Monday, May 23, 2016

Vacation May 2016 - Part 1

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts.
~Author unknown

We had the first vacation we have had in many long years. We went to visit my aunt and uncle in Ohio, whom I have not seen since my mother's funeral in 2009. I cannot believe it has been seven years, but it has.

A reduction in income was the first major issue; the second was saving for the house new siding and windows when our income improved, and then refinancing. We still have much to do on the inside of the house, like painting and repairing walls around the windows, and the outside, like replacing all the deck boards that somehow sounds like less work than it is, and the in between, like reorganizing our garage so that we can use it for the car again since all the painting stuff is in the way now.

Yes, very much to do have we, but we have been trying to go to Ohio every year and every year something got in the way. To ensure we had even more incentive this year, we took advantage of the two for one ticket special at Christmas for the Creation Museum and bought three tickets to use within a year. Our original plan was to go on the third week of May and everything was set, but then our youth pastor, who would be house-sitting, realized that she made an error and had already promised that week to another, so we bumped up to the second week. We wanted to go before my husband had to go to the U.K. for training and while public school was still in session so it would be less crowded and we would not feel so rushed. Since my most excellent next door neighbor moved too far away, a good friend who would have happily have taken care of the furry ones and the plants, a house-sitter was really the best way to go as we have the rabbitry, two outside cats, and a German Shepherd dog, who has skin allergies, which gets more aggravated when she is excited; trips definitely excite her.

The one very good thing about my husband traveling so much for work is that he gets hotel points and he has lots of them built up over the years. Because another one of my cousins moved in a few years ago with my aunt and uncle and their son and his wife, they would have have the room but it would have been crowded even though they now only have one dog instead of three and we were leaving ours at home this time. We felt it would be better for everyone to stay at a hotel, which was at no cost to us.

We went to their church service to meet up with my aunt and uncle. There the Princess was able to sit at a piano to play her memorized pieces from the recital at the end of April for my aunt to hear in person. Then we went out for dinner, which was no small thing as it was Mother's Day but we only had to wait a few minutes. It was a family owned restaurant with a field landing strip next to it for small planes and there were three that day.

My aunt is having some memory issues, fairly minor for the most part, but evident. Losing her memories was the one thing that scared my aunt, having taken care of her aunt with Alzheimer's Disease, but while we were there at least, she seem to handle it more graciously than I had thought she might. We planned to visit for only two days as we did not want to tire everyone out and we had other things planned as well, but the weather was mostly rainy so that kind of changed the things we could do.

The Princess enjoyed looking at all the artwork my aunt has created over the years, seeing all the family photos and histories, and hearing all the stories of which they both many, but it is my uncle that can go on for hours and hours. When she was bored or just needed some space, she would draw. It was the only time I could get a picture of the child because she is in the face-hiding phase.

Since the Princess likes old cemeteries and it has always been a tradition with my grandfather to visit my grandmother's grave, the one thing I wanted to do was to go to the cemetery to see my mother's and brother's graves, next to each other as my mother wanted even though it did not start out that way, as well as my grandparents' and other family members. It was a chilly, drizzly day, but the Princess and I took a walk to the older parts before the Civil War because the older grave stones with the wear and tear of the years are far more interesting. Then my uncle, who does not have just one sweet tooth but many, suggested that we go across the river into the small town proper for ice cream for us and onion rings for his diabetic wife. The cousins continually thank God that he has not become diabetic as he has no self control when it comes to sweets.

On the third day, it was not raining as was expected so I suggested we visit a place that I had not been to but once as a teenager: German Village Historic District. My first time there was just after it was designated by National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1974; it was one of my uncle's after-Sunday-services mystery outings—would it surprise you that he found the one and only ice cream place there? The restoration project expanded to a 233 acre footprint. In 2007, it was made a Preserve America Community by the White House. Today, it is the largest privately funded historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is said that it is also the largest in the world.

Of course, we found a bookstore. The Book Loft has 32 rooms jammed packed with books and we lost each other several times! My husband found a cookbook he just had to have (the guy loves to cook) and the Princess found The Atlas of Cursed Places, which did not thrill me but I thought maybe she would get ideas for settings of the many fictional stories she writes. I looked for a hardcover of Atlas Shrugged to give to my cousin, but they only had a soft cover with very small text, so I did not get anything. After finding each other again, we decided to lunch at Katzinger's Delicatessen where my husband and I shared a very tasty Reuben. It started clouding up preparing to rain so we drove on in the rain to our next destination, Cincinnati.

Now, I really do not like being in cities, especially downtown. That is probably why my husband did not tell me that the hotel he picked was exactly where I would rather not be. However, I was not driving so at least I was not as anxious about driving in the city, particularly since our GPS stopped charging due to a bad wire and we were using Google Maps on my smart phone, nor was I concerned about parking, since there was complementary valet parking. This is the cityscape from our hotel window.

When I really began to inspect the architectural and ornamentation of the Cincinnati Enquirer Building, I softened up to the idea. Wow! This building originally was the headquarters of the local newspaper, but I felt as if we were walking into a restored grand theater. They just do not make buildings like this anymore! We were at the back of the hotel where we could see a neighboring building also was being restored.

Our suite was roomy and modern in decor, of course. However, the nicest part was that the hotel provided a complementary buffet breakfast and dinner. This is the kind of place at which we would typically not stay because it would be too costly as in three nights is a mortgage payment, but my husband's hotel points covered everything. My husband was very wise, because all we have to pay for in food was our lunches for three days, so I definitely warmed up to having to stay in downtown Cincinnati.

Thankfully, it stopped raining with sunshine in the forecast for the morning, at least!

My Lord, thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend some time with my aunt and uncle, my cousin and his wife, and another cousin as well.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.