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

2009 Staycation, Part 2

Continuing my staycation report (Part 1). Thursday was a relax day. Well, it was supposed to be relaxing in that we didn’t really go anywhere. But it wasn’t so much relaxing since we had tons of shopping, cleaning, packing and preparing for our weekend trip up to Cleveland!

Friday we got up early (well normal time for us) and were out the door by about 8 to head up to COSI in Columbus. We had been there before since it is one of our reciprocal museums that we get into free as part of our museum pass.

COSI was cool as usual. Here are a few pictures and descriptions of some of the exhibits.

Kids really enjoyed this TV / camera machine. There was a dial that you could make the camera do all sorts of weird effects.

This was in the Gadgets area – it was a chair you could sit in and then pull yourself up using a pulley system (either 2, 3, or 4 pulleys to make it easier or harder)

Kids trying to use their feet to push a series of pistons. It didn’t work out too well for some reason.

While the little kids were in the little kid area, I took the big kids out because they were not allowed in. There was a live exhibit with someone demonstrating an electrostatic generator. So they had everyone get in line and hold hands and then the first person (who was touching the generator) touched hands with the second person in line (who was holding hands with everyone else down the line). Shock! Kids were not amused with that :-)

Another exhibit they liked was one where you could talk into this microphone and make it do all sorts of weird things with your voice. All the kids liked that.

We stayed till about 1:00 and then ate a picnic lunch and headed up to Cleveland. We also got a bunch of license plates in the COSI parking lot! We had pizza with my parents in Cleveland and then my grandpa and his new wife came over for desserts. We hung out with them for awhile and then snapped this family picture (minus the baby who was sleeping)


It was a fun day!

Remember, budget is $250
Earlier days: $34
Thursday: $5 in snacks for the car
Friday: $3 for parking at COSI

Total so far: $42

2009 Staycation, Part 1

So we have been planning a “staycation” here in and around town for awhile, and this past week we started it off.

First off was a Reds game on Tuesday night. It rained pretty much the entire day and it was not looking good for a game, but about 5:00 p.m. the clouds lifted and it actually turned out to be a very nice evening.

I took the 2 biggest kids with me.

Here we are in front of the stadium. Notice that my kids have inadvertently dressed in Cubs colors. But that’s okay because so did everyone else!! (Seriously it was like 4 to 1 Cubs fans)

We started off up in the upper deck with the $5 seats.

But before too long we moved down to right behind first base.

Reds lost 6-3. The kids kept asking me (constantly) when there were going to be fireworks. I tried to tell them that those were only if the Reds won or if they hit a home run. Winning did not look like an option, and there were no homers either. We went into the 9th inning with the bottom part of the order coming up and up to the plate stepped Wladimir Balentien, who (literally) had a batting average of 0. Naturally he promptly homered for some fireworky action. The kids were amused.

Wednesday was my first day off work and we went up to Dayton to visit the US Air Force museum as well as one of the Wright Brothers memorials.

Carolyn and the baby at the National Aviation History Museum (which was inside the AF museum)


Kids in front of one of the airplanes.

Ah… feel the love!

So the goal for this staycation was a budget of $250.


  • Reds Tickets: $15
  • Reds Parking: $2
  • Reds program: $1 (actually it was 50 cents but I round up)


  • Museums: Free
  • Wendys afterwards: $16

Total so far: $34.

License Plate Scavenger Hunt

So back last summer when we made our trip to the Groesbeck reunion in North Carolina, one of the things I came up with was a license plate scavenger hunt to occupy some time in the car. Of course I am not the first person to come up with this idea, but Dan’s First Law of the Internet did not hold in providing me with a sheet that had examples of what all the license plates looked like.

There were plenty of sites that had individual license plates but nothing that would serve as sort of a “gameboard”. So I created one, which you can see below. In some cases, I had to pick which license plates to show as some states had multiples.

License Plate Scavenger Hunt

It worked pretty well. It was mostly my oldest son who was into it and he is still very in to license plates and spotting different ones. We’re still working on teaching him that Mommy doesn’t care about license plates so he should probably just tell Dad about ones he finds :-) . It’s kind of like coins in that regard.

I had intended about publishing my work for other intrepid travelers but my Word doc was like 3 MB and I didn’t want to just host that on my site in case somehow lots of people started downloading it and crashing my server. But I started looking at it again recently because tonight is our Cub Scout den meeting where we will be talking about collecting things and we’re supposed to bring in things that we collect. So we will be bringing in this license plates printout as well as our big jar of found coins.

I tried to upload it to Google Docs but they only accept docs of up to 500K. So I converted it to a PDF for free and uploaded it. But apparently you can’t publish PDFs via Google Docs, so if I wanted to share it there I had to individually invite people. So I found a place called PDFHost.net. I uploaded it there, but when you go there, although it says licenseplates.pdf – it sends you a link to an invoice written in German?!?. Finally I uploaded it to a place called Keepandshare.com. So if you want a copy, here it is!