Daily Archives: August 6, 2008

Days 8 & 9 — Stinky Sandusky and two non-tours

We spent Monday driving. The rain continued until we were nearly into Ohio. I’d checked prices for hotels near Cleveland, and as they were over $100 I decided to stop about an hour before Cleveland to find a hotel. Big mistake. Sandusky is an hour before Cleveland. Have you been in Sandusky? Take my word for it — don’t jump into your car and drive there. If you do, bring a gas mask. The air there smells toxic (Clare’s words). We checked into a Day’s Inn (after trying the Hampton Inn and being told that the only room left was a King Jacuzzi Suite for $175.)

We could have driven further into the town, but I suspect the hotels got more expensive since Sandusky seems to be the Wisconsin Dells of Ohio.

Our room was gross — swaybacked beds and mildewy shower. There was some commotion in the room next to us, but it stopped as soon as it started. We ate dinner at an Olive Garden about 5 miles from the hotel. Our friendly waitress explained Sandusky to us. It grew up around Cedar Point — an amusement park that is on Lake Erie. Then other attractions arrived, such as a couple of water parks. Clare and I didn’t bother to drive to see the lake — we just went back to the room and watched a little tv before we went to sleep.

We drove to Berea, Ohio after an inadequate breakfast. We were visiting Baldwin-Wallace College the same day as Barack Obama was, so there were a few people there, including a few news vans.

Clare liked the look of Baldwin-Wallace. I thought it was too spread out — and Clare commented that it seemed too integrated with the surrounding community. We went to admissions, but were not offered a tour. There were nothing but students in the admissions office. Someone began to ask if we wanted one, and — although I didn’t see it — another student may have hushed him. I suspect (huge stretch here) that she wanted to be free to go see the town hall meeting with Obama. While I don’t blame her, I would have liked a tour.

After getting coffee at Caribou Coffee in Berea and looking around at the buildings on campus, we moved onto the College of Wooster. Clare loved the campus, which we self-toured, after a lunch at Muddy Waters cafe in town. (we tried to eat at The Bead Cafe — since our GPS directed us to it, and thinking it was a restaurant — but all they serve is beads.)

The admissions office was staffed, again, by a student who didn’t offer us a tour, but gave us a map and sent us on our way. She was friendly enough, but I suspect that if there was a real admissions receptionist there, they might have been a little more accommodating.

I was impressed by a couple of buildings. The humanities building was a beautiful Gothic structure — like a Norman castle. The classrooms were paneled in dark wood — at least the “tower” classroom was — it had an observation window for some reason.

Clare spent a lot of time touring the campus. It is a beautiful campus, so I don’t blame her. I think it’s going on her yes list.

After that, Clare wanted to do at least one “Weird USA” / Roadside attraction thing. On the way to Meadville, PA (our final college stop) is the site of a local legend about Melon Heads — creatures that once were orphans, but experimented on by an evil doctor. We didn’t see any secluded wooded areas, much less small creatures with large heads. Clare was disappointed. I was not.

I wasn’t sure how big a town Meadville was, so we decided to find a hotel in Erie, PA — about an hour away from Meadville. Clare fell asleep before we reached Pennsylvania, so was not a lot of help once I reached Erie. I glimpsed Lake Erie, then drove towards the beaches, hoping to find a motel that we’d like.

The town was crowded and none of the close-by hotels looked like something we’d want to sleep in, so I headed towards Meadville. Just outside Erie were a couple of large motels, and I decided that if Meadville didn’t work out, sleepwise, I’d go back there.

The road to Meadville promised more motels, so I knew we’d be ok. Then I saw signs that the exit to Meadville was closed, and had to exit early. I ended up on a long gravel road. Thank goodness for the GPS — it lead me to Meadville — albeit the long, slow way.

The couple of sleep options in the town of Meadville were no good, so we eventually decided to go towards Pittsburgh or Erie to find something. We ended up near the main highway outside town, at a Holiday Inn Express. The staff was very friendly and the room is clean with comfortable beds. What else did we need? We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant called Chovy’s (10% discount from Holiday Inn Express).

We watched a little television, then I crashed. Not sure what time Clare went to sleep.

This morning we had a great breakfast (fresh fruit, eggs, corned beef hash, fresh orange juice) and are getting ready to visit Allegheny College. At this point, I’m not expecting a tour, but it would be nice if we could have one.