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Another Trip. Another Beer. Another Stamp. Part 1

Just what the title of this post implies, Kit and I went on our 9th trip so far this year. The destinations this time? The beautiful and lush landscapes of Cleveland, Ohio and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Maybe Cleveland wasn’t as beautiful or as lush as Bora Bora, but maybe just as interesting.

I didn’t actually accomplish any list items during the trip per se. What I did do though is work closer to my goals of filling up my passport and having a beer in every state. And both places are interesting enough to merit their own postings. So, here is part 1. My travel guide to Cleveland.

Cleveland ROCKS!!!!… Kinda.


Driving through Pennsylvania on a major highway is a test of one’s ability to cope with an insane amount of utter boredom. The scenery, rest stops and almost endless amounts of exits defy all that is great about road trips. Go ahead and picture yourself and your closest friends out on the open road, listening to great music, the wind in your hair. Picture the endless fun you and your friends are having on this road trip.

I can almost guarantee interstate 80 was not part of your idea about what a fun road trip is. But it’s not interstate 80′s fault. It’s not even the good people of Pennsylvania’s fault. It’s not even your fault. I blame the monotonous drive on truckers. Maybe not truckers so much, but the corporations that need trucks and roads to get products quickly to other places.

Kit and I spent the entire trip out to Ohio looking for the worlds’ largest ball of twine, or the worlds’ largest ham sandwich. Or any other horrible roadside tourist trap. But, they don’t exist on I-80. Nothing but Pilot truck stops or nothingness that is rural Pennsylvania. Our dreams of experiencing the wonder that is a piece of toast with the image of Jesus next to the petrified forest will have to wait til the next road trip.

Arriving in Ohio was nothing short of exhilarating compared to Pennsylvania. A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. Even though at first glance it looks remarkably similar to Pennsylvania’s landscape, Ohio has a 65 mph speed limit and encourages slower traffic to get the hell out-of-the-way of faster and more manly speeding cars.

After 11 hours of driving and a few close calls of running out of gas trying to find a rural towns one and only gas station (BTW Newton Falls, Ohio is a nice town. Build another gas station please. One that is not 13 miles away from the highway. Thank you, Danny.) we arrived safely and exhausted in Cleveland’s downtown district only to find out the Cleveland Indians had just finished a game and had told all of their fans in attendance to leave at the same time as we were driving down Prospect street. Thank you very much members of the tribe! That’s why Jack Parkman was happy when he was traded to the White Sox.*

I know many of you are wondering what exactly is there to do in The Cleve. Well, according to tripadvisor.com, aside from visiting a museum or taking a small tour around the city not much. Well, not much compared to other big city like Sandusky, or Kalamazoo. But, a glimmer of hope is found when you learn that the same house that was used in the filming of  “A Christmas Story” still exist and is in fact a museum in present day Cleveland. So, that’s what we did. We went on a tour of the Christmas Story house.

And by pure luck, we visited the same time Ian Petrella was on hand to answer all of our Christmas story questions. (I know, I had no idea who Ian Petrella was either. He played Randy in the film. I would have much rather have met Ralphie, but an out of work actor gotta eat right? The highlight of the tour for me was about half way through “Randy’s” speech about working on the set of A Christmas story an elderly women stood up said,”ok, that’s enough” and walked away. The look on “Randy’s ” face was priceless, the look on the rest of tour groups face was even better and the look of embarrassment on the faces of the family members she was with was über-priceless.

The tour is definitely worth it. It’s cheaper than the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, which is a rip-off and visiting the house in the morning and then spending your afternoon in the Great Lakes science center is a fun-filled day for the entire family.

What I wanted to know about Cleveland was what’s the drinking scene like? Is it boring? Is it awesome? Will I meet some celebrity? What will the discoteca be like? Creepy? sleazy? Babe-o-licious?

Yes.

The drinking scene in The Cleve is a lot like the drinking scene around most of the country and maybe the world. It is what you make it out to be. If you like your drinks served in a dark neighborhood bar where no one is going to bother you, The Map room is the place for you. If you are a 20 something year old Romanian club rat and enjoy getting hit on by men 3 times your age wearing 6 times more perfume than yourself, The Velvet Dog is your oasis.

Kit and I partook in both scene. It’s worth it to step out of your own comfort zone every once and awhile even if it’s for some quick people watching in the latter bar.

This was my attempt at recreating a school portrait shot.

Highlights of the trip:

Christmas story house.

Meeting Greg Proops (Very nice guy, even after me badgering him for 20 minutes to admit/agree that Drew Carey ruined “Who’s Line is it Anyway”)**

Watching no less than 15 guys take turns hitting on the same 2 girls seated next to us in The velvet dog.

Meeting a few new friends out on the road. (Ola we promise we will send you the pictures of yourself and Greg. Luke I promise I will mail you the rugby shirt I stole.)

So, Cleveland might not rock as hard as some may thing, and the heart of rock and roll might not be beating as strongly as Huey Lewis might like you to think, but for all its worth, Cleveland is a chill city with some down to earth party people. Worth the trip.

*It’s a Major league 2 reference. Sadly that movie and all its baseball players are all I can tell you about a Cleveland sports team.

** Greg is too nice of a guy to even admit Wayne Brady sucks.

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September 4, 2010   No Comments