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Dispatches from the Driving Front – Fender Bender Mind Mender

A quick check of our car showed it to be in drivable condition even after being on the receiving end of a hit-and-run encounter with a tractor-trailer just inside Cleveland. We, however, were somewhat shaken and, after stopping to fill out a police report, decided to take a slower route through town. Neither of us was interested in hitting the highway again, and we thought a trek down one of Cleveland’s many main streets would help us hit the reset button on a vacation that was circling the bowl. At first, it turned out to be just what we needed. Then we got greedy.

The police station was on the west side of town, and we got on Ohio route 10 going east through the city. The west end of town is a mix of lower and middle-income homes and businesses. Poverty and blight have left their imprints everywhere here. However an influx of seemingly-recent ethnic and newer soul food restaurants hint at an impending revival. The recovery does not seem to be in overdrive, but the neighborhoods along this route bustle on a summer afternoon.

We soaked up the local color as the neighborhoods gave way to more touristy areas that had their own charms. We passed by the stream of sports fans flowing to the baseball stadium. Even after we passed the museums and traveled the city’s industrial side, we knew this self-imposed detour had been a good idea.

Then we got greedy. I saw the on ramp for the interstate but my curiosity pushed us further down the road from urbs into the suburbs. Suddenly the traffic became congestion. The quirky businesses were replaced by chains that made the area indistinguishable from so many other suburbs. The area was more prosperous and green, but the rows of shopping malls practically made this city street a parking lot.

We finally saw the signs again for the interstate and knew it was time to rejoin the highway. But there was one more sign before I started down the on ramp. As I waited through two light changes at the intersection next to the luxury apartment complex where it sat, I had plenty of time to read it: “Raising Property Expectations.” By the time the light had turned green for us, I wasn’t too sure about that.