Day 28-29, Sept. 23-24
This song title by The Band (which I even had on my iPod, to give us the proper soundtrack) is the appropriate one for the blog about how our almost-last day of our vacation ended.
Because of the rain the day before, and our late arrival into our Indianapolis-area campsite, we got a late start in the morning yesterday, which unfortunately made it impractical to meet our friends for lunch. They were working and we only had the window from noon-1pm to see them. We encountered traffic and more light rain in the morning, and we would not have made it to their house before 1. So we were disappointed, and decided that next year we’d better route ourselves in advance if we want to see friends on our trip.
As a result, I started thinking that maybe there was someplace else in Ohio we could stop, and suddenly thought of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland. Now, Cleveland was not exactly on the I-70 alterative route we were taking. But when I mentioned it as a theoretical possibility, Joe said, “Let’s do it!!!” So we ended up passing north through Columbus and continuing on into the city of Cleveland. Truly impractical from a number of points of view--we did not make it to our parking space (which we were most fortunate to find) until 4pm. The museum closed at 5:30. And we definitely added a few miles to our trip.
However, despite our late arrival, we both felt it was absolutely worth the stop. Since we only had a little more than an hour to visit a museum which we really would have liked to spend a whole day in, we decided to not even peek at the permanent exhibits about the history of Rock and Roll. Instead, we went to the top floors of the museum to see the current exhibit, Women Who Rock. It took up all the time we had, and we knew it would not be there a year from now, whereas the permanent exhibits will always be there.
Women Who Rock was fantastic! (BTW, the museum does not allow any photography, so no photos of the inside.) There were displays for rock and roll women from the earliest rock days (Ronnie Specter, the Shangri-Las, Leslie Gore, etc.) through all the biggest stars you could name: Janis, Grace Slick, Patti Smith, Cindi Lauper, Tina Turner, and I can’t even name all of them here--there were 30 or 40 of these displays. The most recent ones included Lady Gaga, Brittney Spears, and some that quite honestly, I’m not even familiar with and didn’t know their names! (I hope this doesn’t mean that rock and roll is passing me by!!)
Each display had a biography of the singer, her biggest achievements, and some memorabilia connected with her (record album covers, personal items, etc.). Every one of the displays also included a dress owned and worn by the singer--everything from Joan Jett’s leather and t-shirt, to a Bob Mackie original made and worn by Cher. The most amazing one was Gaga’s dress made out of meat, which she wore to, I think, the Grammy Award show. The sign explained how they preserved it after the show… really a “statement” (her remarks at the time she wore it were part of the display.) Over our heads, as we read through the exhibit, was a large screen playing videos of live performances of many of the women who were featured in the exhibit. Every once in a while a performance was so compelling that I would look up, and realize that all around the small room, visitors had stopped reading and were all engrossed in the performance they were seeing and hearing. It was a fabulous exhibit.
That was actually the second floor--the first floor had videos and background information on some of the women who were not quite considered rock-and-rollers per se, but who had been an influence in the industry, such as songwriters, folkier stars like Carole King, and people like Dolly Parton and some of the soul and gospel singers who had a lot of influence on rock music.
The entire exhibit was absolutely fantastic and by the time we finished, we had just about enough time to drift downstairs and see what else we were missing--the Hall of Fame interactive floor, where you can hear music by any of the inductees; The Wall, an installation of the stage set for Pink Floyd’s performance of the same name, and I don’t even know what else--by that time, they were shoving us out the door. Next year, our first stop will be a full day in Cleveland rocking and rolling.
We were totally pleased with ourselves for stopping, even though it had seemed crazy. Besides the museum, I realized we’d hardly been outside in several days. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is right on Lake Erie, and is next to a big science center, and the Cleveland Browns Stadium. As it turned out, we had to walk clear around the stadium from the parking lot, and it felt great to get a little exercise. I was hoping to just enjoy the ambience of the area a little more after the museum, but a HUGE black cloud was hovering over the area (making my title even more appropriate, since the complete lyric is, “Look out Cleveland, storm is coming through.”) I snapped a few quick photos with my pocket camera, including one of the wind generator adjacent to the museum, with the stadium behind it. Then we hiked quickly back to Mo. One note: there is no way the streets of any east coast city (New York, Philly, even Newark!) would be as empty in the downtown area as those streets were at 5:30 last night. Even driving right through the business district to get to the museum was easy and non-threatening. Where was the traffic? Where were all the people? The Midwest is simply a VERY different place.
From the stadium area, we managed to find our way through the spaghetti maze of interstate highways (71, 271, 480, 90, etc.) and get ourselves to I-80 (Ohio Turnpike) eastbound. And then we drove until about 9:30pm, when we stopped at a rest area in Pennsylvania. We had a very good night’s sleep, and slept late, until almost 9am. But we are now on the last leg of our trip. Joe just made us a fantastic lunch of chicken burritos topped with guacamole and salsa--super yum!! We have stopped at a Flying J to dump our tanks for the last time, and then we have no real excuses to stop until we get home. We are at mile 173 on I-80. Since it’s between home and Penn State, it hardly even counts as “away.” So, I guess I’ll be uploading this last blog at home. What a long, strange trip it’s been, as the Grateful Dead would say. Strange and wonderful, and we can’t wait to do it again.