Cleveland 30Here we are in the final hotel of our Cleveland vacation. We are in Newark Ohio which is a little east of Columbus. We spent much of the day in more Amish country of Berlin Ohio. It claims to have the largest Amish community in the U.S. I bought a couple of framed pictures as mementos of our trip.  When we left this area to head south to I70 we found you couldn’t get there from here. Two of the three roads we tried were closed!

Cleveland 31Finally after three failed attempts we managed to find our way south and will jump on I 70 tomorrow morning for  the trip home. It was a good vacation; we certainly enjoyed the cultural aspects of it and the visit with my high school friends. We learned quite a bit about Cleveland that we didn’t know before. When we visited the historical society building yesterday we came to understand that it is critical to say you are from east Cleveland or west Cleveland, not just Cleveland. We learned that there is much ethnic diversity in Cleveland than we thought. We learned that you can’t get there from here when traveling south out of northeast Ohio.

It was an interesting vacation. We will likely be back sometime soon for another visit to our re-found friends. But the next time we will find an easier way to get from there back home :) Tomorrow I will be getting back to my usual posting about life in general…It was nice to be away but it will also be nice to get back; even for that mountain of Spring chores waiting for me…

AmishSignWe spent the day touring amish country around our friends home. There is a very large population here in northeast Ohio ( I made a terrible mistake originally here in that I said northwest instead of northeast.  Sorry about that).  Almost every house we came to had clothes out on the line and all in typical amish colors. So that made discovering which farms are amish rather easy.  That and seeing no utility lines going into the houses.  It seems that some of the families are “cheating” though; they have solar panels installed on the roofs.

AmishLaundryIt was a good leisurely day. We went to several different stores; some for the amish and some for the tourists. Our hosts bought quite a bit of bulk goods (sugar and that sort of thing) to stock up. We bought a few things to weigh the car down a little more.  If my wife buys much more I will have to rent a U-Haul trailer :)

Tomorrow we will hit the road towards home. We will likely take the State roads instead of the Interstate ones and spend an extra day.

Here we are sitting in our hotel room on Sunday morning waiting for the museum to open at noon. So, I thought I would pull a few more pictures out of the album to show here. We are headed for the Western Reserve Historical Society today to get a more detailed account of local history.  Then it will be off to our friends home for a few days. I’m not sure how technology conscious my friend is so I don’t know if I can get on the internet while we are there. If not, this will be a last post for a couple of days.

I am just going to give you several pictures here we have taken over the last five days. If you want an explanation of any of them leave a comment. :)   Well maybe I do need to explain the first one. It is of a sewer cover!  My wife is from Neenah Wisconsin so whenever we travel we are always looking down as well as up so we notice the Neenah Foundry art. It is surprising how many states we have come across these iron monoliths.

Cleveland10Since we have been walking so much the last few days we decided to take it a little easier today. We drove the mile to the center of the city instead of walking. Our fatigue and the fact that it is still in the 30s and 40s here enticed us to take the easy way.  When we got close to the Tower City Center we found a convenient parking garage. I have been reading about a 4th Street complex of restaurants and sites so we decided to head there. It was not as we expected. There were a number of the more well-known local restaurants there but they were all closed until dinner and there was little else in the area. It seemed that almost the entire downtown area was deserted.

Cleveland downtown it seems is pretty much like most of these metropolitan areas in that they are not kept in the most pristine shape. We meandered down to the Tower City Center amongst the tall high-rises and found a shopping mall and a casino there. It was surprising to see a casino right in the very heart of the city.Cleveland11 After eating at a small mexican restaurant we had enough of touring for today and headed back to the hotel for a mid-afternoon nap before heading for the Blue Point Grill for dinner. This is a very upscale seafood restaurant specializing in seafood so of course I had to have a plate of oysters on the half shell.  They were very good. I also had the special for the night which was flounder and it was to die for. Yvonne had seared trout. She gets pretty picky about this dish but this time it was cooked to perfection as it should have been for the price. We don’t eat out in upscale restaurants but once a year or so and this was definitely a good one.
Tomorrow we will do a little more touring and then head for the Ohio/Pennsylvania border for a visit with our friends. As an overall wrap-up,  Cleveland reminds me of Pittsburgh. It is not the cleanest or as tourist friendly as many that we have visited but still worth the visit.  The University Circle area was the most culturally oriented part of town. The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospital and three or four colleges are located there as well as most of the museums.  If we are ever to do this visit again I would likely choose that area as our home base and skip the downtown area.

Cleveland12We thought about going to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame which is less than a mile from the hotel but when we found that the tickets were $25 each we changed our minds. I was never much of a rock and roller, I was more into folk music in my hearing years so the enticement at that level of admission just wasn’t there. :)

cleveland 7We spent today with some old-time high school friends of mine who are near-Cleveland residents.  We spent the majority of the day at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History but before that we got a thorough driving tour of the Cleveland Clinic.  The scale of the clinic is almost unimaginable.  There were at least twenty huge buildings in the complex. The Cleveland Clinic is thought to be the healthcare of the future in that they do it much more efficiently than most. All their doctors are on salary as opposed to independent practices. Surgeons don’t make money performing more surgeries; they make a salary to find and relieve healthcare problems. The entire complex is very automated and geared toward wellness instead of profits. I do believe that the Cleveland Clinic along with the Mayo Clinic will be how medicine is done when we finally get over our obsession with our current healthcare systems in this country.

cleveland 6The Museum of Natural History was one of the finest ones we have visited. It had a very diverse amount of different things. I seem to be a rock-hound so I spent quite a bit of time in that area and learned several different facts that I had not previously heard. Another part of the museum that fascinated me was the Mayan exhibit.  I did not realize that they had such an elaborate means of recording their history. Their hieroglyphics are very elaborate. I need to study on that some more.  The museum shop didn’t have anything on it so I will hit Amazon as soon as get home. I think I would like to be more studied on it.

One thing I learned both yesterday and today is that this is Spring break for the Cleveland area. I can’t tell you how many shin bumps I have from being hit by baby carriages in the last two days.  Maybe it is a good thing that we are childless as I just don’t seem to have much patience for all the kids running around frantically at these sort of places.

We finished up our tour of the museum with a planetarium show. It was an elaborate demonstration of the mars probe as well as showing us all the constellations in the heavens. I still think it is kind of a stretch how they name some of them. They just don’t look like lions and bears and such to me. But it was a very impressive show.  I remember hiking up to the top of a mountain in Colorado in my much younger days and see all those stars they showed us today but I has been years since I saw a sky so studded with stars.

cleveland 5After the museum it was off to Little Italy for a late lunch at a one-hundred year old establishment and then some cannoli at a bakery of like age.  Both were fantastic.  Tomorrow will sort of be an R&R day for us. We have walked about ten miles in the last few days and need a little rest. The day will probably be spent at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and dinner at a place along the lake. But, of course more on that later…

cleveland3We are now situated in our home for the next three days. It is in a DoubleTree Hampton on the 15th floor overlooking Lake Erie. It will be nice not having to pack for the next few days. Nice views from the 15th floor.  We spent the day at the Cleveland Zoo and Rainforest. It was an interesting time. Of course photos are attached here.  The Rainforest was pretty nice; lots of beautiful flowers and such. The Zoo was pretty good but not up to par with our hometown one in Indianapolis.

We will be spending much of the day tomorrow with some high school  friends who are giving us the royal tour of the city. They both graduated from colleges here after attending our alma mater high school in Indiana and have been living here for 30+ years. I have seen them a few time but this will be the most time we have spent together since we were classmates almost fifty years ago.

cleveland5When we left the zoo for the hotel in downtown Cleveland I punched the name of the hotel into my iPad mapping program and it set up a route for me.  Unfortunately it was the wrong location. I didn’t discover it until we were more than ten miles beyond where we needed to be. You gotta keep an eye on these gps programs :)

I am spending the evening trying to come up with a restaurant for our anniversary dinner on Saturday. Since my wife and I have such differing tastes it proves difficult.  We were going to try the Lola which is owned by the famous chef Bobby Simone but the menu wasn’t compatible with my wife’s tastes or our budget and it was already filled for the entire weekend. So I am still on looking for one.

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Tomorrow we will likely see the Cleveland Clinic along with many sites in the University Circle area. More on that tomorrow.

Youngstown3As noted in yesterday’s post we spent the day at Youngstown. It was everything I expected it to be. The Youngstown Historical Center was of course all about steel. I took about forty pictures of the exhibits and will give you a few of them here.  I didn’t realize that there were actually seven mills running here during their heydays in the 1960’s. They started shutting down after the Japanese started flooding the market with sub-cost steels in the early 1980s and Ronald Reagan didn’t do anything to stop them. As a result they disappeared very quickly along with thousands of good paying middle class jobs.

There is little there now of any of the big buildings. About all that is left is the soot they produced. Youngstown is a dirty town similar to Pittsburgh but there are signs of life with new business. But never enough to keep the blighted neighborhoods in the background.

Youngstown1When we are in areas like this we try to visit the local food establishments. I got on Yelp and found a few good ones but of the three I had chosen all were closed. One appeared to be open on weekends only. We finally did find a really nice italian delicatessen.  The help there was very patient we my wife and her picky diet.

There is another thing that surprised me about the Cleveland area and that is just how diversified it is. There are many different ethnic restaurants and such around. But when I got to studying the exhibits in the historical center I remembered that many people throughout Europe and Russia immigrated to work in the mills.

After the historic center we had enough time to also visit the Butler Institute of American Art. It was a first-class place and totally dedicated to American artists. Homer Winslow was one of the most celebrated ones there.  Of course no photos in the museum so no pictures to show of that.

Youngstown2The temperatures continue to be in the 30s today but they say it will be in the 50s tomorrow. I certainly hope so as we plan to visit the Cleveland Zoo and particularly the rainforest area. It is supposed to be world-class.  More on that tomorrow.

Yes, we decided to visit the Cleveland Ohio area for our April vacation this year.  As expected we spent most of the day in the car. I don’t know why even after 27 years this Friday of being married I haven’t learned to lie about the time I want to leave.  I told Yvonne we need to be on the road at 9:00am so of course as usually it was about 9:30am before we left.  Why didn’t I say 8:30?

We took almost all interstate roads to get here to Macedonia Ohio. After seven hours on the road the most significant thing I can say  about our trip is that almost all the roads we took were in serious need of repair; there were bumps and potholes everywhere. I heard we are about number 18 in the world and rapidly dropping in maintaining our infrastructure and I can believe that after today. If we don’t spend some taxes on them soon they will be gravel roads again like they were 100+ years ago.

Tomorrow we will be visiting a historical center in Youngstown Ohio.  For those kids out there Youngstown was famous for its steel mills in the 1960s. About the only thing still there are the skeletons and history places.  I have never visited this area of Ohio before so I didn’t see it in its glory but I do remember hearing about the Cuyhoga River catching on fire in the last 60s.  That proved to be the turning point for our finally seriously attacking air and water pollution in this country. We will be going over that river tomorrow. I’m sure it will looking nothing like what it did back then.  I wonder what similar event will finally trigger our seriousness toward global warming?

I can’t believe the difference between today and a year ago when we were on the road. Last year it was in the 70s and 80s and farmers were out in groves plowing and disking.  Today in never got out of the 30s.

We will spend a couple of days around the outskirts of the city and then move into our fancy hotel in the downtown area for our anniversary weekend. I hear the Cleveland Zoo has a rather elaborate rainforest area. We are hoping to see that maybe on Thursday.   More on that in tomorrow’s post.

On The Road Again….

April 1, 2013

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on the roadStarting tomorrow we will finally be on the road again. These last six months seemed longer than most. Cabin fever was really getting me down.  I know several of you really enjoy my “On the road reports”. I thought about not doing them this time and instead taking a hiatus from blogging but I realized that I really do enjoy writing the reports. They allow me to sit back and think about how my day was and to record things in a “Travels with Charley” format similar to what John Steinbeck did about fifty years ago.

So my daily posts will be coming out at the end of the day instead of the beginning as it usually does. In one way I am taking a step back from blogging in that I won’t even attempt to do any aside posts in the afternoons as I have in the past.

See you tomorrow evening with the first report of a week-long trip.  I will leave it a mystery as to where we are headed this trip for the first post tomorrow. I don’t think anyone could guess where we are going.  Since these “on the road” reports are pretty much posted as they are written I hope you will excuse me in advance for the typos and such.

Warren Elizabeth“Most big corporations trade well above book value,” Warren said, referring to the measure of a company’s assets minus liabilities. “But many of the Wall Street banks right now are trading below book value. And I can only think of two reasons why that would be so. One would be because nobody believes that the banks’ books are honest, or the second would be that no one believes that the banks are really manageable.”

Warren’s comment on bank accounting came after she repeatedly — and apparently rhetorically — asked a panel of top regulators to cite the last time they had hauled a big Wall Street bank into court rather than settled. There were mostly halting responses and promises to get back to Warren with more information at a later time.

That question — why there has not been more accountability for top bankers in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown — taps into a deep vein of public anger on both the left and right. And it is Warren’s most potent political weapon.

Source: Elizabeth Warren strikes fear into Wall Street – Ben White – POLITICO.com.

I don’t think I am the only person who is shouting hooray for Elizabeth Warren, the new senator from Massachusetts. Ms. Warren is a former Harvard Law Professor who is currently taking the banking sector by storm or maybe I should say tornado. She is striking fear in the banking sector of both the big bank CEOs and the regulators. It is about time someone struck back for the people.

When the financial sector did an almost meltdown in the last year of the Bush administration there was rage throughout the country. Especially when the government had to fork over billions of bucks to keep them afloat. It seemed the “too big to fail” tag put on them by both the Bush and later the Obama administrations varnished over the severe faults found in the banking sector.  No one was prosecuted or otherwise punished for the gross risks they took in the pursuit of profits or for the regulators who were derelict in their duties in allowing them to do so.

People screamed about the “too big to fail” mantra for a few months and then  our government seemed to move on to the next  disaster without really addressing this one. Within a year the CEOs and upper management of the big banks were back at the trough getting their million dollar bonuses. It was not until this Harvard law professor went after them that anyone seemed to notice.

I loved the way Senator Warren chastised the regulators who were supposed to protect the taxpayers  for not doing their jobs either before or after the meltdown.  When she asked them how many Wall Street banks were prosecuted in court they were too ashamed, or maybe a better word was embarrassed, to say that none were; they settled all the matters out of court with usually a slip on the wrist. To me and I hope many of you, I don’t see any difference between what these guys did and a guy who goes into a local branch and robs it. That guy is probably behind bars for the next twenty years  while all the bankers are back to doing almost the same things they were before.

Here is to you Senator Warren. Keep up the attacks. I hope you can land some of these guys in jail. That would be the only way that future bankers would learn that actions have consequences and those consequences are jail time for them.