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Entry date: 6-24-2022: The last days of the trip out - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I need to finish up the trip story. As overwhelming as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was, the day wasn’t over when we left there. We walked down to the water and looked at the lake some more. I think the kids were as impressed with Lake Erie as I was when I first saw it. It was my first great lake and when you’re only lake reference points are ones you can see the other side of when you’re on the shore, seeing something like Lake Erie is hard to fathom.

It was humid with a capital H as we headed toward a brewery that my third cousin is a partner in called Masthead Brewing. We had some pizza there and I tried four of their beers by getting a flight of small tastes. They were all tasty and each one I tried was better than the last one. I especially liked their barrel-aged coffee stout, Coffee Underverse, a lot. If you are in the area, it’s a good place to check out.

After that, Lynn and Cindy took us on a driving tour of Cleveland, including a pass over the bridge that holds the infamous guardians that the local baseball team is now named for. It was fun talking to the family about the name change. Everyone is kind of bitter about it and I can see their point… but I also see the point of indigenous people not being down with how they were portrayed. We live in a different world than the one many OG Cleveland fans were born into, and change is always painful.

The guardians were much smaller than I thought they would be, based on pictures I had seen, so I can see why people are not embracing the new moniker. The stadium looks like a great place to see a game, though, and I hope to be able to get to one of those in the next few summers.

We got to see quite a bit of Cleveland before heading back to Cindy’s house. Liam slept through a lot of it, but Teresa and I enjoyed the tour. There are some very cool areas down by the Cuyahoga River that I would like to explore further, including a small skatepark. I enjoyed learning more about how my great Uncle Phil was in charge of making sure the bridges got fixed quickly if something went wrong. It was always nice to get to see him (and the pictures of him on Facebook over the years) because of his resemblance to my grandpa, Jack.

When we got back to Cindy’s, we saw Bailey’s destruction of a bag from Trader Joe’s that had a bunch of treats for her. She was clearly ashamed of how she behaved, but I learned that leaving her alone for a long time on our trips across country are not a good idea. She was not a very good house guest. Luckily her impact was minimal, and Cindy and Jim were great sports about it. I was super embarrassed.

The real lasting impression of Cleveland, though, was just how much at home I felt there. I remember feeling that way back in 1981 when we were there for ten days or so, and even in a short time there, it felt like a place where I could just stay. I love that feeling when you are on the road. I’m guessing Cleveland is special because of having a lot of family there that I wish I could know better, but the city itself is welcoming. I don’t get why people give it so much grief.

When we got on the road early the next morning, we breezed through a small amount of Ohio and the sliver of Pennsylvania you get on the way to New York. I added to my growing bug bite tally trying to get Bailey to poop somewhere in PA just outside of New York while the kids slept in the car. We were on our way to see Niagara Falls.

The kids woke up as we got closer to Buffalo and there was some anticipation in the car. Liam and Teresa were both cracking some jokes and, now that I think about it, this was more exciting to them than probably anything else we had done so far on the trip. We were going because they asked to see it and we were all excited.

It’s pretty up there in upstate New York and the Falls did not disappoint, even on the American side. I probably parked a little farther away than Teresa would have liked as she did not really have the appropriate shoes for the walking we did (doc martens), but it was still cool to see. I’m guessing seeing a sea gull shit on a dude will probably be Teresa’s highlight of that part of our day, but we had some fun walking around, for sure.

After that, we took a short drive down to Rochester to hang out with Hayden and see his place. I really liked Rochester and would like to spend more time there. The area where Hayden lives is very cool and artsy and I can see why a young person would dig it. It’s a small city, so probably not as much going on as he would like, but I could see how you could carve a nice niche out for yourself there.

He took us to a favorite spot of his on the beach of Lake Ontario (great lake #2 on this trip), and it was cool to see it for the first time. We had some hamburgers at a cool beach joint and enjoyed some needed family time. It was good to see him, and we’ll stop in there again if he stays in Rochester for a while. He works for Costco, though, and supposedly they are opening a store in Portland, Maine, so maybe he will get to transfer there.

We stayed just outside of Albany that night, so it was another easy drive to get to our hotel, which was kind of a wreck. They were in the middle of remodeling, so nothing was as advertised, and the doors didn’t work very well. It was a place to sleep, though, and there were cute rabbits outside when I got up in the morning nibbling on some clover and a few daisies. I watched them for a while before getting the kids going.

We were in Vermont pretty quickly and looking for food. I stopped at a small grocery store and the cashier was looking at me like I had three heads. Apparently, according to Cousin Ellen, Vermonters are very skeptical of outsiders. This is the vibe I have gotten in my three passes through there and as beautiful as it is, I don’t know if I would go out of my way to spend a lot of time there. We might visit there next month to see the Circle Jerks play, so we’ll see.

We got through New Hampshire without incident, unless seeing a decapitated deer head would bother you. It was just the head. The body was gone. Of all the weird deer carcasses I saw over six days on the road, just seeing a head was a little freaky. This was right on the border between NH and Vermont, so who knows what kind of weird message that was.

We got into Rangeley in the early afternoon and Bailey was very excited to see mama. Her tail was going superfast, and she was jumping all over the place. I loved watching it and it was great to be here. Home sweet home for a month a bit more. The car kicked ass and the kids were still speaking to each other, so I consider it a victory.

See you tomorrow.

Liam and Teresa with the Falls and Canada in the background. I had to mention the sea gull shitting on the guy a few minutes before to get this smile, but it was worth it. These kids!!! I love them.

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