We’re off to see the Wizard…er,  the Christmas trees…um, Christmas lights…uh, all of that stuff….Load ‘em up!  Move ‘em out!  We’re off to the John S. Knight Center for the big Christmas roundup (Too many re-runs of “Rawhide” on the TV)

A small but convivial group climbed into the LAF/SOMe bus for the excursion to downtown Akron for a little holiday happening before the real craziness begins.  As usual, the troublemakers sat in the back of the bus–some things never change.  Some of the members of the assemblage were regulars, some were “newbies”, probably a couple(myself included) forgot exactly what the trip was about but it was a day out of town , so what difference did it  make?  So…off we went.

Now, I don’t like to cast aspersions but the bus driver, while entirely pleasant and helpful, did seem a bit GPS-challenged.  Ordinarily, heading for downtown Akron, one would head down Rte 88, hit the by-pass, get on I-76, get off at the Main St. exit, head for the tall buildings and presto-change-o! There you are.  We didn’t do that.  We went through the middle of Ravenna on St. Rte 59 to St Rte 261, on to Tallmadge, around the circle there and around the roundabout at Howe Rd., some distance on S. Arlington and other assorted Akron streets, finishing up on Main St. in front of a curiously quiet John S. Knight Center.

We disembarked (or should that  be “disembussed”?) to find the front doors still closed and the place very quiet, considering that there was supposed to be a “Holiday Tree Festival” going on.  Wandering around the spiral stair on the brightly-colored carpet we found a office, where we learned that someone there had “mis-spoken” (That’s what the politicians call it. Technically, it’s known on the street as CYA) and the whole divertissement didn’t start until SATURDAY…unless we wanted to wait around until the gala party in the evening which opened the festivities,  for a small fee, of course (And we weren’t really dressed for that; my tiara was at the cleaners).   And another thing…there wasn’t a bathroom available…adding insult to…insult, I guess.

So…what to do?

Number one : call the bus driver; we’ve gotta get outta this place!

Number two : What else is around within a reasonable distance that we might enjoy?  Akron has an Art Museum downtown (walking, hard floors, chilly, what’s the special exhibit?), it has a very nice zoo (mostly outdoors, exhibits look–and act– too much like relatives), Stan Hywett is pretty close(outdoors a lot, not decorated yet).

Hey!  How about Hartville? (Big restaurant; big shopping)  We’re off!

Nice bus driver took us on another circuitous adventure ride –no roller coaster, just I-77–to Hartville, where we first beheld the under-construction hardware store that is apparently to be the next big attraction in this faux rustic marketplace. ( Eat your heart out, Dick & Larry & Casey, and all of the Do-It and Ace stores all around the country. Lowe’s and Home Depot can deal)Then the restaurant looms on the horizon; the Hartville Kitchen could probably feed the entire population of Guinea-Bissau at one setting…assuming those African folks would care for Mennonite-style food; they likely  would not be real picky at the prospect of plates piled the way the Hartville Kitchen piles plates.  The turkey dinner special was popular, ditto for the creamed chicken on biscuits and just about anything else that arrived at the table.   We passed on dessert, though the black raspberry pie was tempting.

Gift shop, bakery, candy kitchen–no opportunity to spend money was slighted, though I must say, the chocolate chip cookies were a great disappointment…one cheap chip per cookie does not a taste treat make.  The “bushel cookie”, now that was another story–oatmeal, raisins & pecans–chewy, tasty.

Then on to the Hartville Marketplace.  They had Christmas decorations.  They had fluorescent lights, ersatz brick walls, open beams and a guy with pins in his leg and stitches in his toes being steered around in a wheelchair while holding a shopping bag.  They also had antiques & collectibles, vintage and varieties in clothing, décor items(not for anyplace I’ll ever live), leather goods, metal signs, naughty sayings on just about any flat or fabric surface, candles, Crocs, a photography-restoration shop, tattoos, an emporium where one could have one’s eyebrows “threaded” (Sort of works on the old cartoon premise of tying your loose tooth to the door knob then slamming the door. Anyway it weeds out the undergrowth).  And food!  Cheese, bakery goods, multitudes of meats, pies, produce, fudge…if you didn’t find it there, you probably shouldn’t eat it anyway.

The trip home was anticlimactic.  We missed the school bus traffic and made good time.

Gotta get more thickets to these things.