Day 6 – Friday, July 5

PART 1

We just left Kirtland (Ohio) a short while ago, after a nice send-off from the Friedenbergs.  A special thanks to Belinda, who not only treated us royally during our stay — as did Keith and the kids — but also sent us off this morning with goodies from Patterson Fruit Farm: a box of donuts, an apple pie and a bag of fresh fruit — cherries, blueberries and peaches.  Great friends and midwest hospitality are a great combination.

I gave driving duty to Toby today — for the first time on our trip — for our 360-mile, six-hour drive from the Cleveland suburbs to the Chicago suburbs (Oak Park, to be exact), to visit my friend Peter Sagal.

I’m writing this from the middle row of our 2010 Honda Odyssey, with Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” resonating throughout the cabin.  I’m still blown away by the advances in technology; the fact that I can write and post this blog live while driving (or being driven) along the interstate at 70 mph, with my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE phone serving as a wirelss hotspot (a little plug for the hand that feeds me).  I think back to 1989, when my twin brother, Mike, and I took a two-week trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone.  At the time I was living in LA and he was living in NY (or was it DC?), and we met up in Denver then drove across Wyoming.  No laptops.  No cell phones.  No GPS.  Not even an iPod.  Just our rental car, our backpacking gear and a map.  It was great.  Our only worries were running out of gas or finding a campground, not “Did we remember to pack the laptop and cell phone chargers?”

A simpler, purer time.  Not that I’m cursing technology, for without it I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now.  But it’s not only spoiled our kids, but taken away some of the excitement that comes with really exploring the world without feeling the need to be connected to everyone all the time.

With that, I’ll end this post, sit back, and enjoy the ride to Chicago (and “Blonde on Blonde,” which is playing now).

PART 2

I’m writing this from Chicago, at the home of my friend Peter Sagal, where we arrived at 5pm.  The drive from Ohio to Chicago was pleasant enough; we crossed the border from Ohio into Indiana, then about 30-45 minutes later took a brief detour off Route 80/90 into Michigan for lunch in the town of Sturgiss, then headed back into Indiana for the rest of the ride into Chicago.

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The “I Shit You Not It Actually Exists” Museum

However, about two hours before hitting Chicago we passed through Elkhart, Indiana, and something caught our eyes: the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum.  Yes, I shit you not, there is a hall of fame and museum for recreational vehicles and motor homes.  So I texted Peter to let him know we would be delayed an hour or so, as we needed to check out this extraordinary piece of Americana.  As amazed as I was at the fact that there really is an RV/MH Hall of Fame, I was even more amazed at the diversity of its members (whose photos adorned the walls): old white males AND a few spouses of old white males.

The museum actually houses a pretty incredible collection of vintage RVs/MHs, some nearly 90 years old, and many of which you can go into and walk around.  It was certainly a fun way to spend an hour, so if you happen to find yourself in Elkhart, Indiana, I recommend you stop by for a visit, if for no other reason to be amazed that a place like that exists.

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Day 5 – Thursday, July 4

We arrived last night in Kirtland, OH, a suburb about 25 miles east of Cleveland, where we are being hosted by my college friend Keith Friedenberg and his wife Belinda (and their four children).  Keith’s birthday was yesterday (he and Tom Cruise both turned 51!), and we caught the tail end of a surprise birthday dinner for Keith that Belinda arranged at a local restaurant.  It was great, because by the time we arrived most of the guests had already left, so we got a free meal without having to make requisite small talk with people we don’t know and likely won’t ever see again.  Not a bad gig, huh?!?

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Chez Friedenberg

Everything is so much cheaper here in the Midwest (or wherever the hell Ohio is; I refer to anything west of the Delaware River and east of the Rockies as the Midwest).  For example, Keith & Belinda’s home, shown on the right, is on six acres and cost only $50,000.  Can you believe that?

[A digression: Good news — I found Aytan’s phone!  Of course, you wouldn’t have known that it was missing, since I forgot to post that the other day, but it was.  I found it in our laundry bag while doing laundry; apparently Aytan forgot to take it out of his pants before putting them in the bag.  Now, back to our regular scheduled programming.]

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Pretty, ain’t it?

Aytan, Toby and I spent a good part of today just lounging about the house — working/blogging on our computers, playing ping pong, rummaging through the Friedenberg’s underwear drawers — while the Friedenbergs were out and about, working for a bit and then going to one of their son’s baseball games.  But Toby and I did get out later in the afternoon for a nice walk with Keith in the Holden Arboretum — just down the road from his house.  Keith says it’s the largest arboretum in the country, and while Keith says a lot of crazy shit, I don’t doubt him on this one.

IMG_2094And not only is the Holden Arboretum incredibly large, it is incredibly beautiful.  Seriously.  If for some reason you find yourself in or near Kirtland, you should definitely put the Holden Arboretum on the top of your list.

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Aytan happily waiting for the fireworks to begin

After the walk we met the rest of the clan (Belinda and her kids, a friend of one of their sons, and Aytan) at Benihana’s for a birthday dinner for Keith and Belinda’s youngest son, who turned 9 today.  Then it was off to the high school in nearby Mentor for the requisite 4th of July fireworks, which were great.  Followed, of course, by ice cream (ok, frozen yogurt).  Even greater.