PENINSULA: They called themselves “renegades” on a glorious fall afternoon.
Federal government shutdown or not, Julie Norman of Cuyahoga Falls and her friend, Teresa Newell of Lakewood, spent several hours Friday walking along the winding, hilly paths of Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Towpath Trail and soaking up its beauty.
When they spotted a Beacon Journal reporter and photographer approaching, they stopped in their tracks and feigned doing something wrong.
“Yes, we’re two renegades,” Norman said, laughing at the thought that they were trespassing during national park closures throughout the country.
“My thoughts are, you can’t really close trees,” Norman said. “This is public land that we paid into. We’re not harming anything. We walked in, so there’s no need for someone to open and unlock gates for us. It’s gorgeous. How can you not want to be in the national parks today, seriously?”
Norman, a dietitian and yoga instructor who works in Peninsula, and Newell, a children’s care worker, said they saw dozens of walkers, runners and cyclists using the park near the Lock 29 trailhead.
Newell said Friday was her first trip to the Towpath Trail, and that she was not reluctant to come.
“Not at all. I think this area is beautiful, and I’m actually heartened to see that it’s being used as though it were open,” Newell said.
Norman said she and another friend have a message they would like to send to Washington now that the federal government shutdown is well into its second week.
“This just doesn’t have to be, I mean, dear God, come on,” Norman said. “A friend of mine said: ‘You know what Washington needs? It needs a good mother to go down there and tell them to straighten up, eat their vegetables, play nice in the sandbox — and get their asses back to work.’ ”
Not all of the national park stories involved jokes and laughter.
According to a report released Thursday by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has lost $1.5 million during the shutdown.
Area business woman Debra Bures, who runs Elements Gallery art and pottery shop with her husband, said all of the town’s businesses have been adversely affected. That will continue with the decision this week to postpone the Towpath Marathon, which typically draws more than 4,000 runners and spectators, until Nov. 3.
“Personally, I think it’s time for the people in Washington to recognize that there’s a very real impact on very real people,” Bures said in a Beacon Journal interview at her shop.
“It’s time to go to the table, talk about it and solve the problem. It’s time to quit the posturing. It’s time to quit the blaming. As parents,” she pointed out, “we expect our kids to work things out.”
Ed Davidian, 65, an avid bicyclist who lives in Cuyahoga Falls, contacted the newspaper in an email, saying he was riding on the Towpath Trail early Thursday evening when he was cited by Peninsula police for “Entering a Closed Area.”
He is upset, he said, and intends to fight the citation in court. “Of course. It’s ridiculous what’s happening,” Davidian said.
He said one Peninsula officer asked him if he was out there Thursday night “to make a political statement.”
Davidian said he told the officer: “I’m not out here making any political statement; I ride here all the time.”
Tim White of Twinsburg was spending his afternoon off at the Towpath Trail, standing on a bridge overlooking a moving riverbed and listening to music with earphones from his iPhone.
He, too, had a quick reaction and message for Washington.
“This is public parkland, paid for by the public, paid for by your taxes,” White said, “and they ought to be open.
“We’re really lucky here, especially with this one. We don’t have any fees to get in like some other national parks do. So just open the parking lots,” he said, “and let people enjoy it.”
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.