What comes to mind when you think of Cleveland?
Go ahead, I'll wait..
[insert sounds of crickets chirping]
..Not much, right? Except for some really bad sports teams, the city does not evoke many powerful or memorable images. Back in the late 80's when I worked as a Loan Officer for the Ohio Department of Economic Development, I had the opportunity to visit Cleveland half a dozen times. As I reflect back on those days, two things come to mind (1) it was a city in decay and (2) they rolled up the streets and turned out the lights at 5:00pm.
Returning almost thirty years later, I was quite interested to see if the city had transformed itself. ..Sadly, it had not, but more on that a later.
When we rolled into town, we chose to stay at Streetboro KOA, south east of the city.
I wish I had good things to say about this campground, but I don't. They put us in a really bad location (when better sites were available) and when it rained the water pooled around our RV.
Feeling like Noah stepping from his ark, we had to tread carefully while entering and exiting our RV. Even though we weren't far from the front office, nobody stopped by to offer assistance. If management had offered to bring us lumber or apologized for the inconvenience, we would have chalked this up to just bad luck (part of the experience of RVing), but no hand was offered. And when we complained, management tried to wash their hands of responsibility by snidely replying "we cannot control the weather!" Um.. NO, but you can control the grading of your sites! To make matters worse, I was stung by a bee when I opened the electric panel! Seems they had also taken up residence at this location!
Given these issues, Lorraine and I give this campground two thumbs DOWN!
Now, onto Cleveland!
..The city OF ..the city of
um.. well, the birthplace of the term "Rock 'N' Roll".
So, our first stop was the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame:
Although not fanatical about any bands in particular, we really enjoyed our visit here. The museum has done a very nice job of laying out the progression of rock and roll music, from it's bluesy origin (going back to the 1930's) to what it has evolved into today. There are many excellent exhibits, old video clips, and lots of music memorabilia. We probably spent about four hours walking through the four floors.
Here are a few of the pictures I took while there:
The iconic collarless outfit worn by the Beatles
who else, but Sonny and Cher!
I found the passage below very revealing about the man:
It is interesting to see someone so famous struggle with the question of "why me?" At times I have struggled with this same issue except it is usually more like "Why me!? Why does this always happen to me??" ;)
They had lots of Michael Jackson memorabilia
his iconic glove.
My pictures don't even scratch the surface of what we saw while there. Spending time here was a fascinating stroll through music history.
USS COD MEMORIAL:
The only submarine to participate in an international sub-to-sub rescue in history!
Right next to the Rock And Roll museum was the World-War II era submarine the USS COD. One of her many accomplishments, was to participate in the only international sub-to-sub rescue in history!
During the war she sank 12 enemy vessels totaling more than 37,000 tons, and damaging another 36,000 tons of enemy shipping. All seven of her war patrols were considered successful and the Cod was awarded seven battle stars.
Interesting story: If you look at her conning tower, you will see a decal of a cocktail glass:
This special honor was awarded her by the crew of a Dutch sub, the 0-19.
In July, 1945, the Dutch sub ran aground on a coral reef in the South China Sea. A sitting duck for enemy aircraft and unable to free herself, the sub sent out a distress call and the next day the USS COD rushed to her assistance.
At great risk her own safety, the COD tried for two days to free the sub to no avail. A decision was made to destroy the 0-19. After bringing her crew aboard, demolition charges were placed and the sub was scuttled.
The combined crew of 153 men, lived in close quarters for several days until they were safely delivered to a naval base in the Philippines. The crews said their good-byes and the COD returned to her patrol station.
A month later, when the COD sailed into Fremantle, Australia for refueling, they were greeted by the crew of 0-19, who threw a party for their rescuers. During the celebration, word came over the radio that the Japanese had surrendered. To canonize this special moment, the symbol was added to her battle flag!
(Apparently, you can still see the 0-19 during low tide as seen on this youtube video.)
The USS COD became an adopted member of the Dutch Onderzeedienst (submarine service).
The sub-to-sub rescue is commemorated every year aboard the COD with a reenactment of the transfer of the Dutch flag aboard the US sub, and as a celebration of the enduring friendship between two submarine crews, and two great nations.
Here are some shots from the inside the sub:
Strolling through the narrow hallways, and seeing the difficult conditions under which these sailors lived, life aboard a sub must have been very difficult. Add the fact that this ship was aggressively stalked and fired upon numerous times by the Japanese (which included two very serious depth-charger attacks and one strafing from a Japanese warplane), and a picture emerges of the bravery and daring of these young men.
I found it humbling to walk the same corridors that these brave, and I imagine terrified, men once trod.
THE CITY OF CLEVELAND:
Sadly, the city seems to have had very little economic growth since last I visited. The downtown looked the same. The streets were just as empty. There was very little "new" to this tired city, located in the heart of the Rust Belt. It is still mired in the past. After doing a little research, I found that the city population has declined by nearly 25% since the nineties.
Here is a picture of the city taken from the Rock and Roll museum.
Here's where the Cleveland Indians play.
This is the downtown, taken at around 5:30pm on a weekday.
After strolling the streets trying to find a place to get dinner, we gave up and decided to leave before they rolled up the streets!
If you're ever in this area, we recommend hiking the Blue Hen Falls Trail. It's a lovely five mile hike through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that culminates at a beautiful 15 foot waterfall.
It's a great place to cool your feet before returning to the parking lot.
After our four day stay, we packed up and headed off to Michigan. But more on that in my next blog.