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.


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!)


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.

Great Lakes Road Trip Days 1-6

Hey – we’re back! It’s August and we have another three week trip lined up. This time, we’re in the North Eastern United States, and we’ll be visiting seven states overall, along with one province in Canada.

After a hairy trip to the airport in which we nearly missed the plane completely (our suitcase did miss the plane!), we managed to get to Chicago and then drove through Illinois, Indiana and a large part of Ohio. We’re on a bit of a mission for this first day of driving, since we have to reach Wooster, OH, home of the Ohio Light Opera Festival. We’ll be here for almost a week, prior to embarking on a tour of the Great Lakes.

The trip from Chicago to Wooster is well over 350 miles, so it’s a long day of driving; still, we manage to find an hour or so to stop off at our first Great Lake – Lake Michigan, which we catch sight of from Indiana Dunes National Park, in Chesterton, IN. This is when we realise just how great these Great Lakes really are: from this sandy beach, the lake stretches away into the distance, looking far more like a sea than a lake.


We’ll be seeing lots of sights like this along our way, but first: it’s time to get to Ohio!

The OLO is in its 40th year, and as part of this year’s symposium, Dominic’s giving a couple of talks about Rodgers & Hart and Leonard Bernstein. Alongside the symposium, there is a full schedule of performances: seven shows in the beautiful Freedlander Theatre, and an additional handful of concerts in the Scheide Music Center. What a great week! For us the highlights were two fantastic productions of Iolanthe by Gilbert and Sullivan, and Candide by Leonard Bernstein. A concert performance of Offenbach’s rarely performed Les Trois Baisers du diable (The Three Kisses of the Devil) was exciting to see, and The Pajama Game in the main house was also really enjoyable. Some of the performances were excellent, and the overall quality of the OLO company – especially in terms of their vocal ability – is tremendous.


Wooster is a university town in the middle of deepest Ohio. Apart from the Festival audiences, it’s been rather deserted since most of the students have not been around. But driving in to the town we caught a real glimpse of rural American life – lots of sweetcorn in the fields, lots of iconic American barns by the roadside, and every so often, an Amish buggy.


As it happens, Light Opera is not entirely Karen’s cup of tea, so from time to time she dipped out of the events of the symposium to explore the local area. Top of the list of the priorities (according to everybody we asked) was a trip to Lehman’s, the local hardware store (20 miles away). Dominic was delighted with his Olive Spoon and Bottle Opener; that’s him sated for the rest of the trip.

It’s been a fun week, and we have met lots of fabulous new friends – thanks to everyone for their great hospitality and for making us feel so welcome!