Last weekend, my son, Ethan, and I embarked on a road trip to Canton, Ohio to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame (HOF). I last visited the HOF over 13 years ago and had been looking for a reason to go back. I thought it would be a nice opportunity for us to get away and spend some quality time together. Ethan really started getting into NFL football this year and I thought he would enjoy learning more about the players.
Saturday – February 14, 2015
The plan was to leave early Saturday afternoon and arrive at our hotel in Canton that evening. According to my GPS app, the drive was a little over 5 hours.
On our way up I-71 through Cincinnati, I decided to surprise Ethan with a stop at the LEGO Store at the Kenwood Mall. It’s the closest official LEGO Store to us and I’ve taken the kids there before. I thought Ethan would appreciate getting to pick out a LEGO set and build it in our hotel room. Of course, we had to stop and get pretzels from Auntie Anne’s on our way out of the mall. We just had to.
That evening, as we got closer to northern Ohio, we started hitting snow and horrible road conditions. It didn’t help that my windshield wiper fluid was frozen and I couldn’t clean the salt off my windshield. Visibility was absolutely horrible. It got to a point where I couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of me (because of the snow and smearing salt on my windshield). I also couldn’t clearly see the road in front of me. I was basically following the tracks on the road. Fortunately, there wasn’t much traffic.
We ended up stopping in Cleveland and getting a hotel room at a Comfort Inn (about 30 miles short of our destination). I mention Comfort Inn because we couldn’t make it to our reservations at the Comfort Inn in Canton. I assumed that they would transfer my room reservation but I was wrong. As I write this, I’m still working them on Twitter to try and get a refund.
@ChoiceHotels I’m upset with one of your Comfort Inn props in OH. I had to pull off road because of snow and they refused to refund my $$$.
— Jay Lane (@JayLane) February 16, 2015
Regardless, I was relieved to be in a warm hotel room and not stuck in a ditch outside in the dark in the negative temperatures.
Sunday – February 15, 2015
The plan was to wake up early Sunday morning, grab breakfast, and drive the final 30 miles to the Hall of Fame. It was a ridiculous -26 degrees outside.
Fortunately, my car started and we headed over to a neighboring Dairy Queen for breakfast only to find out that they were closed. So much for sausage biscuits! A nice consolation prize was the Dunkin’ Donuts right down the street.
Once we got back on the highway, I realized that my wiper fluid was still frozen. I couldn’t find a gas station where I could clean the windows (I guess they were scared that their squeegees would freeze). I ended up buying a gallon of wiper fluid and pouring it on the windshield to get it cleaned off. It was a huge pain but I made it work.
On a side note, I will do my best to avoid driving in Northern Ohio in the wintertime in the future.
We got to the Hall of Fame a little later than I had planned but we were excited to be there. It was so cold outside, we couldn’t wait to get inside.
I made Ethan pose in front of the building before we went in.
Once we got inside, we were greeted with two unfortunate realities:
- There was NO COAT CHECK. So let me get this straight. The Hall of Fame is in Northern Ohio where it is ridiculously cold outside and they don’t have a single place to put jackets and winter gear? I ended up running our stuff out to the car because we didn’t want to carry all our winter gear around.
- The HOF charges $10 FOR PARKING. They had a pretty big parking lot and let me just say there was plenty of room. I could understand if we were in the middle of a big city where parking was limited. I don’t like surprise charges, especially after I paid for the tickets online. I saw nothing about them charging for parking. It’s not like I was going to walk out the door over $10 but that doesn’t mean I had to be happy about paying it.
We walked around the two stories of exhibits and looked everywhere. One of the tour guides told us about a quiz exhibit they do where everyone could win football cards for correct answers. Of course, Ethan was all over the idea. He kept asking me if it was time for the quiz session. When the time finally came, we went and picked our seats near the front. They presenters showed posters for old teams and then asked if each team was “defunct” or “not defunct.” We ended up winning a couple of football cards (J.J. Watt and Antonio Brown) and Ethan was thrilled.
Of course, after the quiz session, Ethan wanted to hit up the gift shot. I had planned on waiting until we were finished but thought “what the heck.”
After Ethan and I picked out a few things in the gift shop, we stopped by the photo counter and I bought their package of pictures. After we first came in the HOF, they had Ethan and I pose in front of a green screen. They created some awesome pictures for us. It was actually a pretty cool package and the price was pretty reasonable. I have the pictures in my office and will cherish the memories for years to come.
The room with all the legends’ busts is pretty cool. It was pretty neat seeing all my favorite players, especially my all-time favorite, Warren Moon.
It took us about three hours to get through the entire Hall of Fame. Ethan and I had a great time walking around and checking out all the exhibits. It’s a little smaller than you would expect but it’s still cool to see where the NFL started and how it has progressed over the years. I learned a lot. I also got to share stories with Ethan about how I have grown to love NFL football.
Around 2:00 PM, we got back on the road and started our trek back home. The roads were still pretty crappy and I had to keep stopping to clear off my windshield. Once we got a couple of hours into our trip, the roads cleared up. We made several stops for food/snacks and it was smooth sailing.
Overall, Ethan and I had a wonderful trip. I’m proud that my son is showing an interest in one of my favorite pastimes (Minnesota Vikings and NFL football).
I owe a big shout-out to my wife, Mary, for her understanding as I missed most of Valentine’s Day and her birthday. She knew that Ethan and I needed to get away for some quality father/son time. I also owe my parents for letting me borrow their SUV (even if the windshield wiper fluid was frozen the whole time). My car is getting up their in years and mileage so I felt more comfortable with a more dependable car.
I look forward to many more football-related adventures with my son in the future.