Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Queen City

(Yesterday was my 7th bloggiversary. I figured I couldn't truly claim to have made it the full seven years unless I did at least one more post. This is a recap of my trip to Cincinnati a couple of weekends ago.)

I think I was always meant to go to Cincinnati. I was raised to be a Reds fan. Well, I was raised to be a Bama fan and good southern boy first, but Mom also rooted for the Big Red Machine. (For my sports-challenged readers, the Big Red Machine is not some obscure Communist organization. It was the nickname of the Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970's, who appeared in four World Series in the decade, winning two.) Once the Big Red Machine was dismantled, Mom could not have cared less how the Reds fared. So it has been my cross alone to bear, lo, these many years.

The most interesting thing on the drive up Friday evening was the point in the state of Kentucky where there is an adult video store on the right side of I-65 and a billboard with the words "Hell Is Real" on the left side. I made sure to keep it on the straight and narrow through there.

As I neared Ohio, an interesting geographical question began to formulate within my brain: When exactly does the South turn into the North? That was followed by other questions bubbling up, festering. At what latitude do people begin to speak faster and become difficult to understand? Do they serve sweet tea on this side of the Ohio and not on the other side? And just how many Union sympathizers have infiltrated Kentucky in the last century-and-a-half?

We actually stayed on the Kentucky side, in Covington, just to be safe. From the hotel, it was only a short bus ride or mile-and-a-half walk across the Ohio River to the stadium. The walk was either very pleasant or incredibly soggy, depending on the weather.

We wound up attending both the Saturday and Sunday games. The Reds lost the Saturday game, 5-0. On Sunday, the outlook was as dreary as the drizzly Ohio sky, as the home team fell behind 4-2. But a late-inning comeback produced a thrilling 5-4 victory. My fantasy team closer got the save. My fantasy team catcher had the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the 8th inning. And the guy my fantasy team is named after hit a homer. I was glad we had decided to go back.

One of the highlights of most any trip is the food. At the ballpark, we sampled a Skyline chili cheese coney and something called a Walking 3-Way, which is not nearly as difficult as it sounds.

Saturday night, we went to Fountain Square, which is a simply gorgeous area downtown. I found out later -- by Wikipedia'ing, of course -- that the fountain can be seen in the opening credits of WKRP In Cincinnati. After reading that, I think it's fairly obvious that fate had led us there.

We had dinner outside at the Rock Bottom Brewery. There's just something about eating outdoors at little cafes and restaurants that I absolutely love. It reminds me of being in Europe, which is quite odd when you consider that I have never been to Europe.

Our last meal actually came at the suggestion of the desk clerk at the hotel. As we were checking out on Monday, she commented that she liked my shirt. I was wearing my "This Is How I Roll" Bama shirt. Turns out she was a Bama fan, so naturally we struck up a conversation. She knew her stuff, too! Refusing to call Auburn by name, she referred to it instead as "that school on the other side of the state." Talk about feeling at home.

Anyway, she recommended a place across the street called Riverfront Pizza for lunch. I tried their ranch pizza, which was pretty good. But the best part was that they had sweet tea! That's when I knew that the Yanks hadn't completely taken over Kentucky.

After I got home, I was telling Mom about going to the Reds Hall Of Fame following the game on Sunday.

"Did you see Johnny Bench or Pete Rose?"
"No, they weren't there."
"What about Morgan?" (That's apparently what my Mom calls Joe Morgan, which I wasn't aware of until that moment.)
"No. He wasn't there either."
But I was glad that she remembered them.

Overall, I loved Cincinnati. There are certain places that feel like home when I visit. They bring a sense of being completely comfortable and content. The beach is always like that. Nashville is like that sometimes. And walking into Great American Ballpark for the first time, there was a similar feeling. Seeing thousands of fellow Reds fans I thought, "Ah, these are my people."

Three or four different times random people on the street made comments about the Reds to me. Even though it's been thirty years since the Big Red Machine and twenty years since their last World Series title, it's still a baseball town.

"I walked half way from Louisville. Now there she lies at the foot of the hill. Shinin' like a jewel in the valley below, Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati, where the river winds, 'cross the Mason and the Dixon line..."

22 comments:

  1. When I recently started going up to the urban jungle, I saw they had a Rock Bottom Brewery, the same name as one I used to go to up north. I thought it was just a coincidence in a large world with not that many names for a bar/food place. After you mentioned it, I had to google it and found out that it is actually a chain. Still, it is good food for a chain place.

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  2. I've never heard of Rock Bottom Brewery, but of course now I wanna go. And eating Al Fresco is divine in perfect weather, which of course it is in Alabama. :)
    Happy blogversary!

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  3. So... is that lovely lady in red your the future Mrs. Bone? :)

    At what latitude do people begin to speak faster and become difficult to understand?

    Um... we are NOT difficult to understand up here, and I, personally, hardly ever (at least not more than a few [thousand] times a day) talk fast O:)

    Sounds like an about perfect weekend, crappy weather not-withstanding.

    Oh and you made me miss Europe. It's hard to believe that it's been almost exactly six years since I came home from living in Spain. But outside dining and gorgeous fountains will definitely do that.

    Also... surely I'm not the only one thinking that you're going to have to post wayyyy more than one more time, right?

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  4. Oh and you mean this "Hell is real" billboard? :-)

    (I had to! You didn't have photographic evidence of this.)

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  5. The Mason-Dixon line is the cultural boundary for the North/South divide. It basically borders 4 states: Maryland, Deleware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. If you were to extend the imaginary line west, Cincinnati would fall in the southern part. However, I think most Ohioans (Ohionites?) consider themselves Midwestern and not Northern or Southern.

    I'm glad you had fun, regardless of the weather.

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  6. For us 'North of Ohio'ians, Ohio is nothing more than a flat nuisance with a <70 mph highway speed that sits between home and wherever we are vacationing and where fun will ensue.

    Glad you had fun though. :-)

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  7. I second Murf assessment of Ohio--that state seems to get longer every time I drive through it. If you're ever in Louisville, you should go to the Louisville Slugger factory--they have a tour and for $50 or so (or that was what it was around 2000), you can get a major league bat with your name on it (corking is extra).

    Glad you had fun, my brother was a Big Red Machine fan--Johnny Bench and Pete Rose. Talk about one who went from slammer at the plate to living in the slammer...

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  8. Ed - I had looked it up online from the hotel room, so I knew it was a chain, but it was still good. And the atmosphere was awesome.

    Actonbell - It has been pretty perfect this week after all the rain we had on the weekend. Sunny, pollen-y and 90 today :)

    Thanks! One day I'm going to get that word officially recognized in the OED.

    TC - So... is that lovely lady in red your the future Mrs. Bone?

    I wish. Actually, I forgot to include the part where two guys at Saturday's game were yelling at Rosie Red asking her for a kiss.

    TC again - Yep, that looks like the one. What, no pic of the adult video store sign?

    Xinh - Yeah, Midwest is probably more accurate. However, any state that borders a Great Lake cannot be considered South in my book :)

    Murf - That's the only time I've ever been in Ohio, and I was never in it more than a couple of miles. I wonder what Ohioans say about Michigan? I should have asked :)

    And I do agree that a speed limit of anything under 70 on an interstate is quite annoying.

    Sage - I drove thru Louisville but didn't stop. Also saw the National Corvette Museum as I was driving through Kentucky, but oddly enough, no Camaro Crash Helmets.

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  9. And, by "two guys yelling at her asking for a kiss," you mean you and one other guy? ;)

    I was driving pretty fast that day, trying to escape Kentucky. Tag took the pic of the billboard from the passenger seat. I'm sure if she'd had a panoramic camera and time to set it up, you'd have both.

    (On the drive south did you catch the other side of the billboard? It has 5 of the 10 commandments, including "thou shall not commit adultery." Ironic, given the store, I always thought.)

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  10. Your brain at work is fascinating. You ask the questions out loud everybody, at least me, thinks silently. x

    I would say have 7 more bloggiversaries but selfishly I want the complete works of Bone in hardcover, not published by Bone

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  11. Happy Blogiversary! Shouldn't you be hosting some contest on your site? Like, the ones where we have to identify particular posts or particular people in order to win the new IYOROBTY book that you just wrote?

    Or is that just all the other blogs I read?

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  12. TC - No, I thought about it, but those guys beat me to it. I was hoping to get a picture with Rosie for my new profile pic, but no luck.

    And no, I somehow missed the other side of the billboard on my way back.

    Pia - And just think, those are only the thoughts I choose to share :)

    Did we ever decide what seven blogging years would be in human years?

    Charlotta-love - Eh, I'll leave that to the young 3-and-4-year-old bloggers. When you get to be my age (in blog years), you're way too tired/lazy to do any contests :)

    Maybe I need a personal assistant in charge of blog-related activities.

    Daily Panic - Thanks, DP.

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  13. Happy bloggiversary! 7 years? Wow. I was going to ask you if you've changed your blogging style/content during that time... but I should probably just read your archives and find out for myself, shouldn't I?!

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  14. Happy belated blogaversary. 7 years...well you beat me I hope you are satisfied now.

    I've oly ever been to Columbus and north north. I am told Cincinnati is a whole different ballgame...

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  15. Bone it was wonderful to finally get online today and read your writing I have missed it.

    Happy Blogaversary.

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  16. From a northerners perspective, Ohio is north,Kentucky is the south. Over here on the east coast we have that Mason Dixon line thing that easily indicates where the north ends and the south begins.

    Sounds like you had a great time!

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  17. Wow 7 years of blogging!
    That's a long time.

    I started about 5 days ago, and not sure how to get my blog seen...

    Trying to get as many readers as possible for a project.

    Any good ideas from a professional blogger??

    Please feel free to view my blog at:

    http://www.thepossibilitiesareendless.com

    Thanks!

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  18. Sounds like a great trip. I'm so happy you were able to experience Rock Bottom. Did you know that TC's airport has a Rock Bottom in the middle of the airport? Actually, it's more to the left then the middle, but it's in the busy part. Someday the three of us should meet there and eat.

    Also, eating outside is one of my favorite things to do. I love eating outside, it's so nice.

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  19. I gotta second Carnelian's point. There might only be a river between the two, and people from Cincinnati might interact constantly in Kentucky or vice versa, but Ohio is the North and Kentucky is the South.

    OKC: Do you know how hard it would be to schedule layovers for three of us? :) Still though, I love the idea of us meeting up at "my" airport. Heck, I love the idea of visiting my airport! My best friend was just there a few weeks ago on her way back to WA after coming home for her Mom's surgery, and I was jealous of her Caribou.

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  20. Maybe the three of us should just go on a trip together?

    We can go somewhere cool. Bone has never been to Europe. I say it's time he sees Europe.

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  21. So I was listening to the radio on my drive this morning and I heard some Big and Rich song, "Coming to your city" or something (I'm not a fan, so I wasn't too focused on title) that has lyrics about Skyline chili!!!

    I thought immediately of this post :)

    PS: My word verification is "dondecat," which is pretty much perfect as I'm cat-sitting while my uncle has surgery and she is the only thing either he or my aunt is worried about.

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