Hotel continental breakfasts leave a lot to be desired, but free is also good. Did I mention that yesterday’s Museum of Science in Buffalo and today’s Museum of Natural History in Cleveland were free? To us, that is. I saved $50-$60 each time because of reciprocal membership benefits with Montreal’s Science Centre. A little burst of happiness. It’s also pretty funny to see the blank stare on the faces of museum staff when you give them your “zip code” that has letters in it.

We made it to the Museum of Natural History by 10:30. We also caught up with this spring/summer weather we were expecting. In Buffalo, it was cold. Much colder than Montreal. The kids looked like they might cry when I told them I had packed t-shirts. I promised to buy them souvenir sweatshirts if they needed them, but thank God, when we arrived in Cleveland, it was 18 degrees again.

turtle exhibitThe first exhibit we looked at was about turtles. There was a fun video that gave the kids an idea of what it would be like to be a sea turtle. To film the video, scientists had attached a camera to a turtle, so the footage was good. We spent a couple minutes examining turtle shells and building our own turtle shell out of blocks before moving to the special exhibit: The Power of Poison.

NeroZahra’s last issue of Muse focused on poisons, and so we were well prepared for this exhibit. It was really well done! We “met” famous people from history who used poison to stay in power. We wandered through a jungle to find out about poisons in the natural environment, of both animal and plant varieties. We explored an array of scenes depicting poisons in literature, including Harry PotterMacbeth and Alice in Wonderland. Then we studied three different scenes where an animal or person had been poisoned and worked backwards from their symptoms and clues on the scene to find what had poisoned them. Very cool!

 

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After lunch, we walked through the dinosaur hall and continued into the mammal hall. Finally, we found what we had been anticipating for weeks: Balto! In the winter, we had a dog sledding day with a homeschool group. It’s there that we first learned about Balto, the real-life sled dog who had led a team in the worst of conditions to deliver a life-saving serum to a remote town in Alaska. The serum saved many people from dying from diphtheria. We also learned that, later, a businessman visiting California found that Balto and his team were being mistreated by their handlers in California. The man went back to his hometown of Cleveland to raise money to buy Balto and his team. He succeeded and brought the dogs back to Cleveland. When Balto died, his body was stuffed and mounted at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. And there we were!

Balto

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We checked out the small, adjoining planetarium before going back outside to plug the meter and run around in the park. The Museum of Natural History sits on a circular road with other museums, namely the art museum, the history museum and the botanical gardens. I asked the kids if they wanted to see the Pharaoh exhibit at the Museum of Art, and of course they did. We donned audio guides and made our way through the exhibit. Leila lost interest about a quarter of the way through, giving up her audio guide and asking to be held. But I was surprised at Zahra and Noah who listened attentively to their guides most of the way through. Zahra thanked me for taking them there; I think she was really impressed with this particular special exhibit.

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We were too exhausted to visit the permanent collection, so we piled into the car and made our way to our hotel in Columbus, two and a half hours away. This hotel is so wonderfully located in the German Village. So after dropping our bags, we hit the streets. First find: a walk-in hairdresser, so…why not? I got my hair cut. Of course, the hair dresser was full of information. When we left, we followed his advice, walking around the German Village along cobblestone streets, peeking into gorgeous postage-stamp-sized private gardens, happening upon a pretty church and a book shop, and finally eating dinner at the original Max & Erma’s. The hairdresser told us it’s a chain in these parts now, but that this particular location is the original. We had hamburgers.

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Then, we scurried back to the hotel, just in front of the rain to watch TV and get ready for bed. Tomorrow, we hit the Columbus Museum of Science & Industry before finally making it to our final destination!IMG_7545