My first summer road trip is FINALLY here. I had this trip planned last fall but COVID-19 had so many closed I decided to wait until 2021 to make the journey to Cleveland, Buffalo, and the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).
Timing is everything when it comes to the a road trip. You have to know what’s open and what activities are available, especially during the pandemic where things are temporarily (or sometimes permanently) closed. The goal was to hit the ANF mid-week to avoid the crowds and have more time to explore.
Since my first night of camping was almost 8-hours from the house I decided to split the trip up and check out some places along the way. My planned itinerary for this trip was:
- Sunday – Cleveland, OH
- Monday – Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls
- Tuesday – Tracy Ridge Campground – Bradford, PA
- Wednesday – Buckaloons Recreation Area – Irvine, PA
- Thursday – East Harbor State Park – Lakeside Marblehead, OH
- Friday – Return to Indianapolis
I’m glad I left on a Sunday because I-70 was smooth sailing to Columbus. There has been construction (as usual) on the route and several major fatal accidents over the past few weeks that have shut the Interstate down for HOURS. In one case The Indiana State Police reportedly had to wake drivers up once the accident was cleared.
Sunday, Day 1 – I’ve driven to Cleveland before but usually take I-69 to Ft. Wayne and east on I-90. This time I had a few places I wanted to check out in Central Ohio so I decided to take I-70 to Columbus before heading Northeast on I-71 to Cleveland.
My first stop was at Swenson’s Drive-in on the north side of Columbus. They have an interesting burger called the “Galley Boy” which is a double cheeseburger with 2 sauces, one of which is BBQ. I wasn’t quite sure what the other one was but I suspect it was Tatar sauce. Paired with onion rings and a diet soda the combo made a great lunch. Interesting thing about this location. It’s right next to an IKEA and a Top Golf. The IKEA/Top Golf match up occurs in Cincinnati as well. It’s actually a great idea where half the family can shop and the other half can hit the driving range (and BOTH can EAT!).
Next stop was the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. This place was the setting for The Shawshank Redemption. Unfortunately when I arrived the tours were all booked, except for the 4-hour one, so I “toured” the outside & went about my day.
Since I was going to be in the Cleveland area I thought I should make a return visit to the Szalay’s Farm & Market that’s located right next to the rail trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I accidently left my phone in the car and failed to get any pictures. This place was PACKED with people stocking up on farmers market supplies. There were doing a really great food business with pop up shops spread around outside.
Finally it was off to check out Cleveland and find some dinner. Unfortunately it rained every day on this trip and by the time I got to downtown Cleveland it was pouring so I abandoned my sight seeing plans. Once I checked into the hotel & set out to check out a local Mexican place I had heard good things about.
Cozumel Mexican Restaurant is a local chain that has some great reviews online. When I arrived it was pretty busy but I managed to grab a seat at the bar. They had a bunch of containers on the back shelf of the bar where they were infusing all minds of fruit in Tequila and Vodka. My drink of choice this evening was a Paloma and this one did not disappoint. They even rimmed the glass with Tajín for a salty & spicy kick. For dinner I ordered a Chicken and Chorizo burrito called the Burrito A La Diabla and it was delicious, as were the rice and beans server along the side.
After dinner it was time to retire to the hotel room and get ready for another day of driving and sight seeing on my way to Buffalo and Niagra Falls.
Next week we’ll discuss the Buffalo area and continue the trip to the ANF.