Monday, September 28, 2009

Cincinnati, OH

I hesitate to even write this entry because I foolishly forgot to bring my camera on almost every outing here in Cincinnati, and I just want to smack myself because well...I under-estimated how much this place would impress me. I honestly thought Ohio would be boring, like a wanna-be-East-but-really-Midwest type of place. However, it's pretty freaking cool. I could *almost* see myself living here one day, or at the very least spending some more time in the area.

Well, to be entirely accurate, we didn't hit the actual city of Cincinnati; rather, we stayed in a 'burb called Blue Ash. We might as well have been blind folded and pointed at a spot on the map when we picked it, because I don't know how we did decide to stay here. But it was a great choice nonetheless! Our hotel (Hilton Garden Inn) is super impressive for the price range- the best we've stayed in so far on our journey. It's brand new, modern and chic, and very comfortable (which is the most important part!).

So here's how our time was spent in Cinci:

-Saturday: Since we have a 45' motorcoach, it can be a challenge to take it places. We were hungry, so we decided to find a local mall, which we knew would have plenty of wide open parking. We selected the Tri-City Mall. It was not the most ghetto mall I've ever been to, and actually would've been pretty decent had not about 1/3 of the stores been out of business. I think it is at these points where the recession becomes real to me. ANYWAYS, after (shamefully) settling on the food court, we did some shopping and got the h out of there. 

That evening we went to Paramount's King's Island. I am a sucker for amusement parks, and half off admission is pretty enticing. I was most excited to see "The Beast", apparently the longest wooden roller coaster in the world. It wasn't it's superlative that excited me; No, it was actually the fame placed on it by one R.L. Stine (the Goosebumps guy!) who wrote a scary novel about it- I read it in elementary school. :) So I was excited to see the actual rollercoaster. But besides that, King's Island proved to be a major bust, as it started to rain, thunder and lightning shortly after arrived, thus shutting down the park. We ultimately rode 2 (really fun!) rollercoasters, the swings, and went through a abysmal haunted house. 

Sunday: Ah, the sabbath, and what a sabbath it was. So after rising at 1pm, we skipped across the street and ate at Cinci's famed Skyline Chili. This place has been around for 60 years, and most Cinci natives that we met insisted we had to go there because it is a Cinci specialty. And yet somehow it was the most disgusting food I've had in as long as I can remember. Sad day. 

Then, we took a bike ride (I got a bike, by the way!) to "downtown" Blue Ash, and then on to "downtown" Montgomery, two very picturesque towns. They reminded me a LOT of Newtown, PA. In Montgomery, they had even closed their main street and were holding a little art fair, which is telling of how quaint this area really is. Old buildings, cobblestone sidewalks..sigh...

Monday: Today was our presentation day- meaning we actually had to work! It proved to be a fun, successful day, if we can just forget about the hectic morning we had (which I won't even go in to, since I'd rather not recall it). We ended up in Mariemont, another small suburb of Cinci. I was informed that Mariemont is the first organized community in the U.S., and that it was designed by this Marie lady who intended it to be a walking community; hence all the stores, restaurants, theater, etc are in close proximity to one another. 

In Mariemont, we met a lot of nice, interesting people, and affluent, no less. After a long day of presentations, we ate at a little Italian restaurant called Mio's and topped it off with ice cream from Graeder's which is supposedly what puts Mariemont on the map. :) They are known for their chocolate chips in their ice cream. Trent and I enjoyed a scoop of that, and headed on our merry way. I dunno, ice cream just always tastes like ice cream to me.

On the way out of Mariemont, it was really fun to look around and see how old this town appears. Aside from the Tudor-style buildings, it was just so quaint and the road system played a huge part as well in its charm, as it seemed that all the roads intersected at one central point and then carried on. Finally on the way out, I saw the coolest house, which I now know to be the Mariemont Boat House (Picture I stole from someone's Flickr) - it was down in the dip off the road and had an old wooden, moss engulfed shingled roof that sagged a little in the center- it looked very characteristic of old England or the early colonies. Very very cool.

Well, just google any one of these sites and see why I regret bringing my own camera! These are such mature, well-kempt towns, and I'm sorry I couldn't spend more time here. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Seattle, WA

Trent and I have begun our voyage with a bit of training in Seattle. We got here Monday night, trained and prepped on Tuesday and Wednesday, presented Thursday and Friday, and are leaving in the early morning to head down to Utah (to grab a few things before heading out big time).

First off, have you ever felt that you are not cool enough to be in a certain place? Yea I had never felt that way either, UNTIL I came to Seattle. Everyone seems so put together, so smart and aware, and of course, pretty, that I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. They kind of seem "good quality", which is not something I can say I've ever felt about any other place. I love this city, just don't know if I'd ever be able to live here because I'd constantly feel inferior :)

Like I said, we enjoyed every moment in Seattle, even if we were so busy that we only had a little time to do some exploring- which, by the way, we are sorry that we didn't get to visit with anyone!

But, some of the things we did get to do:
-We visited the Flagship Nordstrom. I have wanted to do this for a few years now, so I was excited to finally be able to explore the massive, 5-story department store. :) On the same trip we also went to H&M which I always have to do when I have the opportunity. Of course for dinner we were losers and ate at Cheesecake Factory- blahh!

-We took a walk in Elliott Park (I believe it is called). This is right down by the water and stretches for what seems to be miles. We got in to the park via an access area by Pike's Place and walked probably 2 miles before we found a foot bridge to cross over the tracks and back in to the city. I was a little worried we would never make it back. :) The cool thing about this park though is that one trail is for the pedestrians, and another trail is made for the bikers. I think my dad would LOVE this park because of the excellent bike trail. :)

-On Friday night, I decided that we'd had enough of the chain restaurants, so we ventured out to Umi Sake House (1st Ave) for some sushi. We are both in love with sushi, and it helps that our job offers us a generous per diem, so we decided to put it to use and indulge in a nice helping of sushi. I was blown away by the portion sizes- these rolls are absolutely MASSIVE! We looked like gluttons because we both ordered 2 rolls each, and we ordered an appetizer of tempura veggies/shrimp, and of course we didn't think they'd give us so much sushi. So let's just say we definitely took some of it home. :)

-Another local restaurant we went to is Buckley's which is kind of like a pub type atmosphere, so think of burgers and sandwich type fare. We actually ate here twice for lunch, because it was in close proximity to the office, and was decent enough.

And now, for a slideshow :)

Here is Trent at Le Creperie Voila, a little crepe stand downtown. He loves his crepes and it was a nice way to get over the bland Cheesecake Factory's food. Pretend the guy behind him isn't there.

Here I am, in this little coastal park, enjoying the scenery!

I love this photo of Trent- look, I'm not photographer, but this is cool nonetheless. :)

Our delicious meal at Umi!! Look how much food we got- much better deal than Happy Sumo- and much tastier :)

Nom nom nom nom!

Supposedly haunted Moore theater! I can't remember if ghost hunters debunked this place or not, but we were excited to pass by! Balls, this one is for you :)

I always feel like, somebody's watching me... (also for Balls)

So yea, we had a great time in Seattle and were sad to leave. But hopefully we'll be back soon, as our great uncle "HAL" is based there, so ya never know when we'll be in town!


Hi folks! So...Trent and I have recently accepted a job for our wonderful company that is going to be keeping us busy and living life on the road! For the next 7 months, we will be taking a beautiful Explorer Coach around the United States to get the word out about Holland America Cruisetours. We are so excited to have this opportunity to travel and explore more of the U.S. This blog is dedicated to those travels- can't wait to share them with you! :)