Going to keep it short today. I was feeling a little under the weather this morning and I think I let it affect my appreciation for the day a bit. We stayed in the the south Cleveland area and made the rounds to several destinations within a short distance of the hotel.
One more license plate spotted, Maryland, so only 9 more on the list. Three national parks today for a total of 12 (David Berger National Memorial, James A Garfield National Memorial Site, and Cuyahoga Valley).
In addition to the parks we had a drive by of an ancestral place. Peg’s great grandmother was born here and she, and her parents, lived here between the mid 1860’s and the mid 1880’s before moving to Iowa. The house they lived in probably does not exist anymore but we found the neighborhood they lived in around 1880 near downtown Cleveland.
The David Berger Memorial was quite beautiful. Just a single sculpture to a single event (the assassination of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Berlin Olympics), built here because one of the athletes was from this area. The sculpture was beautiful and full of symbolic meaning, dedicated to the memory of the violence that occurred and the hope that such acts will never occur again.
The James Garfield site was interesting is a couple of ways. I, and I assume most people, knew very little of Garfield before today. He was one of the youngest men ever elected president (age 49), the first president to have his mother present at his inauguration, one of only 3 to have his mother survive him, and one of 4 presidents assassinated. At the time of his election the press on him was that he was probably the most prepared person to become president in our history to that point. He only served for 200 days because he was shot by a disgruntled job seeker. The grounds at the house were very nice and the visitor’s center was informative with a concise film on his life. However, my less than optimum attitude today was tested by a tour guide at the house. We have been to over 200 national parks and many other museums over the years and it seemed to me today that our guide, “Pat”, was making a strong case for being one of the worst tour guides ever. I will try to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she was trying her best and maybe just having a bad day herself, so I won’t spend a lot of time on this. However, she was one of the most controlling and inflexible people I have encountered. It started with her saying, before we had even left the museum to go to the house, that we were not allowed to touch anything in the house except the floor. Then she stopped talking and looked at my hand which was on the post of a protective fence around a display in the museum and would not proceed until I removed my hand. Apparently the not touching anything was pretty absolute. Then we walked to house and she said we should sit on a bench while she gave us the beginning of her talk. I said I would prefer to stand because I had been doing a lot of sitting in the car recently. She said that when going on a walking tour you should always sit whenever you can. We looked at each other for a minute and when it was clear I was not going to be sitting she reluctantly began her talk. On the tour, any movement in a direction she had not directed, and looking into a room before she gave permission to do so, or asking any questions out of order to her prepared talk was not allowed. Despite all this, I have to say some parts of the house were very attractive, especially some of the era specific restored wallpaper. However, I did have to work at getting past the tour guide to appreciate what we were touring.
Finally we visited a couple of areas in the vast park known as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 33,000 acres preserving a long history of Canals used for commerce in the 1800’s, the railroads that came later, and the nature beauty of the valley itself. As a consequence of preservation efforts the park now has a number of resident animals which had been absent from the area for over a century including both beavers and eagles.
My final thought for the day is that I was thinking at various time throughout the day of my sister, who is today remembering the death of her husband a year ago. I so enjoyed seeing her for a few days last week and hope she is doing well which her memories and in the presence of her children and grandchildren today.