Greetings, Scribelings. Suze here, back from a road trip vacation. I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you.
First, let me say that most of this trip was unplanned. We had only one time-sensitive place to get to; everything else was flexible as we traveled through and found interesting places to see. We made no hotel reservations in advance. I know not everyone can travel this way–in fact, I’ll bet some of you planning types are downright horrified, aren’t you? But with a smart phone and a Garmin GPS unit, I had no trouble finding us decent hotels/motels every day, wherever we happened to end up. So here are some of the interesting things we saw and did:
The Astabula, Ohio, Wine and Walleye Festival. Yes, for those of you who want to combine your love of both vino and game fish, here’s a festival just for you. If walleye’s not your thing, not to worry! You can also have perch. I had a very delicious, very fresh perch sandwich, a glass of wine, and listened to a good local band at the Rotary Club tent. Later, as we strolled around admiring the vintage cars lined up along the main street, I had a cup of some of the most delicious coffee ever–the beans were roasting right there, and the aroma was intoxicating. If you’re in Ashtabula, even if you miss the W&W festival, stop in for a cup of joe at Harborperk!
The Toledo, Ohio, German-American Festival. This was our only planned stop. Let me emphasize that this was NOT an Oktoberfest. Because it was August, sillies. And yet … it was JUST LIKE an Oktoberfest. Go figure. From men in Lederhosen to a live Glockenspiel performance every hour on the hour (sponsored by Jaegermeister) to a humongous beer tent with a live German band, this is the next best thing to being in Munich. There was even a Steinstossen event. Now apparently this is a real sport in Switzerland. Men (and even some women) lift a 138 pound rock (only 75 pounds for women–definitely doable…ha!) over their heads, then see how far they can throw it. We only saw one guy almost drop the rock on his head. Fortunately, it only struck him a glancing blow on the noggin, then hit his shoulder, and fell to the ground.
There was also a Swiss cheese eating competition. Contestants lined up to see who could eat a 1 pound block of Swiss cheese the fastest. We saw a couple of people finish, and when one guy looked like he was going to blow, we left.
Finally, also in the Feats of Strength category, is the Stein Lift. No, this is not a drinking competition, but it does involve beer and glass steins. Contestants line up to hold a full glass stein of beer, straight out from their bodies, for as long as possible without spilling. This is not as easy as it looks. Try holding a 2 or 3 pound weight in that position for a couple of minutes. (Try it and let me know what happens. I’m not going to do it myself. It looked painful!) The winner managed over 5 minutes, but it was a strain. Everyone walks away from this competition a winner, though. They get to drink the beer even if they lose.
Tony Packo’s Hungarian Restaurant. This is a landmark in Toledo. Fans of M.A.S.H. will recall that Corporal Klinger was from Toledo, and this is one of the places he apparently referenced in the show. The walls are lined with, I kid you not, autographed hot dog buns encased in plastic. The food was great and the atmosphere was better. My chicken paprikash was worth the stigma of having to tell you all that I went to Toledo on my summer vacation.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland isn’t really a dull place, kids! The Hall of Fame is loads of fun. Right now there’s a big exhibit on the Grateful Dead. In other parts of the museum, you can see some of Stevie Nicks’ costumes, Michael Jackson’s sequined glove, Johnny Cash’s tour bus, Janis Joplin’s Porsche, and my personal favorite, ZZ Topp’s furry drum set. The food, unfortunately, is not that great. Go someplace else for lunch.
A Christmas Story House. This was both a huge thrill, and a huge-er disappointment. I love Ralphie! Christmas day is just not complete at the Hardy household till we’ve opened presents and watched Ralphie finally get his Red Ryder Range Model Air Rifle (good thing there’s a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time). Unfortunately, Ralphie’s house (and the museum and gift shop in two separate buildings across the street), were not open on the day that we were in Cleveland. Sigh. But we did go and see the outside of the house anyway. Bonus trivia question for you–from which direction did the Bumpuses’ dogs come? We were trying to figure out which house would have been theirs, but couldn’t remember.
We did tons more stuff on our vacation, so stay tuned for another installment.
Where did you go on your vacation this summer? Would you ever travel without reservations?