Slowing the Pace

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August 3rd 2016
Published: August 3rd 2016
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And from here on out, I'm not really doing anything touristy. I'm having lunch with an old friend today in Lexington, staying with a pair of old friends in Middlesboro, and then seeing some new friends in Knoxville on Thursday. This will likely be my final blog for this trip, though I haven't ruled out doing a wrap-up on Friday before putting this trip to rest.

That being said, yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind, since I planned to visit 3 college stadiums and a presidential site on top of driving a total of 5 hours and get to a baseball game by 7PM. I left my hotel in Cleveland just after 8AM and headed to the first 2 colleges: Kent State and Akron. They're less than 15 miles apart, so it was an easy task to take them both in (and pick up a little pennant from each campus bookstore) in about an hour. It also got me off the interstates, so I got to see rural Ohio. The next stop was the McKinley Memorial and Library in Canton, OH, about 30 minutes from the latter stadium.

Upon approaching the site, you get the feeling that something spectacular is coming. After all, there are rows of trees lining the highway that almost beg you to ask what they're hiding. When you turn to enter the drive, the long mall and the big dome at the top of the hill immediately overpower you. The parking lot is at the base of the hill, and many people come here for the exercise. I saw more people running up and down the steps that I did inside the museum. The admission is $9, and no National Park pass can help with that. I really think they should advertise the place as the memorial (which is free to climb and enter, where you can see the tombs of McKinley and his wife) and then a museum of Stark County, OH, with a room devoted to William McKinley. They boast that they have the largest display of "McKinleyana" anywhere on the planet, and if that's the case, then the man's reputation is pretty poor. I liked what they had - one side of the room full of glass cases, artifacts displayed and a good narrative in each one describing the period of McKinley's life. And then the rest of the room is roped off with furniture and a pair of moving/talking mannequins dressed as McKinley and his wife, Ida. If you push a button on a panel up front, they will have a conversation (around 6 options) based on the topic you push. And that's really it for McKinley here. Otherwise, the bottom floor is a natural history museum-type place, even with live animals in cages and tanks at the back. Then there's the "Fascination Station" with lots of hands-on activities geared towards kids. The second floor, where McKinley's room is in the back, has a museum devoted to Stark County, OH, and then the side exhibit called "Street of Shops" where they've recreated what the town might've looked like in the late 1800s. So I guess that's related to McKinley. There's also a planetarium and a video that shows the history of the memorial. Not McKinley, but the memorial. Alas, I had hoped for more from this place and for my $9.

The remainder of my day was devoted to driving and baseball, with one exception. I visited Columbus, OH, since it was on my way. There I found the campus of Ohio State University and the Ohio Stadium. Normally, I'm not impressed with stadiums I visit. Maybe I've seen too many. But this one deserves all the praise it gets. They were doing some work, so I didn't get to see it in all its glory, but I didn't really need to. It was that impressive. And they even allow people to go inside without having to sneak in. A guy sits at a table waiting for visitor. All you have to do is sign his clipboard with your name and where you're from. I told him I was on a mission, and that this was actually my 90th stadium. He gave me the thumbs up. Turns out this was actually my 91st stadium.

My last stop of the day was a Cincinnati Reds game at Great American Ballpark. I ended up parking in Kentucky and walking across the Roebling suspension bridge to get to the game. Parking was $5, so I thought that was reasonable. Better than options closer to the stadium. I enjoyed the stadium and the game. The game was much better than last night's - this was a back-and-forth affair that wasn't decided until the bottom of the 9th, when the home team won. It seems that the pattern I developed over the past 3 games is for the team with the worse record to win. It happened all three times, and this was the first time the home team won. I collected my first-time certificate, got some food at the Frisch's Big Boy inside the stadium, and even had an ice cream right before I left. All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable time. And it turns out that the Reds are the oldest team in the major leagues. I didn't know that.

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