Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hitting the Road-Akron

My weekend trip with my good friend Doug Hopkins started with a trip to Akron and the Rubber Ducks.

I had worked all night and I thought I might be tired,but managed to do get through the entire day without sleep and had a great time doing it.
Doug and I drove through most of the time before hitting Ohio for a quick bite at Arby's and then a stop at a tremendous antique market in Ravenna,Ohio.

This market always has great stuff and this time didn't fail either,although I didn't buy anything.
Doug found some older Indians programs and I took a picture of a classic vending machine from the 70's of a "Bozo the Clown" Balloon machine.
If only I were richer....

We then stopped at a Akron institution named Strickland's,which is the local standard for frozen custard and had a personal connection for Doug,who used to have family members in the area that raved about it.
Sometimes places like Strickland's can be just as important for the memories that they make as they can for the food and I certainly have had places like that in my life too.
I ordered a small custard of the flavor of the day which was grape on this day.
As a usual mark for grape offerings and never having seen grape ice cream/frozen custard before,I eagerly tried it.
It was good,but reminded me of the flavor that so many kids like-Party Cake,which is essentially vanilla with food coloring,so basically vanilla with purple coloring.
But it was pretty darn good vanilla!

As we stood in the parking lot of Strickland's waiting in line,you could see from a distance,the Rubber Bowl,the crumbling former stadium of the Akron Zips.
The WPA project built during the Roosevelt administration has become an eyesore and since the Zips built an on campus stadium has been essentially left to rot,crumble and be at the mercy of vandals.
After our custard,Doug drove us to an access road that we actually walked out into the upper deck and looked around.
It was both neat and sad at the same time as I had never been to the Rubber Bowl before despite all of those years spent driving through Akron and seeing the signs for the exit for the Rubber Bowl.
I have more pictures than just this,but I'm saving them for a future post on abandoned history.

We then headed to Canal Park,the urban home of the Rubber Ducks for a trip to meet Christopher McDonald,who played "Shooter McGavin" in the film "Happy Gilmore" on a night dedicated to the film.
We had bought the VIP package to insure meeting McDonald.getting the "Shooter" bobblehead and my stuff signed.
In addition,a great food spread that featured some awesome burgers was included with the VIP price.
The Rubber Ducks sure do know their customer service,wish they could give some lessons to some of the Hagerstown Suns front office on that front.
After a wait,McDonald came out and was super gracious in signing our items.
The only issue was just as Doug and I walked up to his table,the Ducks announced that due to time constraints he would reduce from 2 items to one,
Doug was going to get a golf ball for me since he didn't have anything to get signed,but he changed his mind and added his bobblehead.
The announcement came just as McDonald grabbed the bobble,so he missed the golf ball.
I didn't feel right about adding a picture with McDonald to slow the line further,so I didn't take one.
It didn't stop others from taking one and I get that,but I've been in the other slot of waiting for someone and not getting items signed because of pictures,so I passed,but I'd be back later.

We sat down and ate our meal and the food was terrific-exactly what you would hope for in these situations from the Duck Club.
When you pay extra and the team goes the extra mile to make that worthwhile,you have to be thrilled and Doug and I both were.
Anyway,as we ate,looked over to the field from the inside (with windows that opened up to enjoy good weather) or step out on a private deck and chatted along ,the line continued to move.
Doug grabbed the ball and got into line to finish what he started.
McDonald stayed a little over time and signed for the entire line before leaving.
There have been many times (as noted) that a guest,that has been paid for,dropped the pen at the desired time and left no matter how many people remained in line.
Classy move.
There was still one more inside joke-When Doug and I talked about the trip,one person said "I'd much rather see "the shooter" with a nice looking woman than "you two guys".
With the line gone and as McDonald was talking to the staff,I remembered that statement and was able to have the beautiful Linda Borelli,who manages the restaurant and adds sales to her workload to snap a picture for us and our friend to complete an inside joke.
I'll keep the person's name between us,but so there!
Thanks to Linda for the help and great food!

We watched a little (so,it would count as a ballpark on Doug's list) and were off to Lake County for another game,some graphing of the Fort Wayne Tin Caps (Padres) and to finish the evening.
I was thrilled with my trip to Akron and in another VIP situation,I wouldn't hesitate to pay the extra and go to the Duck Club..

Back soon with the next stop!

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