My First Trip to Youngstown

Or rather, my last. Have you ever been? God I hope not. I only spent roughly 24 hours there and in many of the outer suburbs and I can honestly say I have no desire to go back.

My husband entered the Youngstown Peace Race, a race that has been nationally known for decades. I had heard The Butler Institute of American Art was amazing, so I figured this would be a nice excuse to stay over the weekend and do those wacky, crazy, silly, quirky trips my husband and I do every so often. I thought we had learned to make any day trip fun, no matter the destination. Wrong! The Butler Institute closed at 4pm on a Saturday, so I never got a chance to visit. I then proceeded to drive around several outer suburbs where the houses were nice enough, the trees were gorgeous, and the main drags looked typical of most American cities littered with car dealerships and a Pizza Hut every so often — Pizza Hut looking the cleanest out of all the Cash for Gold stores and abandoned strip malls with weeds growing from cracks in the parking lots.

It was hard to find a nice restaurant anywhere. In fact, we couldn’t even find an Outback Steakhouse or Chili’s when desperation set in. When going online to find something with good reviews, I found a lot of recommendations for the Applebee’s. We drove downtown, all dressed up, thinking there might be something, a hidden gem, or a strip of amazing places the way Grand Rapids, Michigan, surprised us. Nothing was to be had. One brew pub seems ok until the smell hit us as we walked in. The areas we drove around were downright scary, if not completely abandoned. On occasion there would be an Italian eatery that was clearly a front for some kind of dicey operation — nothing too welcoming. Just me taking photos around the area caused a lot of weird drifter types to yell at me, “what the fuck are you doing?” and “hey girl, come here!”. Maybe I was missing something? Maybe I happened upon 4 or 5 of the worst areas of town by accident?

America is beautiful…

So my husband and I did something we had never done before. He in his black velvet blazer and nice shoes; me in my designer clothes, French perfume, and pashmina wrap. We went to an Eat ‘n Park. I never felt so glamorous as sitting there at an Eat ‘n Park getting stares as I ate whatever microwaved entree I had ordered. The food wasn’t too terrible, actually.

At least I can say our Fairfield Inn was very nice and mod. I’m glad I chose to stay there versus the Econolodge next door that looked like a brothel. Well actually, it kind of was because it was next to this truck stop…

A trucker’s paradise to be sure. I wondered what kind of quality product works at a truck stop by Youngstown, Ohio. The best!

In any event, the race was Sunday, it was all fine and good. A lot of people from around the country come to the race because of the prize money. My husband was 2nd in his age group — he’s kind of a stud. Walking around was a tad depressing, though. All of the nicer buildings that hadn’t been abandoned were all banks. All of them. One even had blood strewn across the door. A sign of the times.

Fake blood, that is…

So….yeah. If I do go again, I’ll stick to the Butler Institute and be sure to come right back home. It’s only an hour drive, after all.