I was surprised to find myself dawdling on my way out of the city. Cleveland seems to have crept into my affections. I spent some time at the Loop Cafe, the coffee shop near where I was staying, to check up on my emails and the collection of local art I didn’t get a good look at the day before. The man working the bar gave me a couple tips on where to find graffiti so I spent about an hour tracking them down. I went to the end of Professor Drive to find the graffiti supposedly behind Fat Cats cafe and couldn’t find it. While searching, I went around the corner and found an old marble mosaic shop where I had a quick interaction with a machinist on his smoke break. Smiling with tar-stained crooked teeth, he was happy to chat for a minute. He acted as though we saw each other everyday; he didn’t say hello just how glad he was that it was almost lunch time. I had seen all of these rather ambiguous machine shops all over town and wondered what they could possibly be making. This particular little place, he said, made parts for race cars, though even he wasn’t completely sure.
It only took a day for Cleveland to permeate my heart. This is a no-nonsense place. There are no bells and whistles, well unless they literally manufacture them here. Most cities put on a mask just like people do in public, but Cleveland’s mask is abnormally transparent. You know what you’re going to get here, or at least it seems.
I finally headed towards Grand Rapids around 1 pm. It was already drizzling so I wasn’t expecting the greatest drive. Trying to avoid more tolls, I took Route 2 instead of continuing on I90. That was a great decision as Route 2 ran along many of the smaller towns along Lake Erie. Luckily, the rain gave way to sun before I went over the Thomas Edison Memorial Bridge on Sandusky Bay.
I had happily resigned myself to CBC radio after I heard a fun fact: Music, especially jazz, has been scientifically proven to increase milk production in dairy cows. I eventually was grooving out to Mavis Staples and Ray Charles as the fields began to roll out like the true Midwest.
I drove the entire length of Michigan; it was a very ordinary and boring drive so I relied on my pile of podcasts. The speed limit increased to 70mph which ironically didn’t make me drive faster.