State 8: Ohio - July 22, 2017
“We built this city on rock an' roll” Jefferson Starship
After camping for a few days, and catching up on laundry and cooking, we decided to get back on the road. We woke up in Ashland, OH, with a difficult decision to make about the day's agenda. Ohio is home to both the Football Hall of Fame, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the Cross Country Couple only had time to visit one. Both venues have significant American importance, so how would we choose between the Goliath's of the Grid Iron and the Rock of Ages? The only fair way was to flip a coin, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame won! ROCK ON!!!
Although the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was founded in 1986, it was not until 1996 when construction was completed, and the building opened to the public. The external structure has an extremely unique and exquisite architectural design consisting of a glass pyramid and a glass with a connected cylinder structure pictured below. However, the layout of the interior of the building was extremely hard to navigate. The stairs, escalators, and elevators were scattered in strange and in different locations on each floor resulting in a scavenger hunt. Take one wrong turn and you end up being funneled through the world’s largest gift shop taking over 30 minutes to navigate through. Once you exit the gift shop, you can finally access the main entrance, and attempt to find the passage back to the floor you actually intended to go to. In total, Lori and I look the tour of the gift shop 3 times during our visit. This was a huge waste of time, and an absolutely infuriating experience! To make the whole debacle even worse, the Hall of Fame was jam packed with people on the day of our visit to the point where an anonymous call to the Fire Marshall would have been in order. This made walking from one end to the other of each floor an annoying redundancy of “pardon me, excuse me, and do you know where the staircase is?".
The most interesting aspect of the museum was viewing the actual relics of the gods of rock! The holy grail and envy of impersonators everywhere, Elvis Presley’s actual gold jumpsuit was on display. Locked inside of a motorized glass case that rotated 360 degrees was Michael Jackson's glove. Ringo Star’s drum set was also represented along with a plethora of additional Beatle’s relics. They even had Stevie Wonders iconic dark sun glasses on display! See the pictures below.
For me, visiting the museum was all about seeing the guitars the icons used to create their timeless music. Seeing the guitars used by Les Paul, Jimi Hendrix, ZZ Top, Johnny Cash, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, Otis Redding, John Lennon, Hall and Oates, Chuck Berry, Kurt Cobain, Slash, Peter Townshend of the Who and countless others were an amazing experience. The aforementioned are pictured below.
For Lori, she enjoyed seeing the fashion of the artists on display which included Michael Jackson's outfit he wore in the smooth criminal video, Bruno Mars, Madonna, Mick Jagger, Taylor Swift, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, the Supreme's, James Brown, Beyoncé, David Bowie, Michelle Philips of the Mama’s and the Papa’s, and other which are pictured below.
Lady Gaga wins the title for the most unusual article of clothing on display if you can even call it clothing. I can only describe it as a metal bathing suit, with large metal circles orbiting around her. If it looks familiar it is because she wore it during the music video of her number one hit song “Bad Romance”. It looked extremely dangerous and uncomfortable, and I hope she was up to date on her tetanus shot!
I do have to mention one aspect of the museum, we found very disappointing. The relics of some iconic artists are grossly under represented, while some of the less than iconic artists are overly represented. For example, the only relic they had for Elton John was one article of clothing, that was actually very tame for his traditional style of dress. However, they had over 3 rooms full of John Mellencamp's memorabilia. Don’t get me wrong, I like “little pink houses for you and me” just as much as the next guy, but it was just a tad bit overkill.
The museum was also celebrating the inductees for the 2017 Hall of Fame: Nile Rogers, ELO, Yes, Joan Baez, Journey, Pearl Jam, and Tupac Shakur. They had a video playing of the induction ceremony, which had occurred earlier in the year in New York. It was very interesting to see Journey, Pearl Jam and Yes perform for the first time in many years. Of particular significance was hearing Joan Baez sing. Even though she is well into her golden years, she clearly still has it! They also had a special exhibit on the two top floors of the museum in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones Magazine. To access the top floor and apex of the glass pyramid, you had to go up a very tall red metal spiral staircase, which made Lori very dizzy. Once at the top, you were surrounded by 4 huge screens on each side of the wall, showing the historic covers of the Rolling Stone magazines over the past 50 years. Above these massive screen’s, were additional screens scrolling through random videos of the interviews the magazine has had with some of the most famous rock and roll artists of all time. The whole experience was quite unexpected, yet very impressive. We then exited the Hall of Fame to head to our next stop in Cleveland, and the site of our “Roadside Attraction” for the state.
Cross Country Couple would like to take this opportunity to officially announce and present to you our chosen “Road Side Attraction” for the state of Ohio: The world’s biggest rubber stamp! In 1985 the construction of the massive stamp was commissioned by BP Oil to brighten up the external appearance of their lackluster office building. The stamp is 49 feet tall, and has the word FREE on the bottom of the stamp. In case you were wondering, the words free was chosen to commemorate a veteran’s monument located nearby. Shortly after the gargantuan stamp's completion, the CEO of BP decided against displaying the stamp for reasons still not entirely understood, so the stamp sat for years in a storage warehouse in Indiana. ln 1991, the city of Cleveland agreed to take possession of the stamp, and its permanent place would be in the cities Willard Park. We tried to take selfies with the stamp, but due to its large size we didn’t even appear in the pics. We hope you enjoy this picture of the World’s Largest Rubber Stamp.
While in Cleveland, we learned about a local restaurant rumored to have the best pierogies in the entire US. Lori and I love pierogies, so we had stop to check them out. Cleveland has a very large population with Eastern European roots, so it should come as no surprise that Pierogies are the cities food of choice. There are dozens and dozens of spots within the city to get your fix for those poufy pockets of potato and cheesy goodness. If you ask any Clevelander where to get the best pierogies, one name stands out among all others; Sokolowski’s University Inn. At first we thought we were the butt of a local’s practical joke. With a name like Sokolowski’s University Inn, we were expecting a hotel within a College of Classical Music. As it turns out University Inn is the name of the street the restaurant is located on, and Sokolowski is the last name of the owners. They opened the restaurant is 1923, and it still family owned and operated by 3rd generation Sokolowski family members. The Restaurant has the highly coveted distinction of being the oldest family owned restaurant in City of Cleveland.
The restaurant has been featured in local, regional and even national publications including USA today. Sokolowski’s is Zagat rated, and has won any and every award a restaurant could possibly win including being named an “American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation, the Academy Awards of Food. Every wall of the restaurant was absolutely covered from floor to ceiling with the awards, print articles, and pictured autographs of famous people who had eaten at Sokolowski’s over the past 93 years! The anticipation was killing us, and we both knew we were in for a real culinary treat Cleveland style!
First, we were in for a very very very long wait. The line was so long it wrapped around the entire dining room, and out the backdoor of the restaurants spilling into the parking lot. See the pictures below. A pet peeve of mine is waiting for a table in any restaurant. However, I made an exception, and got into a line with a 2 hour wait for the opportunity to wrap my lips around the best pierogies our country has to offer! As the minutes slowly passed, the line slowly meandered forward, and we finally entered the restaurant. The motif of the restaurant was dark, uninviting, and reminiscent of a creepy 1970’s bar. Clearly the masses did not come here for romantic ambiance. They came to Sokolowski’s University Inn for the best food in Cleveland! Period!
Their menu featured a wide variety of items listed on copy paper taped to the wall, but that was absolutely irrelevant to us. We came for one thing and one thing only; pierogies and lots of them! We ended up ordering 4 dozen! I think we let the anticipation, and our appetite go to our heads. By the time we made it through the 2 hour line, Lori and I were absolutely ravenously hungry.
I polished off 26 pierogies, and Lori ate 15, leaving 7 left over. While the pierogies were very good, they were swimming in a sea of butter! Lori and I are aspiring vegans, and try to limit our dairy intake to special occasions such as eating world’s best pierogies. However, I think we consumed more butter in this one meal than we had had in the past 5 years. Our bodies did not know how to handle all that dairy, and we both began to feel extremely ill. We limped out of the restaurant, drove Rosie to a nearby Walmart, and we slept for the next 12 hours.