Travel posts are such a daunting task. You have to upload pictures. You have to remember things you saw. You have to filter through the unimportant details and figure out which ones to share, like the fact that the hotel water tasted funny. This is my second travel post and first one since 2014; I already can’t wait for it to be over.
Coming off of that enthusiastic introduction, let me tell you all about it!
This post will be long and I have no intention of breaking it into parts.
Grab a snack and stay a while. This is worth it! Some of you get shoutouts, which I put in bold.
First of all, I’ve never been on vacation. I don’t consider trips out of the country to be “vacation”. I don’t consider camping trips to be “vacation”. It’s a bunch of sitting in a car and/or around a fire pit for more hours than you can tolerate.
Therefore, I won’t classify this trip as a vacation. Let’s call it, “A Luxurious Weekend in Cleveland.” I’m sure no one has ever said that about Cleveland, so, you’re welcome.
The purpose of this road trip was to see the Toronto Blue Jays play two baseball games in two days. And eat.
We left on Saturday, August 20, at 10:30AM. It was myself and two friends I met at school in residence, six years ago. I was in the passenger seat. Kids call that “shotgun”.
The thing about the three of us is we’re very much alike. We can go months without seeing or talking to each other and then be thrown into a car and pick right back up where we left off. We bounce sentences and jokes off of each other as if we’re a comedy act.
Someone should’ve put a camera in the car and made a TV show out of it.
Anyways, we got to the border, sat there for forty minutes, and were finally in the USA. The land of the free and the home of the Donald!
This was my second time going to the U.S. Let me tell all of my American readers something: you have way too many billboards on the side of your highways.
WAY. TOO. MANY.
Every other sign was asking me if I was hurt in a car or if I wanted to sue someone for assault. Violent much, America?
We don’t have billboards like that in Canada. (If we do, they are minimal). We just have signs telling us when a rest stop or food plaza is coming up. No one is trying to constantly sell us something while we’re in a car travelling at the speed of light down a street.
You want to know what you also have a lot of? American flags. They were everywhere! Every street corner. Every gas station. On the side of the highway. An American flag everywhere. There was never any confusion over which country I was in.
We have Canadian flags on display in Canada, but not at the rate at which I saw American flags.
It was nearing 1PM and we were starving. So we stopped at Olive Garden and ordered everything.
We started off with a plate of calamari to share between the three of us. We make decisions quick. All it took was for one person to say the word, “calamari” and two seconds later we decided we were ordering it.
If you have a problem with my captions, you can go read another blog.
For myself, I ordered fettuccine with shrimp and alfredo sauce. It came with a salad and enough breadsticks to make our empty stomachs smile.
Mamma Mia. The salad was delicious. There was lettuce, red onions – which are actually purple, which makes no sense – croutons, tomatoes, and cheese.
I didn’t get a picture of the breadsticks because they were gone before the camera could capture their essence.
Here is my pasta.
By the time I got to the pasta, I was already full. Which brings me to a confession. I didn’t finish the entire plate of pasta. I had about 3/4 of it and left the rest. And by “3/4”, I mean “just a bit more than half, maybe”. Sorry, Jess.
I didn’t take the leftovers with me because, 1) We had to drive for about 3.5 more hours. 2) I never wanted to eat food again. I was that full.
Dessert didn’t happen. Not even the 7-second look of “Are we ordering dessert?” Sorry, Rebekah.
We rolled out to the car and felt like we were going to explode.
We got in the car and felt every bump down the road and every quick step on the brakes. Our stomachs were sensitive. I felt like I needed bubble wrap between the seatbelt and my waist.
I started to doze off behind my dark sunglasses. I hadn’t slept at all the night before. It’s become a tradition for me to not sleep the night before we do these road trips. A terrible tradition. Don’t follow my habits, kids.
Let me tell you something about Interstate 90, there is nothing but trees on either side of it. It made me question why so many people are worried about deforestation. I just sat through three hours of nothing but trees. I think we can sacrifice a few here and there. We’re going to be fine. Just fine.
We arrived at La Quinta Inn at around 5:30PM. We walked into our room and the sink greeted us at the door. It had been kicked out of the washroom, which was as big as a closet. Just a toilet and tub.
Couldn’t do a jumping jack in there if you tried, it was that small.
There was artwork throughout the room. It was an Art Attack. 10 points to whoever got that reference. Here are some samples.
This next piece hung above me while I slept!
We took off for Progressive Field about a half hour later.
It was jersey giveaway day to the first 12,500 fans. I didn’t get a jersey. I was disappointed. It was going to rain and I was hoping to use it as a tarp.
The first thing I noticed were the giant escalators. I told you this trip was luxurious! We don’t have escalators at our stadium in Toronto. We have ramps. A million of them. Steep ones, too. We tough it out. Our calves tough it out.
When we get to the top, we lean over a bucket and let it catch our sweat.
We hopped on the escalators and enjoyed our ride to the top.
Being an outdoor stadium, this was the view.
We don’t get that in Toronto. Once you’re in the Rogers Centre, you’re in. There are walls that prevent you from seeing the outside. Funny how that works.
Here we were at the top of the stadium and condiment dispensers were a railing away from getting tossed over. Amazing. Daring. Living on the edge, for sure. Very un-Canadian.
This was the view from our seat in right field, before it got dark.
And this was our view after it got dark. Drastically different! Drastically!
It was a great game, probably one of the best games I’ve ever seen in person. Just the constant back and forth on the field and the banter that took place between fans was incredible.
The stadium was sold out. At least half of the people there were cheering for the Blue Jays.
This part is important, so if you’ve been skimming, slow down.
We would cheer by screaming, “Let’s Go Blue Jays!” Cleveland fans didn’t like that we were taking over their stadium, so they proceeded to boo us. They didn’t start cheering for their own team, oh no, they went straight to the good ‘ol boooooo.
When they realized that our cheers were louder than their boos, they finally started a chant of their own. They chanted: “U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A”.
Listen up, Americans. I’m going to be real honest with you because some of you are my friends. As a Canadian, when Americans chant “U-S-A” at us at sporting events, we think they’re absolutely ridiculous and idiotic.
The game is between Toronto and Cleveland. Yes, we’re from Canada. But most of our team is from your country, or the Dominican Republic, or some other country. What does chanting “U-S-A” at us prove?
Are you trying to make us feel bad for not being American? Because we don’t. We’re proud to be Canadian, trust me.
Are you trying to declare that your country is better than ours? Because I can assure you, you aren’t going to sway our opinion by shouting three letters at us. You’ll just validate it.
This is not an international game! You’re not cheering for your country! You’re just making fools out of yourselves.
Yes, you can have pride in your country and I respect that, but it makes no sense to do it in this situation.
Chanting “U-S-A” at us makes absolutely no sense and I hope you stop doing it in the future. Save yourself the embarrassment. It makes you look ridiculous, petty, and unintelligent.
Again, you can love your country all you want, but chanting “U-S-A” at a sporting event, just because you’re playing a Canadian team, is ludicrous. You will never see us chanting, “Ca-na-da” at you. Ever. Why? BECAUSE IT WOULDN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.
I hope I didn’t offend anyone, and if I did, you clearly don’t understand what I was trying to say.
Back to the game. I started falling asleep. The lack of sleep, long car ride, and heavy food started catching up to me.
I stooped to a low level and bought a bottle of Aquafina water, which tasted terrible, as per usual. But it’s awful taste helped keep me alert. Also, I blinked a lot to make sure my eyes didn’t stay shut. I probably looked weird, if anyone saw me.
The Blue Jays won the game and we were told to stay in our seats to enjoy a Southern Rock Fireworks Show.
Uhhh, okay! Whatever you say!
15 minutes of this! Maybe 20! No breaks. Just a bunch of fireworks and southern music playing in the background. Sounded like a war zone.
It felt really unnecessary, especially since they had to close down a road and get police officers and firefighters to supervise the entire display. But hey, whatever sends the fans home happy!
We got back to the hotel and were pretty tired, but that didn’t stop us from watching ESPN. Did you know that all they talk about is the NFL? Even though it’s the preseason, that’s all they talk about!
America, listen, there’s more to life than football. There’s baseball. There’s the Olympics. There’s hockey. Or is that a dirty word? There’s cake! Cake!? Do you guys like cake? Maybe we can get you a cake in the shape of a football to ease you into it.
Seriously, PRESEASON FOOTBALL. It’s not that important. Stop it!
We went to sleep. I had a bed. My friend had a bed. My other friend happily took the floor and all of our blankets. It worked out perfectly.
It was probably one of the best sleeps of my life. I fell asleep within two seconds and didn’t wake up until it was time to wake up. Straight through the night like an animal in hibernation.
We got up for breakfast, and for the first time since we arrived, we saw other people in the hotel. They were all wearing Toronto Blue Jays attire. What are the odds? And no one was there to chant U-S-A at us! Again, what are the odds?
I’m not big on breakfast. They had bagels, toast, waffles, and fruit. I took a banana and a cup of orange juice. Yes, the orange juice had pulp. Yes, I enjoyed every sip of it!
We checked out around 10:30AM and went off to find a McDonald’s before heading to the stadium. Luckily, we found one. It had couches, lamps, and chandeliers. It was the fanciest McDonald’s that Ronald could’ve ever dreamed of.
It also had a dresser full of old things you would find at your grandparent’s house.
It wasn’t 11AM, so they weren’t serving lunch yet. We left, put some gas in the car’s stomach, and went to a different Mcdonald’s.
The service at this McDonald’s was slow. The two guys ahead of us had been waiting for their food for 15 minutes. They were the only customers, until we arrived.
A bunch of patience later, we got our food, ate it, and left. A quarter-pounder meal is my bread and butter. It was fantastic. Yes, that was a reference to the bread and butter served at the hotel breakfast.
While I’m talking about food, I also want to mention that I hate American money. Well, “hate” might be a strong word. I dislike your $1 bill. I dislike it so much. They took up so much space in my wallet! Can’t you guys make a $1 coin? And make a $2 coin while you’re at it, too. We have both of those and it’s incredibly convenient.
Also, all of your bills looks the same! I think. In Canada, our money is colour-coded, so we don’t have to pause and read the numbers. It also looks nice. Colours are nice. Use colours. Sorry, colors. Sorry, Barb.
We had time to kill before the game, so we walked around to all the great landmarks in the city!
At this point it became clear to me that without LeBron James, Cleveland really didn’t have much. No wonder they were so mad when he left.
Having gone to the only landmark in the city, we headed to the stadium.
This was our view for the second game.
The fans around us were friendly and easy to talk to. There was a rivalry between us, but it was very respectful. It was like that the whole weekend. People in Cleveland were very welcoming and always nice to us. I can’t say a bad word about them. They treated us well.
What I’m trying to say is, they were very Canadian towards us. They were stealing our schtick.
The top of the stadium was an interesting experience. If you go all the way to the last row, the back wall is a fence. You could throw stuff through it! But it was nice to get a breeze coming in behind us all game.
And when we looked up, we saw this:
That blimp hovered above the field for about half the game. I was excited to see it. I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I haven’t seen a blimp in a long time. This almost made me shed a tear. Almost.
Fast-forward a bit…
The game was one out away from completion. For you non-baseball fans, that means the game had about two minutes left in it.
At this point, the little boy sitting next to us came back to his seat with a bowl of ice cream and a million sprinkles on top of it. I had never seen something so gutsy.
The Blue Jays lost the game, we shook hands with the fans around us, took our balls, and went home.
Oh! I should explain that “took our balls” comment. Don’t worry, it’s nothing graphic.
Before the game, we all bought a baseball from the team store that had all of the player’s signatures on it. A nice item to have as a memory for only $10.
I liked how they had my blog logo on a baseball. There were also socks with my logo on it! I felt important. It’s almost as if they knew I was coming.
I was a bit weirded out when the guy at the register asked me for my postal code. Actually, he asked me for my zip code, first, before catching himself.
He also asked me if I found everything I was looking for. I said, yes. But 20 seconds later I thought of a good comeback and wanted to say, “No. Where’s your Blue Jays section?” But it was too late.
I have bruises from kicking myself over that.
After the game, we got out of there as fast as we could and headed straight to the border.
This is a picture from the night before. It’s one of the only things surrounding their sports arenas that isn’t a bar or restaurant (that I noticed, at least), so…uhh…stare at it?
As we were leaving the downtown area, we realized the streetlights weren’t working at most intersections. Here’s a story!
We came to a 4-way intersection. The lights weren’t working. We stopped. We treated it as if it was a 4-way stop. Unfortunately, not everyone did that. One car quickly approached the intersection with the intention of going straight through. So they did.
What they didn’t realize was that there was a pedestrian starting to cross the street. Or maybe the woman crossing the street didn’t realize there was a car coming. Either way, I witnessed this lady come within one centimetre of getting flattened by a car.
We all jumped in our seats.
She had stopped walking forward just as the car was breezing by her face. She didn’t get hit. It was scary to witness. My life flashed before my eyes for her.
We got out of there and onto the highway to head home.
Things we saw on the highway on the way home included:
1. A dead deer
2. A car crashed into a guard rail
3. A PENITENTIARY ON THE SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY
Let’s talk about the penitentiary for a second. The inmates were outside. They were playing in the field. It was very shawshank redemption-y. Kind of spooky, too. Out of all the trees we passed on this highway, we passed by the one spot where there weren’t any. Lo and behold, there was a penitentiary, instead.
Oh America, always full of surprises.
As we approached the border, the sky got weird.
I should be a meteorologist.
And then a rainbow came out!
I may or may not have told the driver to stop moving the car on the highway, so I could get a still picture. He didn’t listen to me. Jerk.
And then we saw this:
Home sweet home! You know what waiting at the border is like, when you’re trying to enter your own country?
It’s like arriving to your own house, but you don’t have a key to get in, so you have to ring the doorbell and wait for a family member to wake up from their nap and slowly walk downstairs to unlock the door.
Meanwhile, you’re waiting outside with a mosquito who wants you for dinner
and a movie.
Right next to the border is our old university town. And the home of a Papa John’s Pizza. None of us had eaten anything since McDonald’s that morning and, admittedly, we were still feeling the effects from Olive Garden.
But a stop at Papa John’s was a must. I hadn’t had it in almost three years and it was one of my best friends throughout university. I needed it.
We ordered a pizza for each of us and ate in the parking lot like a bunch of miscreants up to no good. It was delicious, even though it burned my mouth.
Being back in my university town was weird, but nice. I hadn’t been there since 2013 and forgot how quiet and calm it was. Granted, it was 9:30PM on a Sunday night. But it was nice to be home, again.
I eventually arrived back at my house at midnight.
For all of you mathematicians, here: We had sat down in our seats at the ballpark at 12:30PM that afternoon, left the stadium around 4:30PM, and then sat in a car the rest of the way, only stopping for pizza and a washroom.
You do the math on how much sitting I did that day.
All in all, it was a really fun trip. We had a lot of laughs, got to see a couple of great baseball games, and the locals treated us well. In terms of having hundreds of things to do and places to go, Cleveland is definitely not Toronto, but it’s nice in it’s own way.
Would I go back? Sure.
Would I write another blog post this long? Never.