Today we could take it easy as we are slowly making our way towards Cleveland and stopping over in a town called Erie on the way, which is of course on the shores of Lake Erie. We only left the hotel at 11, leaving me plenty of time to do a bit of forward planning, meaning I could book quite a few hotels for the next few days and even weeks. Hopefully this will give us a bit of breathing space as it takes a ridiculous amount of time finding and booking hotels, especially in and around the bigger cities. I know it sounds insane, but for places like Philadelphia it takes up to 2-3 hours to establish what the best options are, and if you are pushed for time it gets quite stressful. Booking Chicago for one night (all we can afford I’m afraid, though we were planning on staying there longer!) probably took about 4-6 hours of reading, searching and eventually deciding where to stay; something we definitely weren’t prepared for! The other issue with staying in hotels in the bigger towns/cities is that they not only charge you very high rates, but they also charge you up to $60/night for parking, which makes it even more impossible to find somewhere. Quite often these are nice hotels though, and occasionally you do have to treat yourself I suppose, but I really balk at the fact that relatively posh hotels then charge you even more for Wi-Fi, while it is free in much less salubrious establishments!
Anyway, rant over! We had a lovely drive along the shores of Lake Erie and took it really easy. The road we were on was quite scenic and very quiet, with few other cars in sight, except for when passing through small towns. This is wine country and we passed by quite a lot of vineyards and wineries, although we didn’t stop for any tastings. The landscape is still very green with trees and vineyards surrounding you in this area. We had lunch at Jack’s Drive-In in Barcelona, another very laid-back, sleepy little place. Lunch was good, and I had a 3-cheese toasted cheese sandwich with a cup of chili for $6, which is a real bargain, though I don’t think I’ve ever had anything quite that cheesy before! We got to Erie about 2:30pm and immediately headed out to Presque State Park which is on a peninsula, and took some more pictures – of a lake this time! Lake Erie is massive even though it is only the fourth largest of the Five Great Lakes, and you can’t see the other shore, making it more like a sea than a lake. It was a nice drive but we probably would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t so bloody windy and freezing!
We then got back to the hotel and I did a bit more research while Brian saw to our accounts (still winding up the companies in England). My research found that there was a bar across the road with happy hour on, so we went there for a couple of drinks before getting another early night.
Things I learned today: Taking it easy now and again is a good idea – we’re not in a race to get around America as quickly as possible!

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