I wake up early after a good night’s sleep at the BEST WESTERN PLUS North Canton Inn and Suites. I pack a little carelessly. I’m headed home today, so I’m not worried about finding things in my luggage anymore. Everything’s going to get washed, so I don’t care about segregating clean from dirty. It’s just a matter of stuffing things into the bags at this point, and making sure that it’ll all balance from side to side in my saddlebags. I enjoy a quick breakfast of eggs and sausage in the lobby of the hotel while I reflect on the ride ahead. I check out, thanking the staff for an excellent stay. This was a great hotel for my last night — clean, comfortable and, most of all, very friendly.
I load up the Blue Glide for the last time, and hop on the freeway for a 90-minute ride to Cleveland. I’m riding directly to my first destination of the day, and another longtime dream visit. I’m going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.
“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum exists to collect, preserve and interpret the impact rock has made on our world,” according to the Museum’s mission statement. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was founded in 1983 to create a Museum, and the actual physical building was dedicated in 1995. Designed by I.M. Pei, the building is a sparkling example of modern architecture, with a vast expanse of glass dominating its face, and whimsical extensions and towers creating a silhouette that is radically different from every angle. Millions of people have visited the Hall since it opened, and it has reportedly resulted in an economic impact of over $1.8 billion to Cleveland since it opened.
The Hall of Fame has a big permanent collection and exhibition space, a wall of fame for inductees, and several smaller exhibition spaces that house rotating exhibits and shows, sometimes dedicated to a particular sub-genre or region of the country, sometimes dedicated to a significant band. During my visit, the featured band is the Rolling Stones. I get to see some amazing artifacts from their 50-year career, including original contracts, stage outfits, guitars, drums and photographs.
I try to take a systematic approach to a museum visit, but I’m like a hyperactive kid at this one. There’s so much to see, and it’s all cool. I flit from display case to display case, marveling at a Sgt. Pepper’s jacket here, a fragment of Otis Redding’s plane there, Jeff Tweedy’s guitar in another case, Michael Jackson’s glove over there, next to Springsteen’s sweat-stained jacket. Even a casual music fan will be able to find incredible things to look at. A music geek like me will see enough to make their head explode. The Museum is designed to provide discoveries and surprises around every corner, and it does. There are also plenty of opportunities to listen to music in high fidelity, with listening stations attached to many displays, and multimedia presentations with comfortable seating scattered throughout the building. There’s a cafe inside, and there’s a big gift shop, of course. I buy a couple of gifts for my wife, a hat for myself, and a refrigerator magnet to add to the collection. I would go back to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame again tomorrow if I had the opportunity — that’s how much I enjoy my visit.
I have to tear myself away from the Rock Hall, though, because there’s another cool museum that a friend told me about, and I’ve only got another couple of hours before the Blue Glide has to go back and I have to fly home.
The Western Reserve Historical Society is home to the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection. Before Detroit emerged as the center of auto manufacturing in the mid-20th century, Northeast Ohio gave it a very good run for its money, with a number of local car companies producing competitive, high-quality automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles and even aircraft. The Crawford Collection brings together some very fine examples of locally built vehicles, and the Western Reserve displays them in a beautiful, classic museum setting. I get to see some really significant vehicles, like an 1899 Baker Runabout (an early electric car), a 1901 Packard Model C, a 1902 Pierce Motorette Knockabout, along with vehicles from White, Hoffman, Toledo, Cleveland and many other extinct brands. It’s a very exciting collection of cars that you won’t see anywhere else, totally local and personal to the region. The Western Reserve is also in the process of restoring a vintage carousel, and they have a great new roundhouse built for it already.
It’s time to ride back to Avon to return the Blue Glide to Lake Erie Harley-Davidson. I wish I had more time to explore Cleveland. The once-distressed town is experiencing a big cultural revival, with museum expansions and other intellectual achievements. The conversion from a city that was built on manufacturing to one that thrives on the service economy is heartening, and there are real signs of a Cleveland renaissance in the air. Hopefully, enough businesses and people will recognize the great resources of Cleveland, and the boom and bust cycle will not repeat itself all over again.
I turn into the dealership’s driveway right on schedule. I’ve got a comfortable margin before my flight home, so I can take the time to unload the Blue Glide in a leisurely fashion, change out of my riding gear into my traveling clothes, and talk about my trip with the guys in the service department. They’re glad to hear that the Blue Glide performed so well — they obviously take pride in their rental fleet, and strive to keep them in top condition. The Blue Glide was a dream companion throughout Ohio.
My car service arrives right on time, and I’m on my way home. This has been a great trip — a Hall of Fame trip, in fact. The Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all wrapped up in one week, with great roads connecting the three venues. I’m very happy.
Now the only question that remains is the same one I’m left with at the end of each motorcycle trip: Where should I go next?
Miles ridden: 89.4
Total miles for trip: 794.2