If someone would have told me that Cleveland would have been a hot spot that I must visit, I would have told them they were crazy. It doesn't even have anything to do with my not being a huge Lebron fan. It's just that when I think of cities that are big tourist destinations, Cleveland would not even crack the top ten. And now after only two trips there, I stand corrected. I find myself looking forward to my next trip back there.
My first visit there was due to a senior shoot with for the daughter of one of my former classmates. She was so impressed by my work that she offered to fly me out and put me up in a hotel for the weekend so I could do senior pics for her daughter. In Cleveland. Well I'm not turning down an all-expenses paid shoot regardless of where it is. That particular trip ended up being us spending the whole Saturday shooting. Because I had to be anal and capture just the right sunset angles. That resulted in time to really enjoy the city. That didn't happen the second time around.
Amy invited me back a couple of years later to capture senior moments for her second daughter. Again, of course I'm not saying no. This time I asked Gabe (my youngest son, for those of you who don't know). He turned down the offer initially since he knew it meant helping out on a shoot. Then he thought about being in Cleveland around a lot of other Lebron fans and he acquiesced. Even moreso since it resulted in his first plane ride ever. That could be another post altogether so we won't get into all that.
The shoot itself went great. Of course. Amy's girls are just so naturally photogenic. Brigit really made my job so easy. Then she made it even better when she said she didn't want to be shooting that long. She had certain looks she wanted, we nailed them and we were done. With enough time for me and my son to see what Cleveland was all about.
The first thing that made it worthwhile was the Uber drivers we had. The first one being the best. Felicia was her name. She could not have been nicer. This sista even gave us a couple of great referrals for restaurants. Naturally, the best part was when she dropped us off and I got to FINALLY use that epic phrase that I've never been able to use in real life. I'm sure she's heard it a million times, but she legit looked amused when I said anyway. Gold star for Felicia.
The restaurant she recommended was this place called Mabel's BBQ. It was in the heart of what appeared to be Cleveland's own little mini-Beale Street. Now having never been to Beale Street OR New Orleans, I'm just assuming that this little area was the mini-equivalent. Just being there seemed to uplift one's spirits. A big plus was the fact that that barbecue was some of the best I have EVER had. Who would have ever figured Cleveland could rock barbecue like that?
Of course we had to see 'The Q' (Quicken Loans Arena) where the Cavs play. It was just a short walk away from the eatery. It was just too bad that we got there just minutes after the official team store closed. That may have been a blessing in disguise though. I can just imagine what the prices were on some of that official NBA merchandise. Except for the Kyie jerseys which I'm sure were discounted after his announcement of wanting out of Cleveland. The best part of that area though was the huge Lebron mural. This pic really doesn't do it justice. It was actually quite impressive in person.
Our last two Uber drivers were very cordial but definitely no Felicia. They served their purpose of getting us to the Dick's to get Gabe's souvenir and then to the hotel. And it was at the hotel where that last stop was the icing on the cake. A little ice cream shop right next to the hotel called Mitchell's Ice Cream. Amy had told me about it my last trip yet I didn't get a chance to try it out. We did this time and holy COW was that some incredible ice cream. All this time I thought no one could ever top Blue Bell. Again, I stand corrected.
So I have now managed to droll on for 8 paragraphs. About Cleveland. And I sill didn't ecapsulate the full greatness of what an awesome time we had. Maybe it was the fact that it was a father/son getaway. Maybe it was the fact that I was able to see him enjoy his first plane experience. Maybe it really was the city. However, even Gabe wants to go back again so that's saying something.