July 2007 Trip to Cleveland

Clifford House
1810 West 28th Street Cleveland, OH 44113
Reservations   216 589 0121

The city neighborhood was nice -- several restaurants, a coffee shop, and the Great Lakes Brewery are just a few blocks away. We had a beer there both nights.

Our room was really great. I wish it were in my house! Owner Jim was a friendly, relaxed host who cooked up a very tasty breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit and yogurt, banana bread...all delicious!). Other guests staying while we were there: two traveling friends (one from Montreal, one from France) who just showed up at the door the night before, and a couple from Santa Fe on their honeymoon after getting married in the bride's hometown of Toledo.

Jim has two animals that will visit with you if you want them to. Sherlock (above left, taking a momentary break from trying to lick my face) was a newly adopted shelter dog and Vivian (right) is a longtime resident who was also a stray. The neighborhood has been improving over the last six to eight years and according to a friend of Jim's, Vivian was a harbinger of the up-scaling. He said, "You know the neighborhood is looking up when the stray cats are de-clawed Siamese!"
The West Side Market was quite a happenin' place on Saturday mroning. In the main market I saw suckling pigs, cow spleens, and other delicacies. The produce market was safer...nothing creepy lurking there.

After the market, we walked down West 25th and across the bridge into town. Our initial plan was to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but serendipity intervened...

...in the form of the DEW TOUR!!! We came upon a commotion of security guards, cars, trailers, etc. at we neared the lake. It was obvious something interesting was going on. We learned it was the Mountain Dew-sponsored X-Games! I love watching them on TV -- those kids are unbelievable (and totally insane.)

Tickets were only $13 so it was a no-brainer. The crowd consisted of us and a zillion 9-16 year old boys carrying skate boards, all dreaming of following in the wheel tracks of Tony Hawk.

The venue was perfect...very scenic!

There were three main competition areas and a "festival village" all along the waterfront near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (The biker in yellow above is silhouetted against the R&R HoF.)

The Festival Village had lots of activities -- one was a miniature skate park and there was a tiny run of dirt hills to ride on. It was swarming with tiny bundles of testosterone in knee pads and helmets. Very cute.

I must have said, "Oh my god" a million times while watching the dirt bike guys jump off the ramps. They were so high up in the air. I can't imagine how you learn to do what you see above and to the left.

We watched the skateboarders on the half-pipe. We were waaaay high up on bleachers -- must have been at least 30 feet in the air. I was a little freaked out by the height and amount of people (almost 500 on each side) on these bleachers. High atop these seats I mentally calculated the likelihood of Pepsi and NBC letting their deep pockets get picked by massive lawsuits from the families and survivors of a horrendous bleacher collapse.

I decided that surely they must have contracted with a reliable engineering firm to install these seats-on-stilts.

I loved the shadows the skaters cast on the vertical sides of the pipe. It was very cool to watch the guys go straight up the sides and just step off onto the flat area at top. It looked like they were floating.
They fell a lot, but never got hurt.

This is Shaun White, Gold Medal Olympian (2006 snowboard half-pipe) and star of the oft-seen American Express commercial where he uses his rewards points for airline tickets to chase snowstorms all over the world. We watched two rounds of the SKX Vert finals and he didn't finish his first two 45-second turns, but must have done well enough in the third because he won the event.

That night we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where Rob had a brief brush with celebrity. While viewing a large chest (an instrument tool kit of sorts) owned by a Rolling Stones roadie, Shaun White was suddenly next to Rob.

SW: "I wonder what they used that for."
Rob: "Picks or something, I guess."
SW: "hmm."

My favorite thing at the RR Hall of Fame was a 4-page letter written by college-freshman Madonna to a friend. She loved her dance classes, was a big flirt with her teacher (what a surprise!), liked Shakespeare but hated having to write about what they read ("takes all the fun out of it") and hated her roommates... one was a "Jesus Freak" and the other was in ROTC.

She hated what she regarded as the "slow life" at the University of Michigan and the lack of discipline in some of her fellow dance students. She couldn't wait to quit school and move to New York where she thought she might end up "shoveling sh*t off the sidewalk" to support herself but she couldn't ignore her dream -- a career in dance. Congrats Young Madonna, you did all right for yourself.

As a fine way to end our X-Games afternoon, we ate at Jac's in the warehouse district. Very pricy ($90!) but it was the only meal we had to pay for that day so it was a treat. I had two Caipirinhas...YUM. (recipe here). Our appetizer (shown at left) was a potato pierogi with crab meat, capers and brown butter. It was really, really good!

We sat outside -- the weather was perfect the whole weekend.

On Sunday we stopped at Taste of Tremont a few miles away from our B&B. We had yummy ice cream and a limeade while we wandered in galleries and shops and viewed crafts for sale.Then we headed home. Another quick, fun exploration of a nearby city!


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