Once again, work necessitated that I drive somewhere new for another trade show. I made my reservations as usual, but on this glorious occasion, Enterprise had very little available on the lot. ‘Would you mind taking a free upgrade to a 2015 Ford Mustang?’ ‘No problem. That’ll be alright.’ The thing was banana yellow and had a bit more pep to it than did my oh so practical hybrid.
On this particular day, I was transporting a kiwi friend in from Sydney who just coincidentally was planning a visit to Cleveland herself. Having someone to share the drive with made the trip far less boring, and of course it saved her a brush with a Grayhound. Even better was the chance to swing north into Michigan for a quick visit to my hometown of Holland. We did a whirlwind tour through the downtown and Hope College’s campus, Holland State Park, and then joined my family and grandpa for dinner and dominoes. It was a bit of a detour, but worthwhile. Finally some 5 hours later we rolled on into an fairly impressive looking city. I really didn’t know what Cleveland would be like, and was pleasantly pleased by the accessibility of the downtown area. We met to walk around before I had to hit Wooster for some booth time. One point of curiosity was a particularly large stamp that defied practicality.
Cleveland’s most famous tourist draw is of course the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I assume that you like me were wondering why they would choose this city in which to build a monument with such universal appeal. Turns out that at the time of construction, Cleveland was the 7th largest city in the USA (Currently down to 48th) and more importantly, it was in this city that DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase ‘Rock and Roll’ way back in 1951. Not sure who designed this hodgepodge of a structure, but it sat proudly right on Lake Erie.
We were there when the doors opened, and spent a couple of hours working through the various exhibits. It was a great mix of music history both old and new, and had loads of noteworthy memorabilia on display. John’s Sgt. Pepper’s suit was an intriguing example. There were exhibits on all the great acts from every generation, as well as some of the other aspects of the music industry. Roger Water’s iconic ‘Wall’ caught my eye.
After the day’s Wooster time, I returned to meet Hannah and a couple of her friends. One of the guys was a fellow teacher from during our time in Japan, so it was good seeing him again. We swung into a couple of the local bars that night, and my favorite was definitely Great Lakes Brewing Company. This is one of the larger regional craft breweries that has distribution into other states. It’s nice to get some of those recognizable beers from the source, and their Edmund Fitzgerald Porter was my obvious choice. After seeing a few leg lamps in windows during my short time there, it was a definite ‘aha’ moment when I realized that ‘A Christmas Story’ had been filmed here back in ’83.
There was a bit more to do down in Wooster, but just as soon as possible I was heading toward home. All of the first hour was spent tearing through rural villages and roads. This was a fun drive, and really gave the sense that I was in authentic Ohio. Most of the radio stations were either Christian or country. Nothing to see but crops and barns. Once back on the freeway, the rest of the drive continued on uneventfully and eventually I was back to Chicago. Prior to this little excursion I had only ever been to Cedar Point, so getting just a bit more of what this state had to offer was worth the effort, and better than a cubicle.