This is my fourth post about our adventure traveling through Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can find the first post from this trip here and links to all the other educational US travel our family has done here.
Because I blog about educational travel, I received free admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the hotels and attractions we visited throughout the trip. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone. I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I whole-heartedly recommend. If you notice any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love a particular hotel, attraction, or restaurant enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.
When planning our itinerary, I hadn't planned on Toledo at first. But once I started investigating what was there, it became a must-visit. Our first stop was at the Toledo Art Museum.
... to Julian Schnabel's Portrait of a Freedom Fighter made with broken ceramic plates.
This piece is intarsia, like my dad does...
I'm kicking myself for not writing down the title or artist. Look at the detail!
We were pleasantly surprised to see that this gorgeous chess set had a "Please touch" sign by it. It took awhile, but Trevor beat Steve.
As cool as the Main Museum is, the Glass Pavilion is what we'd really come to see. After all, Toledo is the Glass City.
I love these whimsical birds.
The detail on this glass deli was absolutely unbelievable. It's about 12" across the base, to give you a sense of scale.
Here's a wearable dress and functional parasol made of spun glass. I had no idea that was possible!
For lunch, we headed to Tony Packo's. Perhaps you've heard of it?
Tony Packo's is famous for three things: M*A*S*H, hot dog buns, and amazingly delicious Hungarian food.
Jamie Farr's character, Cpl. Klinger, first mentioned Packo's in an episode that aired in 1976. Klinger said, "If you are ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo's got the greatest Hungarian hot dogs." In five additional episodes, including the finale, Klinger reminisced about his hometown of Toledo and his beloved Tony Packo's.
Did you notice the hot dog buns on the wall behind the M*A*S*H character cut outs? The tradition of bun signing began in 1972 with Burt Reynolds, who was at Packo's after a performance. When someone asked for an autograph, he signed a hot dog bun! Since then, hundreds of celebrities have signed hot dog buns, which are displayed at Packo's. For the first few years, they signed actual buns, but only two remain (Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale). Now they sign foam replicas. It's so much fun scanning the walls for familiar names. They're not grouped or organized in any logical manner that I could see.
So how was the food? I'm happy to report that Tony Packo's deserves all the hype! We tried the Hungarian Dog, the American Dog, and the Chicken Soup with Hungarian Dumplings and they were all fantastic.
After lunch, we headed a short distance down the street to the National Museum of the Great Lakes.
It includes a traditional museum, plus the Col. James A. Schoonmaker Museum.
We went into the main museum and asked the helpful woman at the desk whether we should start with the museum or the ship. "The ship," she answered. "It's sunny out now and you never know when the weather might shift." Now, for some of you, that sounds perfectly reasonable. We're from California. The weather doesn't really shift. Sunny days stay sunny and rainy days stay rainy, for the most part. We would never in a million years think that the blue sky pictured above could possibly mean rain was coming, or that rain was even a reasonable possibility at the end of July. That just doesn't happen here. But I've learned to always trust locals, so we toured the ship first.
To be honest, I'm not a ship person. Steve is, so we've toured a number of them. I usually find them interesting for 5-10 minutes and then I'm done, but this was not the case at all with the Schoonmaker. It was really interesting and very well-signed. Instead of wandering aimlessly, there was directional tape on the floor to tell us where to go next. Not only did this direct us, but it eliminated congestion on ladders and such, since usually each was only one way.
After we finished the ship tour, we headed indoors to the museum. It was fantastic! Rarely does a museum manage to appeal to a wide variety of ages, but the National Museum of the Great Lakes has lots for kids to do and adults to read... and vice versa!
Trevor and I LOVED this boiler display. You were supposed to throw foam pieces of 'coal' into the boiler to maintain enough pressure to run the ship, but not so much as to cause an explosion. It was actually really challenging... and exhausting! We each tried a few times, then things went downhill a bit. In the photo below, he's cheating, alternately throwing the coal into the return slot and then at me, laughing the whole time.
Sending Morse Code. What important, top-secret message did Trevor send to me? "Hello there." Really? I was hoping for "Land ho!" or "Abandon ship!" or something vaguely nautical.
So it turns out that early life jackets were made of material that didn't float for very long. That is unfortunate.
All three of us loved the National Museum of the Great Lakes. We explored everything it had to offer and learned so much. I hope we can go back someday.
Guess what we saw when we headed outside to the car?
The downpour only lasted about 5 minutes and then we had sun again for most of our 2-hour drive to Cleveland. Crazy! How do people deal with weather that changes so rapidly?! By employing a "tour the ship first" mentality, I guess!
Tomorrow, all about Cleveland.