The only knowledge I previously had of Cleveland was watching reruns of The Drew Carey Show as a kid. My favorite episodes were those April Fools ones where viewers had to write down all the mistakes or weird things from the episode and submit their list for a chance to win a prize.
Anyways, my profession brought me to Cleveland, and I thought, “Why not come early and play tourist?” Of course.
Anyways, I got a late start to the day because it was my first day off in weeks and I’m going to take advantage of it. My first stop was the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The address online takes you straight to the parking lot, which was confusing for both myself and my Uber driver, but you can walk right through the parking lot to get into the museum. There’s also a front entrance for normal people. Bring your student IDs because they give discounts!
There’s a lot to this museum — I especially liked the dinosaur fossils, but I also really like dinosaurs. There’s also a really great display about human evolution, as well as a reconstruction of “Lucy,” an early human ancestor. There’s also several displays of stuffed animal specimens, including the original BALTO! I’m sure everyone has at least heard about this dog or have seen the movie, but if you haven’t, don’t fret. There’s a convenient display of pamphlets detailing the amazing story.
There’s a very hands-on set of exhibits about geology in this museum, and I created a digital volcano that made a massive explosion (SPOILER ALERT: Max silica and max water) and survived a 5.0 earthquake. But I am born and raised in California, so the earthquake part probably just comes natural. If you like shiny things, or being reminded of pretty things you can’t afford, check out their gem exhibit. They have a display of what I think I remember as various types of quartz polished into eggs, and I spent quite a bit of time staring at the polish and beautiful patterns.
The newest addition to this museum is the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden. Apparently it had opened just a few weeks before my visit, and I heard they were pouring concrete up until the day before the opening. Definitely would recommend checking it out, especially if you have children that you want to wear out so they sleep on the ride home — there’s a small playground and the kids can run along the highway of raised pathways. The exhibits are pretty great too. Shout out to the children howling at the coyotes so I could take a picture. There’s also a river otter, who failed to make an appearance during my visit, but I’m sure he had better things to do than come out and swim for my entertainment. A couple of super-cute foxes are on display as well, and I caught one snoozing in what looked like a dog house. Back inside and I visited the special exhibit, “Our Global Kitchen.” Basically, either you waste a lot of food or you don’t have proper farming or storage techniques to feed your whole population. Either way, we can all band together to reduce our food waste.
Next stop was the Dittrick Museum. This is on the third floor of Allen Memorial Medical Library on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. If you have an interest in science or medicine, this is a great museum. Even though it’s small, it had a lot of artifacts and information to follow. If you’re a health assessment instructor, I’d highly recommend it — up the small staircase is a display of various medical instruments, their development, and history of various assessment techniques (including percussion, which I have yet to see someone use outside of the classroom). Not all the artifacts fit into the cases, but you’re encouraged to open the drawers for more.
Oh, and did I mention, it’s free and they let you take pictures of EVERYTHING? Plus, no one is there to supervise, but that doesn’t mean be an asshole. The special display in progress was one about the history of childbirth and midwives, which just made me glad that I wasn’t a pregnant lady 100 years ago (unregulated ether administration at the WRONG time of labor!). One interesting story is that of President Garfield, who may have died because his doctors stuck their dirty, grubby fingers into his bullet wound and caused an infection. My favorite part of the museum was their extensive contraception exhibit. Whatever your stance may be on the subject, it still tells an interesting story. There’s arguments for and against the use of contraception, as well as some completely ridiculous remedies that made me cringe, like the use of animal dung, weasel testicles, and candy bar wrappers (I’m sure all these people got pregnant anyway. Except whoever used the animal dung. I feel like the stench itself was pretty effective birth control). These also an extensive collection of IUDs, some with twisted arms and curves that looked downright uncomfortable, and I don’t even want to know how you’re supposed to get them into the uterus. Leave a donation in the box when you leave.
The last place I wanted to go in this area was Lake View Cemetery. It’s an old one, and many of Cleveland’s best and brightest are buried here, including President Garfield, who has his own monument. The monument is open to the public, but it was closed by the time I found my way there, so I stood outside awkwardly like a creeper and took pictures of the outside. I’ve been told it pretty magnificent on the inside. Lake View Cemetery is a big place, and I couldn’t find a map (but I also didn’t check in the office like a normal person), but I was still determined to find this place on my own. SPOILER ALERT: Walk up Garfield Road. All the way up. The grounds are actually quite lovely, and there are stories behind many of the other monuments.
Lightning started to strike after I took this picture to the left, so I decided that was the sign for me to take my butt off the property and back to the hotel, where I was less likely to be struck down.