Sunday, July 11, 2010 - Saturday, July 17, 2010
We started out around 9:30 on Sunday morning from home. We drove as far as Erie, where we stopped for lunch at the Quaker Steak and Lube. From there, with a couple of quick stops in between, we made our way to Mason, Ohio - just north of Cincinnati. This is actually the same area/same exit we stayed in last year when Mike was in camp and Jill and I toured around the area going to baseball games and such.
Before checking in at the hotel, we went to Abuelo's Mexican Food Restaurant. Had a pretty good dinner there before going to Bigg's Market to pick up some food and stuff for the week, then headed to the hotel.
Our base of operation for the week was Hyatt Place. It looked identical to the one we stayed at in Atlanta in December of last year, with only a few cosmetic differences.
On Monday, I got Jill set in her class and then Mike and I went out exploring a bit. We went to Blue Ash, Ohio - a short drive from the hotel - to see the replica 'Crosley Field' that they had put up there. It included a replica scoreboard from the old park, as well as actual seats from the stadium. Then we went to Jungle Jim's and walked around there for a while. Afterwards, we settled on Skyline Chili for lunch before going back to the hotel and hanging out.
Monday night after Jill was done with class we went out to dinner at the Polo Grille which was right up the street from the hotel. She had a seminar to teach later in the evening, and after that we went next door to Graeder's for some awesome ice cream.
On Tuesday, Mike and I went to Kings Island. The weather forecast, when I checked it the day before, make it look like Tuesday would be the nicer of the two days (60% chance of rain vs 40%). As usual, though, the meteorologists were wrong! Mike and I dodged raindrops all day long, and when it started to thunder and lightning, as well as pour, around 2:30, we decided we had had enough! We went back to the hotel to dry off and warm up.
Tuesday night we trekked into Cincinnati, well actually Kentucky, for the first time this trip. The Hofbrauhaus Newport was our destination. This was Jill and I's third time there, and Mike's second. Good food, good beer, good music - a definite thumbs up. We wandered around in the riverfront area in Newport before going back to the hotel (via the WalMart).
On Wednesday, Mike and I did our third (of four) stadium tours for the Summer of 2010. The Great American Ballpark, home of the Cincinnati Reds, was our destination. We toured through the park, and then took in the great museum and hall of fame the Reds had as well! Wandered Cincy a bit after that, finding the Cincinnati Gardens, before going to White Castle for some lunch and back to the hotel.
Wednesday night, we drove up to Columbus for the MLS match between the Columbus Crew and the Kansas City Wizards. This was our second attempt at an MLS game, and it turned out a bit better than the first. Adequate stadium, albeit a little rustic, with a torn up parking lot (they were re-doing the main lots, so we parked in the grass) - a place we would probably return to if we happened to be in the area, but wouldn't go out of our way to get to otherwise.
After the game, we searched out Thurman's for a late dinner. Man vs Food had been here previously, so we wanted to see what it was all about. Although the food was very good (pub fare - sandwiches and such), the hour wait for a table was a bit ridiculous, hampered mostly be an inadequate host. That in it of itself would probably keep us from going back again. Back to Cincy afterwards for some much needed sleep.
So, now we are at Thursday. Mike and I had planned on going to Louisville to see the Louisville Slugger Museum, but after all of the driving the night before we decided we wanted to stay closer to the hotel and Cincinnati. Luckily, we had a backup plan! The Beach is a water park near Kings Island, and it was a discount day to boot! We arrived there around 11:00, and ended up staying until around 4:30, hitting most of the slides and rides.
At night, after Jill was done with class, we tried going to The Melting Pot, but it was national ladies night out or something like that, so there was no room for us. Instead, we went to J. Alexanders and had a very good dinner. Afterwards we walked around the adjacent shopping area before calling it a night and heading back to the hotel.
Friday arrived, and it was 'head home day'. Jill was teaching in the morning before finishing up, and I took advantage of a free morning to find a Laundromat and someplace to get the oil changed. Jill finished up, we packed the car, and off we went...next door to the Chik-fil-A for lunch! Woot! From there, it was north on 71 towards our 'halfway' point - Cleveland. Along the way, though, was one detour - Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. It was definitely splendid too! Well worth the detour!
We arrived in Cleveland around 5:45, found somewhere to park, and it was off to Progressive Field. I had been there previously, but this was Mike and Jill's first time there. Impressions? It's a ballpark - there's the field, here's the concessions, grab something and watch the game. It's interesting, because it seems like I remember when it was first built that they did not want Jacobs Field to be a 'copy' of Oriole Park in Baltimore, and that it's not. The light poles are the 'toothbrush' type, meant to imitate the industrial smoke stacks found throughout Cleveland; the facade on the outside fits well with the area. Overall the place had an 'older' feeling to it, even though (along with Oriole Park) it was one of the newer style stadiums in MLB, you could tell the era it was built in, meaning the stadiums built in the 2000's felt all that much newer and flashier than the first 'new' stadiums put up in the 1990's. We found a stand that sold chicken waffles and had a couple of those for dinner - they were great! We stayed until the end of the 8th, but with the Indians in the lead and fireworks after the game we decided to leave to miss the shenanigans. Back to the parking ramp and off to the hotel we went.
Our last hotel night for this trip would be in the Holiday Inn Express in Mentor, Ohio (Room 219, $127.97 for the night). Interesting, it didn't look anything like an 'Express' hotel though, with a big conference center attached, and our hotel room was bigger than the Hyatt Place one we had just checked out of the previous morning. Considering this hotel was near the home of the Lake County Captains, I think it's on to keep in the rolodex since we'll be out that way again, and it was a very nice place to stay.
We had breakfast on Saturday morning at the hotel before beginning the final leg of our trip home. On the way through, we stopped in Olean to have lunch at the Beef 'N' Barrel. After that, it was on the road back to Binghamton, where we arrived around 4:00 on Saturday afternoon.