Part 1 of 3
When in the course of random events, it becomes necessary for someone to embark on a road trip, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind require that said someone should declare the highlights of said road trip in writing.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men need vacation, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are attending baseball games, drinking beer and the pursuit of hot chicks. That to secure these rights, Road Trips are instituted among Men, driving their full power from the consent of the driven, and blah, blah, blah.
As is my every right, I instituted a road trip through the states of Ohio and Michigan. What did I hope to achieve? A fine question.
First and foremost, to see Major League baseball games in three cities. Second and segundo, to imbibe as much of the local beer offerings as could be reasonably stomached. More on those in later posts.
With only three games to attend over 10 days and an inability to drink beer ALL the time, I needed something else to keep me busy. So here is a sampling of the more interesting sights and tastes during this ‘epic’ 2,197 mile road trip.
Cincinnati chili – two fluorescent yellow dishes were placed before me at Skyline Chili. As I contemplated the larger dish, a strange assortment of mile high grated cheddar cheese, spaghetti noodles and the famous Cincinnati chili (a thin meaty sauce with cinnamon) known as a Three-Way, I mildly wondered how such a thing could come to pass. The smaller dish, a tiny hot dog slathered in the same chili and grated cheese known as a Coney, seemed almost reasonable in comparison. Enterprising immigrants brought this chili recipe to Cincy and it took off with a vengeance. You can add additional ingredients, like beans and/or jalapenos, to get a Four-Way or a Five-Way. Warranty not valid if you try too many more Ways. Worth eating? Sure, but don’t stare at it too long!
Northside – a small, trendy little neighborhood with a few restaurants and pubs. I peeked into a funky little coffee shop called Sidewinder for a read and a mocha then devoured an excellent sandwich at Melt, which has been voted the best sandwiches and best vegetarian food in Cincy for two years running.
Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum – a sprawling mix of huge grave stones, winding roadways, ponds, vaults, mausoleums, and statues that turned out to be a pleasant setting to drive around (and get lost in).
Newport, Kentucky – just across the Ohio River sits Newport, almost as an extension of Cincinnati. With numerous restaurants and bars with live music, its a fine place to spend an evening. A huge shopping centre across the street and some sort of annual seafood festival along the river made for an interesting afternoon as well.
Ann Arbor and Michigan
Lake Michigan –it’s big, let’s put it that way. Like an ocean. Get out a map of the US if you don’t believe me. A 3-1/2 hour drive from Ann Arbor to walk along Ottawa Beach (surprisingly big in its own way) and to stroll through the small, quaint town of Saugatuck is a perfectly good way to get some sun.
Carrot cake – a small restaurant en route to Lake Michigan claimed to have ‘The’ Carrot Cake. The cake was certainly good, maybe even ‘The’ worthy, but the frosting I could eat all day.
University of Michigan Campus – sadly class was not in session, but Ann Arbor has a small town feel with the U of M campus as the centerpiece. Beautiful landscape, unique architecture, a fine business district with good food and drink and an idylic Arboretum with a river running through it, almost made me not reminisce about the time that the University of Washington football team crushed Michigan in the 1992 Rose Bowl. Almost.
Zingerman’s Delicatessen – it took a couple mile bike ride, zipping through Ann Arbor traffic, to arrive at a ‘packed’ sandwich and cheese shop. This popular destination with the locals, though pricey, is a worthwhile lunch spot. The setting includes the main building and a large coffee house, with a huge courtyard in between. You order (after waiting in a long line), get in another line to pay, go find a seat, then the servers come outside with a tray piled high yelling your name as you wait eagerly in the courtyard. Of course, my friend had to put our name in as “Beyoncé”…
Sokolowski’s University Inn– this gets a shout out in all the guide books and even Anthony Bourdain went there for No Reservations, so why not find out what all the fuss is about? It’s a small, family-owned and run restaurant in the Tremont neighborhood that serves Eastern European food cafeteria-style. Stand in line, grab your dessert, pick up a bottle of beer (or pour a fountain drink, but why?), then order your food from the myriad of steaming options. Stuffed cabbage and pierogies! Tasty!
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – yes, this is in Cleveland. Yes, it’s filled with memorabilia and facts and music and history and everything you could want to know about Rock and Roll. Especially interesting were the Jimi Hendrix collection and the displays showing the music scenes in different cities for different decades. Seattle in the 90’s display right next to London and New York display in the 70’s and 80’s!
Case Western Reserve University – a small research university just outside downtown Cleveland (about 10,000 students), this has a surprisingly picturesque campus and boasts the Cleveland Botanical Gardens nearby if you’re inclined to check it out. I wasn’t. The campus was enough for me.
Warehouse District – where all the Clevelanders seem to hang out on a Saturday night. Aside from being crowded with people, restaurants, bars and clubs, I liked that there was a restaurant called the Nauti Mermaid…I’m easy to please.
to be continued…