Boating: Quiet times are better than not being here
July 27, 2011
It has been really quiet on the canal, lately. More of our members are absent than at any time in my recent memory. I may have fallen into a bit of a funk because when my darling wife proposed we go to a wedding in Ohio I didn't immediately consider suicide. I was definitely not myself.
Since the bride is out Goddaughter it was important that we attend … not just she, but we. Against my better judgment I agreed but procrastinated as long as I could before purchasing the tickets. I secretly wanted to drive because if I'm not on a boat on vacation, then I prefer to drive my truck and side trip to the OBX.
Circumstances and the price of gas changed my mind. Three days before the rehearsal dinner I went on Cheap Tickets and found 3 round trip tickets for $310 a piece on USAIR. Orlando to Akron Canton, wherever that is, through Charlotte, North Carolina and return. So we got to drive some and fly the rest, which made most of us happy.
My son, the television star, accompanied us. The first legs were as smooth as butter: full-size rental car to the Hotel Intercontinental within the Cleveland Clinic complex downtown. The closer we got to the inner city, the more gang marking and graffiti we saw. The city is suffering from white flight and the rust belt blues.
After checking in, we picked up our Indians tickets and took a cab to the stadium. The Indians were losing, and I realized that somethings hadn't changed. This was the first major league baseball game for my son, and he'd mightily resisted going but the game was secondary to the 'event'!
Fireworks, mascot races, live television pictures of the fans on the Jumbo-tron, hats and t-shirts tossed into the seats on a regular basis all made the evening fly by for us even as tired as we were. I'm not sure if I noticed the beer sales cut-off the in the late innings, because I wasn't willing to pay $7 for a beer. But the crowd turned ugly around the 8th.
The Toronto Blue Jays were beating the Cleveland Indians and a smattering of Canadians was in attendance. Chants of USA grew louder and more angry as Toronto added to the score. The cheering Canadians began receiving taunts and an occasional hot dog or bun thrown their way. When it was evident that our team was out of the game, my son, my brother and I made for the cab stand.
As we waited, a group of opposing fans pushed and shoved nearby. They couldn't have been real Canadians because real Canadians don't act that way. Then my son reminded me of the recent riot in Vancouver but I still couldn't believe it.
“Beer and testosterone know no borders,” said my wise younger brother. One Blue Jays fan went off in handcuffs.
I took a rental car tour of downtown Cleveland with my reluctant son Saturday morning. Cleveland is in Pennsyltuckey so I had been through there in my youth, and I remembered an energetic city with a great waterfront and a happening district called the 'Flats!' Downtown was vaguely familiar and we kept seeing signs for the Flats but never found the area I remembered.
The Cuyahoga wasn't on fire like the old days but just like a lot of cleaned up rivers in the rust belt, it teemed with fish but not human neighbors. We found a scenic overlook of Lake Eerie, and I reflected on my youth and sailboat racing, which bored my son to tears. The Terminal Tower stood as tall as ever. Its lighted dome is probably still a comfort to passing ships and racing sailboaters if only to confirm their position.
My son's only comment on the tour about the once grand city and its struggles to regain its place in status was, “Get me out of here!”
The church was grand, the bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome. The reception was held in the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and everyone had a great time. So good to see all the relatives and the weather was perfect. No dreary Eerie on that trip.
It was too good to last or maybe we stayed a day too long, but on Monday our luck changed. I won't bore you with the details but let me just say we will never fly PSA disguised as USAIR Express again! Never, never, never! The only reason I might ever return to the Akron/Canton airport again would be to strike a certain gate agent right in the chops.
Safely back in the beautiful Southwest Florida area, the anger has now subsided but I forget slowly. Then I met Cleveland Jack at the Big Game Waterfront Grill. He introduced me to his daughter, and she tells me about their great “Father and Daughter” day at the beach. I tell them about my family trip to Cleveland. Sometimes it is great therapy to relive bad situations, but it didn't work this time.
I will never again question my decision to live here!
Boatguy Ed is a retired paint manufacturer working toward a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize. If you think he deserves a nomination, not the whole prize, send your approval to boatguiEd@aol.com. Go to www.boaterstreasures.com
by boatguy Ed