Summer vacation hadn't even officially started. But by Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend, my daughters were already bored.
"What are we going to do today?" they asked, and asked again, and again. I'd normally respond with, "Clean the house," but we'd done that the day before. So now what?
Several long, painful exchanges of ideas and subsequent whining ensued: "How about a bike ride in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?"
It's something we'd always talked about but never actually done, with plans always being waylaid by sports or grass-cutting or the inertia of life. So I called Century Cycles in Peninsula to inquire about rentals. "It's a holiday weekend," the voice on the other end intoned. "It's first come, first served, and there's already a line outside. I'd shoot for around 1:30, when bikes should start returning."
It was going to take us that long to adjust seats, put air in tires, fill water bottles and load up the girls' bikes anyway. When we finally arrived, Peninsula was aflutter with bikers, families and couples out to enjoy the shops, trails and sunshine.
After parking in a church lot on Akron Peninsula Road ($3, but well worth it) and a short wait in line, we were ready to set out on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Our riding party of four headed north from the Lock 29 Trailhead with no particular itinerary, except enjoying the perfect 60-degree weather and a promise of a treat at the end. We made it through Stumpy Basin before the first gripes began (at about 1.5 miles, that's success). "I'm tired," my 11-year-old moaned. So we pulled off for pictures, water and a little rest. At the Boston Store, the scene repeated. But we kept going, each time her little legs getting more wobbly and the distance between stops growing just a little shorter until we eventually hit the Station Road Bridge and her limit.
The path back was a little rougher — both girls had minor falls and the moping intensified until the wooden rocking chairs of the Boston Store provided just enough comfort for us to make it back to Century Cycles.
"Winking Lizard for wings?" I asked everyone, adding "and maybe a beer" for my wife and I. "Sure," everyone responded, without a single complaint — which is exactly how summer should begin.