|Sunday, September 29, 2019: Tom, Debbie, and Claire were headed to Cleveland, but we took a slightly longer route so we could briefly visit the Veterans Museum in Fort Wayne.
|We had been here exactly one year earlier ...
|... but found the museum closed and this large shed locked.
|Fortunately, it was open to visitors so we were able to go inside and see the Indiana Merci Train boxcar.
|One of the museum volunteers told Debbie about the history of the Merci Train. It was all review, of course, since we have visited several of these around the country. He said that the boxcar was being renovated and that it is one of the five best condition Merci Train boxcars. We beg to differ, since nearly every one we've seen in person has been well-restored.
|If you're unfamiliar with the Merci Train's history, read all about it on this sign.
|From there, we continued east into Ohio.
|We stopped at a Dairy Queen for lunch and ate inside with Claire, but didn't get a picture of the experience.
|Claire handled the long drive fairly well. This was her first time travelling with her new foot locker - the black plastic tub at her feet that she could use as an ottoman if she wanted. We also bought a new seat cover for her seat.
|We passed a lovely mosque in ...
|We always travel with an EZPass in our car, so that came in handy on the toll road.
|This barn has the Ohio Bicentennial (2003) logo painted on it.
|This barn quoted President Rutherford B. Hayes: "The bold enterprises are the successful ones."
|There's a truck crossing ahead. We enjoy collecting interesting crossing signs.
|Here's an oil rig in the middle of a field.
|We passed this sign and sculpture for the 200th Red Horse Squadron of the Ohio Air National Guard, ...
|... just before turning into ...
|... Camp Perry.
|We were here to see another ...
|... Merci Train boxcar.
|Ohio's boxcar is in great shape. Some states display both sides of the boxcar, but Ohio only allows easy access to the front. Some states display the other side with the banner running from upper left to lower right, and the text is in French, but others opt for the side with the banner in English, like this one.
|Here's a look at one of the informational signs, ...
|... and here's the other.
|This sign is on the boxcar itself, below one of the decorative shields.
|Tom and Claire walked around the exhibit area, ...
|... and Tom admired the equipment. This is a M551 Sheridan with four grenade launchers.
|We had been in Cleveland in April, and had been on the Lake Erie Circle Tour then, but clearly, we would need to make this a future road trip and drive it all. We would also have to check out the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail.
|In Port Clinton, we stopped at Tofts Ice Cream Parlor.
|One of the murals on the wall depicted a boat named the Shirley Irene.
|The other mural contained local scenes. Here are our ice cream selections. (Claire isn't a big fan of ice cream, what with it being cold and all, so don't be concerned that she didn't get any.)
|This fake lighthouse and mural were just off to the left. But the real reason we took this picture is because of this strange green and silver truck that had been slowly driving through the parking lot since our arrival.
|Here's the front of it, once the driver finally decided to park.
|Ooooh, we would have loved to visit a place called Cheesehaven, but we still had road to cover.
|We crossed the Thomas A. Edison Memorial Bridge over Sandusky Bay.
|A while later, we were passing Huron, Ohio, where its water tower was advertising Lake Erie Shores & Islands.
|When we reached Cleveland, we spotted a Top Golf, which had to be photographed, of course.
|We drove past one of many Cleveland Clinic buildings. This one was on the Cleveland Clinic Administrative Campus.
|It was 5:00 PM when we arrived at Preston's H.O.P.E (Helping Others Play & Enjoy) next to the Mandel Jewish Community Center.
|Here's the beautiful entrance, with donor bricks paving the path ...
|... and lovely wrought iron gates ...
|... on either side.
|Preston's H.O.P.E. is an inclusive playground designed for people of all abilities to play together.
|The playground has a wonderful make-believe town where peope in wheelchairs can visit the upper levels or lower levels.
|Claire loves slides, ...
|... so she went down all of them.
|She had to try both sides of this one.
|Here's she goes again.
|There are lots of open spaces to play and everything is easy to get to on wheels.
|Here goes Claire down a spiral slide.
|Mom was right behind her, ...
|... because Claire was off to the next thing right away.
|Claire loves swings too, and this one was very spacious and supportive with a safety harness if needed.
|This is one of the lower rooms of the little village which was a place where you could "try on" outfits in the mirror.
|When we left, we passed more Cleveland Clinic buildings. This one houses a radiology department.
|We took a small detour through Shaker Heights, ...
|... past the home where Debbie had visited her college freshman year boyfriend back in the summer of 1981.
|Here's Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital.
|This is Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center.
|We passed the distinctive pink silos at Malley's Chocolates. Do they really contain sugar, milk, and cocoa? Probably not, but look how cute they are!
|We were nearing our destination when we spotted Moen headquarters, the archrival to Carmel's own Delta Faucet.
|We were staying at Aloft Cleveland Airport, ...
|... which turned out to be right across the street from Moen.
|Our room was a little small ...
|... but very modern.
|The bathroom was a vision of glass and white, and a glass panel in the toilet room let light pass between the bathroom and the bedroom.
|Pretty faucet! Of course, it was Moen brand.
|Here's our view from our hotel room.
|It was 7:00 PM and we were starving but Claire deserved to have some time on her own, so we ordered some takeout food from Red Lobster.
|Claire was happy to have a bed to recline on, ...
|... and Mom was happy to lay next to Claire while they waited for Tom to come back.
|Monday, September 30, 2019: Claire was still sleepy when we got our day started at 7:45 AM.
|Tom went out to fetch McDonald's for breakfast and came back with Cleveland Bears cups.
|We had brought Claire all this way ...
|... for a Tobii Dynavox consultation with Kourtney from Rett University. The consultation was free thanks to sponsorship but we made a donation to help cover the cost.
|We were a little early for the first session of the day, so Claire waited patiently for Kourtney to get set up.
|At 9:00, the session began. Claire watched the eye-gaze system intently.
|From our vantage point, we could see her eyes moving around the screen as Kourtney introduced the system to her.
|Claire is unable to speak and we don't know how much she understands of what we say so we were hoping that this system might help her.
|Kourtney showed Claire a picture of her own sister with Rett Syndrome, which was Claire's current diagnosis. (2020 update: Claire has now been correctly diagnosed as having Phelan-McDermid Syndrome.)
|When the session was done and Kourtney was transferring the session video to a memory card for us, Claire watched to see if Kourtney would come back.
|Here is the Tobii eye-gaze system. When Tom asked her what we did the day before, it took a few seconds but Claire finally selected "playground" with her eyes. Coincidence? Earlier in the session, when presented with a choice of Disney videos, her eyes always went immediately to the Little Mermaid, her favorite movie when she was a little girl. It appears that there is some potential here.
|When it was time to go, she let Mom give her a big hug.
|Here is a piece of equipment that Kourtney recommended. We already knew from research that it would take a while to get funding for a device, so we resolved to try to find a used device on eBay to try to see if it was worth pursuing.
|When we were leaving, Debbie spotted a guitar statue in front of the Moen building, ...
|... so we drove over for a closer look.
|On our way back, we passed the Glenn Research Center building. Someday, we'll have to visit there.
|Claire did well on the ride most of the way, happily watching DVDs. Meanwhile, Debbie was searching for used Tobii systems on eBay and bought one during the drive.
|When we got close to Tom's mom's house, we stopped at Marion's Piazza to pick up some pizzas to bring to her.
|We had a nice visit with her.
|It was the last time we saw Lucy, the mother of our cats, Tito and Spike. All three of them passed away in 2019, and Lucy was the last.
|Here's an interesting crossing sign to add to our collection.
|We only ended up getting it because we decided to take the back roads home, due to a huge accident on I-70.
|Indiana welcomed us even though we came in the side door.
|Our alternate route took us right under I-70, where traffic was at a standstill.
|At 4:00 PM, we were at Greg's work, where we met him to drop off Claire. By now, Claire was tired of being in a car, so she had started to stomp her feet and wail. Having a change of scenery in her dad's car was just what she needed.
|Just before we got home, we picked up a birthday cake at Taylor's Bakery because we had to throw a quick birthday dinner for cousin Sharlot that evening.
** THE END **
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy