My first stop in Ohio was lunch in Toledo at a hot dog restaurant where they’re known for having celebrity signed hot dog buns. Yep. That’s their thing… and yep, it was actually pretty cool for a gimmick. Legend (or you know, their own wall plaque) tells that Burt F’n Reynolds started the tradition by grabbing the closest bun when asked for an autograph, and thus is responsible for this tradition of famous people signing buns since hot dogs are the specialty along with Hungarian fare at Tony Packo’s Cafe. The place also got a publicity boost from local fan Jamie Farr of MASH fame. The wall of buns includes singers, actors, local politicians, presidents, sports stars, the works. Only one tiny case holds actual buns since they started decomposing and have since wisely swapped to foam buns. In any case, my pierogis were good but not anywhere near as good as the ones made by my friend Inna and I enjoyed giving some good vibes to the Obama/Biden buns.
Elsewhere in Toledo I spent a beautiful afternoon in the city botanical gardens walking through the beautiful plants, the pond, and checking out the statues on a nice sunny day. Then it was off to Sandusky Bay for the night so I’d be ready to catch a morning ferry to South Bass Island. Unexpectedly my evening ran a little late as I cried like a crazy person for a few minutes upon hearing of the passing of RBG.
My mood the next morning did not improve much and I was a super grumpy grump between that, a messed up breakfast order, a deceptive parking fee, and too close standing ferry goers who didn’t seem to grasp the whole nose covering part of mask wearing. Then I was literally the only person from the ferry who opted not to rent a golf cart or bike and walk the half hour to the attractions- zero sidewalks, crazy drivers, what a weird place. My first stop was the largest-known geode, Crystal Cave under a local winery. Pretty lackluster sweet wine, but a cool cave that sparkled all over from Celestine crystals.
This island is known mainly for the town of Put-In-Bay, known for the monument to Admiral Perry’s victory on Lake Erie in the War of 1812, along with a lot of party places… including the world’s longest bar! At over 400′ of zig zagging bar, the Beer Barrel Saloon was a sight to see, and I was very glad to have arrived to check it out from the patio before the afternoon rush started to trickle in. I was so ready to escape that place (and the whole island to be honest) once the sea of bachelorette parties, biker folks, groups from an old Jeep ‘invasion’ parade, and others who seemed not to think twice about crowding together and singing and mixing. Cue to vamoose to walk around the monument and back along the bay to the ferry.
I camped for the night at a nearby state park and checked out the Marblehead Lighthouse on a windy afternoon with a distant view of a closed Cedar Point, then continued onward to Cleveland with the Drew Carey theme playing in my head. I walked through the Lake View cemetery with notable graves including President Garfield, some Rockefellers, and Elliot Ness along with a cool weeping angel statue, and later went by the best attraction of the city- obviously the Christmas Story house with its ‘fra-gee-lay’ leg lamp prominent in the window. While I didn’t spend a lot of time in Cleveland I did do a cursory nighttime drive through town by some other cool things like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the largest chandelier, the largest rubber stamp, and some other cool areas of town.
My main reason for coming through Cleveland was to explore the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which consumed the following day. Did a quick walk around Brandywine Falls, and another to Blue Hen Falls before a little longer walk through the Ledges. I wish I’d had longer to explore this area of beauty that showcases the power of what we can do when improving environmental quality is made a priority.
Heading east through Ohio I made a few quick pit stops in the town of Warren, birthplace of both Neil Armstrong and Dave Grohl. One got a little park with a replica moon lander next to a McDonalds. The other got an entire alley of cool graffiti. I tend to lean toward one being cooler… can you tell? If anything was going to leave me with a positive memory of this state, it was some waterfalls and some Foovana vibes. Thanks, Ohio!