A week in Cleveland

After a brutal winter and a cold spring in Boston, I decided to take a week-off to see my friend in Cleveland. Ohio is a state that I know very well from my summer research in OSU at Columbus. But I have never been to Cleveland before so I thought it would be a different experience.

Day 1

My trip to Cleveland started off with missing my 6.48 am flight. On the previous day I went to bed at 11 pm and set the alarm to ring at 4 am and I thought it would be fine. However it didn’t work out very well. I freaked out for a moment and called jet blue to reschedule the flight, they were kind enough to reschedule my flight on the same day at 4.15 pm for $ 50, not bad ! I arrived at Cleveland Hopkins international airport (CLE) around 6 pm. My friend, Tommy lived in Chardon, OH which was about an hour away from the airport. Chardon was a small, peaceful midwestern town close to Lake Erie. After dropping of my luggage at his house, we went on to see the small town. There was not much to see in the town, it had some beautiful houses, a town square and schools.

Day 2

On the next day, we planned to go to the Lake view cemetery and then to Cleveland Indians baseball game. One of the main reason that I wanted to visit Cleveland is to see Mr. Rockefeller. Ever since I read a biography of John D. Rockefeller, I was fascinated by his life.

Rockefeller family obelisk
Rockefeller family obelisk

Oil tycoon, John D. Rockefeller built his empire from Cleveland. Although the Rockefeller house doesn’t exist anymore in Cleveland most of Rockefeller’s family is buried in Lake view cemetery. Lake view cemetery was not as big as Arlington National Cemetery or Greenwood cemetery, however it had some graves of some prominent people in the history. First we stopped at the Rockefeller memorial. There was a very tall (about 50 feet) obelisk with the Rockefeller name on it and members of the Rockefeller family were buried around that obelisk.

I was able to find the tombstone of John D. Rockefeller, his wife, mother and his sister’s family. Not far from it, I found the tombstones of his in-laws. Although Rockefeller was considered one of the richest person to ever lived in the human history his memorial was not as ostentatious as some other memorials I have seen.

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Then we planned to go to the Garfield monument. On our way there we saw the memorial of John Hay, former secretary of state and assistant to president Lincoln. It was a different type of memorial surrounded by trees.

John Hay Memorial

Garfield Monument
Garfield Monument

Garfield monument was one of the largest mausoleum that I have ever been to. Garfield was one of the eight presidents to hail from Ohio and also one of the four presidents to be assassinated during the office. We were able to go up the monument and from the top of the monument you can see the whole Cleveland area. In addition to those memorials we also saw some other burials of famous people such as Henry Sherwin (Cofounder of Sherwin-Williams paints) and Henry Chisholm (founder of Cleveland Rolling Mills).

Indians game
Indians game

Then we went to the Indians game at the Progressive field which was not that far from the cemetery. Cleveland Indians played against Texas Rangers. That was my first ever live baseball game. It was a really interesting game where both team tried hard to beat one another. However at the end the home team, Cleveland Indians lost to the Rangers. During that three hour period I learned more about baseball than what I learned in my six year stay in the US.

Day 3

On the next day we went golfing in the local golf course. When I went to San Diego I took some golf lessons, other than that I don’t have any golfing experience. We went with Tommy’s friend Tom to the golf course who knew more about golf than I did. I learned the nuts and bolts of golf and I was comfortable enough to understand the game. Although we paid for a nine-hole game we left after finishing the seventh hole. After golfing I took some rest and went to a movie around 7 pm. It was called Ex_Machina a scifi based story about Artificial intelligence. It tells a subtle story about human and artificial intelligence interaction. I would say Ex_Machina is one of the great scifi movies that I have watched in the recent past.

Day 4

Cleveland Metroparks zoo
Cleveland Metroparks zoo

On the fourth day we went to the metroparks zoo. It wasn’t a very large zoo but I haven’t been to a zoo for the past two years so I though why not. It had some great animal exhibits including an aquarium and aviary. One thing that was unique in this zoo is the rain forest exhibit close to the zoo. Rainforest exhibit was filled with plants that you can find in temperate climate such as money plant, orchids etc. All those plants reminded me of the plants that I saw in Sri Lanka growing up.

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After the zoo, we went to a Japanese restaurant which was the favorite restaurant of my friend, Tommy. Ironically, I have never tried sushi before because eating raw fish doesn’t appeal to me very much. But he convinced me that I would like the sushi at this restaurant and if I don’t like it, I can rest in peace that sushi is not my thing. I had some sushi and ikura but at the end I didn’t like it. So I guess sushi is not my thing !

Day 5

Harry London chocolate factory
Harry London chocolate factory

On the next day we went to the Harry London chocolate factory and world renowned Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I have never been to a chocolate factory in my life visiting Harry London was a different experience. Harry London Chocolate factory was a small scale gourmet chocolate factory and we joined the tour to see how chocolate is made in the factory. At the end of the tour we had some chocolate and we bought some chocolate from their store as well. Their cookies and cream gelato was a really good ice-cream.

After Harry London we went to the national park which I wanted to see in Cleveland. First we drove to the Boston visitor center in the park to get some information about which attractions to visit in the park. Visitor center was located right next to the Cuyahoga river which was not very clean but not as bad as it was in 1969. First we went to the Brandywine falls which was north of the visitor center. It was a gorgeous waterfall in the middle of the forest. Flow of the waterfall was very fast due to the heavy rain previous night. It was a very peaceful place to be.

Brandywine falls

20150528_172009 20150528_170931Then we head to the beaver marsh. We drove their and we were somewhat confused about where to find the marsh but we finally found the marsh. The marsh was full of animals and it was great natural ecosystem. We saw some fish, frogs, snapping turtles, dragon flies etc. We also found the beaver dam but beavers were not visible but we saw some sticks moving above the surface of the water. Maybe the beavers are inside the water because of the warm weather ! Then we went to the Ritchie ledges which has some cool rock formations. We were able to see different layers of rocks thatwere formed across millennia. After that we headed home.

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Day 6

On day 6 we went to a golf driving range. Compared to my first experience of golf, my performance was much better at the driving range. We were there for about one and a half hours. Then we went to the Lake Erie beach. It was not as pretty as I thought it would be but it was okay and we didn’t swim in it anyway. We also took Tommy’s Bernese mountain dog, Nala and she was afraid of water and never went inside. Then we played soccer for awhile. Then we headed home. For lunch we went to a Chinese restaurant in a close by town which was in a nice mall. Then we came home and watched two movies: theory of everything and fury. Theory of everything is an Oscar winning movie about the life of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. Fury is a movie about life of US soldiers working in tanks during world war II which was an action packed movie with plenty of war scenes.

Day 7

On my final day at Cleveland, Tommy took me to a maple store in Chardon since Chardon is known for its maple products. We bought some maple syrup and maple cream candy, those candies were delicious. Then we went to an Amish settlement in Middlefield, OH which was the world’s fourth largest Amish settlement. I have heard about Amish but it was the first time seeing them in their horse buggies. It was a different experience. Then on day 7, I departed from Cleveland to Boston.

It was a great week exploring Cleveland and having some great experiences. I had great home cooked meals from Tommy’s mom which I will dearly miss in Boston. I became great friends with Tommy’s dog Nala and I will miss her too. I hope to see you guys soon, until then Bye !

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