Tag Archives: Cincinnati

Hey, at least it’s evenly dented!

Our 1997 Dodge Caravan had survived nearly 15 years of life with nary a scratch on its exterior. Its bright, shiny, red paint belied its age. But look inside and the picture changes a bit.

The gray upholstery and carpet are showing signs of wear and tear, as are its innards — a second transmission, third set of tires, and so many serpentine belts that we have single-handedly financed the retirement of the CEO of whatever parts company makes the belts.

Years of travel with two teenaged drivers should have produced some dings along the way, but the only major trauma during their years at home occurred when the hubs and daughter number two were returning from her job at Stratton Greenhouses. Their version of the story was “The deer just came out of nowhere, just dropped from the sky.” Said deer left the van totaled, but the good body doc fixed it up right as new.

As the girls moved on to Athens and Bowling Green, then Kent and Cincinnati, the Caravan morphed into a moving van. Still…no dents.

But, as so often is the case with cars, fate interferes.  I’ve learned not to question these things…acceptance is best.

But…sigh…there are now two rather hefty dents on each rear side panels of the van. Both show signs of having collided with something painted white. Well, hey, at least it’s evenly dented.

As I understand it, here’s how this little scenario played out.

First, while the hubs was removing the middle and rear seats from the van (preparing it for yet another moving spree), one of the seats tipped over and smacked one of the rear lights.

A few days later, wearing his Chamber CEO hat, the hubs was —  as he puts it —  working “in the line of duty,” delivering signs to the Christmas lighting contest winners. It was dark and he backed over a post holding two mailboxes.

Lest you accuse him of a federal offense (which it is), rest assured, he reported it immediately to the owners and our insurance agent.

In a burst of insight, he pointed out that his procrastination in repairing the broken rear light saved us $70 because it most certainly would have been smooshed again in the mailbox fiasco.

Perhaps a month later, the van was parked on the street in front of our house when someone backed into the other rear panel, producing the matching dent. Said offender was remorseful and offered to pay for repairs. Why bother? Then we’d have to fix both sides.

At 15 years of age and showing 156,000 miles on the odometer, Big Red is showing signs of age. Most days when we start it up, the dashboard no longer lights up. But one smack to the top of the dash, and up come the lights.

It’s cranky in the cold, squeaky in the heat. The heat only begins to blast warm air after we’ve driven an hour or so. The air conditioning? Nada.

But hey, Big Red is part of the family. We won’t put it out to pasture until Gary Kirtland and Jim Kinn pronounce it hopeless. And those big dents? Like age spots, you can try to hide them, but why bother?

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Navigating the slopes of Cincinnati on foot

A few years ago, I decided to run a mini-marathon near Cincinnati — 10 miles on a “flat, fast course.” That phrase alone should have made me skeptical, but silly me….a pure-bred Northwest Ohio runner defines flat as in pancake. No hills.

About halfway through the third mile, it occurred to me that flat was a relative term. If one lives in Cincinnati, a “flat” race course in Mason could certainly be considered flat since Mason doesn’t sport the steep hills of downtown Cincy.

But as the race went on, it became more apparent that I’d been naive to believe that first hill would be the worst. By the end of the race, I swore I’d never run in Cincinnati again.

But oh, how time dulls the memory. So when my daughter suggested we go for a run on a balmy late January morning, I jumped at the chance to explore a new neighborhood. As we approached an intersection, I asked which way we were turning.

She snickered and said, “Well, we won’t be turning right.”  Curious, I looked right — I swear the road went straight up. In reality, it was certainly steep, but not quite the equivalent of Cincy’s Clyde Street, which rises at a 30 degree slope.

Steep Clyde Street

 

The rest of the run continued in gradual ups and downs, which can be almost as bad as a straight-up hill. You don’t realize you’re running uphill until you’re nearly out of breath, thighs aching.

But as is usually the case of running in a new locale, it was a route of surprises. Along the way, we passed my cousin’s studio, and later, her house. A short while later, I admitted I had no idea where we were. I wasn’t worried until daughter number 2 admitted she too wasn’t sure of our location.

But down another hill, and across a street, and she suddenly recognized her surroundings. Phew.

In retrospect, it was a good run. We had a great conversation, discovered a new bakery, and conquered a few hills. And it was 62 degrees, sunny, and we had worked up a good sweat outdoors in late January.

Tanked economy limits found currency

2011 wasn’t a good year for found money, at least in comparison to the last four years. Guess the tanked economy made people more careful about picking up coins when they dropped them on the street.

Ever since some friends admitted that they don’t allow themselves to end their daily walk until they’ve found at least one penny, we’ve adhered to the same rule. Most of the time, it works out. Sometimes, we have to give up and come home empty-handed.

This can be a dangerous practice because you spend a lot of time looking down, hoping to catch a glimpse of something shiny…and you tend to forget that other people are walking on the same sidewalk until you run into them…literally. It’s even more dangerous if the coin is in the street. Of course, this becomes even dicier if you’re riding a tandem and the front rider is the person who spends more time watching for money than oncoming cars. But let’s not go there…

So for the record, here’s the count of found money in the five years we’ve been doing this:

2007  $22.19
2008  $23.07
2009  $12.25
2010  $27.80
2011  $9.01

Also found this year, but not added to the count for obvious reasons were these three “coins”. We’re still puzzling over these:

A gold-colored coin the size of a dime that reads “Napoleon Empire”, a nickle-sized dirty coin that says “Ruhl’s Bakery” on one side and “Good for one loaf bread” on the other side, and finally, another nickle-sized pewter colored coin that bears a number “1” and reads “Missouri Sales Tax Receipt”. Your guess is as good as mine, but since the family numismatist hasn’t squirreled them away, their countenance is suspect.

So okay…our next dinner out will more likely be Wilson’s than Panera or the more electic Melt in Cincinnati’s Northside. But hey, it’s still a free dinner.

Bring on 2012 — perhaps a better year for finding loose coins and maybe some more paper currency.

Summer vacation…part two…observations from the road

Our 30th anniversary celebration trip to Tybee Island, GA, didn’t take place as planned during the summer of 2010. Instead, we spent that week gearing up for a two-week stay in OSU Medical Center.

So…this summer’s vacation on Tybee was more that just an anniversary trip — it was a celebration of life. Last summer, when our Tybee landlords — Malinda and Fred Uruvant  — learned why we were unable to meet our reservation, they graciously offered to hold our deposit until we were able to travel. The Heron’s Nest would be available when we were ready. By late 2010, we’d reserved our dates.

Having had enough with air travel — too much arriving early and waiting for delayed flights– we decided it was time to test the road in the new Prius. We loaded up with clothing, snacks, and lots of maps. Nothing else — in addition to a comfy interior complete with bedroom, living area, bath, kitchen, laundry facilities, hot tub, screened-in porch and fenced-in patio, the Heron’s Nest offers everything we need — beach towels, mats, umbrellas, coaster bikes.

Entrance to Heron's Nest patio

We left Bluffton with one aging and loaded Dodge Caravan, one four-month-old Prius, and one dog. We ditched the van and the dog at Daughter No. 2’s place in Cincinnati. Leaving Ike was hard — kind of like leaving your young children with a relative even though you know they’ll have oodles of fun. Which he did. Ike had play dates almost every day with Mogli, the pug that belongs to Anne’s landlord.

From Cincy, we hit southbound I-75 and hightailed it for Georgia.

Here are some observations from a road trip:

  • Most states have welcome centers where you can pick up maps and other travel information (i.e., hotels, etc. for overnight stops unless you enjoy sleeping in your car). By the way, most of those centers allow you to park only two hours at a time. We wondered if you could park, sleep for two hours, and then move to the next parking spot and sleep for two more hours. We didn’t test that.
  • Books on CD make long drives go much faster IF you can agree on what to listen to. Fortunately, we both love mysteries. In our car, if the passenger falls asleep mid-book, the rule is that the driver has to brief the passenger on what he/she has missed.
  • States need to standardize their rest area parking rules. Usually, a sign directs trucks and cars with trailers to one area, and cars to another area. But they’re NEVER consistent and I can’t read the small print fast enough so inevitably I end up with the trucks.
  • My husband cannot ever find the entrance to any off-highway stop, nor can he see the signs. Here’s how the conversation goes: Me: I want to stop at that Dairy Queen. Fred: What Dairy Queen? Where is it? Me: Right here in front of us….see the big DQ sign…here…turn here…FRED! TURN RIGHT NOW!
  • Sigh. I’m not making this up. Ask him.
  • Driving through Savannah is mesmerizing. All that spanish moss hanging from those huge trees that line I-81/26 is beautiful. Just don’t touch it — chiggers live in it.
  • If you’re craving a Market Fresh turkey sandwich from Arby’s, it is guaranteed there will not be an Arby’s ANYWHERE in the vicinity. McDonald’s, Subway, Chicken and Biscuits, Chicken and Waffles, Wendy’s and every other fast food joint. No Arby’s. I know this to be true because we drove clear through North Carolina and saw nary an Arby’s. I finally gave in on Subway. Two miles later, we crossed into Virginia and there it is…natch….Arby’s.
  • Driving a hybrid is dangerous. You become so accustomed to getting 50 mpg that you forget about filling the gas tank. It’s a good thing that we were going downhill into Arnold’s Valley, VA, when it suddenly occurred to us that the tank was ominously low….well beyond the signal that it’s time for a refill. We coasted into the gas station with 1/4 gallon. Literally.
  • Driving the back roads of Virginia in the broad daylight is one thing. In the dark, it’s a completely different story. Nothing looks the same. Actually, you can’t see anything so forget trying to watch for the general store or the vet clinic that signal the next turn. Lucky for us, two guys in a pickup pulled up and asked if we were lost. Amazingly, they were headed toward Arnold’s Valley Road, led us in the right direction and voila…there was the Pannabecker farm…