When I ended my last blog entry with, “Watch out, Cleveland. Here we come.” I didn’t intend it to be an actual warning to the poor pedestrians of Cleveland but perhaps I should have. Let me go back and explain…
Friday night we were home late after our baseball game. We came home, tucked kids into bed and then at midnight Toby went outside to attach a new bumper to our SUV. ( You may recall from an earlier post why the bumper needed replaced) 🙂 The car was scheduled for an inspection the next morning so Toby had to get the bumper on before we went to bed. He was such a good sport. He had it attached and was in bed by 1 am. At 6 am the alarm went off, we woke Tyler and carried him out to the car and then left to drop off the vehicle before Toby went to work. We were back to the house by 7 am. I woke the older kids and they began their morning chores. There was a feeling of excitement in the air. We were leaving for the R5 concert in a few hours and the girls could hardly contain themselves.
The morning consisted of piano lessons, school work and preparing for our evening adventure. We packed snacks for the car, made sure we had the address for the GPS, charged my cell phone and primped to make ourselves beautiful. OK, that last “to do” item was the girls, not me. I was too busy to primp. 🙂 Toby was home by 1pm and Tyler and I went with him to pick up the car. One final stop at the gas station and the bank and then back home to pick up the girls. We said a prayer for safety before leaving our driveway which was answered time and time again as the evening went on. The trip west was uneventful. We were on the highway for most of the way. For two hours we talked and laughed. Molly was in the front seat and as we approached Cleveland I informed her that she needed to be my navigator. That was my first tactical mistake. As we moved into the city she was holding the GPS in her hand because I couldn’t see it over the glare of sunlight coming into the windows. I tried to be loving and patient as she would say time and time again, “Oh, you were supposed to turn there!” but I could feel my blood pressure rising as we drove into downtown Cleveland.
I am a wimp when it comes to city driving and especially a city that I have never visited before. I am not an aggressive driver and having to push my way into a lane is not something that comes naturally. Add to that the fact that Cleveland is one large mass of orange cones and blocked off streets right now, I was not holding up well. The venue for the concert was in the middle of downtown Cleveland so there was no avoiding the city traffic. I prayed, gripped my steering wheel with white knuckled bravery and followed the leading of the GPS which brings me to where I began my story…”Watch out, Cleveland. Here we come!”
I was gaining confidence as the little flag that announces our arrival on the GPS grew closer when I quickly turned right at the GPS’s command. I suddenly found myself driving on a pedestrian walkway. What was once a road was now a cute, bricked path for pedestrians out on an evening stroll. I then realized that I had put myself into the position where I would then have to back out through four lanes of downtown Cleveland rush-hour traffic to get back on the road I needed to be on. I said a prayer and slowly began backing up to the chorus of honking horns and angry drivers. I think my only saving grace was the fact that we had an out-of-state license plate. We finally made it out, got back on the correct road and then began the search for parking. We found an open parking garage and entered. As we pulled into the dark, low clearance garage we passes a sign that said, “6 foot clearance.” I wondered to myself how tall my vehicle might be having never asked Toby or needed to know that bit of information before. I hoped for the best as I pulled forward thinking of the call I was going to make home to Toby if I found myself wedged between the concrete floor and concrete ceiling of the parking garage but luckily we made it! I felt such a sense of relief to be parked and out of Cleveland traffic! The girls, bubbling with excitement, hopped out of the car and began the teen girl ritual of brushing, fluffing and spraying themselves in anticipation of meeting their “possible future husbands.” (Their words, not mine) 🙂
We found our way out of the parking garage and once on the street asked directions to The House of Blues. We were told we had quite a
hike…of course we did…but if we just kept walking down the street we would eventually walk right into it. We began walking. The girls found it to be a wonderful adventure walking through downtown Cleveland. The House of Blues was about 8 blocks away. My intention was to get dinner in Cleveland before the concert but due to all of our “adventures” we found it was too late to get dinner before the concert so we were going to have to get a bite to eat afterwards. When we arrived at The House of Blues we found a line had already begun to form outside. We stood at the back of the line taking pictures when a large, burly security guard approached us and informed me that cameras were not allowed inside and that I was going to have to walk it back to the car before we would be allowed inside…SOOOOOOOO back we hustled to the car and then another 8 block walk just to arrive as they were opening the doors. The girls were giddy with excitement. We entered first into a lobby where we were frisked and tickets were collected then into a large open room with a stage at one end. The venue felt more like a club than an arena. As we entered the first warm up band was playing. There were no assigned seats. It was just stand where you could find a spot. The girls moved into the crowd to get as close as they could to the stage while I stood at the edge of the room holding up the wall. 🙂 From where I stood I could watch them. There were three bands that played before R5 came out on stage. At this point in the story I should really let Gracie take over the typing because my description of them just won’t have the details or enthusiasm that hers would but let’s just say the girls went crazy. There was a lot of screaming, sign holding, hand waving sort of hysteria. The band, R5, ended up playing about 8 songs. It was extra thrilling for the girls because they were only about 10 feet away from the stage. At the end of the concert the band manager came out and informed the audience that the band would stay for a “meet and greet” and to sign autographs. He told us that there would only be one autograph per person allowed.
We quickly got in line and then waited for an hour and a half for our turn to meet the band. The girls were gushing with excitement and kept asking me if I had seen Ross do this and Rydel do that during the concert. It was finally our turn and Molly decided to have a piece of notebook paper signed by the band members, Grace had her T-shirt signed and they had me get their poster signed. Gracie was beaming as the band members talked to her and signed the back of her R5 shirt. By the time we left it was almost midnight and we still had the 8 blocks to walk back to the car. I was understandably nervous..downtown Cleveland is not where you want to be at 12:00 at night. We walked quickly, both for safety sake but also due to the fact that the parking garage closed at midnight and if we didn’t get our car out in time we were stuck on the streets of Cleveland until 6am. We did make it but with only minutes to spare. We started the car and then began the process of trying to find a fast food restaurant still open. We hadn’t eaten since lunchtime and everyone was feeling hungry. As I followed the GPS through inner city Cleveland we finally found a 24 hour McDonald’s. We quickly ordered our food through the drive through and it was then I made the executive decision to try to find a motel. It was almost 1 am, we were hours from home and I didn’t want to risk having the GPS lead me into an undesirable part of Cleveland at 1:00 in the morning. We found a hotel near a university that advertised $50.00 rooms. We booked a room and soon discovered why the prices were so cheep. It was a little run down and scary. The elevator was really scary looking and Gracie was afraid to ride it so at 1:30 in the morning I found myself trudging up 7 flights of stairs. We finally made it to our room which was surprisingly clean and had a fast food picnic on our beds as we talked about the concert. This was, for me, the best part of the night! We laughed about all of the mishaps of our day, the girls talked about the excitement of meeting their favorite band and I relished in the feeling of having my shoes off and putting my feet up after all of that walking. It certainly wasn’t the day I expected but it turned out well and if nothing else we made memories that we will never forget…Thank you, Cleveland! 🙂