The Bucket List Trip
“What’s on your bucket list?” I asked my CBC Class of 1967 classmate Jack McDonald. Without hesitation, Jack replied that he wanted to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame. I knew the trip would be a bit of a challenge because Jack has some issues with mobility and vision, but that’s o.k. - nothing keeps determined CBC Brothers from knocking a couple of items off their bucket lists.
I started planning a Halls of Fame driving tour and then recruited two more guys to enjoy the trip – and to help with the driving. Bobby Olsen and Jim Bruno opted in and we finalized our HOF tour itinerary and dates.
In late July of this year, Bobby, Jim, Jack and I headed out for our grand adventure. The first day we drove for 10 hours and reached Canton, OH. The ride, while long, was broken up by Jack providing constant amusement by naming (correctly) the songs, artists, and the year it came out from the ’60s & ‘70s.
Canton has two great things going for it: the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a fabulous ice cream shop, Taggarts. Why ice cream you ask? Well, after we finished dinner that first night, Bobby informed everyone that he never went to bed until he had an ice cream -- and not the soft serve kind. We ended the day at Taggarts and agreed we would have ice cream at least once every day of our trip.
The next day we had a guided tour of the Pro Football HOF that provided a great introduction to facility and still left us time to tour on our own. As you’d expect, we saw all the old STL Football Cardinals along with the other greats that made pro football so exciting to us when we were young kids. We also saw the memorabilia for the upcoming induction of Kurt Warner. At the end of the day we were ready to head for Cleveland – after one more visit to Taggarts (yes, the ice cream was that good).
Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll HOF. Their guided tour was also a great overview before we set off to explore individually. It was very impressive to see the evolution of music leading up to Rock and Roll.
Our next stop was Buffalo, NY. No hall of fame there, but Jack also had Niagara Falls on his bucket list. Talk to any of our troupe and to a man, we would describe the Falls as awesome and spectacular. We saw them from both the U.S. and Canadian side. And then we were off to the next port of call, Toronto, and the Hockey HOF.
Toronto is a cosmopolitan city but has little to no handicapped accessibility. This was the only negative in the whole trip. The Hockey HOF was a bit of a disappointment, too. It reminded us more of an arcade laid out for kids with games everywhere. Fortunately, we had Cooperstown to look forward to.
It was induction weekend in Cooperstown and the place was jumping. Like St. Louis, the Baseball HOF is part of baseball Heaven. It was a memorable experience, almost a religious experience for those of us who are baseball enthusiasts. We enjoyed the tour and seeing exhibits and newsreel clips of former heroes like Stan The Man, Red, Lou, and Bob.
From the Baseball HOF, we traveled to Gettysburg for both the historical perspective and the fabulous ice cream shops. Touring the battlefields over the next two days brought home for us the heroism and horrors of the raging battles of Gettysburg.
We also went to the Eisenhower Family Farm right next to the park. On that tour, a sensor got tripped and so docents, guides and security scurried around trying to find the intruder. Ooops, it was me. We skedaddled out of there and made our way to Indianapolis for our final tour at the Brickyard 500 Museum.
In Indy, we visited the museum and then got a chance to ride on the track (in a tour trolley) and Kiss the Bricks (kind of like kissing the Blarney Stone only easier).
The ride home on I-70 was filled with stories of our adventures and what each one of us enjoyed the most. We all had our favorites but agreed that the trip was perfect, with memories that we’ll have for the rest of our lives.
In total, we traveled 2,620 miles, stayed in 7 hotels, and visited 4 HOFs, 11 ice cream shops, Gettysburg and the Brickyard 500 Museum during our 9 days on the road. Boy, did we have fun.