driving across state lines is tough on one's body. Thus, my body requires deep stretching and breathing. "I don't care what people think," my mind peeped out as I did a headstand on the grass beside our fire pit, along a T-section of road in the campground.
"That's not true," I responded to myself, changing my tune. "I do care. Maybe, I can touch and inspire others by just bee-ing myself." Inclement weather had been forecast for our last two nights there. Packing up early, I was making loud, strange sounds while I breathed, stretched and moved to my heart's content. Meanwhile, our neighbor's across the way spent their morning cleaning up from their Saturday night.
The mom of their group had been very welcoming of us when we first arrived. She even invited us over to their campsite for s'mores. However, I had to again listen to my energetic body and honor that I simply was not in a space to give and receive energy with strangers.
Sometimes, I feel sad about how I can refuse to be present with "strangers," especially since I understand that I could be missing out on an opportunity to grow and expand as a result of opening up to the unknown with unfamiliar others. Trusting my body and following its instinctive cues are crucial however. Time for rest and inward contraction is vital for all of us.
While Cee slept in the van, I was putting my yoga mat away when I felt something on my head, at my hairline. Reaching my hand up to it, I heard a rustling sound and so I assumed a branch and a few leaves were tangled in my curls. Pulling it out, my eyes saw instead a rather large, beetle-like bug. I took it outside where I placed it on the picnic table and noticed that it was moving very slowly.
After he woke and crawled up our full bed and into the middle of the van, Cee said, "Look at the big bug!" "Another?" I exclaimed leaning over him and towards the black curtains where the empty exoskeleton of a cicada remained.
"Wow! A nymph cicada molted in our van," I excitedly shared with Cee. "An omen!" I cheered. "What does it mean?" we wondered as I reached for my cell phone to google search the symbolism of our moment.