We woke up early in Pittsburgh and headed out to “The Wilds“. The Wilds is one of the largest research and conservation centers in the world. They study all sorts of animals in an expansive environment where animals have wide open ranges to roam. The animals that you see here act more like they would in the wild than those at a zoo. We were really excited to take an open-air safari around the 10,000 acre preserve. The only down side is that it was raining pretty hard in Pittsburg and was supposed to be raining all day in Cumberland, Ohio (The Wilds) as well. We called the park to see how this would work in the rain. The gentleman I spoke to let me know they go out on safaris rain or shine and that some animals really like the rain because it cools them down. Well, it made sense to us so we were on our way. It was a two hour drive to The Wilds and Christina drove the way there. As we were going through Ohio we were noticing that most of the main roads were 1 lane roads twisting through the countryside and the speed limit was 55mph. Surprisingly, Christina actually had a difficult time maintaining a good pace through here. I don’t know if anyone could drive on these roads at 55mph the whole way; it was dangerous.
After a two hour drive we were at the wilds and it had stopped raining. It need up not raining the rest of our day and our safari was nice and dry. Our safari was about 2-2.5 hours long and went through some of the different areas of the park. We were able to see some really neat animals behaving as they naturally would, and some not so. Some of the animals there were native to the United States and are protected while others have come from all over the world and now roam the plains of Ohio. Our safari ride was on an open-aired bus, with no glass windows just a canvas roof above us. Right off the bat we got to see a few animals as soon as our bus got through the gate. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park. They had double gates where the bus had to drive through one gate and wait for it to close and then drive through the next gate. (SPOILER) I guess they don’t want and Rhinoceros getting out and running through Ohio.
We were able to see all sorts of animals in The Wilds. There were a few different type of herd animals, most of which I don’t remember the exact names of them. Just a few minutes into our drive we did get to some a couple rhinoceros. They were just walking around hanging out like nothing was going on. If they wanted to they could have run right up to our bus. The Wilds tries to have a hands off approach with their animals and tries to study them as if they we actually in the wild. The Bus driver, Rosie, kept reminding us as animals got close to keep our hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. You never know what may happen when in the wild. As we drove through the grounds we came across some pretty neat animals. There were zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, and more. You’ll see all of the different animals in our photos.
We were at The Wilds only for the afternoon then headed off to Wellington, OH at Findley State Park. This is where we were camping for the next two nights. This was Christina’s first real camping experience! We got to our campsite pretty late at night it was about 8pm and we had yet to eat dinner so we were both starving and had to set up all of our camping equipment. We ended up getting our tent set up and got the grill going to make burgers for dinner. I also tried to get a camp fire going for the night, but it did not end up going so well. Since I didn’t have time to prepare we only have bigger logs that we bought and they just wouldn’t light very well. We ended up heading to bed because we needed to start the next day early.
When we woke up we got our things together and headed to Cleveland. We were meeting a friend of Christina’s, Ali, who she worked with in 2010 in China. We met her at the West Side Market in Ohio City, Cleveland, where they have a farmers market that runs a few days a week. It was closed there on the Sunday we were in town so there was free parking for us just behind the market. It seems like Cleveland was all about local grown and organic items. We ended up going for brunch at Town Hall, a really nice little restaurant that offered a nice hipster sort of atmosphere.
After lunch we headed to the heart of the city where Ali showed us 4th street. This is where there are a bunch of shops and smaller restaurants and cafés, including the first ever House of Blues! We checked out a few shops as Christina and I were looking for a souvenir to get from each state. After 4th street we headed to Terminal Tower to go up to the observation deck and get some aerial views of the city.
After Terminal Tower Ali showed us the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We decided against going through the tour. Christina and I needed to find a spot with free WiFi so we could book where we would be staying the next day. Ali had to head back so Christina and I headed back to 4th street where I saw a cafe we could sit at. We ended up grabbing our coffees and decided to see what we could find for the next day.
Overall Ohio was really fun and we got to see some really neat things and learn some good info. Did you know Life Savers were created by a chocolate shop owner looking to sell something during the hot summer months? If you are ever considering going over this way I would definitely recommend going to the Wilds. It is much better than any zoo I had been to before.
Now are off to our next state!