When it comes to traveling for leisure, my timing, at least for trips of a week or so, always is so very different from what it is for a weekender. While I schedule the longer ones for times when others’ kiddos are boarding those yellow buses, I, along with the oft-mentioned Lady Jane, will do some shorter weekend trips in the summer.
This past summer I won a prize from our local radio station, WIMA, a couple of tickets for knowing that, besides Jerry Lucas, the only other Buckeye basketball player ever to win the national player of the year was Evan Turner. The prize was a couple of tickets to a Saturday concert at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. That prompted me to build a trip to see what the tickets said would be a concert featuring the Doobie Brothers and Chicago, two groups I enjoyed in my earlier days when I had a bit more thatch on the old dome and a bit more time to pay attention to music.
Searching for a hotel room in the Riverbend facility proved a bit of a challenge with the first three hotels I called sold out. Finally, I did find a room at the Embassy Suites in Covington, just across the Ohio River, at a rate certainly higher than one would think, well north of a couple a hundred bucks.
Of course, one of the aggravations of travel with which all of us must contend is the gouging that hotels routinely do when there is a big event nearby. With few regulations preventing hotels from dramatically elevating room rates, those in the overnight-accommodation business are famous for dramatic hikes. A recent example was the solar eclipse in August, especially for those cities in the path-of-totality corridor. How about those hotels in Casper, Wyoming, that charged five times their usual rate?
While our room wouldn’t fall into that category, I’m sure, were my dear mother and father still here, they’d have been shocked. Back in their 1960s heyday, $20 a night would have gotten them a pretty nice room at a Holiday Inn.
The concert, played under clear skies and in typically Cincinnati warm temperatures for July, was one band shy of what the ticket promoted. As we approached the gate after parking, we saw a sign that said that due to scheduling conflicts, the Doobie Brothers didn’t make the trip.
I got my $10 beer and Jane her $5 Diet Pepsi, and off we went to our lawn seat, toting our blanket. As we moved through the large crowd, I did hear one man grumbling to his significant other about the absence of half the promised bill, saying he was going to ask for some money back. I had to laugh. While I didn’t look at the back of the ticket, I’m pretty sure there is a disclaimer that would prevent any refunding of ticket prices unless the entire concert was cancelled.
The band that did make the trip, Chicago, which first introduced itself to me back in 1969 as Chicago Transit Authority and held onto that name until the real Chicago Transit Authority threatened legal action if they didn’t change it, put on a wonderful show, over two hours with only one intermission, and the sound produced with all that brass by some musicians in their 70s was primo.
At such retro concerts, and I’ve been to several, I love to watch those my age try to recapture their salad days, especially those who can’t seem to let go of what they used to look like. I saw several men, as shiny on the top as I am, clinging to that ponytail running down their backs and several women in tie-dyed tops that somehow seemed to contrast with their silvery locks.
While their physical appearance may have changed over time, as certainly mine has, we all found some pleasure in taking a dip in the nostalgia pool on a warm Cincinnati night.
The next day, Jane and I caught the Reds and Nationals in a Sunday matinee before heading home for another $70 in tickets and $20 more for some of that deliciously expensive ballpark food and drink.
While the prize wound up costing me a few hundred bucks, there’s a special joy that comes both from winning, even when you know it’s going to cost you, and, more importantly, there’s that joy in remembering when we all looked really good with full heads of naturally colored hair and those great tie-dyed shirts.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.