Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2013 Cleveland for the National Senior Games

The National Senior Games are held every other year.  Last time (my first trip to the games) they were held in Houston.  This time they were in Cleveland.  Although the weather was a lot better in Cleveland in the summer, we were disappointed that they split up the age groups and half our St. Louis volleyball teams were arriving as we were leaving.  It was fun in Houston running around with and cheering on all our StL volleyball teams.  I don't remember how many teams were in our age group in 2011, but there were 29 teams in it this year.  Although most of us are well over 55, 2 of our players were under 55 so we played in the 50+ division.

Since Cleveland was about 550 miles (10.5 hours), 5 of our team of 7 drove there.  I had planned to fly home since the player I rode there with was continuing on a vacation.  But when we were eliminated early on the last day, I called Southwest Airlines, cancelled my flight and rode home with the other car load of teammates.

Originally I wasn't too excited about going to Cleveland.   It had never been a destination I longed to see.  But, then, I really didn't know anything about it.  A week before the trip, I played in a tournament and strained a knee so was in pain most of the trip.  But I'm glad I went and did have a good time.  Too bad we didn't play better.  At least we had plenty of time to look around the city!  I'll have to admit it is a beautiful city!

The gal I rode with had connections for cheap rooms outside of the city, so I stayed in that hotel, too, and rode to the games with her every day.   Our ride was only about 11 miles and none of our games started really early so that worked out well.   By the end of our stay, I think we saw all the sights in this painting.
We found the $2 parking lot and were able to ride a shuttle to the Convention Center a couple of the days.  The other days the streets were closed off for bike races so we were forced to park elsewhere.
We played in the Convention Center which was pretty large.
The first day of the tournie, we were suppose to ref at 1pm, play at 2, 6 and 8.  They fell well behind and we ended up being the only people there when we started our "8pm" game at about 9pm.  We spent a lot of time in and around the Convention Center that day.  We did walk to lunch.
Ended up going about 3 or 4 blocks away to Subway.
Walking back we checked out the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument.  It was built in 1894 as a monument to Civil War soldiers and sailors from Cuyahoga County. 

On our walk back to the Convention Center through the Public Square area of Cleveland, we chilled out and enjoyed the views awhile.
 Looking back towards Tower Center near where Subway was.
Cleveland is full of interesting architecture!  I wished I had brought my dslr camera.
 Cleveland War Memorial Fountain.   It symbolizes mankind's desire to rise above the flames of war and violence.
 It was recently the object of controversy on how it should be maintained. 
We still had lots of time before our next match, another player and I went to check out the green space above the Convention Center that we had been told about.  This area was over the big halls that were across from the volleyball area.  This is looking back at the Convention Center with the Key building in the background.  We found out later there's another green space above the volleyball area.
When we headed back to our court, we stopped to watch our fellow 50+ women's team for awhile and cheer them on.
We played tough, but managed to loose 2 of our first 3 matches by really close scores.  By the time we got out of there, it was close to 10pm. 
Looking towards Energy Stadium.
 The entrance to the Convention Center as we were leaving that night.
Next morning we were at it again.  Games at 11, then ref, then played again at 1.  Then we were done for the day.

 Again, should have had the dslr with me for the indoor sports shots.
We won both matches that day which put us in a tie for 2nd in our pool and into a playoff the next day to see if we would be in Gold or Silver playoffs.   After the 2 days of playing and walking around the city, my knee was ready for a restful evening and pool time.  But first, we headed to the Winking Lizard for lunch/dinner.

 We happened to be there when they were celebrating Christmas in July!
I also enjoyed watching the Cardinals on tv while icing my knee down.
Surprisingly, my knee held up quite well.  I don't know if it was the kinesio tape a physical therapist at the venue put on my leg, or the knee brace I bought at the local WAlgreens, or that we didn't play too many games, but by the last day of the tournie, I was moving much better.  The 3rd day of the tournie we lost by 2 points to be thrown into the Silver bracket.  That also meant we were done for the day by noon.  So we walked to Wink (which happened to be a subsidiary of Winking Lizard) and had lunch.
 My ride had friends show up who were also at Wink.
 Karen joined us for a team photo.

We walked back to the Convention Center then checked out some more sights along the way.  There were a lot of hotdog venders around.  We talked about trying them out some day, but didn't get around to it.
 I think this was City Hall with a serpent statue for the Year of the Snake.

 They had a lot of reflective pieces all over the city.  There were a series of these by the Convention Center.
With this being about the only day we had to really explore Cleveland, we decided to go on a city trolley tour.  Would have liked to have checked out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
 or the Science Center, both were within walking distance.
We had even thought of doing a boat tour, but with the weather being drizzly, we went with the trolley tour.  It was a fun tour.  Our guide, Dave, was very informative and funny.
These are mini statues of the Lords of Transportation.
 I loved these planters
 A fire station turned flower shop.
 One of the beautiful Victorian homes in the Tremont Neighborhood---one of the city's oldest and most historic neighborhoods. 
 We were actually heading here to Great Lakes Brewery the day before, but changed our minds and went to Winking Lizard again. 
 This is a painting called "Hands".
 Heading east across the 1932 Lorain-Carnegie Bridge into downtown Cleveland. The stone statues are pylons supporting the bridge. There are two on each end of the bridge. They are called the Lords Of Transportation, or the Guardians of Traffic.
 Outside the Quicken Loans Arena.
 The Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House of downtown Cleveland.
 Cleveland Venus at the FEd. court house--- a 37 foot tall bronze sculpture created by Ohio artist Jim Dine. 
 Another Cleveland sculpture of people waiting for a bus.
 We also saw a lot of intricate architecture detail throughout the city.
 Another reflection photo using the windows of a sky scraper.
 love the juxtaposition of old and new throughout Cleveland.
 And another reflective sculpture.
 Marker for the Old Stone Church near the Convention Center.
The Old Stone Church.
 Doors of the Old Stone  Church.
 The Renaissance Hotel where the rest of our team stayed.  It is also across from the Subway restuarant we walked to and connected to Tower Center.
 Another view of the statues by the Soldiers' and Sailors Monument as seen from the trolley.
 Another sculpture.
 Note the different faces above the archways.
 Another interesting newer architecture including reflective surfaces in a unique way.
 More architecture details.
 Would have really loved to check out this museum!  I've collected money since I was a child. 
 The above museum use to be a bank and in the early days it had holes in the steps were machine guns were placed.  Here shows those holes have been closed up.
 An old school in the city.
 Another sculpture.  This one is in Willard Park adjacent to the city hall and across from the Convention Center.  
 Entrance to the subway in Willard Park, I presume. 
 Another view of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
 By the small airport by the Lake in downtown Cleveland.
 Go Air Force!
 A barge turned restaurant.
 The submarine U. S. S. COD.
 Johnny Cash's bus in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
 The Fire Fighters Memorial is between the Cleveland Browns Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center.
 Another statue by the stadium.
 Three Figures on Four Benches sculpture by Segal at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center.
 Thomas Jefferson statue outside of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse.
 Global Center for Health Innovation
 Architectural detail at Renaissance Hotel.
 Historic Warehouse District - an entertainment, dining and residential hub.
 The old Train station.
 bridge architecture.
 WEst Bank of the Flats where the majority of the district's residential population is.  It is also where the Power House building is that houses the Aquarium and where Lolly the Trolley starts and ends.
When the tour was over, Janet and I headed back towards our hotel.  But we decided to check out the Cuyahoga National Park that was 2 miles from our hotel.  That was a great choice.  It was really interested seeing some nature after exploring the city.  This park follows the Erie Canal.

 There is now a paved path where the Towpath use to be (just to the right of this picture).
 One of the 44 locks and dams along the route.
 What was the Visitor's Center---closed for renovations right now. (complete with life saver ring for those whom get too close to the lock)
 Another look at a lock and dam.
 A nearby Mill along the Towpath.
 Frazee House---built in 1826, it represent the span of Euro American occupation of the Western reserve, even pre-dating the Ohio & Erie Canal construction by up to 20 years.

 Another view of Frazee House.  
 We didn't go too far into the National Park before we turned around.  Looked like it would be a neat park to explore more thoroughly.  Would be great for biking!  We heard a train go by, so we went back to the Visitor's center and looked for the train station.  From the parking lot, there was a trail leading to the station.  Along our way we enjoyed the plentiful wild flora.

 The foot bridge across the river.
 Reflection in the river.

More flora.

 Looking back along our walk.
 Low sun painting the wild flowers.
 Finally we found the little train station.
 We even lucked into being there when the train went by.  Looked like it would have been a really fun ride to take for $18. They also advertised prices of $3 if you were taking a bike or walking part way.
With the sun setting, we headed back to our hotel and hit the pool. 
Next day we had to be back at the Convention Center for a 10 am play off game.  I surprised myself by being able to really go after the ball that match.  Didn't matter, though.  We lost the match and were eliminated from the rest of the tournie. 
 We had to ref the next game, then set out to find lunch.  First stop---the Renaissance where Marti and Janice dropped off their bags for their later flight.
 Then headed through the hotel and into Tower Center.
 And down the escalator to the food court.
 Loved the painted guitars.
 Janet J taking a picture.
 Looking up while going down the escalator.
 Bellies full, we headed back up and back toward the Renaissance.
 Last look before crossing into the Renaissance.
Loved this sign! 
And we were on our way home at about 2:30pm.  Pulled into my driveway about 11pm.  If it hadn't been for the Nationals, I probably would never have gone to Cleveland.  That would have been a shame.  Don't think I'd want to go there in winter, but it's a great summer destination!