In 2001, I set off on a long, solo vacation.  This was the longest vacation of my life at that point, in terms of both distance and elapsed time.

I was really excited about the trip and got very little sleep the night before I was scheduled to leave.  Eventually, I just packed the car, ate a quick breakfast at Denny’s, and hit the road.  I wasn’t much of a morning person by then, but I was on the road by about 5 AM.  470 miles later, I pulled up to my hotel in Canton, Ohio.  I had made really good time on the trip.  In spite of it being an hour later in Ohio (different time zone), I managed to arrive at the hotel before my room was ready.  I was pretty tired from the road and didn’t do too much that night.

The next day, I went to the football Hall of Fame in Canton.  Honestly, I was not overly impressed.  If you’re a hard core NFL fan, it might be worth the effort to go.  If you’re a casual fan, I’m not sure.  I did pick up some nice Vikings socks in the gift shop.

That I drove to Akron to catch an Aeros (class AA) baseball game.  I had purchased tickets months in advance, which was good. It was bobblehead night (Sean Casey), and the place was absolutely packed. I had a seat right behind home plate (4-5 rows back, I think). The ticket cost maybe $15?  Nice stadium.

Early the next morning, I hit the road again.  That afternoon, I arrived in the hamlet of Cooperstown, New York – home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Earlier in the year, I had become a supporter of the Hall of Fame.  Once nice benefit was that the membership card gave me unlimited free entry to the Hall of Fame.  I made a cursory review that Sunday afternoon.  I spent two more days digesting the museum in greater detail.  I saw the contract that sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, a priceless T-206 Honus Wagner card, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski’s masters thesis (not a great writer, in my opinion –  at least not at that stage of his life), and countless artifacts of the game.  Unlike many halls of fame, the baseball hall of fame encompasses all aspects of the sport – not just Major League Baseball.

One of the things I really liked was the exhibit of awards.  There were quite a few MVP and Cy Young awards on display.  I could feel a connection to the award winning athlete, imagining how they felt when they won the award.  Two of  Tom Seaver’s Cy Youngs were on display.  Something that struck me as odd was that one was perfectly shiny while the silver on the other had become tarnished over time.  Was this the result of a different quality of metal being used in those two years?

On Wednesday, I checked out of the Hickory Grove Motor Inn (leaving behind an audio book for the friendly women behind the front desk).  Be forewarned – it is advisable to make hotel reservations far in advance of your trip.  Cooperstown is quite small (around 2000 people) and there aren’t too many large cities in the area.  Why this location?  Because of the since-descredited story that civil war general Abner Doubleday invented the game in a nearby cow pasture.

On the way back west, I saw a sign for Niagara Falls.  It was only about 15 miles out of the way, so I decided to go there.  I wasn’t really expecting very much.  After all, it’s just a bunch of water going over a hill, right?  Wow, I was very impressed.  If you go to Niagara Falls, make sure to go to the Canadian side.  You get a much better view from the Canadian side – you’re looking at the Falls from in front of them instead of a more awkward angle on the US side.  I could have spent more time there (and a few years later, did spend more time there with my wife), but I had a long drive to complete.

At the end of the day, I found myself back in Ohio – this time in Sandusky.  Sandusky is home to Cedar Point amusement park.  This was my first exposure to Cedar Point, and I was completely blown away (full review here).  Regardless of what type of roller coaster you like, they probably have it.  I was there on a Thursday and Friday, when crowds were pretty reasonable.

All good things eventually come to an end, and I hit the road on Friday afternoon and arrived back home in Illinois very late that night – just in time to attend my niece’s college graduation the next day.

I got to see a decent chunk of the country, and had a great time at every spot along the way.   I also gained a lot of appreciation for audio books during the trip.  Nelson DeMille’s The Lion’s Game (review here) was with me on this trip.  The unabridged edition is a hefty 25 hours!  The book has a great plot (I’ve listened to it about a half dozen time since) and made the time pass very quickly.

What about you?  Which solo trip did you enjoy the most?

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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