We woke this morning to what we now understand is typical weather near Lake Erie…thick overcast, hanging low and heavy in the sky. And before we could leave the parking lot of our hotel, the rains came pouring down. It was 8 AM and 72 degrees when we left our hotel room, but we were not on the road for quite some time. We sat in the car for a very frustrating 45 minutes, arguing with the Toyota GPS, my phone's Mapquest and a paper map of the area. All we wanted to do was find our way to Rt. 5 along Lake Erie, but getting technology to help us just was not to be. Fortunately the hotel clerk had some very simple instructions to offer, but not until we were frustrated with the mappers and with each other. So we did it all the old fashioned way…we read the signs.
We spent the morning meandering our way along the coast of Lake Erie, and as the day progressed, so did the weather. The rain stopped and eventually the sun came peeking through the clouds around 10 AM. Lake Shore Rd. did not always provide us with a view of the lake, but more often a look into life along the shores of this vast lake. We saw large homes on the shoreline and we saw smaller homes located 2 and 3 deep, packed in tighter than sardines, all claiming a piece of that desirable real estate. We drove through one small town after another, where you could stay at Henri’s Motel, buy supplies at Sam’s Lumber, get your hair cut at A Cut Above the Rest, buy ice cream at Hog’s Dairy, and eat and dance at Mickey Rat’s Restaurant.
We made a stop at Lake Erie State Park near Brockton, which was nearly deserted on this soggy morning. The park attendant didn’t even charge us for entry and we drove down to the beach to get another look at this lake, a lake that appears like an ocean except for the lack of waves crashing on the shore. And we visited two harbors/marinas and spent a pleasant time watching the birds, some of which were friendly enough to allow me to get up close and personal to take their photos. If not for the small boy whose grandmother encouraged him to run through them and make them fly away, I could have gotten even more.
We eventually landed in Erie, PA and spent some time down by the harbor where I was amazed at how this city has managed to marry industry with culture and medicine, all co-existing together by the water’s edge. Oh, and this is one city with many beautiful churches…some with the impressive architecture that is identifiably Russian Orthodox…golden domes topped with crosses.
And all along the way, for most of the day, we saw acres and acres of grape vines. I never knew that NY, PA and Ohio were so into wine making. If we had more time, we would have stopped at a winery or two, but Toledo was on the radar and we eventually had to get the car in gear moving west. We drove through Cleveland, which has a very impressive ball field where it is my understanding that the Cleveland Indians play. This city is bigger than I expected it to be and has a very impressive skyline.
We landed in Toledo after 5 PM and were pleasantly surprised when the hotel clerk gave us an upgraded room…actually 2 rooms, one a typical hotel room and the adjoining room made up as a living room. Very comfortable!! We have managed to make it to the Elite Status with La Quinta and are enjoying the benefits of our loyalty.
Tomorrow, Madison WI. Hey, Rudy, if you are reading this, we finally took your advice and plan to spend a day near your old alma mater.