April 18th, 2019: Road trip, airplanes & zoo animals.
This past weekend we headed out to Cincinnati with my cousin Mike and his lovely wife Donna. They have a son that lives down there -so they go to Cincinnati on a fairly regular basis. We’ve been wanting to do something together for a while and thought it would be fun for them to show us around the city – so that’s what we did!
My busy season @ work is just wrapping up – so it was chaotic trying to get everything packed and ready between Thursday evening and Friday morning. Fortunately – Mike & Donna did a lot of the prep work & planning – which made things much easier for Melani & I.
We rented a SUV so we could all travel together. I had to move the car seats from the minivan to the SUV (and then eventually back to the minivan) – and moving multiple car seats is not something I would wish on even my greatest nemesis! The truck was packed to capacity with both people and luggage! Mike and I split the driving.
Did you know that Ohio actually borders with Kentucky? And that Cincinnati sits right on the border of Ohio & Kentucky? Freaking KENTUCKY! I admit, maybe I should be a little more familiar with the geography of our country – but Kentucky seems like it is awfully far away from upstate New York! Mike said Ohio – and all I thought was – sure – we just travel west – bump into Pennsylvania for a short distance and bang – we are in Ohio. Cincinnati can’t be too far away from there right?? No problem…..
Well – 11 1/2 hours later we finally pulled into the driveway of the house we were staying at. The kids were great – but they are usually good travelers. We unpacked the SUV when we got there and everyone just crashed for the night.
On Saturday we walked through center city and the kids played in the park area along the river. They had various picnic areas within the park and some exercise stations. The kids enjoyed climbing over just about everything.
There was also an enclosed carousel near the park – so we also went up there and had a little ride. The greater Binghamton (upstate NY) area is known for the 5 carousels that are scattered throughout the community (as well as Spiedies!) . The carousels were the generous gift from the George F. Johnson – community benefactor and one of the founders of the Endicott-Johnson shoe company. So carousels are something that are very near and dear to us – and we try to ride them when ever we can. The kids really enjoyed this carousel in-particular – since there were very unique creatures on which to ride. They were each able to find at least one of their favorite animals to ride on! (and if you have been reading for a while – you know that each of the kids has a couple of favorite animals – and they are very important to them!)
The aquarium was an interesting visit – and there was a lot to do & see. The kids liked the penguins in particular – maybe because both Gracie and Dominick each had to make a penguin for a third grade project (which means we will probably be making one again next year with Annie).
On Saturday evening we had a cookout with Mike and Donna’s son and his new wife. They have a very large yard – and Donna had an Easter Egg hunt all planned out for the kids. Sophie got a little help from Mom & Dad – and she was the first one to find all of her eggs! Yes – her egg color was pink, of course!
After church on Sunday (St. Gabriel) we went to the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton. WOW! In 2016 we went to Washington DC and visited the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, which I have been to many times – but was a first for the kids. On that trip we also went to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – which is located right next to the Dulles Airport. Both are awesome experiences – but I particularly like the latter – since it had both the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and the Space Shuttle Discovery (it is also much easier to park at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and it is more spacious & less crowded). I didn’t expect to see much new stuff at the Dayton museum – but boy was I wrong! They had an F 117 Nighthawk, a B – 1B Lancer Bomber, and a B2 Stealth Bomber. They also had an SR- 71 Blackbird and a Warthog. Finally – they had JFK’s Air Force One plane. I was blown away!
At one point I exclaimed in awe to Melani – “Look – that’s a B-1B Bomber!” She kinda rolled her eyes and said to Mike – “He says that like it should mean something to me….” Obviously – she doesn’t share my enthusiasm for military aircraft! How did I not know this about her?…. I mean – these are some seriously cool aircraft. You really don’t have to be a nerd – or even a geek to appreciate that fact. And just last week I also found out my lovely wife doesn’t like pudding! PUDDING for Pete’s sake! Had I know some of these things 15 years ago – they just might have been deal breakers….
On Sunday night after we got back to the house Mike was working on his halo while entertaining a VERY energetic & silly 2 year old little girl. Sophie tortured Mike for about 45 minutes – putting plastic egg shells over his eyes and trying to put the bib on him. She kept saying with a thick accent – “You’re gonna be a baby!”. Watch the video and you will see that Mike teases back that he doesn’t want to be a baby. All the kids had a lot of fun – and probably were just a little over-tired….
On Monday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. Another big “WOW!” here! It is second oldest zoo in the country (established in 1873) – and we could not have picked a better time to be there! The place is an amazing zoo by it’s own right – but was also just exploding in color! There were thousands upon thousands of tulips at peak bloom while we were there! Definitely worth a visit – especially in the spring!
On Monday we also stopped at a huge grocery store called Jungle Jim’s. It is a very large warehouse that is much more than just a grocery store. It is really an experience! The picture below is the founder – and was made out of Jelly Belly jelly beans. Click here to see other examples of Jelly Belly artwork!
These are the bathrooms at the store. They look like single-stall Port-A-Johns, but are really just the entrances to multi-stall bathrooms. Pretty funny when you first see them – especially when numerous people are either entering or exiting them together!
Many of the sections of the grocery store have themes. As you can see below – in this section it was a Gilligan’s Island theme. Looks like a real boat to me!
There was an exercise bike at the house. I thought the kids did quite a bit of walking – but apparently it was not enough! We couldn’t pull them off this bike when we were at the house. Below Dominick demonstrates the “new” & “cool” way all the kids are riding their stationary bikes these days…
Well – that pretty much is an overview of our 2019 Cincinnati road trip! Must be a good weekend when I can’t even complete the Weekend Update until the end of the following week! Thank you Mike & Donna for being wonderful & gracious hosts and for making some fabulous and fun memories with us!