Friday, September 3, 2010

Tuesday, August 31.  We drove up to Cincinnati, only about 90 minutes away, and checked into the motel.  It was a real bargain, good price, nice room, nice pool, and best of all, within walking distance of our main goals -- the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, home of the National League Central Division leaders, and the Hofbrauhaus in Newport, KY.

After checking in, we walked over to the Hofbrauhaus to use a $3.00 coupon to sample five of their beers -- our choice.  From left to right they are, Oktoberfest, Hefe Weizen, Dunkel, Premium Lager, and Light.  My favorite was the Oktoberfest; Barry's was the Hefe Weizen, with a slight hint of cloves.  It's served in parts of Germany with a slice of orange, but NOT in Bavaria!  I tried to alphabetize the beers, but our server said we needed to taste them from left to right.  She was SO right.  For me, it got better and better as I moved from one to the other.

We came back later for lunch -- ordered the Weiner Schnitzel and a beer, now that we knew what kind(s) we liked.  Nice lunch, food not outstanding, but good.

After the Hofbrauhaus, we decided to walk over to Ohio.  There's an old railroad bridge, now called the Purple People bridge, which now is a pedestrian walkway over to Ohio.  So we walked over.

At the Ohio end of the Purple People bridge is a park, with a statue of Cincinnatus.  Cincinnatus was a Roman citizen who, when the Roman Republic was at war, put down his plow, led a Roman army to victory, then came back to his farm.  He didn't want honor, glory, money -- he just did it because it was the right thing to do for his country -- civic virtue, it's called.  During the American Revolution, the Society of the Cincinnati (plural for Cincinnatus) was formed, made up of many famous names who emulated Cincinnatus's civic virtue.  One of the members was George Washington, and when Fort Washington was settled (in what is now downtown Cincinnati), the settlement was named for this society -- Cincinnati.  We then headed for the US Bank Arena, the Great American Ballpark, then back over the US Route 27 bridge to Newport, and back to our motel.  HOT!  SWEATY!  UNPLEASANT, but good exercise.

Later that evening, we again walked to Ohio, to the Great American Ballpark to see the Cincinnati Reds play the Milwaukee Brewers.  We had seats about midway back from the Reds dugout on the third-base line, and it looked just perfect.  Unfortunately, they were aisle seats, and I missed probably half the hits for both teams because people were walking in front of me, and the vendors seemed to be coming through about every 4 seconds.

Anyway, this guy came up and sat in front of us (not his seat), talking with a friend, and while this was going on, Barry called his sister, Carol, telling her that we were FINALLY at the Great American, the field we drove past when Carol visited Kentucky back in June.  He mentioned how long it had been since either of us had seen a major league game, and that he had never seen the home team score a home run.  Well, the guy in front turned around, we started talking with him and before we knew it, he said he had seats in Row F, right behind the Reds dugout, and that we were welcome to take those for the remainder of the game!  An incredible act of kindness to total strangers -- wish I had a way to thank him again.  So at the beginning of the 7th Inning, we moved down front.  WOW!  We could touch the dugout!  Also, the Reds had a new pitcher, Aroldis Chapman, "The Cuban Rocket" pitching over 100 mph.  We got to see his major league debut, and if you look closely in this photo, the gray streak going through the third-baseman's head is the ball jaunting away at about 103 MPH!  The Reds won the game, and with St Louis losing, were now 7 games in the lead for the National League Central Division!  Wednesday, they increased that lead to 8 games, as they beat the Brewers again, and St Louis lost to the Astros once more.

After the game, we joined thousands of fans leaving the stadium, many of whom walked back over the US 27 bridge to Kentucky.

Wednesday, Sep 1:  Today was the day for "Newport-on-the-Levee." and a shuttle tour of Cincinnati, OH and Covington, KY.  We
just lolly-gagged around Newport.  Went back to the Hofbrauhaus for lunch and ordered the Bierwurst, a sausage made from beef and pork.  It was OK, but the casing was very tough and chewy.  The Oktoberfest beer I ordered was great, though, as was Barry's Hefe Weizen.  We then moseyed over to Newport on the Levee.  This is an interesting place.  In the 1950s, before Las Vegas became the gambling capital (and maybe the organized crime capital) of the US, Newport, Kentucky, was "sin city."  There were practically more houses of ill repute than there were churches, more casinos than schools.  Crime was rampant, and the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin got the start of their organized crime reputations in good old Newport.

Well, by the 1980s, after property values plummeted, and the sleaze factor increased (if that was possible), Newport decided to re-invent itself.  The slums along the riverfront were cleaned up, and the area was reborn as "Newport-on-the-Levee."  For those who don't know, a "levee" is a large dirt banking designed to prevent a river from flooding nearby land.  Well, why have this perfectly good levee going unused except in times of flooding?  Newport built a shopping mall right ON the levee.  Today it's one of the premier attractions of the Cincinnati area.  It has stores, restaurants, bars, theaters, and the Newport Aquarium to entice tourists.  The view at night is spectacular, particularly during warm weather, with music coming out of several bars, Irish music in particular, the night we were there.  Not being really interested in the aquarium this visit (maybe next time), we chose not to go into the Aquarium, but we DID sample Bar Louie's food, Saxby's coffee, and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream!

Thursday, 2 September:  Got up, got a picture of the levee overlooking the Ohio River.  The grassy area is the levee, the cement and white opening allow vehicles to access the Ohio River.  There is a gate in the white opening which can be closed during times of flooding.

Leaving Cincinnati, and taking the long way home.  We took I-75/71 south out of Cincinnati, then followed I-71 as it went southwest toward Louisville.  Our goal was US-127 at Sparta, KY, the location of the Kentucky Speedway.  Now neither of us is a NASCAR fan, but I'm SO glad we came this way.  The Speedway is located in a county about half the size of Sagadahoc in Maine, and apparently it's THE only source of income for the county.  They have seating for 66,000, and hundreds of RV spaces.  Next year, July 9, a major NASCAR race will be coming there, and plans are to expand the Speedway to well over 100,000 seats -- every one of which can see the entire race!  The photo is of a poster, so we can see the entire speedway, but this only shows maybe 20% of the grounds.  Parking for cars and RVs extends WAY out!

We stayed on US-127 all the way through Frankfort, and back to Danville, where the cat was (yawn!) sort of waiting for us, in a way.  Guess he wasn't too upset about our leaving him; after all, he had food, water, air-conditioning, a recliner, three beds, and two toilets.  What more does a cat need?

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