Thursday, October 1, 2015

So Long, Sweet Summer: 18 of the Best Things I Did Before the Official Return of Autumn

Truly, I can't remember a better summer - not since I was a kid, at least, when there was nothing to do but swim at the lake & ride bikes with my best friend, day after day for months. Now that it's October, I suppose I have to concede that summer is officially over, despite the fact that it's still, like, 80 degrees outside & I can't wear sweaters yet. With the turn of the calendar page, I thought I'd take a minute to pay tribute to this summer - the summer I became a Clevelander, the best summer in recent memory & maybe of my entire life.

This summer, I...
  1. Had a blast at the Cleveland Flea: My biggest summer regret is that we only made it to the Flea one measly (but great) time. I would go every weekend if it were an option! Described as "part urban treasure hunt, part culinary adventure, part maker center," the Flea is a roving weekend event full of all the CLE's coolest things, from food & booze to art & crafts to vintage goods & live music. I'm hoping to make it to the October Flea so I can get my final fix before they end for the year.  
  1. Consumed a ton of brunch: I've started plowing through my mental list of places to eat my favorite meal. So far, I've been to The Black Pig, Grumpy's, Lucky's... but I've gotten hung up on my new favorite, Prosperity Social Club, which I can't stop going back to. I guess I have a weak spot for any place that can rock perfect pierogis and delicious breakfast empanadas. 
  1. Toured Great Lakes Brewery: GLB is Cleveland's favorite brewery, & I was excited to finally see it behind the scenes. More than anything, I was impressed by the brand's commitment to environmental sustainability & bettering the local community - & by the taste of the four beer samples, obviously.  
  1. Celebrated a Browns win at a dive bar: We watched the first Browns game of the season at Booth's, a divey sports bar where the bartenders know my boyfriend by name. Whenever (if ever) they win, the owner jumps on the bar & pours Fireball into the mouths of fans who clamor around like baby birds... while the rest of the bar sings the name of former QB Brian Hoyer over & over to the tune of Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah."
  1. Explored the Ohio City Street Festival: In celebration of one of Cleveland's coolest neighborhoods, we made sure to grab lunch from the Cleveland Bagel Co., which doesn't have a brick & mortar shop (so we're always thrilled to find their booth at local events). I opted for a sesame seed bagel with bacon/date schmear, & I was nottt disappointed.
  1. Developed feelings for Cincinnati: My mom & I headed to the Queen City to celebrate the Fourth of July with family. I'd always considered Cincinnati to be basically Kentucky, but I was surprisingly impressed by the newly revamped waterfront area. I didn't make it back this summer as planned, but I'd love to head down again in the spring.
  1. Partied at the Cleveland Ale Fest: This event took place a few steps away from my apartment... a few days before I moved in. Damn! It was a great time regardless (we took an Uber home) & was a turning point in my adult life: I typically only like cheap, disreputable beer, but on this wondrous day, I discovered half a dozen beers I really liked. Also, I ate a hot dog topped with pretzels.
  1. Made my first trip to Browns Stadium: It wasn't for a Browns game, it was for... a One Direction concert. And it cost me a not-insignificant amount of money. And I am 31. But you know what? It was a great time & worth (almost) every penny. 
  1. Relaxed in California: Mike & I traveled to Redondo Beach for the wedding of one of my very best friends, & then we spent a couple nights in an AirBnB just enjoying the views, eating In-N-Out, & reading books in the sun. It was, in a word, glorious.
  1. Got stuck in a monsoon at a food truck festival: This was also the first time my boyfriend met my friends, so... great first impressions all around.The tacos, at least, were wonderful!
  1. Gorged ourselves at Night Market Cleveland: Described as "farmer's market meets flea market meets food festival meets concert," this fest was bursting with all kinds of Asian food - pho & grilled octopus & samosas & pad Thai & pork buns - plus music, parades, & kitschy booths. Unlike at other events, most of the food booths were very subtly labeled & thus didn't feel like advertisements for the restaurants behind them. It was just food, food, food - tons of it. We were already drunk when we arrived, so we were prepared to stuff our faces. 
  1. Went camping for the first time in ages: I had not been camping since I was 7 years old, & I am prone to anxiety attacks, which means that this was sort of terrifying. Ultimately, though, it was a pretty stellar time.  Spoiler alert: I did not die.
  1. Went on vacation with my mom: We traveled to Hilton Head, S.C., site of all my childhood vacations, & stayed in a beach house where I haven't been since I was about 12 years old. I didn't take the week of work, so there wasn't much beaching for me, but it was enough just to be there, spending time with my mom & relaxing.
  1. Enjoyed a townie carnival: My hometown hosted a strange little carnival in the parking lot of a local shopping plaza. I ate a corndog & danced to a lot of Taylor Swift & did not ride any rides because I don't have a death wish. It ended in fireworks, my favorite thing.
  1. Got classy at the MIX at CMA: On the first Friday of each month, the Cleveland Museum of Art hosts an event to celebrate art, each differently themed. The theme of the July event was "Fusion," headlined by Brooklyn band Red Baraat, which combines New Orleans-style jazz, Punjabi Bhangra music, go-go, & hip-hop. So... yeah, fusion. We got dressed up, drank some too-expensive beers, & people-watched on the patio of the art museum for a couple hours.
 
  1. Found some farmers markets: There's one right across the street from my apartment every Tuesday afternoon. So far, I'm obsessed with buying tiny tomatoes, peanut butter bread, & pineapple salsa from a man who goes by the name "Cowboy George."
  1. Watched the sun set from Lakewood Park: Mike's roommate is a but of a sunset junkie, so when he & his girlfriend invited us to join them to watch from one of the best views in the city, we took them up on it. It was gorgeous, romantic, & took way longer than we had budgeted for the evening.
  1. Fell in love: Need I say more? This summer was good to me.
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