White Holidays – Day 120

White Holidays

Day 120 – July 29, 2003 – Tuesday

Today’s itinerary: Detroit, Michigan to Toledo, Ohio to Cleveland to Erie, Pennsylvania. 34,164 on the odometer as Week 18 began. Ohio became state #35. Pennsylvania was #36.

Bozzie Jane has left me alone for a while. I took her to the Detroit airport this morning so she could fly off to be with family. I hope she will rejoin the trip Round America in either Boston, New York, or Washington, DC.

There was nothing to see from Detroit to Toledo. There was nothing to see in Toledo. What I saw of Toledo was ugly. I’m thinking Ohio should let Michigan annex Toledo, as Toledo is just out of place in the pretty state of Ohio. While Michigan is handling this, they should allow Wisconsin to annex the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as it makes no sense for the UP to be part of Michigan; it logically fits with Wisconsin. The one other change I would make is to let North Dakota annex the western part of South Dakota, so North Dakota (where we really liked the people all over the state) could have the popular tourist attractions that South Dakota enjoys.

My Dad worked at WTOL Radio in Toledo in the 40’s. He reports it wasn’t regarded as a nice place to live back then. I’m sure there are nice parts of Toledo, but my Dad didn’t see them 60 years ago, and I didn’t see them today.

The drive from Toledo to Cleveland along Lake Erie passes home after home backing up to the lake. Another snoozer of a drive. The farmland in Ohio is, however, very pretty. Ohio is a nice state. We lived in Ohio by accident from 1994 to 2001. In 1992, I was recruited to be President of a European company that was headquartered in Chester, England. The company was acquired by a much larger company headquartered in Cleveland. In 1994, I was promoted to President of one of the two divisions of the parent company (Advanstar), and we were moved from England to Cleveland. We had never spent any time in Cleveland, but our impression was that it was a horrible place. We were totally wrong. We loved it in Cleveland! Wonderful people — best neighbors we have ever had — great staff with which to work — an organization called New Clevelanders that Barbara joined that enabled her to establish many wonderful friendships — a great baseball team — and a city that was revitalizing downtown and building fabulous new sports stadiums and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I even liked the climate. I prefer it cool or cold rather than warm or hot, and the White Christmases were a treat. I even enjoyed the White Halloween, White Thanksgiving, White Boxing Day, White New Year’s, White Valentines Day, White St. Patrick’s Day, and White Easter.

So I was happy to roll into Cleveland. I drove straight to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a nice museum, though it could be several times the size it is. The special exhibit was U2. There was also something going on with a band named Phish. A security guard grabbed me and stopped me from taking a photo of a giant hot dog; he said it has something to do with these Phish folks and was off limits for photography. Strange. I can’t imagine how or why a giant hot dog should be some kind of photographic secret. Anyway, if you like rock and roll music, be sure to visit Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I recall there was some controversy over the choice of Cleveland as the location for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It seems appropriate to me, since the term “rock and roll” was coined by DJ Alan Freed of WJW Radio in Cleveland in 1951. He used the term to describe uptempo black rhythm and blues records that he began playing that year. Mr. Freed named his radio show “Moon Dog House Rock and Roll Party.” In addition, the first rock concert ever held was in Cleveland — March 21, 1952. Alan Freed put it on. It was called the “Moondog Coronation Ball.” It was oversold, and there was a riot after the first set. The “Moondog Coronation Ball” was held for many years, and I believe there is still a “Moondog” event of some type in Cleveland. The Alan Freed radio display is one of my favorites at the Rock Hall.

Outside the Rock Hall, I met Tom and Vera from West Virginia. They were getting married this weekend, so I wished them all the best.

Downtown Cleveland near the lakefront along Lake Erie is really nice. The new highrise buildings are on that part of downtown. Along the lake are the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Cleveland Browns Stadium. Just a few blocks away are Gund Arena — home of the Cleveland Cavaliers and new superstar LeBron James, and Jacobs Field — home of the Cleveland Indians. The three stadiums are world class and just a few years old. No other city has stadiums for football, basketball, hockey, and baseball that can match these!

Cleveland also has the World’s Largest Rubber Stamp. And Cleveland has many beautiful bridges — all types of bridges. There are two downtown areas filled with restaurants and bars — The Flats and The Warehouse District. From downtown, I drove out to the suburbs to Independence, Ohio to see two friends and former employees — Ray Fassett and Bob Sopko. Ray was one of our accounting and Internet gurus at 1st Communications, and Bob was Vice President of Marketing. Two of the best people I have ever had the privilege of working with. While at their office, I met Steve, Loree, Rick, Jennifer, and Mike.

Bob took me to a nearby bar and restaurant — Quaker Steak and Lube. Cool place with cars hanging from the rafters, walls, etc. I met Rachel and Krystol there.

I then drove by our old home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. As I drove down the street, the little girl who lived next door spotted me and waved and ran inside to get her parents. It was great to see Leva and Mae and their mom and dad, Jan and Farid. Sister Nadine was in Belize. I met Bancroft and Ruth — friends over for dinner. Boz and I always referred to Jan, Farid, Nadine, Mae, and Leva as the “Angel Family.” Just the sweetest, nicest family we have ever known — like angels. They are members of the Bahai faith, and they are certainly wonderful ambassadors for their religion. We miss them and the other wonderful folks who we lived around there. Absolutely the best neighbors we have ever had.

We’ll never forget meeting Nadine and Mae in 1994. They were probably ages 8 and 5 at the time. They saw us in the driveway and came over bright-eyed to meet us and ask whether we had children. They said they had been waiting and hoping to meet the new people moving in — hoping the new family would have children they could play with. We told them we had two children — a girl and a boy. Nadine excitedly asked: “How old are they?” We said: “24 and 20.” They just drooped. But these little girls were very mature for their ages, and it only lasted a second, they perked right up again and said: “Oh, it doesn’t matter. You both seem very nice, and the house on the other side of us is for sale, too, and maybe a family with some younger children will move in there.” We became fast friends. And a family with two young children did move in next door to Nadine and Mae.

I drove into Chagrin Falls to snap a few photos and to grab something to eat. Chagrin Falls is a charming little community with a quaint little downtown. Many of the homes are white wood century homes built in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s — lots of white picket fences and beautifully maintained yards. Great restaurants in Chagrin Falls are Hunan (Chinese), Rick’s (barbeque ribs and chicken), and Dave’s (subs). Hunan and Rick’s were packed with folks waiting in line, so Dave’s won by default. It was a good default, though, because I have eaten great Chinese and barbeque elsewhere, but I have never eaten a sub anywhere that I like as much as the unique subs at Dave’s.

Dave Lombardy started “The Original Dave’s Cosmic Subs” in 1997. As I understand it, Dave is an actor and playwright, too. Dave grew up in the 60’s. He says he always wanted to create the ultimate sub — a sub that after tasting it, a person would immediately smile and say “Far Out, now that’s one great sub.” When Bozzie Jane found Dave’s soon after it opened in 1997, she brought two subs home. I absolutely loved my sub. Boz encouraged me to try hers as she loved it. It was great, too. Neither of the subs tasted like any that we had ever eaten before, and that’s hard to accomplish with bread and meat and cheese. One of Famous Dave’s secrets is “Dave’s Cosmic Sauce.” I don’t know what’s in it, but it is good. It’s as good on a sub as the Olive Garden Salad Dressing is on their salad. So, when in Cleveland, be sure to visit one of the four locations of The Original Dave’s Cosmic Subs! And if you want a franchise, Famous Dave is now offering them — Famous Dave’s Franchise Corp, PO Box 606, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022, 440-247-9117. Dave was there tonight, and he was kind enough to let me take his photo. Like Phish and its giant wiener, he doesn’t allow photos inside the Cosmic Subs shop. While in Chagrin Falls, I visited the falls for a photo, and I went to the world-famous Popcorn Shop. I also took a photo of the shoe tree near where we lived.

I then drove to Tano’s Hair Salon — hoping that the world’s best hair lady and my good friend, Juliana, might still be there. It had been a long time since the Barber Ship in Montana where I had hoped to get a haircut. Tano’s was closed for the night, so I planned to stop in a small town soon to get a good old-fashioned haircut from the town barber.

Down the road I went. Pennsylvania became state #36 about 9 pm. When I rolled into Erie, I tried six hotels/motels (all sold out) before I found an overpriced non-smoking room at the Marriott Courtyard. I choked on the $141 rate, but agreed to pay it as I didn’t want to have to drive two hours to Buffalo and take my chances there. I also want to hit the Jello Hall of Fame and Museum just east of here. Tony fixed me up with the room. I met Ken out front. Adria at the Hampton Inn had the best smile and did the nicest job of telling me her hotel was sold out.

The lesson for the day is that ugly cities can become beautiful. Cleveland had a downtown that rivaled Detroit in ugliness. Cleveland undertook a dramatic revitalization.

Random Comments:

Week 18 of the trip Round America began today. We’ve already driven over 25,000 miles. Looks like we could top 30,000. 12,275 photos have been taken. Only one (disputed) traffic ticket. 1,478 gallons of gas. A few car issues — one flat tire, four replacement tires, and one transmission replaced. 36 states behind us, and we’ve been to over 2,200 towns. We’ve met well over 1,500 people. We’ve seen most of the sights we planned to see thus far.

We’ve eaten 143 pieces of pie. Our dear friend, Berlinda Shanklin, wrote recently to say if we keep eating so much pie, we’ll have to add “World’s Largest Tourists” to our list of sights — US. We have gained weight. Thank goodness for the elastic waistbands! As I recall, Berlinda suggested those as well.

Right now, it looks like we’ll be back in Atlanta by August 19. We’ll probably fly to Hawaii immediately after we appear in court in Kingsland, Georgia to dispute the traffic ticket we received from Officer Vincent Passarelli on Day 3 of the trip. I’m hoping that 30,000 miles without a ticket (other than the one we feel we were unfairly given in Kingsland) will help our case — so I need to be really careful the rest of the way. I’ve got a great list of questions to ask Officer Vincent Passarelli when I get him on the witness stand.

Tomorrow brings “I Love Lucy” and Niagara Falls. I was going to meet up with an old business associate (from Toronto) in Buffalo, but Gary’s wife, Judit, had some unexpected surgery today and will be in the hospital for several days. Get well soon, Judit! I’m not sure what else I will see as I drive across New York state — not much was identified in our research until I get to Vermont and New Hampshire.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this web site. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Cleveland Ohio — Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Great Lakes Science Center — Cleveland Browns Stadium — Gund Arena — Jacobs Field — World’s Largest Rubber Stamp — Chagrin Falls Ohio — The Original Dave’s Cosmic Subs — The Popcorn Shop