It’s been a fairly quiet week out here on the road this week. After leading an exciting tour for my old tour company, I needed a little bit of time to relax and get back into the swing of things as I prepare for a busy fall season. It’s cooling down and I’m looking forward to fall colors and apple cider. While I spent a few days out in and around Sandusky, my week started and ended in the greater Cleveland area. Cleveland is definitely a city of neighborhoods, and while it hasn’t struck me as hard as Cincinnati did, it has grown on me. It seems there are little hidden secrets around every corner and I’ve only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.
I started my week with an evening in Chagrin Falls. Chagrin Falls is a charming village on the far outskirts of the Cleveland suburbs. It gets its name from the small but pleasant waterfall which flows right through the center of town. Surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants, I just enjoyed wandering around town and taking some photos.
The next day I spent at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame down by the waterfront. I really enjoyed the museum portion of this attraction, and most notably its "Early Influencer" section. This section looked deep into the influences which culminated in the genre we now call "Rock and Roll". The first three people recognized in this section were Robert Johnson, Jimmy Yancy and Jimmie Rodgers, decisions I agree with completely. It was nice to see them pay tribute to this evolution, and not just pretend that people woke up one day and Elvis was king. There was some pretty rockin' music happening in the thirties and forties if you were paying attention.
Beyond that, there were some really great artifacts and exhibits throughout the building. Some of the outfits were great to see, and it was fascinating to see some of the music of my youth enshrined behind glass. There was a great section on Rock and Roll pinball machines, which they gave you two free tokens to play. There was also a great section on music of the Midwest and also on Cleveland specifically. I spent most of my time on the bottom level, as there wasn't as much of interest to me in the upper levels. The Hall of Fame itself was pretty understated, more resembling a hallway than a hall. The grand Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville definitely pays more tribute to its inductees than the tiny plaques presented here. I think they could do better.
After a full day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I spent the evening wandering around downtown Cleveland. I stopped into a few bars for a few beers, and eventually found myself down in The Flats. The Flats is an old industrial section of town under some of Cleveland's big bridges. It has some cool old buildings and a quiet and relaxed vibe to it. I enjoyed taking some photos there before wandering back downtown. The Terminal Tower building is such a cool old Art-Deco style building and it was so pretty lit up at night.
The next day I spent taking some more photos in The Flats and then wandered around the Tremont neighborhood. I enjoyed stopping in at the house used in the filming of the holiday classic A Christmas Story. I also found a really cool old Russian Orthodox Church, St. Theodosius, which had some amazing onion domes. It looked really familiar, but it was only later that I found out it was the filming location for the wedding scenes in the film The Deer Hunter (which I referenced in my post on celebrating Orthodox Easter which you can read HERE). I had a great Polish lunch at the iconic Sokolowski's University Inn, complete with some live piano music.
From there, I headed out to spend the night in Sandusky, getting up the next day to head to the roller coaster capital of the world: Cedar Point. One of Ohio's most beloved attractions, I hadn't been there in years. I was determined to get a whole day in at the park before it closed down for the season. Purchasing tickets online definitely saved me a few bucks, but I wish I had seen that they offer a combo ticket with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a rainy Saturday, but I got there right when the park opened. Unfortunately, it seems like Cedar Point has gone the way of too many other things these days. They charge a premium for front-of-the-line passes ($95 on top of your regular ticket), so the huddled masses wait patiently in line while the gleeful Platinum Ticket holders run straight past. The roller coasters are still awesome, but this will probably be my last trip there. I was there for the nine hours it was open, spent my entire day in line and rode maybe 6 roller coasters. For me, it's just not worth what I spent on it. Thankfully after the park closed I had a great and well priced meal and a few beers at the Sail In pub in Sandusky.
I was hoping to spend Sunday out at Put-In Bay but the weather wasn't very cooperative. All the ferries were cancelled for the whole day, so I ended up catching up on some sleep (who doesn't like napping in the rain?) and also on some work in the Huron Library. The storm just built through the day - it was one of those rains you can only get near water. Thankfully it’s cooled off quite a bit, especially with the wind blowing in off the lake, so I spent the evening cozy and dry and warm in my van.
The weather was a little better on Monday and I drove out to Catawba Island and got the ferry to the island. It was only about a 20 minute ride, and even though the sky was still grey and rainy, the lake was nice and calm and the ride was easy. From the ferry dock I caught the bus downtown and was off and running. My first stop was the visitors center for Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. This site, run by the National Park Service, commemorates the battle for Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and the peace which has existed between the U.S., Canada and Great Britain since. The film and museum were really good, but it was a little too cloudy out to justify the $7 to go up in the memorial itself. I’m sure on a sunny day the view is pretty awesome though. As I was walking around outside, there were monarch butterflies everywhere. The park ranger said he had never seen so many there. They were very cool.
From there, I wandered down the coast a little ways, and then stopped in at The Boathouse for a beer and a snack. They had some Italian stuffed banana peppers which were amazing. From there, I did a little pub crawl through town, stopping in first at the Put-in-Bay Brewery for a pint of stout. From there I stopped in at Hooligans and then went to Mossbacks for some of the best fresh perch I’ve ever had. The bartender was awesome and there were some really nice couples there from the Akron area. We talked and laughed for a while. I popped down to the Roundhouse for a quick one before catching the bus back to the boat and heading back to the mainland. While it was a grey and rainy off-season Monday, I still really enjoyed my visit to Put-In Bay, and can definitely imagine how much fun it must be in the summer. It is somewhere I will definitely be returning to at some point.
On Tuesday I headed back to Cleveland and stopped into Presti’s Bakery for some Stromboli for lunch. It was really delicious. From there, I went over to the Cleveland Museum of Art to check out their wonderful permanent collection. They had some really beautiful pieces and I enjoyed my time there. From there, I meandered over to the library in Coventry where I got some work done. I wandered around a bit and listened to a bit of music at The Grog Shop before calling it a night.
Wednesday I headed out to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I had a wonderful day strolling the old Erie and Ohio Canal towpath and checking out some of the historic buildings and beautiful waterfalls. I got some great photos which I will post soon and enjoyed a quiet day in the park. I finished the day at spectacular Brandywine Falls before heading out to nearby Huron to finish this post before calling it a day.
This coming week I will spend in north central Ohio. I’m excited for the Little C Music Festival this weekend in Canton and also to check out the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I’ll spend some time in Kent and in Akron and hopefully see some of Ohio’s Amish Country before heading west to Mansfield and then north towards Toledo. I’ll be working on my second Ohio podcast this week and trying to get back into the habit of regular blog posts. By the time we meet back here next week, I will be starting to plan my move south towards Kentucky.
Between the anniversary of September 11th this week, and the hurricanes which are aiming for the Carolinas, it’d be a great week for us to be united instead of divided. This week everyone try and lend a kind word or a hand to somebody - you might just find it brings you more joy and happiness than you expected. Be good to each other this week.