Since we first heard that the Packers would be playing a game in Cleveland this season we’d been hoping that we’d be able to make the trip. All season long I’ve been watching the Cleveland scores as closely as the Packers. When the Browns record hit 0-9 and ticket prices hit $8 a seat I knew we’d be able to make the trip a reality.
Friday night we piled into Fred with a custom batch of “Zak’s Delicious Sandwiches” in tow. Apparently, the second week in December is the perfect weekend for a road trip since miraclulusly we made it out of Chicago and through Indiana with little other traiffic to speak of. Even with the hour time change we pulled into our hotel for the night outside of Toledo by 9, plenty of time to enjoy a beer before bed. Since we hadn’t thought to bring any with us Ellie, who was full of energy, and I went out to find one.
My first thought was to head to a brewery a couple miles down the road to pick up a six pack of a local creation. E and I walked in and asked the guy behind the bar if they sold any of their cans or bottles to go. He looked at me like it was the most rediculus thing he’d ever been asked and several patrons seated at the bar gave me the same look. With all of our cross-country travels I’ve gotten used to unusual liquor laws in different states, but I can’t think of a single brewery I’ve been to that didn’t sell their own product packaged to go. Get with it Ohio, you’re missing an opportunity here! In any case, he refered us to the Circle K across the street. As Ellie and I turned and began walking out we heard a chorus of laughter behind us marking the first time in Ellie’s life she’s been laughed out of a bar, and the first time in Ohio for me. The Circle K came through for us. I found an IPA from the Cincy brewery that was perfect for the evening.
Saturday morning we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and were off to the Gordon Square neighborhood of Cleveland. I’d seen an article about it in the NY Times a few weeks before and the selection of restaurants, shops, and entertainment looked like it would make for a fun afternoon. Our first stop there was the Superelectric Pinball Parlor, an arcade featuring about 20 resorted pinball machines. We bought two cups of tokens and spent the next 45 minutes trying our skill at the games.
Since it was getting close to 1 o’clock we decided to find lunch and settled on XYZ Tavern. Every table but one was full when we walked in, with several people waiting. We decided to split up with the girls taking the one open table of two and Mol and I sitting at the bar. It turned out that that plan was acceptable to 3/4 of the members of our family. Regardless, Mol and I enjoyed our date along with great beer and a passable omelet. Unbeknownst to us before our arrival Gordon Square was celebrating a Winter Fest while we were there so after lunch we wondered through some of the shops. Each one had a live musician. We also made a stop at the S’mores pits for dessert.
With wine hour approaching we decided it was time to head to the Kimpton Schofield, our Cleveland home. When we arrived the valet parking was overflowing with Packers fans arriving. I saw an opening that I could pull Fred into and did so. Molly, Zoe, Ellie, and the valet guy all disagreed with my decision. I, however, stand by it. Fred was not at all on the sidewalk as Molly claimed. After relocating Fred to a spot more acceptable to the valet we unload our gear and headed inside where we were warmly greeted by Abigale and the rest of the staff.
They hooked us up with a room that they should seriously consider naming the “William Lowe Rice” suite. I know the boat has sailed on naming 718 in honor of Mr. Rice, but 217 would still be worthy choice. The girls took over the living room and Molly and I set up in the bedroom with a corner view. Ellie and Zoe took turns in the claw-foot tub while we relaxed for a bit before heading down for wine hour.
Although we’d seen some Packers fans out and about earlier in the day wine hour was where it first began dawning on me that there were going to be a LOT of Packers fans at the game. We chatted with several and saw many more coming and going. After wine hour we headed to Great Lakes brewery for dinner. While the beer was good, the food was just so-so. Apparently this wasn’t our trip for good brewery experiences. We did see many many more Packers fans though. One fan even led the waiting area in a chant of “Go Pack Go” and we played Heads Up with a whole group of them.
Sunday morning we slept in, drank coffee, and watched the people dressed head to toe in green and gold streaming by in the direction of the stadium. Eventually we joined them and made the mile walk to Firstenergy Stadium. I posted on Facebook yesterday that it looked like Lambeau on the inside. I really don’t think there’s a way to overstate how many Packers fans were there. Overall, it was probably about 50/50 GB/CLE. The section we were in, though was dominated by GB fans which made the game even more fun. The game itself was an awesome nail-biter capped off by a Davonte Adams touchdown in overtime. A perfect ending to an awesome weekend!