Our exposure to the city of Cleveland was rather more extensive than it had been to Detroit. Although we drove around the outside and suburbs of Detroit, we spent no time at all in the heart of the city, whereas we felt very comfortable heading into Cleveland. This difference in perceptions is at least partially attributable to the fact that, as our friends in Cleveland unequivocally informed us, “Cleveland sucks way less than Detroit.” Negative phrasing aside, it was unquestionably true. Cleveland, for all its bad neighborhoods in no way gave off the same air of disrepair and almost dystopian abandonment that permeated Detroit.
Our first few minutes after arriving in Cleveland were spent in a state of charmed shock. Not only was the price to stay at the Edgewater Yacht Club ridiculously cheap (reciprocity playing no small role in that), but the discovery of a beautiful, grassy park just across the street, and a pool actually in the yacht club was enough to convince us to spend more than just one night in Cleveland. We spent the first afternoon performing some routine engine maintenance and lounging in the pool (guess which one we did more of) before asking around for good places to go on a Saturday night. We were informed of a place, helpfully named “Whiskey Island”, which was only a short walk away. This short walk was, however, almost entirely along a two lane road, edged by ivy so as to remove any sidewalk or shoulder that might keep us out of harm’s way. We ended up cringing, single file against the ivy as cars careened past without seeming to slow down or in any way alter course to us.
We fortunately arrived at Whiskey Island fairly quickly and discovered, much to our chagrin, that the party was clearly winding down and only a few groups of older couples and middle aged professionals remained. John, not to be so easily dissuaded, led us through the maze of tables and introduced himself, with his inimitable gregariousness, to the only group of young people in the entire establishment. As has happened so many times before, they welcomed us, and after a few minutes, invited us to the next bar on their route.
Not ones to turn down an offer like that, we met them at Edison’s Pub to continue hanging out. At one point, looking around the bar, an interesting realization came to light. Pieter, Ellen and I were still talking with our friends from the first bar, while John and Mike were embroiled in a conversation with 2 entirely separate groups that we had met at Edison’s, and all of us were able to rotate freely among them and keep conversation going. It is an interesting facet of our trip that no matter where we stop, whether a tiny town or a large city, people are always welcoming and friendly. We have yet to run into a group of people who have been unkind or disinterested, and most are happy to spend their whole nights swapping stories until after last call. It is both the great benefit and great drawback of this trip that we have the opportunity to meet and talk with so many different, interesting people, and that we have so little time to actually get to know them.
The following morning was rather stormy, and we met a girl at the yacht club, unable to race due to the weather. She was kind enough to spend her entire day with us, driving us on errands to pick up groceries, as well as to pick up our new clutch from West Marine. As it turns out, West Marine, naturally, didn’t have it. In my crippling awkwardness and desire to get off the phone, I had only ordered the lever to our clutch, without any of the internal assembly to actually, you know, run the engine. Once again stymied in our attempts to find a motoring option that doesn’t involve pliers, we resolved to find one in Toronto, and committed to the pool for the rest of the day.
We arose the next morning and departed rather later than we’d hoped for the next stretch of our trip, across Lake Erie to the Welland Canal.