One of Brandi's Christmas presents to me last year was a pair of tickets to last Friday's NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Instead of just going for the game and then driving back immediately afterwards, we decided to make a little trip out of it. I took the afternoon off work, and we reserved a room for the night at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown. Brandi's parents recommended it to us, and it was really close to the arena and pretty inexpensive, so we decided to give it a shot.
I was really excited to get out of town and do something fun for a while. As much disdain as I have for the NBA in general, going to the games in person is always an awesome time. They do a great job of making each game an event. Besides, seeing Lebron play is always worth the price of admission (especially when the tickets were a gift). This game had the added bonus of featuring Antonio Daniels, a backup guard for the Washington Wizards who played his collegiate basketball at Bowling Green.
We got into Cleveland shortly after 3:00 and went directly to our hotel. We're both pretty familiar with downtown Cleveland from being there so often, and it was right off the interstate anyway, so it was easy to find. We took a few minutes to settle in and explore our room, and then we started getting ready to hit the town. Neither of us had eaten lunch, so we planned to have an early dinner before going to the game.
The great thing about our hotel being where it was is that we had walking access to all of downtown and didn't have to worry about driving or finding alternate modes of transportation. It was also a pretty nice day outside. It was a little chilly, but definitely not as bad as it could have been considering it was February in Cleveland.
We walked from the hotel to the House of Blues for dinner. Since we got there well before the typical dinner time, we had no problem getting a table immediately. Actually, the place was nearly empty besides us, although it filled up quite a bit during the time we were there. Being that empty, we got great service, because our server really didn't have anything else to do. The food was great, and it was a nice trip down memory lane as well. Last April, Brandi and I had dinner there and caught a concert afterwards, and after the concert was when I asked her to marry me.
After dinner we walked over to another restaurant/bar closer to the arena to have a drink before the game. They had a nice big area upstairs that featured a lot of open area and a bar and was completely non-smoking. We thought that was pretty cool, so we decided to try to come back after the game.
From there we headed over to the arena. We got there about an hour before gametime, which is par for the course for me. It gave us a chance to wander around the concourse and check out everything that was going on. Brandi got to make a sign, which she had talked about doing beforehand but didn't, so she was pretty pleased. Unfortunately, it didn't get us on the jumbotron, despite the best efforts of the cameraman in our section.
Also unfortunately, the Cavs lost the game, 102-94. Lebron had an off night--granted, he almost had a triple-double (25 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds) and made some awesome plays, but he also missed eleven free throws, and that made a huge difference. It was much the same for the rest of the team. On the bright side, Antonio Daniels did have a decent game. He scored ten points, most of them in crunch time, and he also had seven assists with no turnovers. We had a great vantage point for the game, as the seats Brandi bought were really good. We got some good pictures, too.
After the game, we headed back to the bar we visited beforehand. For some unknown reason, they had closed off their upstairs section, so we grabbed a couple of seats downstairs. The bartenders weren't particularly attentive even when they were only half full, and with the place filling up fast (being only a block away from the arena), we decided to leave after just one drink there.
We ended up at a place called Fat Fish Blue, a Southern-style restaurant we've visited a couple of times before. We found a couple of seats at the bar there, and with a good blues band playing, it was exactly the vibe we were looking for. We sat there for a few hours, getting good and liquored up. I was drinking Lynchburg lemonades; Brandi drank vodka martinis. I even got to keep my glass, as well as the shot glasses we used for our last drinks of the night.
We closed the place down, and then made our way back to the hotel. All of downtown was mostly closed up by then, but there was still a decent amount of traffic on the road. We were approached by a panhandler as we approached our destination: I gave him nine bucks, and he gave us a speech on politics. You just never know what you're going to get in the city. We rode the elevator up to our floor with a guy who was considerably drunker than we were--he was bearing a pizza, and complained about how badly he had to pee. Some other people on our floor apparently decided to hold their party out in the hallway, but it really didn't matter. By the time we got around to going to sleep, no amount of noise was going to keep us awake.
On Saturday we had to get up and make our way back to Bowling Green. We briefly considered extending our stay for another night, but there was some stuff we couldn't skip out on. It was a hell of a good time while it lasted, though. Even a short trip like that was a great chance to get away and cut loose a little bit, and it definitely helped to recharge my batteries.