MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ohio Brings My List Down to 9!!!

Ohio.  The Buckeye State. Yeah - people laughed when I told them that I wanted to go... but I had my reasons.  It was on my list of state I had yet to see; it had the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; it is home to one of the best amusement parks in the world (yep, the world)...  so, my friend, Lesley, and I went ...  to Cleveland ... for an extended weekend.

The first stop on our trip was Sandusky, Ohio - home of Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital... and apparently home to the Charlie Brown characters.  Going in the park in October meant that we had great weather and crazy crowds - lots of people celebrating Halloween.  In fact, while we got there before the park opened, we only were able to ride a handful of the coasters... we were in lines that lasted 2hours or more!  The ones that we did ride were "insane" with speed, loops, turns and corkscrews.  When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a coaster rater... one of those people that told other where the best stomach turning tracks could be found... and this is definitely one of those places I dreamed of; it made the Great Adventures coasters I grew up look like a warm up act.  For a fun added bonus, we were treated to holiday entertainment - spooky characters, Halloween music and themed acts and of course, the obligatory haunted rides.

A full day at the park and an hour ride back to Cleveland meant we were sleeping in the next day... When we were finally ready we headed out to the Cleveland Art Museum for a great treat... the museum was fantastic with full collections that you could spend days exploring; most surprisingly, the museum did not have an entrance fee (just requested a donation) - wow, that is not typical outside DC.  Of note in the museum, the optical illusion room!  Similar to to those illusions on Yahoo or that eye exercise book, these were larger, so a few actually made you dizzy.  The contemporary collection had the 50 Marilyn Warhol (which is copied annually in a parade, perfectly), 2 Pollocks (one drip, one pre-drip) and Pollock's wife, Lee Krasner.  In a bit of cruel placement - the wife and husband stared each other down across the room.  The Egyptian Room housed a few relics that I had never seen before, like funeral paintings (not a mask, but a picture of the face of the deceased).

We did not have too long to linger... we had plans... we headed to the Flats and met with friends at one of the local breweries.  And after a few hours of catching up, good food and drinks, we headed to the Christmas Story House and Museum.  Yep - that awesome, fun, silly movie with the leg lamp, the orphan Annie decoder and the rifle that you would shoot your eye out with, was shot in Cleveland!  On a random block, in a not so nice part of town, stood the house and with it the museum and gift shop.  Home around the structures boosted parking privileges for visitors that either could not find street parking, that felt uncomfortable leaving their car in the car, or that needed the closest thing to valet that the area offered.

After taking pictures with the leg lamp, the Christmas tree, and a back yard shed, we fulfilled our Ralphie fantasies and headed out of the neighborhood.  We went back to the waterfront.  Along the way, we took in the iconic "Free Stamp" that was right by the area "Occupy Cleveland" used.  Not much was going on at the waterfront, and I would say that it was a wasted opportunity but the city itself was pretty empty.  We drove around downtown looking for shopping and restaurants and we struck out.  There was one 1/2 block with a few eateries (where we ate at Chocolate), but for a city, the blocks and blocks of boarded up store fronts was a sad reminder of these economic times.

Our final day in Cleveland kept the best for last... we were off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and its special exhibit - Women Who Rock.  This place is BIG... and if you love music, you have to come.  It starts with a fantastic history lesson - the birth of Rock.  The movement, the movement against it, the music's roots, its founders - the singers, the labels, the locales... you could sit and watch concert footage, listen to audio of rock's inspirations, you could listen to and read stories, look at memorabilia... it was a delight of sight and sound (and that was only the first 2 floors).  The special exhibit occupied the top floors of the museum and highlighted women's influence in rock generally, while specifically honoring 75 trend setters.  And in true style, you we able to see clothing samples, read their stories and hear their sound.. what a treat - and with this exhibit, you know you will see Cher, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Aretha, Tina, Gladys... I could go on...

The final stop on our tour of the Buckeye State, brought us to the only National Park in the state, Cuyahoga Valley.  Home of the crooked river, this park showcased the brilliant fall color of the season.  WE were able to see Branywine Falls and get a good hike in before we called it a day.  A ranger told us that "The Ledges" was the site to see, and it did not disappoint.  This loop took us past fantastic rock formations, that formed caves, steep ledges and boxed trails.  The conservation corp actual made steps into the rock formations to ease the incline and the park's lodges and shelters took advantage of the scenery, open meadow and dramatic valley.

We headed back to Cleveland's Flats to another brewery and music that evening for a good meal after a good hike.    What a good weekend in a failing industrial city... it needs life - it has stuff to see and it is in a beautiful area... it just needs help.  Lots of help.

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