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Going home to Cleveland

Going home to Cleveland
for Lebron James return to the Cavs
November 2014
Although I grew up in Montreal, I consider Cleveland my adopted home town. We enjoyed our 12 years in Cleveland but one can only take so many cloudy winters on the shores of Lake Erie.  After the kids graduated from high school, we moved west. But our sporting hearts are still in Cleveland…. die-hard Indians, Browns and Cavs fans. Why else would we show up Sunday morning to watch a Browns-Steelers game at a seedy Denver Browns backers bar that looks like it’s right out of Parma? Man there are a lot of ex-Clevelanders in Denver!!
Four years ago, I went back to Cleveland for LeBron’s first game back after joining the Heat and booed with 20,000 others.
An amazing night… until the tip. :
Some great signs that night.
So we suffered through four years cheering for every team that played Miami and loved it when the Spurs embarrassed the Heat last year. But all was forgiven and tears shed for Cleveland when LeBron decided to come home. 
Since Clevelanders don’t have many Championships to celebrate, we look for other great moments. So I decided to make LeBron's first home game back a bucket list trip for our 3 sons. LA and SF sons are taking red-eyes while SFOJr and I catch a 6AM AA flight to Chicago.


AA 1028
October 30, 2014

Excellent MIA-based crew offered PDB service, juice or water.
Choice of Quiche Florentine or Steel Cut Oatmeal, one of my faves.

Jr. enjoyed his quiche.
On approach to O'Hare.
AA 4334
October 30, 2014

One of the most fun flights in months, made memorable by our personal motherly FA Flo, who made us the "Flo Special" Bloody Mary. Wow, talk about strong. Had us in stitches and tagged Jr as a "player" who needs to find the right woman and settle down. LOL.
An on time arrival at close in A3 and we were in a taxi shortly thereafter.
After dropping our back-packs off at the downtown Marriott, we headed over the to west side to meet the rest of the gang at The Great Lakes Brewing Company.
After a "few" local beers, we walked back downtown via the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.
And by the Q.
$50 for parking!!  LOL.
Back to the hotel for a while and then we headed out to join the growing crowd and festivities...
Pre-game concert by Lamar Kendrick and Imagine Dragons.
Too many people to even get close so we decided to go across the street and enter the arena.
New super HD jumbotron. Pretty cool.
Lots of celebs in the building tonight.
And The King.
Usher singing the National Anthem.
The amazing and emotional 6 minute player introductions.
And Lebron's signature chalk toss.
Unfortunately, after all of the anticipation, not a great game for Lebron. It's going to take a while for the team to gel.  
Like apparently one night since they beat the Bulls in Chicago the next night.  LOL.
More celebs including MIchael Strahan, Usher and a punk named Bieber, who won the loudest boos of the night contest.
After the game, on our walk back to the hotel.
All in all a great day despite the loss.  
After a few more drinks in the Marriott bar, I went up to the room to try to get some sleep before our 5:15AM wake-up call.  Barely awake, we piled in a taxi at 6AM for the 20 minute ride to the airport.  Funny cabbie who told us the real scoop in the Marriott, apparently a popular hotel for hourly stays.  And what is that god awful perfumey smell in the hotel?  Supposedly they use it to cover up the sewer smells.  TMI-TMI.   And then there his story about Tara, a local member of the world's oldest profession, who occasional can't or doesn't want to pay for her taxi rides.  Apparently the barter system is alive and well in Cleveland.  LOL.
AA 2429
October 31, 2014
Continental Breakfast

First time on the 8 seat AA A319 and hopefully my last.  Wow, are these seats uncomfortable.   Please just shoot me if I have to fly on this plane again.  Only two rows of First in a tight cabin with awful slider seats.  Personal entertainment system at each seat is the only positive about this plane.  The bad news was the audio malfunctioned so it was silent movie day.  The good news is that AA credited each of our accounts with 5,000 AAdvantage miles for the audio failure.

Like PIT and a bunch of other apparently unimportant AA markets, AA does not have a catering deal at CLE.  So we get the Continental Breakfast. Not even fresh fruit or baked goods. 

The cinnamon bites were tasty but more like a dessert.  Friendly DFW-based FA even opened another package and heated them for Jr. ^

Nothing says AA First Class more than a milk carton with a straw.  

Finally some good luck today as we arrived at C25 and our connecting flight was at C19 directly across from the C Admirals Club
AA 125
October 31, 2014
Dougie's Snack Basket
Thank god for the old MD-80s and comfortable recliner seats.   Short 80 minute flight featuring a couple passes of the snack basket.  Took one for the team, although the croissant as a snack was fresh and edible.
We were back in Denver 29 hours after we left... exhausted by happy to have made the trip and to be a part of Cleveland sports history.