Ah! Optimism at the beginning of every adventure springs eternal.
The TSA agent at Boise's security area welcoming us couldn't have been nicer. I think he actually likes his job. A short while later, we boarded our United Airlines flight ... right on time.
Buckled in and with my seat back and tray table placed in their upright and locked positions, I thought to myself, "This trip's going to be perfect!"
Hang on! There's a wait for the ground crew to push the plane onto the tarmac; this morning, only one crew is available for pushes.
20 minutes later, we're rolling down the tarmac ... "It's all good. It's going to be perfect!" ... just as the pilot swerves the plane from taxiing into a parking spot because they still had paperwork to do.
Did your airline dog eat your airline paperwork?
Despite thinking we were "seasoned travelers" who had dealt with most situations, we discovered more "seasoning" would come our way on this adventure!
Come along and join us!
... on our journey to Chicago and the upper Midwest as we explore the mysteries of car rentals, visit friends and family, meander through a bizarre grocery store, take tours, pay too much for food and beverages, and deal with a crazy lady!
What could go wrong?
Take a moment to grab a giant spiked-pumpkin-spiced latte and settle in!
Presented to you in the ever-popular picture-n-caption format, it's time for the ... Autumn TourAlong Tale
|We Made It!|
Columbus, Indiana and its historic Bartholomew County Courthouse! Columbus delivers on the scenic smalltown Midwest vibe. Neat and tidy, Columbus is home to the Cummins corporation as well as the hometown to none other than former VP, Mike Pence. More importantly, just up the road is Seymour—where rocker John Cougar Mellencamp went to high school!
In case you need a refresher on just what made Johnny Cougar a sensation, come along on this brief diversion: The 10 Best John Cougar Mellencamp Songs of All Time! Trust me, your ears will hurt so good.
|Our Indiana Hosts!|
Longtime friends and our hosts for the first leg of our Midwestern odyssey, David and Karen served as tour directors for the sights of southern Indiana including Columbus, Nashville (Indiana), Madison (Indiana) and points between!
|Beware of the Bill!|
And then there's food and beverages. This trip was reminder that not all food and drink are created equal. At one fancy hotel bar (not to name names, but it's this one) we each enjoyed a drink and then received the $30 "happy hour" bill.
Later we enjoyed a fine Italian dinner at Sotto. It was super delicious! The bill was not super delicious! For my money, the spicy quesadilla I had at Americano was the tastiest treat and best value of the entire trip.
|Over the Rhine|
The Over the Rhine area of downtown Cincinnati is a blend of old and new with funky shops and building walls adorned in art. Our walkabout of the area was a great way to cap an event-filled day.
Originally settled by 19th century German immigrants, Over the Rhine is a historic urban district that has seen dramatic change since riots took place there in 2001, and by 2009, it was one of the city's most dangerous areas. Today, gentrification is gradually introducing the area to its next chapter.
Though Cincinnati is home to the expanding Kroger empire of grocery stores, on the north edge of Cincinnati along the Dixie Highway there's a grocery store unlike any other—Jungle Jim's International Market.
Is it international? Yes, it really is! With extensive food sections devoted to goods from 70 countries, you can probably find what you're looking for at Jungle Jim's. Durian anyone? Yes, they've got it!
But Jungle Jim's is more than that.
Today, it's a destination—kind of like grocery store meets weird fun park. Pictured above is a boat featuring odd caricatures of the Gilligan Island crew along with the Cereal Bowl Band! Other displays include Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest and Marilyn Monroe in her billowing dress in the wine section. And yes, there's an actual fan blowing up her dress so ... well, you get the idea.
While we didn't have time, there are tour guides available to lead you through the Jungle Jim's experience. Can you imagine? A grocery store tour guides? Awesome!
|Wooster, Ohio! Whoo! Whoo!|
Natalie's relatives, Uncle Dale and Aunt Coby, moved to Wooster a few years ago to be closer to their son, Reed, and his family. Reed's a bee scientist at The Ohio State University. These family connections made Wooster a must-stop on this TourAlong.
Wooster's not a big place, but it hosts a surprising number of industries from agriculture to Wooster Brush (paint brushes), Rubbermaid, Gojo Industries (Purell hand sanitizer), and FritoLay!
The sunrise lights up another tidy Ohio farm! I can only imagine how vivid the colors became within a week or two.
|I'll Take a DAWG, Mister J!|
Our evening tour—the Bikes, Bites, and Brews tour—had us biking nine miles around the downtown and along the lakeshore. Along the way we tasted Chicago deep dish pizza, Chicago hot dogs, Chicago gelato, and Chicago brews. It was a fun way to see the city in the evening, and Mister J's DAWG 'n BURGER was my favorite (though I think the Yelp reviews are hilarious!). Still, I'm not making a special trip back to Chicago for any of these treats. Sorry Chicago :(
|Chicago Has Some Buildings Along a River!|
By far the best way to take in the historic architecture of Chicago is in an open-air tour boat. With scenes like this one, my camera was doing overtime. The buildings and bridges truly are spectacular!
One prominent building is owned by ex-president Voldemort. He's widely known for his real estate ... prowess? It turns out he may be in hot water over his Chicago skyscraper's financial history. Now, who would have guessed that?
To view in slideshow format:
- Once at the album, click the right-facing arrow in the upper right corner to start the slideshow.
- Use the slideshow controls in lower middle of the screen to navigate as the show plays (go back, go forward, pause).