Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
When most people think of Cleveland around here, they think of Cleveland, NC. Few would ever think about Cleveland, Ohio. Those that do think of the city up north would usually have no interest in going there. Here is why you might want to go to Cleveland, Ohio.
Last year for the first time, my summer vacation was spent in north central Ohio. The Ohio Erie Canal was the perfect place to absorb some history and ride long distances on a bike, two of my favorite things. But the big drawing card was that my favorite team, the New York Yankees, was on the way to Cleveland to play a four game series. That whole trip was a huge success. Just last week, I did a shorter version of the same trip and had another great time. Here are a few details.
Most of my wives and girlfriends have accused me of being a tough person to vacation with. It has been said that I try to do too much. They want to relax and lie around. I research the area, find what there is to do, and try to experience most of it. This year, the Yanks were playing a three game series with the Indians and both teams were leading their divisions. July 4-6, and all the games were at night. That means a four- day trip, one of those to drive home, and three jam packed days of sightseeing and baseball.
Monday, July 4, was a great day to drive to Cleveland. Total travel time is just under 8 hours, and it is Interstate 77 the whole way. Our Holiday Inn was in Strongsville, Ohio, and we stopped by to drop off some stuff and head for the first night’s game and fireworks. The Indians can’t remember when they had their last sold-out game, but they had one that night. Progressive Field is a beautiful baseball stadium, with great sight lines and reasonable prices compared to other major league parks. Parking is abundant, and reasonably priced as long as you can use a parking deck. On this particular night, we had seats in right field and watched from there as the Yanks got beat on a questionable call by their own manager. If he had replaced the starting pitcher earlier… The fireworks were fantastic, and each attendee got a small statue of Bob Feller, Cleveland’s best player ever.
Tuesday, July 5 was a sunny and cool day, perfect for a ride on a reproduction of a canal boat. Boats like these plied the Erie Canal through the 1800s, until the railroad proved quicker in hauling freight and passengers. We used the car to visit a lot of the historical sites along the canal, ride the boat on a scenic tour at Canal Fulton, and check out the Cuyahoga National Park. Then we raced back to the game, where the Yanks evened the score with a good thumping of the Indians. Our seats were in the front part of the upper deck, and over home plate.
Wednesday, July 6 was the designated day to visit downtown Cleveland and stay there until game time. We started the day with a sightseeing cruise on the waterways of Cleveland and out into Lake Erie. This was another perfect day, and the venture out into the lake was a great trip, a first for me. The boat was huge, with seating for as many as 1,000 passengers. That might mean it should be called a ship. Next came a real highlight of the whole trip. The USS Cod, a World War ll era submarine, is on display at the Coast Guard Station on Lake Erie. For a nominal fee, we toured the submarine and got a real sense of what it was like to serve in such close quarters. Up to 97 men lived close to each other, slept in shifts in the same bunks, used 4 toilets and showers, and had some of the best food in the Navy. The Cod saw action numerous times, but only lost one sailor when a torpedo caught fire.
Back for another game, where the Yanks took another loss. Our seats were higher in the upper deck, overlooking third base.
The Indians play Cleveland Rocks after the game, and I agree. It is a nice clean city, a beautiful waterfront, reasonable prices, friendly people, and plenty to see and do. We never made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe next year. But if you want to see professional baseball at a reasonable price, Cleveland is hard to beat. Just check the schedule, see when your team plays there, and go have a great time.