New Nickname for Sascha

So I went home to Southern Indiana last weekend.  I took somethings down to hand over to others.  I had some administrative things to do for my sister.  I hadn’t been home in over a year now.  Seemed strange.  But with Dad gone, I just hadn’t found a good reason to make the 6 hour drive.  OK, 5.5 hours the way I drive.

The weather was actually nice.  It was in the 70s and 80s without the awful humidity.  I got to see my friend, Kay, and spend some time with them.  Her husband, Don, is my favorite jokester.  My favorite line from this visit was, “Have to take her with you because too ugly to kiss good-bye.” 

I attempted to go to the New Albanian Brewing Company, which was just up the street from where I was staying.  It’s a converted firehouse that they’ve made into a restaurant / pub.  I hear the beers are good and the reviews say the food is good.  I just couldn’t catch a good time to go when they were open!  Maybe next time.

I went out to the cemetery to drop off flowers and visit.  Back in May, a pretty good sized tornado went through Henryville and MarysvilleMarysville was pretty much removed from the map.  Not that there wasn’t much to remove to begin with, but it was pretty empty.  My cousins’ maternal grandmother had lived in Marysville.  That entire row of houses was gone. 

In the Barnes Cemetery, there is a visible path where the tornado went through.  My grandparents stone had to be reattached.  My parents’ stone had been moved off its base, but was pushed back into place.  The trees on the backside of the cemetery are all missing the tops out of them.  I lost count of the number of logging trucks we saw in the area.  It’s a big clean up job all around there.

So on Monday, I drove back to Chicago.  I ran into one really big storm with lots of rain and a couple of smaller storms.  Still no rain here here at the house though.  Still dry.

So the guys now call Sascha Honey Badger, coz  Honey Badger don’t care.  Because Sascha doesn’t care much what you do to her as long as you pet her, they’ve given her that nickname.  It’s probably going to stick, too.  I hear her being called Honey Badger all the time now.  Poor baby.  She’s still my Sascharrini.

Cincy Blues Fest 2012 Day 3: Up Close AND Personal

I slept in this morning again.  I got up about 8:30 and started preparing for the day. Rich continued to sleep on though.  Finally, he opened his eyes and started moving around.  Time for a shower and then off to breakfast.  That’s two days in a row that we’ve eaten breakfast late.

We headed down to the coffee shop in the Carew Towers.  We noticed this yesterday as we wondered around.  It’s a 50s type coffee shop where you can sit at the counter.  We take a table in the busy room and get coffee right away.  That’s a good thing.  We order and get our breakfast.  I love being in the southern side of the U.S.  I can have grits with breakfast. 

The room is filled with all types of people.  However, there is a large number from a family staying at the hotel for a wedding.  We’ve run into different members throughout the hotel.  They gathered on Friday and had several events.  A couple of girls in the elevator were exhausted by Saturday morning.  I mention them because I hear them talking all around me about different aspect of the wedding.  One set of the family are on their way out of the door.  The two year old girl is telling everyone in the place good-bye as she is lead out.

We then head out to look for the food court that has a Gold Star Chili in it.  That’s where we’ll do lunch today.  I noticed a souvenir shop and just have to buy a Pigs Fly sweatshirt. Two reasons.  It’s a good motto and I need something warmer for tonight.  Pink was a good color for me, too.  We get some more explanations of the city from the guy working the shop.  Everyone is so friendly, which is another Southern trait.

We decided to check out the Observation Deck at the top of the Carew Towers, which connects to the hotel.  We rode up to the 45th floor and transferred over to the smallest elevator I ever saw.  It was more like a large phone booth.  Rich and I fit comfortably, but that’s about all that could fit in it.  This took us up a couple of more floors.  From here, you walk up a couple of more floors.  After paying the $2.00 admission, we stepped out onto the roof.  From here, you can see all around the city.  We walked all four sides.  Jon, Rich’s brother, called while we were up there.  Kind of hard to say we can’t help you find the liquor store back home in Schaumburg because we are on the 50th floor in Cincy!

We decide to go to the Freedom Underground Railroad Museum today.  This is located right at the bottom of Vine Street, which is about 4 blocks away.  The morning is a little cool, but the sun is out.  We arrive at the back of the building and it takes a little while to find the front door.  After paying the fee, we walk back to get our audio devices from the Tour desk.  We found these very helpful in other museum and hoped it would help here. 

We make it up to the first floor.  There is a very large group of people (maybe 30 or so) wearing the same exact t-shirt.  They are from a family reunion from what the shirt says.  Pretty soon I notice there are other groups as well.  These are all black families taking a tour of the museum.  I feel a little out of place. 

Rich and I start off at the same pace and very quickly end up going different ways.  The history starts in the 1500s and runs to the modern day.  In several places, a tour overwhelms me and I can’t see the displays so I have to move on.  We came in today to see the “Hymns, Blues, and Rock: Music of Change” exhibit.  It was small, but had some good displays tracing music from days on the farms and plantations to modern R&B and gospel today.  At the end, there was a room where the kids could play different instruments and create their own music.  There were a few adults in there as well and not with kids plunking around and banging on drums.  I still think the Rock and Soul Museum in Memphis did the best job I’ve see with the displays and music selections that you could listen to as you read through the exhibit.  I highly recommend that you see this one, which was done by the Smithsonian.

We finished the museum and headed back up Vine to lunch.  We got into the mall and found the Gold Star Chili.  I wondered around the food court, but didn’t see anything better.  So I settle for chili dogs.  They were almost miniature dogs and so cute.  Gold Star seems more Tex Mex than Skyline.  I guess Skyline is what I’m used to though.  It’s what we always ate when we came to Cincy.

After lunch, we go out to the street again to try and find the Visitor’s Center in Fountain Square.  It appears that some sort of music festival was winding down.  Probably the lunchtime concert in the square.  We walk around and never find the Center.  Darn.  It’s after Rich’s afternoon coffee time, so we head into the Westin Hotel and to the coffee shop there.  We decide to take the skywalk back across the street to the Hilton.  Now we can say we were on the skywalk system.  The skywalk  is a series of glass walkways throughout the downtown area that take you from building to building without going down to the street.  Great for a cold and snowy day.

It’s 3:00 by this time.  Only a couple of more hours until the Blues Fest starts again for the night.  We go back to the hotel to hang out.  Every time I walk into the hotel, I see something different in the décor.  It’s amazing.  The main hall into the towers built with the hotel has this amazing silver leaf ceiling.

Rich takes a nap and I finish Day 2 of the blog.  By 4:30, we are packed down and hitting the sidewalk for the trek down to the park.  It’s pretty nice out.  We head in through the Will Call entrance again, even though we have our tickets.  There is no one in line and no performers waiting to check in either.  We make our way to main stage and set up base camp.  We head out for beer and water.

The first act is the Blues in School group.  The area school system has a program where they teach the kids to play the blues.  There is a big concern that young people aren’t learning the blues and there won’t be anyone to carry on this tradition.  The guys start off playing the Star Spangle Banner a la Jimi Hendrix.  Bet you didn’t realize Jimi was really playing the blues with a very electric sound.  They break into “Red House.”  They do a great job.  A couple of girls join them for a song that not that strong on the vocals.  Then they do Adele’s “Rolling the Deep.”  The lead breaks out in full voice and does an excellent job.  Too bad she doesn’t use that voice for the blues songs!

Then the Noah Wotherspoon Band takes the stage.  Noah is this year’s group finalist from Cincinnati to the International Blues Competition in Memphis.  If he doesn’t win it, that band is very, very, very good.  He and his band are excellent and have such style.  After the set, Rich headed out for beer and came back with a CD from Noah with a signature.  Rich said Noah took the time to talk to him also.  Now I have an early version of Noah’s work.  Thanks, Rich.  Another up close and personal moment.

Next up was Southern Hospitality.  This is a fairly new group created by some veteran bluesmen.  Damon Fowler, Victor Wainwright, and JP Soars have put together this group to play a set of blues fests.  They do a song from each of them and some standards.  I was really impressed.  I might have to add each of them to our collection.  Rich did pick one and bought Victor’s CD and got it signed.  He had a little conversation with Victor also. Can you say, “Up close and personal?”

Now I chose to stay on instead of leaving today for tonight’s fare to hear Trampled Under Foot.  I had heard a couple of songs on Bluesville (XM).  The sound was really great.  I didn’t know anything about them, except they must like Led Zeppelin.  I had gone to the concession area and came back to find a single guy on stage playing the guitar and the drums at the same time.  He was doing a great job, but where was Trampled Under Foot?  After the song stops, he climbs down to the stage and another guy and a girl come out.  The girl is wearing a tiny hot pink dress.  That got some attention from the guys in the audience.  Turns out that Nick and Danielle are left handed guitar players!  They start out and you get blown away by the sound of Danielle’s beautiful voice.  Nick is an award winning guitar player.  Kris can bang the drums better than most I’ve heard.  Pretty soon, there is a large circle of people filing in from everywhere. 

At the end of the set, the emcee asks for an encore and they come out and play Led Zeppelin’s “Trampled Underfoot!”  Danielle does Plant better than Plant!  If you ever get a chance to listen to this band, do it!  They are well worth any effort.

NOTE:  I looked up their website when I got home.  They are also a Zeppelin tribute band.  No wonder their encore was so cool!

Then we hear Duke Robillard and his band.  It was a nice and easy way to end the evening.  Duke is a master guitarist and he does a great job with just about everything he plays.  But by this time, I’m tired and it’s almost midnight.

So the walk back to the hotel was hard.  We were tired and just wanted to fall down.  It was another great day in the Bluesville neighborhood though.  One of the best experiences I have had in the music world in a long time.  We were laying bed trying to go to sleep, but just couldn’t quit talking about it.

Our other up close and personal things for today were:

  • A guy wearing the Stage Crew t-shirt came and sat down right next to Rich during the Southern Hospitality set.  We wondered about it, but didn’t get too bothered.  He and Rich talked a little during the set.  At the end, he said he had to go back to work.  But before he left, he handed Rich a free drink coupon to get whatever he wanted.  We didn’t even bother to ask his name!
  • Most of the acts brought CDs and merchandise.  They even came up to the merchandise tent to sign CDs for people.  I was impressed that you could see someone and then go talk to them.  Now we have some CDs and autographs to go with them as well as the stories of talking to them.
  • Noah actually held a conversation with Rich when he got the CD for me.  Rich was pretty impressed that Noah would bother to talk to him!
  • I had to have a Trampled Under Foot CD.  So I went up to purchase one and then got in line for their signatures.  The line filled in rather quickly.  I was about 5 or 6 back from the front.  All kinds of people were trying to cut.  No way.  I got to the front and talk to Nick first.  Just had to mention that he was a lefty.  We did a secret lefty handshake.  Danielle knew the handshake also.  Just had to tell her how wonderful her voice was.  Kris was last, but not least.  His drum solo was excellent.
  • The guy on line in front of me was from Kansas City, the hometown for Trampled Under Foot.  He had followed the group up to watch them.  The band recognized him and talked to him like they knew him.  He waved as he finished up his quest for another set of signatures and I started down the line for mine.
  • By the time Duke finished his set, most everyone had left the park.  As we were waiting to get a signature, Noah came up and bought a CD to get autographed.  He’s like regular people too, trying to talk to the Blues greats.

Great time had by all in Cincy.  We’ll be back again.

 

Fountain in the Palm Court bar of the hotel
Still loving the art deco design in the hotel. This is the fountain used in the old foyer and it now sits at the top of the stairs in the Palm Court Bar.

 

 

Ceiling in the dining room and bar at Palm Court
The ceiling in the Palm Court bar and dining room is facinating. You look up and see this wonderful design.

 

 

Rich in the small elevator to the roof.
This is Rich in the small elevator going to the roof. You can’t really back up too far.

 

 

Looking west toward Louisville, if you could see that far.
Somewhere out there toward the west is Louisville.

 

 

Looking north is the Over the Rhine neighborhood where the German brewers ran their breweries.
Looking north is the Over the Rhine neighborhood where the German brewers ran their breweries.

 

 

Looking southwest to Covinginto and over the Paul Brown stadium.
Looking southwest to Covinginto and over the Paul Brown stadium.

 

 

Looking southeast to Newport KY and Sawyer Point Park.
Looking southeast to Newport KY and Sawyer Point Park. The park is where the blues fest has been held.

 

 

Looking straight down onto Fountain Square at the foot of the towers.
Looking straight down onto Fountain Square at the foot of the towers.

 

 

Rich is ready for Day 2 at the Blues Fest.
Rich is ready for Day 2 at the Blues Fest.

 

 

Noah Wotherspoon Band
Noah Wotherspoon won the band competition in the Cincy Blues Competition and will be going to Memphis in February. Should be hearing more of these guys.

 

 

Great combination of bluesmen here.
Damon Fowler, J.P. Soars, and Victor Wainwright make up Southern Hospitality. They are absolutely fantastic!

 

 

Nick from Trampled Under Foot.
My new favorite band is Trampled Under Foot. Nick did a song and then was joined by his brother, Kris, and sister, Danielle. They absolutely rock. They are also a Zeppelin tribute band. Like Rich said, “Danielle out does Plant himself!”

 

Flying pigs on Steamboat Memorial
Every town has a specific animal on top of the stacks on their steamboats. Cincy’s are pigs. Louisville’s are Peagasus.

 

Cincy Blues Fest 2012 Day 2: Up Close

Those days when you can sleep are so nice.  For me, that meant sleeping in to 7:00.  Sascha wasn’t there with a wet nose and the alarm wasn’t trying to tell me something.  Now if the housekeeper doesn’t try to roust me out before I’m good and ready, it will be glorious.

I think the walking and a couple of beers in the evening helped to ensure that I slept well. Even the thunderstorm that I occasionally saw when I opened my eyes in the middle of night didn’t disturb the rest I got.

I got up and wrote up the blog for yesterday this morning as Rich continued to sleep.  Around 9:00, he finally rolled over and asked the time.  We got ready and went to the Palm Court in search of breakfast.  We had the buffet where we could get the meats, French toast, eggs, and fresh fruit needed to start the day.  All of that with a cup of hot coffee is enough.

Since I decided not to navigate the concrete canyons here in search of a parking lot with an empty space, I did valet parking.  That meant that we needed the valets to get our car so we could retrieve the chairs and other items needed for the Blues fest.  They didn’t seem to mind since it was slow at the moment.

Getting all of our stuff back upstairs, we prepared to go out into the world and visit Covington, KY.  We went back down to the TANK stop and boarded the trolley that went to the other side of the river.  The driver dropped us off right in front of the MainStrasse Village sign.  From here, it was a half block to the village.

MainStrasse is the German village on the Covington side of the Ohio River.  A lot of the shops, restaurants, and bars that are European. We went into the Linden Noll gift shop.  This little shotgun house was filled to the brim with German, Austrian, and Polish items.  I found a Bavarian hat for Rich.  The one he had gotten in Munich was way too small.  So, of course, I had to have a hat as well. The poor lady running the store was having a really bad, but taking it pretty well.  We finally sorted out things and got on our way.

One cool think was Mike’s Antique Guitars. The building was a really old theater from probably the 1960s.  Mike was taking pictures of a guitar when we entered so we got to wander around and just look.  If you were a starting band with no equipment, Mike could hook you up.  He had some very interesting pieces.  I wondered if it wasn’t a museum more than a shop. 

We continued to walk around the neighborhood looking at architecture and the different stores.  We ended up in the Mutter Goette neighborhood.  This name came from the large German Catholic church that was there.  Mother of God.  It had a beautiful copper dome that was all patina covered. 

We walked back to Main Street and entered The Cock and Bull public house.  It was a modified English pub.  The food turned out to be very Americanized, but OK.  The beer selection on tap was pretty extensive.  We settled in with an array of appetizers and drank our pints.  The place was pretty crowded when we arrived, but had definitely thinned out by the time we were done. 

On the wall was an explanation for the name of the pub.  In England, the two oldest pubs are The Cock and The Bull.  Since news traveled with the travelers on the road, these two locations always got the news first.  They each started enhancing the stories a bit to be more important.  This is where we get the term a cock and bull story.  Or is it?  Maybe their wall story is the cock and bull story.

We walked back to the shuttle stop and hopped onto the TANK trolley headed back to Cincinnati. Time to rest up and get ready for the Blues fest.  Rich got his afternoon coffee on the way up as we went through the tower shops on the first floor of the hotel.  I’m writing this blog as he prepares to raise his caffeine levels, which I’m sure, had fallen dangerously low. 

More to come tomorrow morning as I finish the report on Friday in Cincinnati.

So now it is the next day.  I got to sleep in again. I got in time to take a shower and get ready for breakfast at 10:00!  That’s fine.  I don’t sleep in often and it was after midnight by the time we got back and settled in for the night.

We’ve been walking everywhere we go or using the TANK bus to go over the bridge. It’s always a great way to see a town.  It’s about a 25 minute to walk to the park…  Not too bad.  The chairs were starting to get heavy by the time we got to the park though.

We found the Will Call table to collect our tickets, which was right next to the Performers Check In.  Rich poked me and said that Super Chikan was about 3 or 4 people ahead of us. I think that he’s just wishful thinking.  But when the gentleman reaches the table, he turns out to be Super Chikan himself with his daughter! Can’t beat that for up close, but not personal yet.

We get our tickets and head for the gate. But we ended up having to wait for the last vendor truck to leave the grounds before we can go in. Turned out to be the port-a-potty truck.  When he clears the gate, they let us in. 

We walk to the main stage and find a prime spot on a little rise that will allow us to see over everyone’s heads.  Just the tall people standing up front will get in the way.  There are one or two of those throughout the night. Checking the schedule, it looks like we have some time before the first act.  Rich heads out for drinks.  I get a water and he looks for beer.  This fest came prepared with the best beers.  They are serving the local microbrews.

Cincinnati is trying to revive their beer history.  They are creating some of the old beers in the styles from long ago and working to rebuild the brewing neighborhood as it once was.  This means that when you go into most of the local establishments, you can get some of those beers.  The fest was no exception.  I recognize the name Hudepohl from when I was a kid.  Apparently, they have started brewing the style from the last 1800s.  I thought that was really cool.

The first act of the night is Scott Yakopcic.  He won the local Cincy Blues competition solo award and is going on to Memphis in February to complete in the International Blues competition.  He was pretty good.  He is a great guitar player who can handle some of the old blues songs. His own songs will develop, but just aren’t quite there yet.

Then Super Chikan takes the stage with his all female band, The Fighting Cocks.  This is the guy Rich came to see.  Rich and Rick had seen him at the Chicago Blues Fest a couple of years back and Rich has been a fan ever since.  We had hoped to see him in Clarksdale when we were there in January, but he was out on the Blues cruise.  I hadn’t seen them, so this was going to be new for me.

Super got started with his set.  He played a guitar shaped like an old car.  It might be even be a 1934 5-window coupe; we don’t know.  He was impressive though.  He plays with a lot of skill and dances around the stage.  But the surprise was the keyboard player, LaLa.  She is part Jerry Lee Lewis and part Joe Crocker.  She wraps her legs around the keyboard stand and hangs over the keys.  She plunks around and makes some interesting contortions.  But all the while, she is pounding out some fantastic music.  How does she do that!?

At the end of the set, Mike (the emcee) starts making a slashing motion across his throat for Super to quit.  Instead, Super kicks into another song.  Why not?  We’ll all rocking in the audience.  Finally, Super says that Mike doesn’t mean quit, he means he’ll slit Super’s throat if he doesn’t get off stage right now.  So that ends Super Chikan for the night.

Rich heads out for more beer and to look at shirts and merchandise.  While he’s walking around, some guy sees the Cat Head Records t-shirt Rich is wearing and stops him to talk.  Cat Head Records is a business owned by Roger Stoli back in Clarksdale, MS.  He has a store and promotes the blues as a business. He’s very knowledgeable in the blues world, writes books, promotes shows, and passes on knowledge to the rest of us.  Turns out, this guy who stopped Rich was Roger’s roommate in college.  He’s so excited to see something from Roger’s store.  He asks how Rich came by the shirt and they talk for a while.  The guy shows off Rich to his family and says that Rich knows Roger!  Well, in a way Rich does.  I thought it was cool how that 6 degrees of separation worked in there.  Another up close and personal.

So the night moves on and Sista Monica takes the stage.  We’ve been hearing Monica on the Bluesville station on XM for a while.  I thought she might be interesting to see in person, and she was.  She has this big and wonderful voice with such a great sound.  The Sista Monica band is full of wonderful talent as well.  After a couple of songs, Rich goes off to buy a CD and returns with one.  She does everything from start to finish to produce her own music.  That’s totally amazing.

At the end of the set, she says she will be at the merchandise tent to sign things.  Darn, bought it too early.  Rich tries once to get a signature, but she wasn’t there yet.  She’s still back stage with her mother, whom she brought out on stage toward the end of the show.  I wander up later and find her sitting at the tent.  She signs the CD cover to Rich.  This is another up close and person I didn’t expect.

So it’s getting really chilly sitting on the grass at this time of night.  I’m wearing shorts and freezing.  Rich just wants to watch a little bit of the last act, which is Webb Wilder.  A lot of the people around us have pulled up stakes and packed it in for the night.  The grassy knoll is getting pretty empty out there.

Now this guy is someone Rich used to listen to when we first started dating some 20 years ago.  The band gets started and it’s more along the lines of Rockabilly than blues. But that’s OK.  Finally, Webb plays “Human Cannonball”.  Yep, this seems to be the song most people are waiting to hear.  As Webb calls it, these are the true Wilderians.

With that, we pack up the chairs and head for Pete Rose Way to walk back to the hotel.  When we get closer to the stadiums, there are a lot of people out.  Still can’t tell if the Bengals did well tonight or not.  The Holy Grail Tavern is packed and flowing out into the street.  The police have barriers up to keep cars from hitting the partiers.

We continue up the hill and over a couple of blocks to the Hilton.  It’s really quiet and we head up the elevators to our room.  I had a great time and learned a lot.  We had a lot of up close and personal experiences today.  Time for bed though.  Night y’all.

 

MainStrasse in Covington
This is the main street or MainStrasse in Covington’s German town.

 

 

Bourbon barrel planters at Main and 5th St.
At the corner of Main and 5th, the plaza there has bourbon barrels used for planters.

 

 

Rosie Bar on 6th St.
Thought about you, Curious Daisy, when we saw Rosie’s Tavern over on 6th St.

 

 

Copper dome on Mother of God Chapel.
Walkjng around, we saw this huge copper dome on the Mother of God Catholic Church. The neighborhood takes it’s name from the church also, which is Mutter Goette in German.

 

 

Cock and Bull story on the wall of The Cock and Bull Pub.
Cock and Bull story on the wall of The Cock and Bull Pub.

 

 

Garden in front of someone's townhouse in Mutter Goette neighborhood.
Garden in front of someone’s townhouse in Mutter Goette neighborhood.

 

 

Rich settling in to hear some blues on Friday.
Rich settling in to hear some blues on Friday. Just waiting for SuperChikan.

 

 

First act was Scott Yakopcic, who won the solo/duo competition for International Blues in Cincy this year.
First act was Scott Yakopcic, who won the solo/duo competition for International Blues in Cincy this year. He’s going to Memphis in February for the Internal competition.

 

 

SuperChikan playing the diddly bo.
SuperChikan playing the diddly bo. Yep,it’s a gun stock. Super is a folk artist who makes guitars from all kinds of things. This one is illegal because it has 3 strings instead of 1 string.

 

 

SuperChikan and the Fighting Cocks
SuperChikan and his band, The Fighting Cocks. They were well worth watching.

 

 

LaLa playing the keys. She is amazing
LaLa is the keyboard player. Part Jerry Lee Lewis and part Joe Cocker.

 

 

Sista Monica was great fun.
Sista Monica was great fun. I had an up close and personal moment when she signed the CD Rich bought.

 

Webb Wilder
Webb Wilder sang Human Canonball, which is all Rich needed to hear. Apparently, it was true for all of the Wilderians.

 

Cincy Blues Fest 2012 Day 1 Welcome to O-HI-O!

The drive out of Chicago is always a nightmare.  Traffic moves, but you just see one of every kind of possible disaster waiting to happen.  And it takes so long!  I think it was 2 hours to finally get out into the countryside and away from the cars and trucks.Then you have to follow I-65 to Indy.  There are so many trucks on the road that you can’t go fast for very far.  Dragging racing semis are among my favorite pet peeves.  There were enough of them.

We stopped around Castleton on the northside of Indy to pick up plastic drop cloths in case it rains on us Friday.  Forecast looks a little iffy for showers or not.  I figured we would look like we got lost from the Gallagher show.  At least we would be dry.

Back on the road, we got of Indy and made it down I-74 into Cincy.  It was a nice drive.  You can definitely tell the Germans settled this part of Indiana with the town names.  The land becomes more rolling and green as you head down to the river.  That’s the Ohio River, of course. 

We made it into Cincy with no problem.  I don’t think I’ve ever come into the city from this side.  The drive was short and sweet to hit the downtown area.  I felt sorry for the very long line trying to get across the river into Kentucky.  That was going to take a while.

We found our hotel and figured out how to get to the valet parking. But someone was coming out the In door and I had to go around the block!  Finally got into the garage and found the guys with the yellow shirts waiting to whisk my car away.  Downtown Cincy appears to be all parking garages.

The Hilton Netherlands Plaza is circa 1930s, but with a now modern update.  It’s a nice place that the Cincy Blues Association arranged. Not bad on the price either.  I got one of the last rooms in the block.  Sweet! 

We talked to the concierge desk and found out how we could get across the river and through the woods to Newport.  The TANK bus runs between the communities on both sides to ferry you around.  TANK is Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky.  We went out the hotel and across the street to the bus stop. 

Across 5th street, they were preparing Fountain Square for the evening’s entertainment.  Apparently, throughout the summer, there is a different type of music played on the stage every evening.  This afternoon was Acoustic, which we missed.  Tonight, it was Salsa.

We hopped the bus and headed to Hofbrau Haus in Newport.  This is an extension of the Hofbrau Haus in Munich, Germany.  They’ve opened one here, in Vegas, and soon to be in Rosemont.  That’s right near us!  Newport was one of the three ports for river traffic delivering to Cincinnati.  Goods were brought to Newport and then transported over to the city.

The restaurant is in one of the old warehouse buildings in the waterfront district.  It was very nice with dark wood and German decor.  The food was excellent. I had Bavarian jagerschnitzl and Rich had a single  schweinhaxe (joint of pork).  Of course, the beers were really good.  It was nice that I wasn’t driving and could enjoy the evening as well.

We decided to walk back to Cincy across the Purple People bridge.  A private organization purchased the old L&N Railroad bridge across the river and renovated it.  The garden clubs in the area manage mini gardens in planters all along the bridge.  I’d say the bridge was more lavender than purple.  It brought us to the park where the Blues fest will be held on Friday.

From here, we walked along the river to the stadiums.  I believe that is 3 total stadiums.  Seems like a lot sports in one area.  We did find Morlein’s brewpub in the process though.  It was a nice 25 minute walk back to the hotel. That’s just about as long as it takes us to walk down to Grant Park from the train station back home. 

We went to our room to rest up and take advantage of the facilities before we went back out.  We did discover that Interconnect was $10 a day!  Everyone is jumping on this bandwagon to charge you.  Luckily, I knew about the free wifi hotspot app that we could load to our Smart phones.  Using this was a breeze.  Yeah. It was a connection to the outside world without the major cost.

Time to wander downtown a little bit.  We checked out the restaurant and bar within the hotel.  It’s all very Art Deco here.  Of course, I love that period.  However, I love the jewelry better from that period.  Anyway, we made it down to the street level and walked down to Fountain Square. We decided to check out some pigs.

Throughout the downtown area, there are pig statues. Most of the cities are doing this and using something related to their history. Cincinnati was the stockyard and butchering center for a growing U.S. back in the day.  Today, you find the motto: When pigs fly, they do in Cincinnati.  Some of the pigs are interesting and some require knowledge of Cincinnati to understand.  I loved the Starry Night pig in the square.  Penny sits in the Westin Hotel and is covered in shiny 2012 pennies.

Excerpt from a discussion on the motto when pigs fly for Cincinnati:

The story is that when the hogs were delivered from one side of the river to the slaughter house on the other side, they were loaded on flat top barges. As they stood on the barges and moved across the river, the early morning fog would often rise off the water and cover the barge bottom. The only thing you saw were the pigs floating above the water. This gave the appearance that the pigs were “flying” across the river.

In Fountain Square, music was blaring out and we could see people dancing away.  It’s free to enter the square.  People were standing and sitting.  Mostly, they were dancing to the Salsa music being played on stage.  The band appears to be a typical Brazalian Salsa band with lots of members, voices, and instruments.  They were really good. 

After watching people dancing, we walked through the square and back out to the street.  We had seen a sign for what sounded like an interesting place.  Walking back down Vine St, we track down O’Malley’s in the Alley. We walk into a small bar with a lot of dark wood and Cincinnati sports items.  It’s an Irish bar, but more of a local type of hangout.  We had a beer and then headed back to the hotel. 

Time to plan out the day for tomorrow.  It seems we could once again do several different things and not have to move the car.  I like this.   

Hofbrau Haus in Newport KY
We journeyed over the river and through the weeds to Hofbrau Haus in Newport for dinner the first night. Good German food and good German beer.
Rich drinking good German beer at Hofbrau Haus.
See, Rich was very happy with his good German beer.
Rich walking on the Purple People Bridge back to Cincy.
We decided to walk back across the river to Cincy using the Purple People Bridge. This was very nice with the flowers and all. Good way to burn off some calories too.

 

 

Min flower gardens on the Purple People Bridge
One of many mini gardens on the Purple People Bridge.

 

 

On the Levee in Newport
View of the Levee area on the Newport side of the river.

 

 

Looking over to Cincinnati from the Purple People Bridge as we walked back to town.
Looking over at Cincy as we walk the Purple People Bridge back to town.

 

 

Salsa band playing on Fountain Square.
We arrived back in town in time to hear the Salsa band playing in Fountain Square. People were dancing along.

 

 

Starry, starry pig with Joy on Fountain Square.
My favorite pig in town was the Starry, Starry Night pig. This one is right on Fountain Square.

 

 

Rich and Penny the pig
Rich meets Penny the pig. She is covered in 2012 shiny pennies.

 

Night sky pig
This little piggy is the skyline at night. It was cut out so the light could be seen in all the right places.

 

Happy Chose Day, Sascha!

We Zureks have been having quite a week.  New, old, up, and down. 

Rich started out Saturday with a visit to the Nissan dealer to look at a new truck.  After doing his research, it came down to the Nissan Frontier and the Toyota Tacoma.  It was time for the test drive to check out the real thing.

We got to the dealer and met Mike Sosnowski.  Did I spell that correctly, Sarah?  Yep, he shares your last name.  We took that as a good sign.  No, he didn’t have relatives in the Detroit area.  We asked.  Mike was knowledgeable and not pushy.  We got the facts and he showed us the truck. 

Wow, trucks have become more like cars now.  It’s not at all like the truck I learned to drive in.  The features were great and the ride was comfortable. 

Rich had decided upon the king cab, which is just a little bigger than the normal cab.  We reasoned that we only needed to haul us and Sascha.  We shouldn’t have to worry about what to do with Rick anymore.  We planned to put Sascha in the back so she can look out the back window.  I think she gets car sick when she looks forward.  She loves to put her head on the back of the seat and watch the world pass her by.

We left and Mike had the understanding that we were trying out the Toyota next.  We’d be back if the Nissan fit what Rich was looking for better.  We then went to the Toyota dealer in Crystal Lake.  After 30 minutes and little discussion, there wasn’t even a truck on the lot to test drive.  Forget them.  On Monday, we went to lunch and swung by the Toyota dealer there for a test drive.  Nice truck, but not sure it fit the bill.

Rich went home and went back through the facts and figures.  The Nissan and Toyota were comparable, but the Nissan was a little cheaper.  There were some extra on the Nissan that he definitely like.  On Friday, Rich called Mike to make an appointment to buy a truck on Saturday.  We returned on Saturday and did the preliminary paperwork on the truck. 

Turned out, a truck that fit Rich’s requirements was available in Wisconsin.  This meant someone had to drive up and bring the truck down to us.  On Monday, we got the call on the logistic and the truck would be available on the lot Tuesday for the final paperwork.  After work on Tuesday, we drove over to take possession of the metallic blue Nissan Frontier.

Yaseen Ali was the financial guy on this day and shift.  What an experience.  I felt like I had been on a game show by the time we were done.  Yaseen talked very fast and with a showman type of rhythm to his speech.  There were a lot of papers and a lot of last minute sales pitches to get through before we were done.  Finally, that moment came when we had keys in hand and we could drive off the lot. 

 

Rich with his new metallic blue Nissan Frontier. Nope, it's not Rick's new truck.

On Wednesday, Rich and I packed up a picnic dinner and headed to Ravinia for the Tedeschi-Trucks Band concert.  For those not from around these parts, Ravinia is the big outdoor venue that plays something different every night of the summer season.  There is an amphitheater with seats.  But by far, the best seat in the house is the lawn spread out through a wooded lot.  We set up our chairs, unpacked the chicken, salsa and chips, and pate with crackers.  Wine is the drink of the night with most of the patrons. 

 

 

 

 

Rich was enjoying Ravinia and the music, before the rain poured.

 

Tedeschi Trucks Band is Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.  Susan is a blues singer who made good.  Derek is a lead guitar player for the Allman Brothers Band and several other groups.  This band is collaboration so they can tour as a family.  Yep, they are married to each other.  I’ve heard Susan on radio and TV, but she is definitely heard best in person.  She has quite the voice.  Being an Allman Brothers fan, I already knew all about Derek’s guitar playing. 

The night started off with a threat of rain.  Susan and Derek finally took the stage about 8:45 PM after the opening act.  About 9:15, Susan fulfilled a life long dream of being the weather girl and read out the posted weather announcement for the incoming storm.  Right on schedule at 9:30, the rain hit big.  Since the lightening was pretty threatening, we packed it up and headed for the car.  At the front of the venue, there are buildings with water spouts that overhang the roof.  Water was flowing so fast it shot out about a foot from each one. 

We stopped at the gate to get our breath and wait for it to lighten up a little.  Our chance came and we continued out to the parking lot in the downpour.  At the car, we got out our wet jackets.  Too late, we were totally soaked through and through. 

The rain started up heavier as we drove from Highland Park out to Holiday Hills.  See, Rose, there is a park in there somewhere.  The rain lessened as we got closer to home.  With the new truck in the garage, I’m reduced to parking in the driveway.  But the rain was a lot lighter now.  We unloaded wet chairs and cooler.  Warm jammies and a warm bed awaited. 

While we were gone, Sascha apparently had a hard time with the weather.  Loud noises bother her.  Firecrackers and thunder are the worst things to her.  When the storm came in, she was all frantic and paced the house trying to find a way to get away from the nose.  Rick couldn’t calm her down.  But as the storm moved through, she grew quieter.  However, she still looked worried when we got home.  She was definitely glad to see Dad, who was going to protect her.

Mentioning Sascha.  Today was her 1 year Chosen Day anniversary.  One year ago, Sascha came to live with us.  Lance from the rescue dropped her off and gave us the spiel about how to take care of a husky.  Our little Siberian Collie has grown into quite the family member.  She has a nice bed to sleep under, a nice yard to protect from the squirrels, and usually gets a walk during the day.  Her favorite time is still feedings and a daily toothbrush (biscuit) for which she can generally steer you in the direction of the bag.  Happy Chosen Day, Sascha!

Sascha hanging out with Mom in the office.