Michael and I were not the only people from Texas visiting Cleveland yesterday! The San Antonio Spurs were in Cleveland last night to take on LeBron James and the Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans Arena. We drove by the downtown arena where Manu, Tony, LaMarcus, and Kawhi were probably warming up for the game. Tim Duncan was there too, but he was out with a knee injury. Unfortunately our Spurs were defeated 117-103. It was still neat knowing our team was right there in Cleveland on the day we visited. We were close to the city for work yesterday, and we decided to drive around downtown for a couple of hours. Cleveland is situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie, along the northern border of the U.S. Michael pointed out that the four and a half hour drive from Cincinnati to Cleveland took us across the entire state of Ohio. The drive up Hwy 71 is almost entirely rural with the exception of the Columbus area. Miles and miles of wheat and corn fields border the highway on both sides. We passed what seemed like hundreds of grain silos and tidy white farmhouses.
Lake Erie was our first stop once we reached downtown Cleveland. Neither of us had been to one of the Great Lakes before. It felt just like being at the ocean, especially when I spotted the seagulls in the air. The similarities to the Texas coastline ended as soon as we realized the surface of the water was frozen solid and there were flocks of geese flying overhead! Michael chunked some pretty large rocks onto the ice, and they didn’t even make a dent.
Lake Erie: a seagull with geese flying underneath
It was funny seeing seagulls standing in groups on the ice.
The lighthouse in the background of the picture below is Cleveland Harbor’s West Pierhead Lighthouse. I found a picture of it from 2010, when it was completely covered with ice.
The lighthouse would have been no help to vessels attempting to enter the harbor. Fortunately, most boats and ships stay off of the lake during the winter months. The article from National Geographic, which you can view here, explains that the ice formed on the lighthouse after being hit with spray from the lake in sub-zero temperatures. When we were there yesterday, the temperatures were in the low 50’s. It was perfect weather to comfortably enjoy the lake in the winter, and we did not see any ice castles.
If you’re visiting Cleveland and want to check out Lake Erie, you can pay $8 to park by the pier in a lot directly across from the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. However, we were just in the city for a short time, so Michael found a free place to park. The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port has a parking lot on Erieside Avenue that is used for fan parking when the Cleveland Browns play, but since there was no game and the area was pretty quiet, we parked right on the shore behind the port building. We had the entire shore to ourselves and caught some great views of the lighthouse from this vantage point.
After we explored the Lake Erie shore, Michael looked up the address of the house where they filmed A Christmas Story. It’s about a five minute drive from downtown. In the movie, the house is on Cleveland Street, but in real life the house is actually on West 11th Street. The street has a “Cleveland Street” sign above the real street sign. We were surprised at how many tourists were looking at the house and buying things in the gift shop. Visiting the Christmas Story house was funny and strange for us. It’s in a not-so-nice neighborhood, and the only houses that have been well-maintained and kept up are the house from the movie and a house across the street that has been turned into a gift shop.
The neighborhood in which the house is located makes the stream of A Christmas Story fans visiting the home and gift shop slightly awkward and amusing.
On our way out of town, we stopped and admired the Cleveland skyline. The Cuyahoga River flows through downtown and empties into Lake Erie. Cleveland definitely felt like a port city. Railroad tracks and movable bridges that stop vehicle traffic and allow ships to pass were scattered around the downtown area.
We were only in Cleveland for a few hours, but it seemed quieter and less flashy than I expected. I’m sure if we spent more time exploring, we would find lots of interesting sites like we have in Cincy. My favorite part of the city was the Lake Erie shore. The icy surface of the lake and its quiet wintertime harbor were very unique.