My plan was simple, to right the wrong of not taking Sue to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, (I took my son Andrew there when our family vacation was scrapped because Sue had just started a new job).
This trip’s positive karma started with a nearly flawless 8+ hour jaunt to Northeast Ohio, (the only drawback was that Sue’s two-hour tour of duty driving was marred by an hour of torrential...trudging through a car wash-like rain).
At a rest stop in Ohio, I picked up a motel coupon booklet from an extremely pleasant man at the, ‘Welcome to Ohio Center,” (I always told Sue how uncanny it was that EVERYONE in Ohio is so nice…and this gentleman was the first to prove my point).
To shorten the trip, I wanted to find a motel along the Interstate, between Cleveland and our other stop, the pro Football Hall-of Fame, in Canton. The planets must have been perfectly aligned because our feather-in-the-wind destiny landed us almost exactly between the two cities, (a Microtel, in the town of Streetsboro).
|ESTABLISHED IN 1989, MICROTEL IS A SUBSIDIARY OF WYNDHAM WORLDWIDE. IT IS LISTED, BY J. D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES AS HIGHEST IN GUEST SATISFACTION AMONG ECONOMY HOTELS FOR TEN STRAIGHT YEARS AS OF 2011.|
Sue and I were burnt out from the road as we approached the front desk. We were greeted, (overwhelmed with positive energy), by a couple, (co-managers Ole and Diana). Like being with old friends, the check-in procedure probably was three times longer than usual because of the warmth, talking and joking. They accepted our coupon, reminded us about the closing time of their indoor pool and suggested a nearby restaurant.
At the Brown Derby Steakhouse the perky hostess asked, “Table or booth?” I said, “Booth.” She said, “I have tables now, but a booth might take a few minutes.” Everything was going our way so I said, “We’ll wait for a booth.” A half minute later she said, “Your booth is ready.”
We entered Nirvana and found that the place expertly combined atmosphere, service and great food. By the time we walked out, Sue and I were ready to do a free testimonial. I even tracked down the manager, (never did this in my life) and complimented Ashley the waitress and thanked him and the rest of the staff.
|THE BROWN DERBY HAS SEVERAL LOCATIONS THROUGHOUT OHIO. IT'S A BIG STEP UP FROM THE OUTBACK...AND I LIKE THE OUTBACK, A LOT.|
On the way back to the motel, I spotted a hardware store billboard, in the town of Kent Ohio. Talk about a feather-in-the-wind destiny, prior to seeing the sign, I had no idea where in Ohio, Kent State University was.
Later, after a refreshing dip in the pool, I asked Ole, if Kent State University was indeed in Kent. It was the only time this upbeat man was ever somber around me when he said, “Yeah, next town over. The campus is eight miles from here.”
In the morning, I did my power-walk through town. Later, we ate the Microtel’s complimentary continental breakfast. Then we stopped at Wal-Mart for some travel essentials. While wandering around the store, I got the idea of seeing if they sold Kent State University tee-shirts, (in case going there didn’t fit in our plans).
I asked Rex, a ready-to-please high school exchange student from Liberia. He didn’t know if they had Kent State shirts but added, “Let me find the lady who knows it all.” I followed him through the racks of the women’s wear department until he found Dixie.
I would have thought it was impossible but Dixie was nicer than Rex. On the way, she apologized because there was only one style Kent State shirt. But there it was, in a choice of navy, gray or yellow…exactly what I was looking for…I bought the dark blue.
Cleveland was a simple thirty-minute drive on Interstates through towns like Twinsburg, Macedonia and Akron. While going through Akron, I mentioned how I believe in the power of coincidence as opposed to our fate being pre-destined…so I added, “It would be cool if LeBron James re-signed with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers while we were here.”
We got to the Rock-n-Roll Hall-of-Fame at 10:15AM. We soon experienced the gift that kept on giving. The next eight hours, (we NEVER stopped for lunch) was a shear love-driven rollercoaster…with the switch permanently set on “UP”…because every exhibit took us higher and higher.
|SPRINGSTEEN, McCARTNEY AND JOEL...THROW ME IN AND YOU'D HAVE SUE'S MOUNT RUSHMORE.|
I am not outwardly motivated by music. Yes, I have appreciation for it but I would never say it defines me or is an important part of my life. But it is. This importance might not be a part of my conscious being but at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, a continual flood of dormant (happy) emotions were gushed forward by so many artists, song titles and lyrics that activated wonderful historic memories of my life.
|COULD YOU "IMAGINE" SUE MISSING A PHOTO-OP WITH JOHN LENNON?|
A feast for the ears, eyes, brain and heart, you’d think a guy like me would run out of internal shivers and quivers and external tears of joy…but NO! I’m proud to have been so touched. It’s great to feel alive. WOW!
What a special day…and remember, I already experienced the same positive punch in the face feeling eight years ago. But it wasn’t enough, I needed more to accomplish my goal…and I got my reward when I heard Sue say, "This place is awesome!"
|I'M NOT AN ELVIS DEVOTEE BUT I GOT CHILLS AS IF I WAS MEETING HIM N PERSON.|
While Sue capped our stay at the gift shop, I asked an employee to suggest a restaurant, (please understand that I’m aware that the nice people I encountered in Ohio are all in the hospitality industry but it seemed to me, everyone…on both of my visits to the Buckeye State went above and beyond the call of duty).
This employee stopped what she was doing and found a file of maps. Her detailed explanation included her opinion that it’s better to drive because the Warehouse District, (an area with a series of hipster bar/restaurants), has free parking after six.
Free parking yes, finding a spot..well that's another story. But when you're, "in the zone" everything goes your way. I didn’t even have to pray to the Patron Saint of Parking Spaces, (Joe Vanilla), as someone pulled out and created the only spot on the whole street. We read the outdoor menus and landed at Bar Louie’s, at the corner of West 6th and St. Clair.
|THE YOUNG CLIENTELE MADE US FEEL LIKE FOSSILS.|
Bar Louie's under-thirty customers all looked like business people or kids in Cleveland sports team apparel. Gathered around the big screen TV tuned to a live Indians game, they carried the hope of Cleveland's future sports identity in their Johnny “Johnny Football” Manziel jerseys and old Lebron James shirts. I said to Sue, “If the network interrupts the game to announce that LeBron James signed with Cavaliers, they'll blow the roof off this place.”
At Louie's, Sue and I were still in the warm after-glow of the Hall-of-Fame. We discussed the highlights of our eight-hour, musical love affair over burgers and a flat bread pizza appetizer. The surprisingly good quality of the food supported our vibe.
In the morning, during my power-walk, I got the idea to suggest breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. We both have heard great things about it but never tried it. Sue googled it and lucky us, there was a location in North Canton, minutes from the Football Hall of Fame. I then said, “As long as we aren’t in a hurry…and it’s so early, let’s try to find Kent State on the way.”
Ole’s directions were quick and easy. The school’s significance coincidentally ties in to Rock-n-Rock music, hippies and the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960’s and into the 70’s.
I had no idea what to expect but the tasteful, artistic monument to one of the worse moments in American history (May 4, 1970), left me numb. I thought I had purged my system of tears the day before, but the senselessness of the four student’s deaths (and other gunfire injuries) shuddered my wife and I, on so many levels. But we’re so glad we took the time to see it, better understand and share the experience.
Click on the link below for the Crosby, Stills and Nash, "OHIO."
Thirty minutes later we were wowed at the Cracker Barrel. Trust me, pancakes aren’t just pancakes.
|CRACKER BARREL ORIGINATED IN 1969. THIS RESTAURANT/COUNTRY STORE COMBINES TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN CUISINE WITH A QUAINT DECOR. ALTHOUGH THERE AREN'T ANY LOCATIONS NEAR MY HOUSE, THEY HAVE 630 FRANCHISES IN 42 STATES.|
Everything continued going my way..even the gas prices were $3.25 in Canton, (no lower than $3.60 everywhere else).
The Football Hall of Fame would dredge up so many great memories.
|THE ENTRANCE TO THE PARKING LOT.|
Football has always been a major part of my life, (I played high school football too), so I expected some sort of emotional response. But no, it was just good, clean interactive fun.
|EVEN THOUGH I GAVE SUE 8 HOURS AT THE ROCK-n-ROLL HALL, UNDER WALTER PEYTON'S WATCHFUL EYE, SHE PUTS ME ON THE CLOCK FOR TWO HOURS.|
The Hall offered many hands-on exhibits.
|I HAVE SO MANY FAVORITES TO CHOOSE FROM BUT THE CHUCK BEDNARIK (above) IS THE ONLY ONE THAT I LOOK CUTE IN.|
|SUE DOING A FINE IMITATION OF JERRY RICE CATCHING THE SUPER BOWL TROPHY.|
It's funny, at the ticket booth, they ask for your zip code...and favorite team. I told them my zip and then muffled my mouth as I grunted Jets, (they have caused me intense psychological damage since 1963).
Even the other guests are fascinated by everyone else's team affiliation. One Southern Californian in a Detroit Lions jersey told me, I should be proud and roar that they are my favorite team. But other than Joe Namath and Don Maynard anyone else associated with the Jets in the Hall, achieved their greatness with other teams.
To honor the New York Jets and the other upstart Americn Football League (AFL) teams, the Hall has a separate room dedicated to them.
I found myself very interested in the AFL exhibits. While reading, I lived up to my "Instant Recall Edelbum" nickname (bestowed on me by RBOY) and discovered, not one but two typos, (a player's name misspelled and a wrong year). I should have reported it, maybe they would have hired me as a proof reader.
My two+ hours at the Hall were over. Our great time completed a near perfect mini-vacation. On the way to the Interstate, I asked Sue what her favorite part of the Football Hall-of-Fame was...she punched-up a candid photo she took.
Well, that didn't happen but he DID sign the next day! So Sue and I can still say...our karma and presence throughout Northeast Ohio influenced LeBron's return. And with any luck, he will be the springboard to end the Cleveland sports teams forever drought. Plus, those teams and their fans can stop getting repeatedly punched in the face while witnessing the revitalization of this depressed region...with a gift that keeps on giving...in the name of economic relief. Years from now when all this goodness comes true, don't thank LeBron...thank me!