Cleveland rocks

Posted on October 19, 2006 by Chris Lumens in .

This past weekend, I made yet another trip to Cleveland to visit Sarah. Due to various other travel commitments (weddings, guests, seeing other friends) it had been since May since I was there last. I didn’t expect it had changed much, but it’s still always nice to get out of town for several days. So Thursday evening after work, I got on a plane in Manchester, NH and flew through Baltimore to Cleveland.

Thursday

The flight from Manchester to Baltimore was actually really rough. There was a lot of turbulance during the landing with the plane shaking all around, dropping suddenly, and that sort of thing. I was feeling pretty bad by the time we landed. Luckily, I had another flight an hour later. Baltimore the airport was pretty nice, which was a pleasant surprise given Baltimore the town. After grabbing some quick airport pizza, I was off on another flight to Cleveland. Enough about flying. Sarah picked me up around 10pm and we ran to the movie store to rent a movie. Then we headed over to a friend’s house, watched it, and went back to her house. I took couch duty for the weekend and went to sleep.

Friday

Friday we got up and headed out a little late. Our first stop was the Malley’s Chocolate factory. They don’t make chocolate there, but they do make about a million different things with chocolate. It was a short, but interesting tour. We got to watch them make the fillers, spread out marshmallow cream like it was cement, pump chocolate through thick pipes, and all sorts of stuff. The downside of this tour was the ten out of control children, with their parents just not doing anything about it. The positive side was the free chocolate bar at the end.

Our next tour of the day was the NASA Glenn Research Center. The primary focus of this place is propulsion and wind tunnels. Unfortunately, the visitors center is a little lame and doesn’t show you any of the really interesting stuff. Sarah’s car was searched by guards with guns and we were both asked if we were citizens. We made it through all that and proceeded to learn about gel fuels, fuel cells, wing design, and Voyager. Some of the stuff was ridiculously outdated, like the planet exhibit accurate as of January 1982, while the stuff on the Mars rovers was of course very new. I felt like I was on a field trip.

After some lunch back at Sarah’s house, we headed downtown. Our first stop was a couple drinks at Great Lakes Brewery. This is a really nice brew pub that makes award-winning beers and has a great atmosphere. I had the Nosferatu and the Christmas Ale. They were both pushing 7%. The Nosferatu was actually quite similar to my Red menace Ale, but more powerful and more hoppy. The Christmas ale was a great one, just like last year when I had it. I’ll definately be heading back here. Then we walked over to the West Side Market, which is half farmer’s market and half local butcher/cheese/pierogie places. Everything looked great, and I am sure there were some fine deals to be had. I was especially impressed with the steaks and blackberries. If I lived in Cleveland, this is where I’d be getting my produce and meat.

Finally after killing some more time driving around and eating dinner, we went to her dad’s house to watch BSG. Hey, just because I’m out of town doesn’t mean I have to miss my one show a week. We sat around watching a little more TV after that, and then returned home for sleep.

Saturday

Saturday’s main attraction was touring the James Garfield House in Mentor, OH. While it was once in the middle of a 180 acre farm, today it sits just down the street from a mall and is surrounded by a church and apartment buildings. The house itself is huge - almost thirty rooms, plus a couple extra buildings including a windmill. I think the most interesting part of the house tour was the very large, oddly shaped library upstairs built after Garfield’s assassination. It looked like it would be well-suited to sitting in for hours on end, reading from the stacks and stacks of books scattered throughout the building. It also has a vault attached for storing all his important papers. Unfortunately, the kitchen was directly below the vault and it did not have a fireproof floor.

After the tour, we got a quick lunch at the nearby mall and then drove even more out into the country to try to pick apples. Unfortunately, the farm was having some sort of festival that day so there was no apple picking. However, we still got two big grocery bags full of apples so it was not a total loss. We then drove back home. Sarah’s mom went to work putting the apples on the apple lathe and preparing apple-based desserts while Sarah and I partially helped. Then we ran out to pick up another movie. We ate a big lamb roast for dinner with homemade apple sauce, then watched the movie and ate apple crisp. Of course, Sarah managed to pick out the only foreign film in the store. It was pretty good. Then without any more apples, I fell asleep on the couch.

Sunday

I had only one condition for what to do on this trip, and that was at some point we would go to a burrito place. We don’t really have any in Nashua which is hard to get used to, since there was one every ten feet in Atlanta. Sarah picked Que Tal, in the trendy Cleveland Heights neighborhood, an area that has sort of a Little Five Points feel to it except without so many gypsy markets. I had a solid burrito made by a new employee, though I would still prefer Tortillas or El Myr. After lunch, I felt like a drink so we walked over to the Winking Lizard, a chain of beer bars around Cleveland. I enjoyed a Spaten Oktoberfest, while Sarah had a Kindl Berlinerweisse. I got to keep my glass.

Then since we hadn’t eaten enough on this trip, we drove over to a gelato restaurant a few miles away. I’d been there before and remembered that it was delicious. I was not disappointed on my second trip. This gelateria is quite close to the cemetary where Garfield was buried, so I guess I saw his most important places on this trip. We sat around talking and enjoying the gelato for a bit, but then we had to run to the grocery store so Sarah could cook an early dinner. She made chicken marsala while I tried to help, we ate, and then it was time for me to go to the airport.

I got there with plenty of time to spare, but forgot which airline I was supposed to be on so there was a few minutes of panic and thinking I had missed my flight. This time, I flew back through Philly. Both flights were really nice, for a change. I had a while to sit around on the layover because of how fast the first flight was, and I even fell asleep on the second flight. I got home a little while before 1am.

Anyway, it was a really nice trip. I got to see a bunch of new things, enjoy some new beers, and have fun hanging out with a friend. And I got to skip a day of work, which makes this trip even better. It’s nice to not have to rush everything into a regular two day weekend because you don’t want to take one day off. It will probably be a while before I make it over there again, though. Most of my free money next month is taken up by moving and December is travel for Christmas and New Year’s.