While killing time before meeting a friend, my trusty dog Bayr and I were on foot in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It was December 27th and the outside temperature was 24 degrees. The wind from the lake was light that day, which made the walk bearable. Cleveland sits directly on the Lake Eire. If there was a wind, it would have been howling and it would have cut through me and the dog.
The city, overall, had the early, turn of some century, industrial town feel. Many of the buildings had ornate architectural details and an over powering sense of city gray. People were all in classic winter dress for the Midwest- black or gray long overcoats, black shoes, black hat or muffs and black gloves. The scene all touched a part of my soul that my spirit had forgotten, since moving out West. It was a friendly, familiar feeling and a scary one at the same time.
Bayr and I walked from the Flats to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We toured the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument in the middle of city and many points in between. Interestingly enough, we were asked for direction half-dozen times. I guess folks would expect that someone walking with their dog in 24 degree weather was a local and not, as the case was, a tourist out for an adventure. My response was always the same, “Sorry, just visiting.”
Bayr had a fabulous time being a dog. Not only could he mark new, cold territory, covered with remnants of the salt from the previous snow, but he got to hunt 100's of pigeons lining each open area of sidewalk. He crouched down into attack mode and slowly made his approach. He inched closer and closer and then froze, inching forward again, until he sprang into action chasing the whole flock away in every direction.
We never connecting with our friend, one of the dangers of showing up in a city unannounced, and bedded down in an airport hotel. We woke early the next morning and glanced outside and saw that 6 inches of new snow had fallen. Being from the Chicagoland area, I knew this meant we had only one thing to do that morning. Get the heck out of Cleveland and head south as quickly as we could. The snow that had fallen was Lake Effect snow--snow that only falls because its close to the lake. We knew the sooner we distanced ourselves from the lake, the better our travel day was going to be.
So we headed south and set our sights on West Virginia . . .