AW

Our Journey Home – Experiencing Ohio

In Family, Life, Pursuit of Happiness on June 6, 2011 at 6:26 am

We were all up early this morning.  After reminding the kids that today was the day that we would be back in New York at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, my little one instantly started acting like a clown, dancing around the room with a dance she called “The Waddle.”  As usual, she had us all laughing out loud at her antics.

Visiting Ohio has been an experience that we’ll remember for many years to come.

We started out in Cincinnati, which is only an hour-and-a-half from Louisville (our shortest drive on the trip).  The ride would have been a breeze compared to our other travel had we not encountered some maniac on the road who nearly hit each of our cars while speeding and tailgating.  I can only hope that karma takes care of this Kentucky a-hole before he hurts innocent people with his dangerous driving.

If not for the fact that the Reds were playing a home game against the Dodgers (our favorite team), we may very well have driven right through Cincinnati without stopping.  We didn’t see much else of Cincinnati besides the baseball stadium, but seeing a game at Great American Ballpark was good enough for my son and me.  The stadium has great scenic views of the river and surrounding area (particularly from the cheap seats behind home plate).  It was surprisingly easy to get in and out of the stadium area with very little traffic.  This never seems to be the case with New York ballparks.  Even though the Dodgers lost a close game, it was still a fun experience.

When we were leaving Cincinnati, our plan was to spend two nights in Akron because it is situated between Canton (where the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located) and Cleveland.  Severe weather warnings and a terrible hotel experience altered our plans a bit, but it all worked out in the end.

My son and I planned on going to see the Indians play the Texas Rangers in a night game and then go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame the following day, but we didn’t want to take the chance of going all the way to Cleveland with weather forecast, so we decided to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame first, and catch the afternoon game the following day.

We arrived at the Quality Inn in Akron, intending to check in, put our stuff in the room, and head out to Canton.  Despite my research before booking the rooms, this hotel turned out to be a nightmare.  I have no idea what the majority of reviewers were thinking on this one.  The two-story hotel had no elevators, and we had far too much stuff to bring in to be making trips up and down the stairs.

When I asked for a room on the first floor, the incompetent attendant said that it would be a $30 charge to change the room (since it was pre-paid).  I agreed to pay the $30, but then she said that it couldn’t be done.  When we went around the building to the entrance nearest our room, we saw that the door was unlocked.  I mentioned it to the other incompetent attendant, and he said that it probably would be locked later on.  I immediately called Hotels.com and cancelled the second night in the hotel, and just decided to take the loss on the room that was too late to cancel.

After a bit of scrambling, we decided to just take both cars to Canton and all go to the Hall of Fame together.  Even though my wife and daughter didn’t plan on going with us, we ended up having a fun time with the whole family.  My little one was surprisingly well-behaved, and made the most of the experience.  My wife found the Hall of Fame to be very interesting.  Of course, it was a dream-come-true for my son and me because of our love of the game.

We spent almost four hours at the Hall of Fame, but could have easily stayed longer if time allowed.  There was so much to see beyond the busts of all of the greats who are enshrined there.  It was a tremendous learning experience about the history of the game.  The highlight for me was the Super Bowl Theater where you get to experience an inside look at various games through coaches and players wearing microphones.  After seeing and hearing so many violent hits, it left me wondering how NFL players can keep taking such a constant pounding, only to get up and do over and over again.

The inside look at the most recent Super Bowl was incredible.  Even though we knew the outcome, I found myself cheering for the Packers as if the game were being played live.  While I loved the experience, if I were a Steelers fan, I would have been miserable reliving the moment in high def with surround sound.

Thinking that we had left tornado alley upon arriving in Ohio, I was surprised when we were ushered into the basement area because the tornado sirens were going off.  Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing but a thunderstorm.  And while I wasn’t thrilled to be taking cover from a potential tornado, it did help that we were in the area of the Hall of Fame filled with video and sports games.  My son and I didn’t even get through a half of a game on Madden before we were allowed to leave the basement area.

We finished touring the Hall of Fame, grabbed some souvenirs for each of us, and headed out to Cleveland where we decided to stay for two nights.

Although we hit some stormy weather on the way, it was a pretty clear ride for most of the hour-long trip.  The hotel that we ended up in was infinitely better than the one that we left in Akron (although the late-night dining options were few and far between).

We got a good night’s sleep and set out early the next morning to explore downtown Cleveland a bit before going to see the Rangers play the Indians in the afternoon.

The city of Cleveland is nice enough, but there wasn’t much going on when we got there.  It’s hard to say whether it was because it was a Sunday morning, or if it was just the way that it is in the city.  If this trip has taught me anything, it is that New York City is truly one-of-a-kind, with an energy that doesn’t exist in other places.

After walking around a bit, we got to the stadium about a half hour before game time.  There was no wait at all to buy tickets.  We ended up buying seats in the upper deck behind home plate.  Actually, we ended up with seats in the last row in the stadium, which gave my wife an uneasy feeling, so we moved to the empty second-to-last row in the next section.  Even though we were high up, it was still a great deal for $8 per ticket.  In fact, Progressive Field is the first stadium that I’ve ever been to where the cheap seats are in the shade.

Even though there were plenty of empty seats if we wanted to move down for a closer vantage point, I enjoyed the comfort of the upper deck so much that we stayed there the entire game.  Between the shade and the breeze blowing through the openings at the top of the stadium, my wife actually said that she was chilly at some points.

The game was a low-scoring affair, but the home runs hit by Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus were enough to seal the 2-0 shutout by C.J. Wilson.

We were amongst the very few Ranger fans in the stadium, but we were able to cheer for the visiting team without any incident.  The fans in Cleveland are great, and Progressive Field was my favorite stadium to visit.  Yesterday’s game was my favorite baseball experience of all-time.  Aside from the comfort of our seats, and the incredible stadium, it was the perfect way to say goodbye to Texas one last time.

The Rangers have become our second favorite team.  Living in close proximity to their home stadium for two years has given us a connection to the team that will last a lifetime.  The only disappointment of yesterday’s game was that we didn’t get to see my son’s favorite player (Josh Hamilton) in the game. He was given the day off to rest.  Other than that, it was a perfect day, and a perfect way to end our journey.

The time has finally come for us to complete our journey home.  We’ll be heading out shortly, and will cross the New York State line before the morning is out.  Part of me is disappointed to see this incredible journey come to an end, but more than anything, I am excited to finally be back in New York for good.  We can’t wait to see all of the family and friends that we’ve missed while we’ve been in Texas.

Hopefully, the rest of our journey today will be as enjoyable as the past week has been.  There will be updates about our trip back to New York and our experiences when we get there to follow.

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  1. Too bad “We met up with our friend, Beth, her son, and their new daughter in Columbus on the way to the FBoF…” wasn’t part of this entry. Sorry timing didn’t work out. Safe travels…….

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