I went back to Ohio

6 Jul

Oh blog, I’ve been neglecting you!

A few years ago, my job decided to save money by closing down on Fridays during the summer, leaving us to work 40 hours in four days and party-down with three day weekends from May to July.  My days are a combination of counseling college kids and working on the computer, leaving my brain fried by Thursday night and killing my desire to sit at a keyboard and be communicative on my days off.

I know…excuses, excuses.

Motorized vehicles only please…

It’s not that there haven’t been adventures.  I left Jason at home with the dog and the cat and went to Ohio to visit a long-lost friend from college a few weeks ago.Not to take anything away from The Pretenders, but I went back to Ohio and my city wasn’t gone…in fact, everything seemed just fine.

The farmland in NE Ohio is beautiful, and the Amish and their methods of transportation are charming (if a bit difficult to maneuver around on old, hilly farm roads).  Thankfully, horse and buggies get their own parking lot…having to navigate the parked horse poo would be no fun.

Everyone was nice, and I only got called out for saying “y’all” once.  What a fabulous, efficient word!  You Ohioans don’t know what you’re missing…

But I digress.  I know Ohio probably isn’t high on the list of vacation spots for most, but I had a pretty amazing time reconnecting with my friend and driving around the country.  We went to a Cleveland Indians game, visited the University of Toledo (where we met and lived on the same floor of our freshman dorm), went through the Cleveland Museum of Art,  and toured and ate at the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

We didn’t eat as much cheese as I would have liked, and you know cheese is serious business in Amish country.  Next time…

If loving garlic sauce is wrong, I don’t want to be right…

So much has changed in the 16 years since I was a college freshman at UT.  One place that hasn’t changed at all is Phoenicia, a little Mediterranean restaurant that’s been operating for more than 20 years in the student union of the University of Toledo campus.  They’re using the same pink vinyl tablecloths and the same fake grape leaf decorations they had when I was a student in 1996.  There was even the same group of old guys camped out at a table in the corner arguing about politics.  I realized two things when we walked in 1) my standards for ambiance was very low freshman  year and 2) ambiance be damned if there’s good food!  Thank God the decor and the clientele aren’t the only things that are still the same here.  For 16 years, I’ve had dreams about the chicken shawarma sandwich with hummus and Phoenicia bread with garlic sauce, and it tastes exactly the way I remember it.

Sometimes it’s awesome when things don’t evolve.

Thoroughly enjoyed the Indians game – especially when former Rays player Johnny Damon hit a home run for Cleveland.  You’re welcome, Tribe.  Now give him back 🙂  Seriously though, Progressive Field was impressive and our cheap seats would be hard to beat.  After stuffing ourselves silly at the Winking Lizard before the game, I had to pass up all the fabulous baseball stadium food.   Clearly Cleveland subscribes to our friend Adara’s theory that “it’s not a baseball game unless you have a tummy ache,” and I was a little sorry to have missed it.  I’m not sorry to have passed up the Genesee Cream Ale however…

The Cleveland Museum of Art boasts free admission.  Free.  Mint Museum, are you listening?  While Cleveland’s currently undergoing some pretty serious renovations (probably why it was free!), we were still able to see many of the pieces housed there.  Unfortunately, neither of us ever took art history class seriously, so we had no idea what we were viewing…(note to self – use your Fridays off to get some culture).

We rounded out our adventures with dinner and a tour of the Great Lakes Brewing Company.  Dinner was awesome (mac and cheese with pancetta?  Yes please!) and the tour was fun…as long as you count dodging forklifts hauling pallets of beer fun (which I do).  I thought North Carolina had cornered the market on silly beer restrictions with our no purchases before noon on Sundays, but OH does one better – free tastings are against the law.  We had to pony up 25 cents per pour…strange, right?

All in all, a great week.  I got to reconnect with an old friend, revisit some college memories, and eat at Phoenicia’s one more time.  Summer is good.


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