2009 Staycation, Part 4

Part 4 of the Great 2009 Staycation (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Sorry for the delay in getting this up, but I have finally gotten around to it.

So, Tuesday, we originally were going to head downtown, but for various reasons, it didn’t work out great. So instead we just took kind of a relax day. During the afternoon, while kids were napping, I decided to do a test route on my Every Library in Hamilton County bike trip. The plan was to hit 7 libraries (Madisonville, Oakley, Hyde Park, Norwood, Pleasant Ridge, Deer Park and Madeira), which would be about a 16 mile trip. I was trying to just see what the route was like as well as getting a gauge for how long it took to check out a book once I got to each library.

It was going well till, tragically, I got a flat tire on my bike in Norwood. You can read all about it over at Every Whatever, once I get around to writing that report.

So I had Carolyn come pick me up and that was fun. Wednesday we decided to do our downtown trip, since that was the last day that we had before I had to go back to work on Thursday.

We drove downtown after lunch and the first stop was Fountain Square.


Here’s the kids in front of the Tyler Davidson Fountain. I believe that one of them is trying to make the birdman goggles. Honestly I think they enjoyed running around trying to catch pigeons the most.

Then we went up to the top of Carew Tower, which is the tallest building in Cincinnati (at least for another 2 years). You can see it in the background of the Fountain Square picture.

It was cool, yet freaky. You have to take the main elevators to the 45th floor, then get out and take another elevator to the 48th floor, then walk the stairs up to the 49th floor. It’s $2 for adults and $1 for kids 6-11. The thing that is freaky about it is that there is a wall maybe 3 feet high, but then nothing else. Not for the acrophobic, to be sure. I didn’t mind it much myself, but it was the kids. Since they outnumber us and were just running around like the lunatics that they are, I was nervous about them falling. I mean the wall is high enough that they couldn’t fall over just by running, but then they started climbing on the binocular pedestal and it was just hard to relax and check out the views, ya know?


That’s Fountain Square from above.

We started walking downtown towards Sawyer Point, then quickly realized that was much farther than we really wanted to walk, especially now that Cincinnati has finally remembered what August is generally like (hot and humid).

So we drove down and found some $2 parking at Bicentennial Commons. We played at the park that is nestled under the I-471 Big Mac Bridge. It was a lot of fun – it’s a pretty big park and nice and shady since it’s under the bridge.

After that we continued walking around Bicentennial Commons. We stopped and snapped a picture at the monument that marks the various flood stages of the Ohio River in different years.


Unfortunately Dan the crappy photog missed the very top mark, which is the 1937 flood, which was a whopping 28!! feet above the 1884 line. If you look closely at the picture, you can see a very bit of black at the top left of the red pole, which is the 1937 line.

Then we came to good ol’ Cincinnatus, for whom the city of Cincinnati is (sort of) named for. See, technically, it’s named for the Society of the Cincinnati, but that’s usually more than I feel like bothering to explain.

When I was in college, we used to come down here and poke our head up Cincinnatus’ skirt. I don’t know why we thought that was funny, but naturally I had to take the opportunity to do it while I was here again!!


In case you are wondering, he is not anatomically correct.

I wanted to walk across the Purple People bridge, but Carolyn didn’t, so I just took one of them on my walk.

You can’t really see us, but we’re up there.

After we walked across the river to Newport and back, we found the rest of the fam at the Otto Armleder Aquatic center, which is basically just all these fountains that you can play in.


Swimsuits? We don’t need no steenkin swimsuits.

It was about 4 pm by now, so we decided to head home, get some dinner, change the kids out of their sopping wet clothes, before heading out to our final series of destinations.

We went to Dave and Busters, as I had a $10 gift certificate. Unfortunately, the fine print states that it is not good on “Half Price Wednesdays” so we couldn’t use it.


Here we are growling at how annoying they are. And oh yes, they will be getting a Complaint from Me. Then we stopped by Tri-County mall, before ending the day with some Graeters (for us) and McDonalds ice cream cones (for the kids – no wasting the good stuff on them!)

Final budget tally!

Remember, the budget is $250.

Earlier days: $170


  • $1 in parking (Under the Westin Hotel – $1 for the first 2 hours
  • $6 for Carew Tower observation deck
  • $2 in parking at Bicentennial Commons
  • $2 at Graeters (I had $6 left on a gift card I won at work)
  • $4 at McDonalds
  • And the gas tank on the van is half full, so I’ll give it another $20 there.

Final Total: $205

I hope you enjoyed reading about our staycation / vacation – we sure had fun doing it!

2009 Staycation, Part 3

Part 3 of the great 2009 Staycation! (Part 1 and Part 2)

Saturday and Sunday we hung out at my parents house. For some reason we didn’t really take any pictures, so…. sorry! Saturday we had some friends of ours (the Olmsteds and Broadbents) that had moved from Cincinnati to Cleveland over for a BBQ. Unfortunately the weather did not really cooperate (it rained all day) but it was still fun.

Sunday we had church and then a bunch of family came over for a big pancake / waffle brunch. We had my uncle Rick and aunt Jackie along with all of their kids and grandkids, as well as my aunt Pam and uncle Greg and family. It was nice to see all of them and have our kids play with some of their second cousins.

Monday we packed up and headed home. But not before forgetting quite a bit of things at my parents house (grrr)

First stop of the day was exciting Campbell Hill. (Well actually before that we stopped for lunch). Campbell Hill is the highest point in Ohio (1529 ft)

The high point is actually on the campus of the “Hi Point Career Center” (a vocational school). We passed it up first because we were not sure if that was it or not.

I know 1529 ft sure seems “real” high, especially for those of you out west who are used to much higher elevations. I’m sure you’ll be even more impressed when I tell you about our “grueling” ascent to the summit. (You can drive all the way to the top :-) ). It reminded me a lot of our trip to Reddish Knob last year in Virginia.

Here is the marker.

The fam in front of the sign.

As I was signing the logbook, Carolyn made some sort of joke about how if that was where losers like me signed in. And I said of course! and then noted that already today, 2 other folks had already been here! Kind of crazy. Also saw a group that was trying to do all 48 state highpoints in 3 weeks. Sounds like my kind of folks!

There was a grassy hill off to the other side of the high point, which we sent the kids running down and up a few times to tire them out. But then, having had NEARLY our fill of excitement, we loaded everyone back in to the hill and headed west!

For yes, one highpoint is NOT enough. Hoosier Hill is only about an hour or so west, just across the Indiana border. Kids were glad to know that Ohio “won”, since the highpoint of Indiana is only 1257 ft.

Also a driveup, though the approach is even less well marked.

Kids in front of the Hoosier Hill sign.

And here is Carolyn, showing her true feelings of contentment, happiness and joy upon reaching the highest point in Indiana.

And this is Carolyn pretending to be annoyed at having to drive out of the way to visit this exciting part of Americana!

We got home about 5:30 and unpacked and hung out and such. Carolyn and I celebrated by getting a pizza and root beer and playing Mario Kart, a nice throwback to our early married days!

Remember, the budget is $250.

Earlier days: $83
Saturday: $3 for watermelon (though that does not count the $1.92 in coins I found while out shopping!)
Sunday: nothing

  • $30 in gas
  • $13 for Wendys
  • $33 in gas
  • $8 for the pizza and root beer

Total so far: $170

Update links

Been awhile since I posted, so I thought I would let you know what was going on.

Actually, I’ll have Carolyn let you know what is going on, since she blogged about it and I am just going to shamelessly link to her writeups :-)

First, we had a new driveway installed – see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Then my parents came to town. My dad and I were super-productive.

We put in a new mailbox
We put on the stairs to the deck – it’s nice, nearly a year after we moved in, to actually be able to walk out the back door without having to jump down 5 feet!
We also put in the base molding tile around the edges of both the bathrooms, but no blog post about that I guess.
We celebrated my son’s birthday, where I gave him a backscrubber aka “Coin Grabber!”

Starting Monday night, and continuing Tuesday afternoon and night, we (myself, a friend and Carolyn in some combinations) spent about 12 man-hours shoveling 7 cubic yards of topsoil around our yard, and planting grass seed, in anticipation of rain today (it is raining on cue)

I’ve been little mr. productive pants lately

Ghetto stud finder

So, first of all, all the “stud” jokes have already all been made. No need to repeat them in the comments or anything. Anyways, we have one of those stud finders that run on batteries (speficially the iSensor from Zircon)

With our recent spate of hanging things up and such, we needed to break out the ol’ stud finder. We bought this one quite a few years ago and I don’t know if it was just needing new batteries, but the thing was just plain screwy. The light would come on seemingly randomly. You’d think you found a stud, but then it wouldn’t light up in the same place vertically, or 16″ apart.

Short answer: it stank.

So after a quick google searching (i.e. Dan’s first law of the Internet), I came across this video which explains how to make your own stud finder.

Basically you take a magnet, and tie it to a piece of string or such (he used fish line, I used yarn, whatever). Then you just swing it back and forth at various places on the wall till it “hits”. I was fairly skeptical but I tried it out and it works! I’m sure this is how they must have done it in the old days.

Here’s a pic of me with my ghetto stud finder, getting ready to hang up our mirror in the upstairs bathroom

Well actually, that’s a picture of me staging for the camera what it looked like (if you look closely you can see that I’ve already drilled the holes)

A few words of caution: It should come as no surprise to many of you that there are other things behind your walls that might be made of metal that you might not want to drill into. Things like plumbing (bad) or electrical wires (worse). So once you get a hit, you should swing the magnet at the same place vertically to make sure you’re getting a hit all the way up the wall, as well as at regular intervals (usually every 16 or 24 inches) horizontally to make sure it’s a stud and not say, your sink supply line.

Rental woes

So since we’re moving to a new house, we have decided to rent the home that we’re currently living in. We decided that with the market the way that it is, even if we could sell it, we couldn’t get as much as we think it’s worth.

I put a sign out front and some ads on Craigslist. We’ve had lots of interest. I think that it’s priced appropriately and we’ve gotten a lot of the work done to “pretty it up”. This is a good time of year too – lots of people moving around with the end of the school year and such.

I’d say that we’ve had 10-15 people actually show up and see the house. Many of them have taken applications. But nobody has returned them or taken the next steps. Mostly they just disappear. I used to try and follow up with people, but after thinking about it and discussing it with other landlords online, the consensus was that it was just a waste of time; if someone is interested, typically they are very aggressive about following up.

So yesterday we had 2 calls about people potentially interested in BUYING the house. And I’ve started feeling like maybe we are supposed to sell the house. Certainly if we could sell it, we could definitely use the equity that we get out of it. So I’m going to post an ad in the for sale section of Craigslist and see what happens.

I’m not really worried at this point. I always have felt like God takes care of us. I can point to several times in my life where things have maybe not happened as soon or the way that I’ve wanted to, but in the end, it always works out just fine, and usually in a better way than I’d have done it if left to my own devices. First mortgage payment on the new house is due 7/1 so we have a little more than a month before it starts to get dicey :-)

Oooh that’s brisk

So our hot water heater died on Friday. Or actually what I have since learned is called the thermal couple died.

We called our home warranty folks on Friday and a guy came out on Friday night. He (thought that) he had the part to do it so he got to work and it turns out that our thermal couple is left-threaded. According to the plumber, nearly all of them are right-threaded and pretty standard.

He tried to go find one but could not and then again yesterday tried to find one at a particular store but no dice. Yesterday we went to step aerobics at the Y but for some reason the teacher didn’t show up so Carolyn and I just went and worked out in the exercise room. I did some elliptical and then about 30-40 minutes of weight training so I am awful sore this morning.

Naturally, showering at the Y was called for. At this point we still thought he was going to hook us up yesterday but no, so now there is no hot water today either. We entertained notions of going to the Y again this morning just to shower (like good bums do), but it doesn’t open till 11 and there’s no childcare. So Carolyn washed her hair with a pot of water she heated up on the stove and I took a polar bear shower (hence the title of this post).

Yesterday I also went to FleetFeet to get a new pair of running shoes. They brought out a bunch of shoes and tried them on but they were all in the $90-95 range. I tried to deal with them but no dice. I was getting ready to leave when they said they might have a discontinued pair in the back. They did and I ended up getting them for $65.