Month: August 2016

Road Trippin’ – Cleveland!


For our summer vacation this year, my family decided to go to Cleveland, Ohio.

Now, when I would tell people this, it was met with one of the following three reactions:

  1. Confusion (“Cleveland? Why? Do you have family there?”).
  2. Disappointment (“Cleveland? Oh. That…um….sounds interesting?”).
  3. Excitement!  (Wait. Only one person that I talked to was excited. A co-worker of mine who wanted a pair of  motorcycle gloves from Whiskey Grade, which I agreed to pick up for him).

After spending four days in da Land, I can honestly say that the city deserves more of the latter reaction, and less of the first two.

For people like myself who live in the Greater Toronto Area, one of the best parts about Cleveland is its proximity. Being only five-ish hours away, it’s a great spot for doing a road trip and checking out for a few days, which is what my family did. As mentioned before on here, we are pretty big Toronto Blue Jays fans. As such, our vacation idea was to spend most of the week there, and take in an Indians-Blue Jays game. I’ll get back to the baseball in a bit, but spoiler alert – there’s actually tons of stuff to do in Cleveland!

Let’s start with their most well known tourist attraction – the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.


I asked the kids to pose nicely for a picture, and this is what they chose to do.

I had my doubts, as I didn’t think B and J were old enough to find it interesting. However, children under the age of 8 are free, so we ended up going. That place really is a music lover’s dream. K and I easily could have spent a good part of the day exploring the memorabilia and displays. The kids were pretty indifferent to it all, though, so we only stayed for about an hour. They did get a kick out of playing with the jukeboxes which had music by every inductee on them.


J’s artists of choice? The Jackson 5.

Fortunately, right beside the Hall of Fame was a far more kid-friendly attraction – the Great Lakes Science Center.  The kids had a blast checking out the various exhibits and activities, while also learning a thing or two. The Sports Arena in particular was a hit.


Don’t worry, folks. She was just fine.

Anyway, both the Science Center and the Hall of Fame are located on the waterfront. This is perfect for taking a nice walk to enjoy some scenery, or to play Pokemon Go. Whatever floats your boat.

Speaking of creatures, B and J love animals, so visits to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Greater Cleveland Aquarium were a no-brainer. The zoo is huge (183 acres) so we made sure that we were well rested, and dedicated a whole day to it.





B insisted on wearing a Steph Curry shirt that day. It went over with the locals about as well as you would expect.

One neat thing about the zoo was that, for the most part, it was divided into themes, based on different areas of the world, which is how the animals were housed. For the record, my favourite area was The Rainforest, a big two storey indoor tropical environment.   Despite B and J’s best effort, we did not see all 3000+ animals that lived at the zoo. We did see a good chunk of them, though!

The Aquarium also went over very well with us. It was spacious, with tons of sea animals to look at. B and J did what any six and four year old children would do while there –  point out the names of random fish  (learned from the TV show The Octonauts) and go on a mission to find Dory (from the movie Finding Dory).

Meanwhile,  I  got hands-on with some stingrays and shrimp!


Shrimpin aint easy, man.

The only other aquarium which I’ve been to is Ripley’s, in Toronto. It’s impressive, but I liked Cleveland’s better.  It had a more laidback vibe to it, plus there were a bunch of friendly, knowledgeable staff available who patiently answered my stupid questions.


Excuse me? How many times has this tank broken and sharks fallen on people?

In terms of accommodations, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Cleveland Downtown.  This was easily the coolest hotel that I’ve ever been in. It’s located in an historic, 19th century building, so it has that old-school feeling to it. Our room was very spacious, with high ceilings, hardwood floors, and a kitchenette. What really freaked me out was how every person on staff that I saw was really nice and personable (it’s amazing what a smile and a few kind words can do for one’s perception). Being situated downtown also meant that it was within stumbling distance to places like Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, House of Blues, a casino, a bunch of bars/restaurants, a bowling alley, and Rocket Fizz (an awesome soda pop and candy shop).


I went with the Buffalo Wing soda.

The most enjoyable part of the hotel for me, however? The evening refreshers!  #freealcohol.


A view from our hotel room.

OK, let’s talk baseball. We arrived into Cleveland on a Tuesday. Our Jays-Indians tickets were for Friday. As you can see in the above picture, taken on Tuesday, we had a nice view of the ballpark from our hotel, and a clearly very sparsely attended game. After looking into it, I discovered that the Indians had one of the worst attendance rates in baseball. More checking discovered that tickets for the game the next night could be had for cheap. So, the next day, I got a pair for myself and B, like 15 rows up from first base, for A LOT less than what we would paid for the same seats in Toronto. We and only about 13,000 other people watched the Indians and the Chicago White Sox play an entertaining game.

This would be all fine and dandy if the Indians sucked…..but they were in first place! What’s up with that? Tribe fans, why aren’t y’all supporting a winning team? It took the Blue Jays 20+ mediocre years just to be good enough to play meaningful baseball late in the season. Don’t take winning for granted, Believeland!

Anyway, the Friday game was pretty dope. Progressive Field is a sweet stadium with a great atmosphere. They also stacked the in-game experience; that night was free fedora night, $1 hot dog night, $2 cans of beer before the game, and a rockin’ fireworks show after the game. They had a ton of giveaways between innings, too. This kept B busy – he would run down the aisles to try to catch the goodies which were being tossed out.  More than half of the  30,000+ crowd was Jays fans (and rawkus ones at that) so it felt like we were at the Rogers Centre. It was just a fun time all around, the best game that I’ve been too. Even though Toronto lost, they at least lost in a memorable way – on a walk-off, inside the park home run.


As someone who used to roll their eyes at the thought of Cleveland, I see now how wrong I was.  It really is a cool, charming city with a lot going for it, especially downtown. We spent four days in the 216, and there was still stuff which we wanted to see, but didn’t. Whether you’re a sports fan in the GTA like me, or are just looking for somewhere fun and different to go to for a weekend, why not make the road trip to Cleveland?


All Play, No Work

Make no mistake about it, the bedtime routine in our house still kind of sucks.

Sure, there are occasions where B and J, when told to go to bed, will happily oblige, settle down for the night, and be asleep in no time.

There are also occasions where February has 29 days.

This occurs about as often as an easy bedtime for us.

See, what usually happens is that when B and J know  Mr. Sandman is coming, they’re like Olympic runners nearing the finish line. They get one final adrenaline rush, and to quote Fat Joe, go ALL THE WAY UP! 

Unfortunately, some of these ALL THE WAY UP nights are so bananas , that I gotta give them their own category, which I’ve dubbed The Bedtime WTF Awards.

The other night was one of those nights. Ladies and gentleman, your nominees are:


K left to pick up some stuff, so it was just me with the kids.

Before going to bed, B and J were assigned a very straightforward  task- clean up the playroom which they had spent the afternoon destroying:


The first thing that they decided to do?

Instead of putting on pyjamas, they stripped down to their underwear.


I went downstairs to do some tidying up. After a few minutes of silence, I heard footsteps, followed by B screaming, followed by laughter. A few seconds later, there were footsteps, followed by J screaming, followed by laughter. I went up, to see what was going on:

Me – “What are you doing?”

B – “Oh, we’re just pretending that we’re walking by and don’t know we’re there, and jumping out and scaring each other.”

When you were little, did you a play a rousing game of “half-naked creeper terrifies innocent bystander?” Of course you didn’t (but if you did…….how are you reading this from your jail cell?).

Anyway,  I squashed that game, and told them to get back to cleaning.


Note this for later – J smelled delicious. Her and B  told me that she put some scented hand cream on, because J wanted to smell nice for work, or something like that.


I supervised them for a bit, and watched them put toys in a big toy bin. Things were going well, so I left them alone. Not long after, I heard the sound of something being dragged.  Confused, I went up to check.  The toy bin had been emptied, and J was now sitting in it, with B using the rope handle to pull it along.

B – ” I’m just taking her for a ride!”


While impressed by B’s strength for a six year old boy, I was also annoyed.  The playroom was now messier than before. I squashed their rousing game of  Toronto rickshaw tour driver, and once again told them to get to work, in no uncertain terms.


I monitored them for a few minutes, to keep them on track. Satisfied with the progress, I decided to leave, to resume my cleaning.  After a good long time of blissful, shenanigan-free silence, I came back to the playroom, to see how it was looking.

When I walked in, B was bent over to the top of a shelving unit, butt in the air.

J, meanwhile, was holding a fly swatter, as if she were about to hit him in the underwear with it.

I didn’t even ask what they were doing.
I just cut their rousing game of 50 Shades of Grey short, and told them to get clothes on ASAP.


After about an hour in the room, here is how B and J made out on their mission:


The playroom looks exactly the same!

Hey, it doesn’t look exactly the same! Do you see the toy microphone that was in the first picture? No, because they put it away!

Regardless, after this lacklustre effort, K eventually came home. The kids’ mission was deemed a failure for the evening, and they were sent to their rooms. While upstairs, K asked about the smell. I told her that J got into some hand cream.

After more inspection, we realized that she didn’t just get into the cream.

She got the cream into one of the toilets. As in, she smeared it all over the inside of the bowl.


That night’s winner? The toilet. It smelled like candy canes for days afterwards.

That night’s loser?  Me.