We didn't go far, or stay for very long, but it was a lot of fun anyway! We left our little Bella with my parents for the long weekend. It was the first time we had been away from her for more than overnight.
Our first stop was Cleveland Ohio for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We spent the day there and saw everything. We had been talking about going there for years, pretty much since we first started dating. I thought it was interesting, but not at all what I expected. I can't describe exactly what I thought it would be like, but I can't help but feel cost of admission was a little high for what is there to be seen. It was fun though. We left as the Hall was closing and found a map and planned out how to get to the restaurant we had picked out for dinner. About an hour later, we found it. Great Lakes Brewing Company. Food was good, beer was better.
After we waddled out of the restaurant with full bellies, we headed toward the hotel, which instead of being on Lake Erie, like I wanted, we had to drive about 35 minutes south to a small town outside of Cleveland. We had a limited budget and couldn't spend $100/night for all three nights. The hotel was ok. No frills or anything special, just a room with a bed and a bath. All we needed.
We hadn't quite decided what we were going to do the next day, so we browsed the tourist magazine that was in the hotel room. The only idea I had for the next day was to go on to our next destination and see the city. Our next destination was Columbus to bet on the harness races at Scioto Downs. Post time wasn't until 6:30, so we had a whole day to kill. In the magazine there was an ad for an enormous flea market only about 45 minutes away from our hotel, and somewhat on the way to Columbus. We only got lost a couple... ok, we got really lost quite a few times. But we found it. A couple of the vendors had puppies and after being away from Bella for less than two days already, I wanted to snuggle them. The sellers were pretty firm about the pups being held by SERIOUS buyers only. jerks.
We headed toward columbus and got there just in time to plan out our first couple bets and re-familiarize ourselves with the process. Unfortunately we did not come out ahead. The first time we had been to the harness races we did really well. We had no idea how to read the program other than to read the names of the horses and what race they were in. So we just picked horses by their funny names. We did pretty well for first timers. I think we broke even that time. This time though, we had some knowledge and could pick out a little information from the program. We bet on the first 5 races trying to use that information. The last 5 races we went back to our funny name system. Neither way worked. Out of the 10 races (and us betting separately for each race, so really 20 bets) we won ONE. One single race. Good thing we were only betting $1 on each race.
That night we stayed at the most filthy, scary, awful and not cheap hotel I've ever seen. I booked all our hotels ahead of time online. This hotel was scary. The room had a bed and a tv. that is pretty much all we had. No alarm clock, no remote control, no ice bucket, no plastic cups, no hair dryer. I think all we had was a single bar of awful hotel soap. The room reeked like paint and was visibly dirty. If I were more like my mother I would have complained and/or left and gotten my money back. I don't know where we would have stayed, we surely would have had to charge a more expensive hotel. So we ended up staying there. Even though we were tired from a long day and a lot of driving and getting lost, I couldn't get to sleep because I was thinking of all the different ways we could possibly be killed in our sleep.
We woke up the next morning (good thing I have an alarm clock in my cell phone) in time to shower and get the hell out of there. We glanced toward the continental breakfast on the way out, we paused and looked at each other and I just said, "let's go find a bakery". So we hit the road looking for some kind of little bakery, starbucks or ANYTHING. We found a Tim Hortons a little ways down the road and loaded up on caffeine and naughty breakfast items. Things with frosting and cheese and chocolate in and on them. And headed toward the next and final destination: Cave City, Kentucky.
We drove the 4 or 5 hours to Cave City and arrived at the hotel right at check-in. We walked in and told the woman at the hotel we had reservations. I guess we missed the time zone change sign on the freeway. It was an hour earlier than we thought. So we decided to go to the Cave first and come back to the hotel later. There were a lot of Cave tours to choose from in this part of the state. Mammoth Caves were right near our hotel, but I saw one online called The Lost River Cave, this one had a walking tour to the cave entrance and then a boat tour inside the cave! So we had to go to that one. It was amazing and I could do a whole blog post just about the cave, but I won't because this entry is already getting to be pretty lengthy. So here are some pics and brief explanations. If you want more, you'll have to go take the tour yourself. It is not expensive at all and is worth every penny.
This is a blue hole. One of the 5 or so places the river is above ground.
This is a section of the river that was above ground. Picture was taken from just outside the mouth of the cave.
After the cave tour we wandered the hiking trails and found something we could set the camera on and use the timer to get a picture of us together. It only took 4 or 5 tries to get one of me in the shot too. We were standing on some rocks in a little stream.
After the cave tour we headed back to Cave City to our hotel. This was the only night we spent at a NICE hotel. This room had a King size bed and a 2 person Jacuzzi tub in the room. I also found an ad online for a nice steakhouse. I looked at pictures and a menu online. It showed $20+ steaks and lobster and all the things you expect at a fancy steakhouse. So we showered and got all dressed up and went to the steakhouse. We drive up and from the outside it doesn't look very fancy. We think maybe they just don't spend their money on the OUTSIDE. So we go in and see everyone in cutoff jeans, tank tops, SWEAT PANTS. So, we're a little overdressed. We wait to be seated and look around. The walls are 80's wood paneling, with the tables and chairs that you would have found in a Pizza Hut in 1987. There is a small, not so fancy salad bar in front of the open galley kitchen. We sit down, thinking, maybe the menu will redeem the rest of what we saw so far. We glance over the menu, looking for steaks, seafood, wine list and beer selection... We see steaks. Just your average American restaurant style dinners, and no alcohol at all. So we decide to leave before the waitress comes back. We hi-tail it out of there and drive back to the hotel. We didn't see anything else along the way. The only option looked like a steakhouse Saloon type restaurant that was attached to the hotel across the street. We go into the lobby of our hotel and ask the attendant for a recommendation. We should have asked about a fancy place or steakhouse specifically, because when we asked for a good restaurant, he immediately referred us to the little mom/pop BBQ joint practically in the parking lot behind the hotel. We also asked where we could buy some alcohol. He pretty much just laughed and said, "welcome to the bible belt". It was Sunday and there is absolutely NO ALCOHOL sold on Sundays. We were pretty bummed that we couldn't have a glass of wine or beer with dinner, on the one night of the trip we were doing our romantic type stuff. But we ended up having a really nice dinner at the hotel steakhouse across the street. After dinner we had a soak in the Jacuzzi tub and watched the ever so romantic show "Ice Road Truckers".
Monday morning we slept in a bit and headed north toward home. Of course, I had scoped out a yarn shop and planned to hit it on the way home on Monday. It was in a little town called Bellevue right on the border between Cincinatti, Ohio and Kentucky. I had $50 set aside for splurging there. And I did. I got some nice variegated laceweight and a skein of Schaefer Anne. Turns out, I drove to Kentucky to buy laceweight yarn that is manufactured only an hour from my house.
We returned home and unpacked the car and then I went out to check on the garden. My mom and sister had been there Saturday night to water the garden and pick anything that was ripe. I had been having a problem with Japanese Beetles on my green beans. So I had a spray bottle of soapy water out there. It just takes one squirt and they die and fall off the leaf. In the two days since Mom and Shannon had been there I had an enormous swarm of Japanese Beetles. I probably did a bit of damage to the plant by spraying so much soapy water all over it to get ALL those bugs.
*shudder* makes me feel all creepy crawly.
Next time: Continuing with August, The Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan County.