Cleveland Skyline

Cleveland was the first major stop of our journey and we made the most of it, visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Natural History Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center. After our rocky departure from Flint, we discovered in Cleveland that our story resonated with many people and could open doors for us as we traveled.

Here is a  journal entry from October 5 as we headily made our way to our first major venue:

Oct 5, 1996

Left the “service center” about 10:30 am. Could not find the hose extension to drain the motorhome. Everything went well today. We went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, told our story about our adventure and mentioned the Web site. A wonderful woman, Tracy Burdand, gave us free passes. We were very happy, if we can make that happen for our excursion we can see and do much more.

The Hall of Fame was in a beautiful building… six floors high, right on the water, gorgeous.  It would have cost $12.95 for adults and $6.95 for kids.We spent a couple of hours there, went back (two blocks) to our motorhome, parked outside the municipal stadium and had lunch. It was a gorgeous day, about 65 degrees. We stopped into the Great Lakes Science Center and talked to several people trying to sell our trip to gain free admission. Andrew McDowell gave us a wonderful tour of the facilities.

We left about 5 p.m., ended up in Berea and parked at a city parking lot in back of the police department. We walked into town, it had a small private college and was very quiet and nice.

We continue to have problems with the motorhome. The generator is acting finicky and earlier this evening stalled again. Right now the trick is to start it with the engine running???? I am concerned with all the problems we are experiencing. I know we will get more experienced and learn about our new home, but like Betsy mentioned maybe you have to be more mechanical to do this adventure. Without a generator we are dead in the water.

Hopefully we can build on the positive things that are happening…

Time to do dishes and I will try to make a business card and maybe a flier describing our odyssey.

Our confidence growing, we walked into the Great Lakes Science Center went to the front desk and asked for someone from their media department. We spilled a now-practiced story about traveling the country on an Internet-based educational adventure, our children attending a charter school in Northern Michigan via the Internet, and building a Web site as we traveled so that students everywhere could connect and learn more about our country. And that we would appreciate free passes and mention their center as a contributor. Their response was enthusiastic. We were in.

Original Photo. Back stage at Science Center

They took us back stage into their offices where we chatted up our project and showed them the Web site we were developing. Our site was being hosted by one of our prime sponsors, North Central Michigan College .

The Science Center had just opened its doors  a few months prior in July. The people there were enthusiastic about what they were doing and took a real interest in our project.

We spent the next few hours touring the facility.

At our second stop, the Museum of Natural History, we introduced ourselves, described our story and were given free passes. It was that easy. We even asked to use a telephone line  to connect to the Internet.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

The picture never fades of our family huddled at the front information desk, using the museum’s phone line to connect via our laptop to transfer data for our Web site, answer and send emails, all the while handing out information packets to visitors who must have wondered what the hell was going on. Pretty soon we could direct visitors to the various exhibits as well as anyone. It was just a hilarious scene.

Later, when we were allowed to park in their gated parking lot that night, as the gate securely locked behind us, we started to think we had something special going on. We even found an electrical box to plug our motorhome into so we could have lights and power throughout the night. A little touch of heaven…

A journal entry from that evening, Sunday Oct. 6, 1996,  7 p.m.

Great day today. Slow start as we did not get out of Berea until 10:30 a.m. Came to Cleveland directly but had some difficulty finding the Museum of Natural History. Parked in their parking lot and went directly to the only “official” on duty the infamous security chief. Terry was very helpful, gave us free passes and let us use the phone line at the information desk for an extended period of time. I did not get the pictures sent yet… Trouble with the MCI software. Hopefully tomorrow at the science center before we leave town.

I t was a beautiful day with a high around 70. Many people enjoying the day in the park across the street that was connected to the Botanical gardens. University Circle contains the cultural attractions and is a beautiful setting. Terry gave us permission to park here tonight and we will go back to the science center for a full visit at 9:30 in the morning.

Betsy called the Cleveland Plain Dealer and they may send a reporter in the morning. We will leave for Maine in the afternoon.

Cleveland will forever be etched in our minds as the place that gave us confidence to move on. We still tell people to forget the reputation, put aside the derision — Cleveland is a great place to visit!


Mark Blondin,