Road Trip: Akron – From the Bird’s Nest
Over the weekend, we made our third road trip in four weeks. And, we wondered what would happen this time...
Would the air conditioner work on the plane?
Would the airline get us home before 4:30am?
I actually felt better during the week when I heard Sun Country Airlines would be flying us. They did all of our trips last year and we had no issues. We were able to get them on short notice, but they couldn't fly us out at the time we wanted (1pm.) So we got to the airport at 8:30 for a 10am departure.
The flight was a little over two hours. When we got off the plane, once again, Coach
Hudspeth's wife Tyla had a candy bar for me. Kit Kat and a peanut butter cup didn't get a win, so this time it was Snickers Pumpkin Shape. Hopefully that one would work.
But we aren't superstitious. Not at all.
Upon landing, SID Brian McCann, Assistant Jeff Schneider, Tim Buckley of the Advertiser, Gerald Broussard, Steve Peloquin and I all piled into the rental van and headed for the hotel. We were staying at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, the same hotel we stayed at two years ago when we played Kent State. We checked in and got our bags to our rooms and met back downstairs to head out for lunch.
Brian is from Cleveland (about 45 minutes from Akron) and knows the area well. He selected Melt Bar and Grilled for our meal. (www.meltbarandgrilled.com) Melt is very well known, having been featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives as well as the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food.
Everything there starts with cheese. And is grilled.
We walked in and there was a table available that could handle the six of us. As the hostess led us to our table we saw a huge Dairy Queen sign. I thought Steve was going to steal it, but it was...um...large.
I ordered a pierogi for an appetizer (dough stuffed with potato,
sauerkraut and cheese, topped with grilled onions) and it was delicious. I then ordered the bacon and egg sandwich with american cheese. Steve, Brian and Tim ordered the meatball sandwich with mozzarella cheese. Jeff opted for the burger (really, Jeff, a burger?) with Muenster.
Gerald ordered the grilled peanut butter and banana with cream cheese. He and Brian agreed they would trade a half sandwich so they could sample both.
All the dishes came with hand cut fries. It was a prettyimpressive amount of food. Having had an appetizer, there was no way I could finish mine. Even Steve had to stop.
By the way...Melts has one of those eating challenges. It's 13 different kinds of cheese with three slices of grilled bread, fries and slaw. The "sandwich" is 3.5 pounds and the trimmings are another pound and a half. We tried to get Steve to try it but he said no.
Because he doesn't eat cole slaw.
From there it was on to Cleveland. The Indians and Astros were playing at Progressive Field. We were going to get there pretty early so we stopped by a bar downtown called Becky's for a cold one. Ok, it was two. Then it was time to go to the ball park. On the way, Brian drove by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is most definitely on my bucket list. We parked quite a ways from the stadium because Brian found a place to park for free.
Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) was one of the earlier "modern" ballparks built. It's a pretty impressive place. And, fans are excited about the possibility this young team might wind up in the playoffs. I was really looking forward to seeing the park. (But Flo was not there.)
We walked to the stadium and on the way several folks were trying to sell tickets. A word to the wise here. The farther away from the park you are, usually the worse the deal is going to be. If you go right around the ballpark and find people willing to sell you tickets, chances are the deal is better. Now, that may not hold true if the game is a sellout.
During the walk, G bought an Indians cap. He really didn't want it. He just bought it to harass Steve, who of course, is a huge Astros fan. When we got to the park Brian said "I'll be back." Ten minutes later he came back with six tickets between third base and home plate, lower level. $46.00 tickets he got for $30.00.
Brian was getting it done left and right on this trip.
And, it was dollar hot dog night. Now, I couldn't imagine even wanting to eat after that lunch we had, but sooner or later we'd indulge. Progressive Field serves Labatt's Blue and Yuengling. Life was good.
Until the seventh inning stretch.
We had hot dogs in the sixth. With the Indians leading 2-1 we stood to sing "Take me Out to the Ballgame." When the song ended we saw the grounds crew quickly pulling the tarp onto the field. When that happens BEFORE it starts raining, that's not a good thing.
Especially when you're parked almost a half mile away. We walked outside and Brian said
to wait and he would go and get the car. Now it's raining a little. But a couple of minutes later, it was raining a LOT. We stood under a tree hoping to get out of some of the deluge. But by the time Brian pulled up, we were soaked. So was he.
We made the 45 minute drive back to the hotel and went to our respective rooms. Every fiber of clothing I had on was soaked. I quickly changed and put my clothes in various spots in order to somewhat dry.
Saturday morning was pretty nondescript. It was still raining so there was no walking around the area. I watched College Gameday and some of the early games until it was time to head to the stadium around 1:30. By that time the rain had nearly stopped completely.
InfoCision Field, the home of the Zips, is a fairly new stadium. And, there are a lot of things that reminded me of the artists rendering concerning improvements to Cajun Field. The north end zone had new locker rooms and coach's offices. The south had a grassy area, much like you see at home. The press box was impressive and spacious. The windows slid open from the middle in opposite directions, creating an open air box. And, on what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon and evening for football, it was most welcomed.
From the press box, we could see the Akron version of the "Cajun Walk." The Akron band lined the street and played the fight song over and over. Good thing...because the "Zip Line" (my nickname) actually drew about nine people. Honest.
Brian, since the Cajuns have an open date this week, made plans to stay in Cleveland for a few days, which left it up to Jeff to finish postgame duties and get us to the airport on time, which he did.
And, as they always are, Sun Country Airlines was right on time.
We boarded the plane and I texted Tyla to suggest we need to stay with the Snickers Pumpkin. But where would we find them in November. She texted me back almost immediately.
We departed on time. John Dugas' itinerary said we'd land in Lafayette at 12:45am Central Time.
He was off by three minutes. Touchdown was at 12:48.