I made it to Cleveland late Wednesday night to the chagrin of my persnickety innkeeper. I guess I should have called to tell him I was getting in late. Whoops! The Brownstone Inn is on the National Register of Historic places and certainly deserves that plaque. It is a townhouse in a row of about five others. It is clear that the whole neighborhood used to be like this, but most of them were torn down and now parking lots and concrete are in its place. Too bad, but like the architectural historian also staying at the inn said, “Of course, you can’t save every building.”
It was difficult to get good pictures of the inside to really capture its essence. The decor was period, I suppose, with some abstract art interspersed. Strange, but I liked the character it added. It made me chuckle. The distinctive blue door is its trademark, but I was most taken by the historic elm in front. The plaque by the Elm Research Institute reads:
Incredible considering that over 75% of the elms in the United States were wiped out by Dutch elm disease by 1989.
In spite of my tardiness the night before, the innkeeper made me a nice breakfast (between 8:30 and 9am, no exceptions!) and asked me my plans for Cleveland. I told him I was going to Cuyahoga Valley National Park to ride my bike. He had some other ideas for me and sent me to Rocky River Metropark, one of a series of parks surrounding Cleveland. It was green and hilly with a path that wound its way through the forest along the river. I came around a corner and discovered why the river was named Rocky. I might have been singing the theme song to Rocky as I biked up some of the hills, but the name, I believe, was actually referring to these enormous slate cliffs framing the river. I was also treated to bank swallows (life bird!) building their nests, many chipmunks, and a kingfisher battle.
It was a lovely ride and I was starving by the end of it, so I headed to the waterfront in downtown Cleveland. I read in The Plain Dealer, the local paper with a name I absolutely love, there would be food trucks waiting. I grabbed some lunch and listened to the singer they had performing for Lunch by the Lake. When nature called, I snuck into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to use the bathroom. I browsed a couple of bathroom-adjacent exhibits next to a man wearing jeans and only a leather vest, until I got kicked out for not having a wristband. I know, SO rock and roll!
That evening I was on the hunt for two things: good beer and live music (you may detect some themes in my blog, namely birds and beer). I headed to Great Lakes Brewery and happened to be there on Firkin Thursday. What luck! I already knew I liked their beer, the firkin was a delicious (and potent) imperial IPA, and their food was pretty tasty too, but the troubadour across the street was priceless.
After dinner I went to Happy Dog where Michael Hurley was playing with a couple openers. I had never heard of him, but what I read about his folky style appealed to me. Apparently, I had been missing out. There were many people there who had driven over two hours just to see him that night. I had some interesting conversations waiting for the bands to start and managed to stay awake for Mr. Hurley who started around 11:30pm. The vibe in the bar changed dramatically when he started playing and I witnessed something I had never seen happen at a show: people sat on the floor of the bar and listened silently. It was a lot like story time at the public library. Very strange, but at least they were paying attention!
Fueled again the next morning by breakfast at the Brownstone, I made my way to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The innkeeper wasn’t talking me out of it today! The park follows the Cuyahoga River and has a Towpath Trail along the Ohio & Erie Canal that is perfect for biking. I rode about 10 miles from the northern part of the park near Cleveland to the visitors center then locked up the bike and took a short hike to Brandywine Falls. I scurried back to catch the train that runs along the towpath to get back to my car. The park was, like most of the other parks I have visited so far, densely forested and lush, but the train ride was a great way to top it off.
I am so glad I did not skip this park like the innkeeper seemed to want. I went with my gut instinct that it would be a nice day’s outing and I was right. Another lesson learned to take advice from others, but heed my own first.
Back in the car and on to Indianapolis!