Sunday, September 1, 2019

TOLEDO EXPEDITION!

A visit to the city of Toledo, Ohio, never crossed my mind, until I found out my granddaughter was scheduled to be living in the Honors Village at The University of Toledo ( www.utoledo.edu ), during the summer of 2019.  That is when I first started reading up on this city I knew absolutely nothing about!

During my research into popular tourist attractions of the city, I learned that the Toledo Museum of Art was one of their highlights, so I put this on my itinerary of places I wanted to visit.  The museum is a Greek revival building, and moved to its current location in the 1920's.

A major expansion of the art museum was funded in part by the WPA, during the Great Depression of the 1930's. You can learn more about their history, and some of the famous works of art they house at their website of www.toledomuseum.org

When I arrived at the museum on a Sunday afternoon, I knew I had to put my exploration of the many works of art there on "Fast Forward", because it had a 5 pm closing time.  When I asked the docent at the information desk, what would be a top exhibit I should see in this short time, she immediately mentioned the cut glass punch bowl, shown in this photo.  It was a piece from the Libby family, whose name in synonymous with glass manufacturing. In fact, the Toledo Art Museum was founded by Edward Drummond Libbey in 1901 . The punchbowl piece was crafted as an entry in the 1904 World's Fair art competition being held in Saint Louis, Missouri. This dazzling Libbey Glass punch bowl was once the largest piece of cut glass in the world!  I would agree that its artistry and craftsmanship are magnificent, and a good representative of one of the reasons that Toledo has earned the nickname of "Glass City". 

I had read beforehand that the detached Glass Pavilion of the art museum is famous for its curved glass walls, and this photo shows one of those walls. The Glass Pavilion was opened in 2006, and received the Travel & Leisure's 2007 Design Award for Best Museum.  Each of the more than 360 panels---many of them curved---that make up the glass walls weighs between 1,300 and 1,500 pounds.   These walls were imported from China, which amazes me that they could travel from such a great distance away and not get broken!


There are several locations in the Glass Pavilion annex where the graceful curves of the glass walls, are as significant to the aesthetic of the location, as are the individual works of glass art themselves.  There is a separate building, called the Center for the Visual Arts that was designed by prize-winning architect, Frank O. Gehry.   

I was glad the museum included this timeline, showing the history of glass production, because my knowledge of this subject was very sketchy!

Just as Seattle/Tacoma, Washington have been made famous in the art glass movement by the presence of the Dale Chihuly studios, so Toledo may even be more deserving of such notoriety!  That is because Dale Chihuly "studied" here in his early days, long before he was the world-famous artist he is now.  Persons so inclined can take a glass-making class in this Toledo hotshop, and work on making their own piece to take home (along with the skilled guidance of a master glass-artisan), as shown in this photo of the student in the white slacks, waiting for instructions from the artist as to what her next task will be.

The red glow of the fire in the kiln, as well as the red hot ball of glass on the end of the rod, show why "skilled adult supervision" is necessary for any students wanting to create their own glass masterpiece.

This
glass dress is an intriguing exhibit, and I had seen it earlier (or a similar one by the same artist) at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville, Arkansas ( www.crystalbridges.org ).

When I entered the glass pavilion of the Toledo Art Museum, the very first piece to catch my eye was the unmistakable work of Dale Chihuly.  Although such fragility makes me "nervous", I heard Dale Chihuly say in an interview, that it is this very fragility that makes his work so exciting to him!  When the Chihuly team installed this chandelier in the Glass Pavilion, they arranged the 243 forms to echo the curves of the architecture seen in the Glass Pavilion.


Since the real purpose of my Toledo visit was to take my granddaughter out for a special meal to celebrate her birthday, I ended up at the docks, down on the Maumee River, because that is where the Internet told me the top rated restaurant was in Toledo, that also had a water view.  Therefore, I wanted to check out the place, before I took my granddaughter there. 

The reason my granddaughter was in Toledo for the summer was because she was completing an internship as part of her college major in Professional Sales, at Baylor University ( www.baylor.edu )  I took the photo below, on one of my visits to see her lead the crowds attending football games in Waco, Texas, in chants yelling "GO BEARS!".
This was not my first trip to a big city for the purpose of visiting a loved one who was doing a college internship.  Back in the last century, I made a road trip from my home in Arkansas, up to the thriving metropolis of Chicago, Illinois.  The goal was to visit my son, who was completing a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Arkansas.  The company where he interned was Searle Laboratories in Skokie, Illinois.  It seems the major thing he learned from that experience was that he did not want to live in a large metropolitan area, which explains why he ended up choosing a career that placed him in a town with a population of less than 10,000!  For this reason, it will be interesting to see how my granddaughter weaves her intern experience, into the career path she chooses. 
The waterfront views at the restaurant did not disappoint!  Plus, I was very thankful for the beautiful weather the city was experiencing on my very "condensed" visit to Toledo!

There was a great view of the Owens-Corning World Headquarters building, on the opposite bank of the Maumee River.  That was important to me, because that was where my granddaughter was doing her summer internship. 

Before moving to this sprawling, "low rise" , glass encased building in 1997, the Owens-Corning Headquarters in Toledo had been in a skyscraper in downtown Toledo, that had the nickname "Fiberglass Tower", which served as their world headquarters for 37 years, before moving to the new location shown above.

While I was
down by the river docks, I was fascinated by the rowing activity taking place that morning.  As a very amateur paddler of streams and lakes in the Ozarks, the sight of the elongated rowing boats (I think it is called "sculling") was fascinating!

Notice how it takes TWO people to carry the very long paddles required for this sport.  This body of water is part of the Maumee River Water Trail, a 107-mile water passage from Maumee Bay (Lake Erie) to the Ohio-Indiana border.  With 39 access points along the trail, it is easy for folks to enjoy this State Scenic River, a designation it earned in 1974. 

Notice the person in the front of the boat without oars.  That person's job is to encourage the crew and set the cadence of the rowing.  If a team is not working in unison, the boat's forward motion is impaired, so teamwork is essential!

On the opposite side of the river from the restaurant I had picked for our dinner, sits Promenade Park ( www.toledo.com ).  Promenade Park  has a play fountain, which children were enjoying immensely on the hot day in July when I visited!  

This area boasts a bike trail that covers miles and miles of terrain, much of it taking advantage of old canal paths that were used along the waterfronts in bygone days. The photo below shows that Promedica provides rental bicycles near their location headquarters.  It is very fitting that they promote this form of physical activity, since the stated mission of Promedica is to improve health and well-being.  The rejuvenation of the downtown Toledo area was spurred on when Promedica ( www.promedica.org ) moved their headquarters to the downtown riverfront location.  Promedica is a locally owned, non-profit health care organization that serves northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
I was intrigued that each bicycle to rent had the seal of the city of Toledo on it.  I took a photo of it, because I wanted to later research the meaning of its components (see photo below).  I learned that the waterside fort in the seal is a reference to the fact that Toledo was built on the site of a former stockade, known as Fort Industry.  The fort was built in 1800.  To my great surprise, I learned that the Latin phrase "Laborare Est Orare" means "To work is to pray."  I need to do more of what that phrase is advising me to do!  I realized that the Latin phrase in the photo can serve as a visual aid to help me learn one of my First Place 4 Health (www.FirstPlace4Health.com) memory verses that says, "Observe what the Lord your God requires:  Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses.  Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go..."  1 Kings 2:3
Adjacent to Promenade Park is a shaded, paved sidewalk beside the water, that leads to the Owens-Corning World Headquarters ( www.owenscorning.com ), via a pedestrian bridge over the creek.  (The O-C building is shown on the left side of this photo  The red protrusion jutting out from the roof line, is an architectural detail that not only incorporates lots of glass (the city's specialty), but also provides the very artistic ceiling to the lobby/entrance of the building. 

Another feature of Promenade Park that intrigued me was the gigantic video screen, that was showing a video of women outside doing a group stretching class.  Even though in this photo, they are sitting down, earlier the screen was broadcasting a teacher, loudly proclaiming the next stretch they were going to do together)  On summer nights, this giant screen shows family friendly movies, free of charge!

I was disappointed that the blue-hulled boat shown in this photo was not available for me to ride when I visited the park, as I had seen it out on the water earlier in the day, full of what appeared to be tourists.  Its design is reminiscent of a type of canal boat, which is appropriate since much of Toledo's growth as a city in its earlier days, was because boat canal traffic was the major way goods were transported between distant locations .  I read that Toledo experienced a major growth spurt, after the completion of the Miami&Erie Canal in 1824.  This particular boat was built in 1984, just down the river in Maumee, Ohio, and is made of welded steel.  You can book a cruise on the boat at their website at
 www.sandpiperboat.com
The blue-roofed building in this photo is called the Imagination Station.  The Imagination Station is a non-profit, hands-on science museum, with 300 exhibits for kids of all ages.  The grass-covered terraces outside the entrance to the museum can also double as audience seating for the performance venue created in the plaza. 

The Promenade Park is part of a major downtown revitalization that was needed after Toledo experienced a phenomenon common to many large cities.  That is, the tendency for urban dwellers to move to the suburbs, especially after the Baby Boomer generation facilitated a house-building boom, and the rise in automobile use for transportation.

The artistic way these giant circles are arranged provide a "portal" for the visitor to make the transition from a busy down-town street to the more calming , less rushed area of the waterfront park.  Likewise, the circles could be a nod to the two letter "O's" that are in the spelling of Toledo.  One theory on how Toledo got its name, was that the name was chosen because of its melodic sound and it was easy to pronounce!  I found this out because of doing an Internet search on the phrase I have heard all my life of "Holy Toledo!"  One reference said that phrase refers to the fact that Toledo, Spain, was once the headquarters of a governing body of the Catholic Church.  And lest we forget, the circles can also represent the two "O's" in Ohio!
  My short time in Toledo only provides a glimpse of what the city has to offer, but the reader can learn more by checking out their website at www.VisitToledo.org .   I can now say, "O!  O!  O!   Toledo, Ohio gave me Miles of Smiles!!!"       Tricia

Friday, August 2, 2019

CLEVELAND EXPEDITION!!

GOOD NEWS!!  If you are a fan of a favorite, vintage holiday movie, you do not have to wait until December to relive some of your favorite scenes!   Instead, plan a trip to Cleveland, Ohio, and tour the actual house shown in the movie, A Christmas Story  ( www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com ).  A photo of this famous facade is shown in the photo below:
And, thankfully, it is open year round for tours and photos!  In fact, there is a lodging property nearby, where you can spend the night! 
Have your picture made with the famous "leg lamp" that has become an iconic symbol of this movie!
And in their gift shop (shown below) you can purchase that famous leg lamp in its original size, or dozens of smaller versions that are available.  As you can see from the photo, there are plenty of the pink, bunny shoes and bunny pajamas to choose from, as well.  If running shoes are more of your speed than bunny house shoes, then you might be interested to know there is a running/walking event held every December, that uses props from the movie in their logo.  This year it will be December 7. 2019.  Check out their website to register or get more information ( www.AChristmasStoryRun.com )
If you want to see Cleveland from the water, book yourself a trip on the Nautica Queen.  It is shown here at its mooring location on the Cuyahoga River, which flows into Lake Erie 
The night our group took a cruise, the weather was warm and sunny when we started, so I wanted to check out the upper deck, to take advantage of its excellent height for taking photographs!
As we sailed out of the Cuyahoga River, and onto Lake Erie, our captain came over the loud speaker, and told us to be sure and notice one of the entries in the  Tall Ships Festival, that was beside us, full of waving passengers, and would-be sailors. 
The captain told us that we were seeing the Appledore IV and Appledore V, which were the only ships that were taking out paying passengers, for a cruise on Lake Erie.  I had been one of those paying passengers who had taken a cruise on a "pirate sailing ship", when attending the Tall Ships Festival in Portland, Oregon.  Likewise, I used Ticketmaster, to purchase tickets for a sailing ship event in Tacoma a while back, at their event called "Festival of Sail".  The moral of this story is, make the effort to get a ticket to actually go out on one of these sea-faring vessels, and it will give you a whole new appreciation for those early adventurers, who sailed across the ocean with no clue of what lay on the other side of the horizon!
The Appledore IV is owned and operated by BaySail, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Bay City, Michigan.  They have offered more than 40,000 students an educational program aboard Appledore IV.  The Appledore V is also owned and operated by BaySail, and serves as an integral part of a youth sail training program "Windward Bound", which has five to ten day voyages where trainees are involved in every aspect of running the ship.
The Nautica Queen cruise I was on, was called a sunset dinner/sightseeing cruise, and the views at sunset did not disappoint!  The photo above shows the sun, as it slowly sinks into Lake Erie.
We saw plenty of interesting sights as we cruised the waters around Cleveland, and also were able to get a nice view of the Cleveland skyline at twilight. 

One the second day of this visit to Cleveland, our group went to the area of the city known as "Playhouse Square" (www.playhousesquare.org )  The gigantic "light fixture" shown in the photo above, has the reputation for being  America's largest outdoor chandelier, and I can tell you it is a magnificent sight to behold, with the sun illuminating those thousands of crystals, as it rises through the morning, in downtown Cleveland.  The chandelier was added in the last few years, to unify the various attractions that make up the theater district of town.


Our group toured several of the theaters, including the one where the new musical, Come From Away, was scheduled to be part of the 2018-2019 Key Bank Broadway Series, from July 9-28, 2019.  Seeing this merchandise booth in their lobby made me even more excited to see the actual play later that day!
  In the meantime, our group went down to the North Coast Harbor wharf, where the 2019 Cleveland Tall Ships Festival ( www.tallshipscle.com )was taking place.  This is a tri-annual event in Cleveland, so start making plans now, to go to the next one, which will be in 2022.  When I go back in 2022, I want to do an activity I observed while touring the ships----that is, individuals paddling around the ships on Stand-up Paddleboards ( SUP ), and kayaks.  I read that these are available for rent at Great Lakes Watersports, located at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. 

Tall Ships Festival had not been to Cleveland since 2013, so they were excitedly telling folks they could expect to see 10 replica, and restored, traditionally-rigged, sailing ships, representing the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.
In a nod to festival presenter Tall Ships America's commitment to education and preservation, these awe-inspiring ships are partially staffed by young sailors between the ages of 13 and 25. 
A general admission festival ticket allowed attendees to climb aboard and tour the ships.
Once inside the controlled-access area of the harbor, visitors could enjoy the live music, food, drinks, and sailing-related gift vendors. 
From the Tall Ships Festival location, our group took the short walk along the water, to get to the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I have written about this Cleveland landmark, in a previous blog, so the reader can view the saga of me and the blue suede shoes, in the blog archives (September 12, 2008).  For other information on planning a visit here, check out their extensive website at www.rockhall.com  If you want to be inundated with photos of the place just look up #LONGLIVEROCK in your computer's search engine.  ( #LONGLIVEROCK
This photo shows a tourist family, who is taking advantage of the opportunity to have a "garage band" recording session, using instrument and sound equipment, provided by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  If your group is interested in trying this, I would recommend going on a day with low visitation numbers, because on the Saturday I visited, there was a very long line of folks waiting to be part of the Studio A Garage Band experience!

Our group also fit in a quick visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art, shown in the photo to the left.  I was very impressed how the architects had used a glass roof to form a sunny atrium that united the "old" Museum of Art building on the right, to the new, and more modern architecture of their facility, on the left side of photo. 

After dark, the group I was in made it back to Playhouse Square, so that we were able to see what America's Largest Outdoor Chandelier looks like after dark.  It was even more stunning than when I had seen it in the morning, lit up only by the rays of the sun!
This is a photo of the playbill and ticket for the musical we saw on Saturday evening, July 13.  Notice the prices here are much more reasonable than Broadway theaters!!  This production was FANTASTIC!!  I especially found it touching because it used a Bible reference, Philippians 4:6, as an integral part of the story.  That verse says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God;"  If I say much more, it might be a "spoiler" for those who have not seen the play, so instead, let this be a "teaser" to make you put it on your "Must See" list!

The final day of our trip, our Destination Cleveland hostess took us on a walking tour of downtown Cleveland.  The statue and fountain shown in photo above are actually the "roof" of the Cleveland Convention Center.  The front of the Convention Center opens out to expansive views of Lake Erie.  Similar walking tours (Free of Charge!) are offered from May 14 through September 15.  Since city walking tours are sometimes called "Urban Hikes", it is not surprising that this service is called "Take A Hike", and folks can learn more at www.TakeAHikeCLE.com .
The vintage photo on the left shows an impressive structure that was a bank, during the Gilded Age of Cleveland.  Since then, the majestic looking edifice has been converted into a swanky grocery store, called Heinen's:
 This is a view of the first floor coffee shop, taken from the second story balcony.  When standing on the balcony, it also enables the visitor to get a good view of the architecture of the space:
This photo shows the viewer the intricacies of the inside dome:
For those who do not want to get dressed and go downtown, Heinen's also offers on-line grocery shopping, and you can find out more on their website at www.heinens.com .

Thanks to Heinen's Grocery Store, downtown Cleveland is not a "food desert" area!   (Food desert is a term nutritionists use, to refer to an urban area where it is difficult to find fresh produce to purchase for home use.)

The old name of the building is still visible in stone, but the new name of its occupant, is also prominently displayed on the outside.

Another former bank building that has been repurposed, is the Holiday Inn Express where our group stayed.  The rooms were very large, and had the original ( and beautiful! ) hardwood floors that were in the bank , when it served as an office location.  More information available at www.holidayinnexpress.com .


Another incredible bank building that has been repurposed as an elegant restaurant, Corn, is where our group visited to tour and have lunch.

We had the experience of passing through this incredible vault door, to get to the private dining area, designed for groups such as ours.  

I hope you can tell from what I have written that Cleveland is a destination that is outstanding in the variety and quality of experiences that a visitor can enjoy.  That is why I hope you will go there, so that you, like me, will "Come From Away" with "MILES OF SMILES"!!    Tricia

If you have never been to Cleveland, Ohio, you need to go!!  Likewise, if you have been to Cleveland in the past, but not recently, you need to go!!  I learned SO MUCH by talking to representatives from "Destination Cleveland".  Destination Cleveland ( destinationcle.org ) is a private, non-profit convention and visitors bureau whose mission is to drive economic impact and stimulate community vitality for Cleveland through memorable leisure, convention, and business travel experiences.  They publish a wonderful magazine , known as the Cleveland Official Visitors Guide ( www.ThisIsCleveland.com ), and have an extensive presence on twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, pinterest, and trip advisor.  Their official hashtag is #ThisisCLE