Last year, Eric and I didn’t take a vacation because I was in the studio recording SWEAT. This year we originally planned to go to the Pacific Northwest for vacation but decided not to, so we decided to take a road trip. I know it may sound strange in today’s world of plane travel, but we like road trips. So we hit the road for 9 days of fun.
Saturday/Sunday. Our first stop was Charleston, WV. Neither of us had ever been there and it wasn’t really a “destination” but part way to our next stop. We arrived on Saturday evening and asked two different hotel employees for their restaurant recommendations. They were Outback (right next door to the hotel), Chili’s and Wendy’s! Wendy’s!! Instead, we found a local restaurant called Blossom. It was set in an old diner/soda fountain that still had the original menu posted on the wall.
The next morning we got up and walked through downtown – frankly, there wasn’t a lot to see or do. We debated about checking out of the hotel early to drive to Pittsburgh. I wish we would have because there’s more to do there, and it would have given us time to see Mike Ofca, Producer extraordinaire of SWEAT. But we decided to stay and spent time at the Clay Center, which housed a planetarium/IMAX theater (we did both), and a museum containing art, sculpture and physics exhibits.
Monday/Tuesday. Cleveland was our next stop – we got there Monday afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we ventured out to have a drink. We stopped at a bar in a VERY sketchy part of town, and after having one drink, headed back to the hotel. Then we ended up going to a bar around the corner from the hotel and had a GREAT time. The place was pretty empty but the bartender (Glenn) kept us entertained. After cocktails and appetizers, we walked to an Irish pub a few blocks away from the hotel.
The next day was the real reason for the stop in Cleveland – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I had a GREAT time and could have spent another day there. In addition to the exhibits, we watched a 3D movie of U2 in concert. I’ve always liked some of their songs but became a fan after seeing that concert. They are a terrific band, Bono is a great frontman, and I loved how they structured the show to take a political, yet positive, vibe. We finished the evening by visiting Glenn again (the bar was much more crowded that day), eating dinner at a local rib shack, and walking downtown to take pictures.
Wednesday/Thursday. Cedar Point – what more needs to be said? We had lots of ride time (despite a few hours of rain on Wednesday). I was actually successful in getting Eric to ride Top Thrill Dragster – TWICE. That ride is nothing short of adrenaline on speed. We also rode Skyscraper, a ride located in the Challenge Park. We had seen a version of it in Seattle and both chickened out on riding it – that is the FIRST and ONLY time I’ve ever chickened out on a ride. Although I was tempted to bail again, we didn’t. And it wasn’t QUITE as scary as we thought it would be.
We stayed at one of the hotels at Cedar Point. When we first checked in and went to our room in Sandcastle Suites, it was a handicap accessible room. I’ve stayed in an accessible room once or twice, but pretty much refuse to do it again. (I guess I can be a diva!) I don’t need an accessible room and it’s kind of depressing. In addition, this room was about as utilitarian as possible to allow room for a wheelchair. The girl at the front desk wasn’t helpful (said they were full), so Eric called the reservation line and explained that we would not have booked the room if they had told us it was an accessible room. They upgraded us to a suite in the Breaker’s Hotel with a hot tub (didn’t use) and a huge screened in balcony overlooking Lake Erie. So thank you, Cedar Point, for fixing it. I can’t wait to see you again!
We left the park for dinner every night. We went to one of my old favorites (which isn’t in the south), and now one of Eric’s – Friendly’s. We have gone to Friendly during everyone of our CP visits.
Friday/Saturday. When we decided to take a roadtrip, I asked Eric if he would be willing to go through Evansville, IN to see some of my family that I haven’t seen in years, but who I’ve been in touch with over the last several months. We had dinner with my cousin Karla, her husband John, and my cousin Julie. We had a great meal and time to catch up. Then we went downstairs (at the casino) to listen to an 80’s cover band. The band was good, but the crowd was even more entertaining. The standouts: an old, very thin, and seemingly frail man who danced at the foot of the stage (when he wasn’t conducting the band), and a COUGAR who only knew one way to dance – very provocatively. She felt VERY good about herself.
The next morning, we went to Karla and John’s house and spent time talking and loving on the dog, cats and horses. We then went to Amber and Chris’s (their daughter and son in law) new house to spend time at the pool. The pool was very welcomed because it was HOT HOT HOT! Aunt Doraine, Julie, and Julie’s son Jordan were also there. We drank wine, ate cheese and crackers and spent several hours floating in the pool.
Jordan had to go to work, but the rest of us went back to John and Karla’s for a cookout. I ended the evening by performing a mini concert with songs from Stirred Not Shaken and SWEAT.
The stop in Evansville was the HIGHLIGHT of the trip because I had a great opportunity to catch up with Karla, Julie and Aunt Doraine. I also got to meet John, Jordan, Chris and Amber for the first time. Even though I haven’t seen this side of the family in years, I felt a strong and wonderful bond. I can’t really explain how great it felt – and how important it as to me. It was a wonderful time that ended much too soon, but with the promise of more time together in the future.
Sunday. Drove home to Atlanta. It was great to see my mom and the dogs and cats. And it was even better to be home again and sleep in our own bed.
I think we drove close to 2,000 miles. Overall, it was a very fun trip. As I wrap up, I have to say THANK YOU to my Evansville family for welcoming me after such a long absence, for your hospitality, and for being so good to Eric. And best of luck to Jordan as he starts his freshman year of college.