4:05am – The train arrives in Cincinnati, three-quarters of an hour behind schedule which pleases only me. I have no where to go until a Starbucks opens up and the late arrival gives me just enough time to wander into downtown just in time for the doors to open at 5am without wasting time at the station.
4:15am – I have an address but no directions to downtown. I piece together the necessary information from a series of maps in the yellow pages and leave the station. It’s then that I realize, “hey, downtown has tall buildings, why don’t you just walk towards them, you idiot.”
4:50am – I get to the Starbucks with ten minutes to spare. A quick glance inside gives me bad news. There’s no one there. Speaking from experience, this is not a good sign with 10 minutes to the open. With nothing to do I begin to walk around the area. The ballpark is just down the street so I go to check it out.
5:05am - I don't really have anything to see here, I just really liked the name Salmon Portland Chase.
5:15am – Back at the Starbucks and the Shift is just now arriving. I know it’ll be about 20 minutes from now when they open so I inquire as to where the nearest store is. It’s just two blocks away.
5:30am – I make myself comfortable. I rarely get drip coffee but I’m going to need it if I’m going to make it through 22 hours. I plan on staying in the store until 9 when everything starts to open up. And it gives me plenty of time to catch up on my blog.
6:30am – So much for that plan. I didn’t even last 3 hours. I know I’m not going to make it without crashing so I quickly check online for the closest hotels. It’ll cost me, but I need a few hours of peaceful sleep.
7:00am – I check into the Hyatt. Hotels.com listed a room at $160 but they give me a day rate at only $80 which, considering what I was expecting to pay, feels like I’m getting away with larceny.
12:00pm – After 5 hours of sleep, I’m well rested enough to make it through the rest of the day. I want to get out to see the sights but I still need to finish up my blog report for the Twins game on Monday so I schlep back down to Starbucks to post my recap.
2:00pm – Kentucky is one of the states I’ve never been to and Cincinnati is right on the border. Newport lies just on the other side via a series of bridges including the Purple Pedestrian Bridge. A tourist type shopping center, similar to Pier 39, is right on the Ohio River. The main attraction is the Newport Aquarium.
2:15pm – Newport Aquarium. This reminds me, I can’t wait for the new California Academy of Sciences to open up in September. Aside from the planetarium, it wasn’t all that great. The Aquarium especially was outdated. The Newport version is pretty solid. Some highlights: The Monkeyface Prickleback. I went to school with a guy named Monkeyface Prickleback. He was a short fellow with long hair and frequently mumbled. He was known for eating two cafeteria lunches a day, except on alternate Fridays and was completely uncoordinated with the exception of juggling swords.
There’s an eel exhibit. I can’t see an eel without being reminded of the classic scene from The Princess Bride.
The Alligator Snapper is not an alligator, but rather a turtle. It lives up to 150 years and its diet consists of “just about everything.” So much for learning the secret to longevity.
The giant Isopod lives on the ocean floor and has 3,500 eyes which “scientists believe serve no function,” which is carny for “we have no idea what they’re for but we’re scientists so we have to make up a reason.”
There was a cool tank that went over the top of the walkway. Supposedly there were stingrays in the tank but I waited 10 minutes for nothing. Thankfully the next tank produced better results.
Feeding time at the Gintoo Penguin tank. There were no Chin-strap Penguins (or Strap-on Penguins).
3:00pm – I’m going back to Ohio. But unlike the Pretenders song, the city is still there.
3:10pm - I was told Mt. Adams is the closest thing the Midwest has to San Francisco so that’s my next destination, but I’m having the most difficult time figuring out how to cross a maze of highways.
3:30pm – I’ve reached as close to the summit of Mt. Adams as I’m going to get. It’s a decent view but doesn’t beat anything from back home. It’s a nice looking neighborhood. Reminds me a bit of Glen Park.
4:10pm – I think it took me longer to get down the hill than up it. I head back to the yard to visit the Reds Hall of Fame. Unlike other ballparks where the team’s history is contained within the gates, the Reds Hall is a separate building and requires paid admission (except to military and veterans).
4:25pm – I haven’t gotten past the first room when the fire alarm goes off. Everyone in the room gives each other that confused “do we have to leave?” look before lollygagging out of the building. It’s just like a high school fire drill.
4:30pm – It’s only 5 minutes before we’re let back in. The Hall is a really great exhibit. It’s educational, fun, hands on and kid friendly. There are pitching, umpiring and announcing activities for kids, videos, a history of baseball and the game’s oldest pro team and a team hall of fame which includes one noticeable omission, Pete Rose. Despite being mentioned in almost every area of the building, he has no plaque in the Hall.
Expelled for selling beer at a baseball game?!
Marge Schott's chair. I can't believe this wasn't burned in a bonfire when she died. I'm tempted to take it and do just that.
5:10pm – I’m out of the team Hall of Fame. The gates have just opened and I’m one of the first ones in. You can read my game report here.
10:15pm – Just a few more hours until I’m safely on the train back to Chicago. I stop in at the same Starbucks I walked to this morning before I try and navigate my way back to the Cincinnati Museum Center.
11:05pm – Back where I started my day. Just two hours here before I can (attempt) to fall asleep on the train. It’s been a grueling 22 hours (17 if you don’t include the stop at the Hyatt). I’m dreaming of home and my bed. Just 3 more nights until I’m there.