End of April 2016 and beginning of May I started a trip to Chicago for another fan convention. Chicago is a bit of a trek so needed to find a “midway” place to stop and that was Cleveland, Ohio. Right off of Route 80 and decided it was time to see it. I’m very glad I did — and before this year’s Republican convention. There’s clearly a lot to do in Cleveland and I really had only one full day so I decided to see the most I could out of only a few things. That meant crossing several things off my list — but that leaves “next time.”
Cleveland Rocks — 440 Miles Later it Sure Does
Whenever I do my “trips,” people wonder if it gets tedious, boring, frustrating…the answer is no. First, I travel by myself and with no small children so that definitely would impact the challenges of any trip. Second, you must make the journey part of the overall trip. So if you look at a drive as just ‘in the way,’ you will miss a lot of what makes these road trips so much fun. You miss seeing the vast spaces, the beautiful country, the fascinating differences. All those things that underscore why you took a road trip.
So for me, part of the trip is seeing the skies around me, the cars on the road and those attractions or sites on the side of the road. Periodically, you see the stereotypical roadside attraction — like a dinosaur — and that makes it worthwhile.
While I didn’t plan it, I actually stayed across the street from the Cleveland Clinic. For colleagues of mine who work in healthcare, Cleveland Clinic is clearly one of the most prominent institutions so it was interesting I ended up there. It’s right off the major highway outside of Cleveland proper. So not hard to get to at all. I stayed at a Crowne Plaza and it was fine. So if you go there and need to stay close, the Crowne Plaza literally is right across the street.
Short drive in to Cleveland
It is pretty quick to get to Cleveland proper from Independence Ohio (hotel) where I stayed. I drove a little around Cleveland — mostly because I made a few wrong turns — but liked it very much. Saw the football and baseball stadiums and enjoyed the city. I recommend everybody in the vicinity take a drive there and enjoy the city. Given it’s on Lake Erie — I would perhaps stay away during winter time but May seems about perfect.
While I like rock & roll, I was never particularly interested in seeing the Hall of Fame. Now, having seen it, I have to say I really appreciated it. The entire area is terrific for visitors as well as people from Cleveland. A park is located right on the waterfront, which houses not only the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but the Great Lakes Science Center (a great place for kids) and the Cleveland Browns stadium. Plus, The William G. Mather Museum offers tours of a Great Lakes freighter. The freighter wasn’t yet open for tours, but I definitely would have gone — it’s huge.
But to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…there is a lot — A LOT — to see. So I tried to break it up a little bit. The first big bite is an overview, plus some shots of the early influences, cities that had a special sound and clothes of some of the major artists. No way could I share all but tried to provide a cross section.
Then of course there are some of the most iconic items — guitars, suits and gloves…or “glove.”
Outside the Rock & Roll of Fame is the North Coast Harbor which is a pedestrian lakefront park and it’s beautiful. The science museum mentioned earlier is there as well as the William G. Mather museum and the Cleveland Browns stadium. But there is much much more – which I sadly didn’t get an opportunity to see. However, one of the last things you see as you leave is the Fallen Firefighters Memorial, which is made to honor those firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is at the corner of Erieside Ave and Lerner Way at 362 Erieside, between Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Science Center, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Cleveland Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial was dedicated on June 15th, 2007.
Next, on to the West Side Market, which is a more trendy area for buying all kinds of food and flowers. If you’ve been to open air markets in other cities, this is Cleveland’s version of it. Free parking too! It’s in an area called Ohio City. It’s not large so walking through is fairly simple, but two buildings filled with fruit, vegetables, meat, coffee, sweets, breads and even a small cafe inside. On a beautiful day it’s fun to walk through and there are places to eat and drink around there. As you head back towards downtown Cleveland, you once again go over the Hope Memorial Bridge. I didn’t know bridges had Facebook followers but this one does. It’s got two beautiful art deco style pylons “Guardians of Traffic” on either side of the viaduct that symbolize progress in transportation.
Chicago or Bust! — 360 Miles to Second City (literally on this drive it was the second city I hit!)
Took off to another six or so hour drive to Chicago. Well, a suburb of Chicago but close enough. Chicago is huge. It really is and to avoid traffic going through the city is almost impossible primarily because of lots and lots of construction. It’ll be great once it’s finished but at that time it was pretty horrible. I drove through Gary, Indiana (home of the Jackson Five) and I must say — at least the part you can see from the highway – it’s very very industrial. So if the rest of Gary is like that it’s a pretty challenging city for those folks. But enroute in, and as always, saw some interesting things…
The day I arrived in Chicago I went to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. The mission of the museum is to collect, preserve, and present historic and contemporary radio and television content as well as educate, inform and entertain through our archives, public programs, screenings, exhibits and online access to its resources. It’s a fairly small museum size-wise; however, it does have some interesting things — an online encyclopedia of television that includes original essays relating to historic moments and trends, major policy disputes, and such topics as violence, tabloid television, and quiz show scandals. It also includes histories of the major television networks as well as broadcasting systems from around the world, and is complemented by resource materials, photos, and bibliographical information. Further, it has an exhibition showing the televised debate between Presidential candidates John F Kennedy and Richard M Nixon. It clearly underscored appearances, which may have played a role in the election. Finally, it has the National Radio Hall of Fame which is particularly interesting as many of the inductees have had long-lasting impact on broadcast communications. I tried to highlight the kinds of exhibits — people may recognize some familiar broadcast faces…
The next morning, I went to the Museum of Science and Industry. It is a fabulous museum. It is right on Lake Michigan — parking underneath. What is so wonderful about this is that it covers so much — farming, mining, shipping, genetics, old town America, automation, bicycles, flight, weather and even Legos! It’s not just science and it’s not just industry. The interactive displays are wonderful for kids and adults. The only challenge I had was the short amount of time I had and trying to see ‘everything’ literally. So I know I flew through some things much to my chagrin. I encourage everyone to see it — it’s not like any other museum I’ve been to and I have been to lots of museums. Bring your kids — so many schoolkids were there the day I went and they all seemed to enjoy it. The kids kept running from one exhibit to the next, trying them all out. I captured pictures of it as it’s particularly telling how much they interacted with it.
There was also baby chicks! I believe it was in the genetics section but baby chicks was a surprise.
Plus, the U-boat section was designed to make you feel like you were back in time and dealing with U-boats.
So last part is going home and that took about 13.5 hours — got home around 9 pm after leaving 6:30 am Chicago time. All in all it wasn’t a bad ride as I also avoided the major highway (90) that runs through Chicago. That would have delayed me significantly. A few interesting sights along the road home. What is particularly interesting is that you go from pretty flat travel in Ohio to many more mountains and hills in Pennsylvania. I was able to rig a video of it to show. One particular place I passed was the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. And a tiny home. And beautiful farmland. Long road trip. Wonderful sights.
Cleveland-Chicago Trip by the Numbers
Total Distance: 1125 miles
Total Tolls: @$64.05
What did I Listen to: CNN and 1010 Wins (NYC area), a little of ipod and Pandora
Wished: I was able to avoid the construction on Route 80 but more critically in Chicago. Also would have liked to have spent more time in Cleveland.