Great Lakes Road Trip Day 8: Cleveland to Niagara

Last night we dined in a bank. Today, we robbed one.

Everything started as we had planned it. We left Cleveland by about 10am, en route to Niagara. We’d always anticipated stopping for lunch at the Chautaugua Institution in up-state New York. And so we did.

This had been recommended to us by our friend Liz. It’s an amazing place: established around 150 years ago, it was set up to encourage self-improvement through artistic pursuits, intellectual debate, and educational lectures. Chautaugua is now a gated community for residents and visitors, which boasts an impressive series of concerts, plays, operas, and classes, all intended to nurture creativity and community. This is something that is very relevant for us, since we are just about to publish our book, “Economies of Collaboration in Performance“. We enjoyed the peaceful vibe of the Chautaugua grounds and the idyllic views of the Chautaugua Lakeshore.

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There are events for everyone here – we even noticed that the Sports Club was hosting a Fortnite Tournament alongside its Shuffleboard contests. This is something that would appeal to our son Max!

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Sadly, we couldn’t stay long: we were soon back on the Interstate headed for the Canadian border and Niagara Falls. Having been advised by many people, we chose to stay on the Canadian side of the border, so we crossed over to Niagara (Canada) via the Rainbow Bridge and found our lovely guesthouse, Villa Gardenia.

It was only a short stroll into town, though we had to get some Canadian dollars out of the bank, so we stopped off on Queen Street, and that was where our trouble began.

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How were we to know that there was already a cash card in the machine? How were we to know that it would spit cash out at us from somebody else’s bank account? And how were we to know that the guy who left just as we were coming in would step straight into a car with the engine running outside the bank, leaving us holding the cash and not knowing exactly what to do with it?

So we went and had a burger and a beer. It’s always best to think on a full stomach. Now we’ve got to go back to the bank tomorrow, with our fingerprints all over the contraband and our guilt etched starkly on our faces. Good job we brought a handy holdall and some balaclavas. Karen already had a grilling on our way over at the border, and now in less than an hour we’ve committed petty larceny and grand theft cash machine. Gulp.

Notwithstanding this minor setback, we’ve found Niagara Falls (Canada) to be quite a pleasant town – even if it is very quiet. Looks exactly like the sort of Main Street on which you’d find a bank heist occurring. And they’ve obviously already identified Karen as a major wanted figure in Niagara Falls.

We strolled back to our guest house, taking a moment out to look at the meandering Niagara River.

You can’t even see the guilt, can you? Practically Bonnie and Clyde, this pair. Tomorrow, we’ll take in the Falls. (After we’ve returned the money to the bank).

Great Lakes Road Trip Day 7: Cleveland

With fond farewells we set off from Wooster, bound this morning for Cleveland. It’s not too far so we arrive by lunchtime, though with only one night in the city we have to make the most of seeing the sights.

Cleveland, perhaps surprisingly, is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – though this begins to make a bit more sense when you discover that it was Cleveland DJ Alan Freed who first coined the term “Rock and Roll” in 1951. Thus a new form of music was born, and Cleveland made its name in the annals of rock history.

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We spend a good couple of hours in the R&RHoF, which is really busy! Places like this always surprise you by being overwhelming in certain ways, underwhelming in others, and sometimes downright peculiar. One exhibit showed a scruffy old couch dating from the 1960s – it turned out to be Jimi Hendrix’s father’s sofa, fresh from a lifetime of Jimi sitting watching TV and noodling on his guitar. (You can decide whether that is overwhelming, underwhelming, or downright peculiar!)

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Some of the more beguiling exhibits in the museum were the posters, particularly these, showing the Californian summer of love:

 

In the evening we were treated by new friends Jocelyn and Tom to a lovely dinner at Crop. We’ve been really struck on this trip by the generosity and hospitality of our American hosts. Tonight, we enjoyed the lovely food, great atmosphere, and lively conversation of this piano bar (which used to be one of the city’s banks). Cleveland was in high spirits, as its baseball team the Indians beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 in tonight’s game. Driving back to our hotel, celebrations were in the air with fireworks and crowds throughout the city.