While I prefer that my longer leisurely sojourns be in the spring and the fall, certainly I always look forward to a couple weekenders during the summer just to keep my hand in the old travel game. While the longer spring-and-fall trips are organized by a professional travel consultant, Lady Jane, she allows me to handle the summer weekenders.
I always look for events that speak to me as to what summer is all about, as in warmer weather, outdoor activities and, hopefully, after the monsoons which we dealt in early summer, clear skies.
The memories gathered during these weekenders, I hope to call upon to warm me a bit when the skies turn gray and the winds gather in force during our descent into our winter months.
For us, it was on to Cincinnati in late July and its Northern Kentucky metro area on the other side of the Ohio River. I think the recipe I put together really represented the season well. In a large bowl, I mixed a generous helping of nostalgic music in an outdoor venue and equally generous helpings of bike riding and baseball, with just a pinch of summer festival whisked in. Mother Nature did her part by giving us three days of clear skies.
We stayed in Sharonville, a Cincinnati suburb, at one of my favorite hotel chains, The Drury Inn and Suites, which provides several extras beyond just a clean and comfortable room, including hot food and a Happy Hour each evening and a great hot breakfast each morning for a very reasonable price.
Thanks to my frequent use of the chain for business, I had enough reward points for the suite to be, as they like to say in ‘Vegas, “comped,” which really is a reasonable price.
As for the nostalgic music to which I alluded, during my planning phase, I purchased online a pair of tickets for Friday night’s Riverbend concert featuring The Righteous Brothers and The Temptations. Sweetening the concert and included in the cost of the tickets was a pre-concert picnic sponsored by Kroger on the west end of the property.
When we began our westerly walk in search of some cylindrical carnivorous delights, we saw a line stretching several hundred feet. I instantly determined there hasn’t been a brat made so tasty that I would justify standing in a line that long, especially for a notoriously impatient guy, not when I had a pocket full of vacation jingle and several food-and-beverage vendors throughout the area.
As we continued west just to see where the front of the line really was, something remarkable came into view. We saw another line, only about 10 feet at the most long, moving toward a second table and second set of grills that were serving the same food under the same canopy as the impossibly long line! We filled our plates within minutes and enjoyed the repast. I suppose such real-life narratives often have morals, and this one would be, “It’s generally best to assess the entire playing field before calling your picnicking play!”
As far as the music, well, for our age, it was wonderful, since both the Righteous Brothers and Temptations were two iconic 1960s groups. While one Righteous Bro, Bobby Hatfield, has gone to play in that heavenly band some years ago, Bill Medley, the other “brother” was in fine voice, even at 78 years old, as was Hatfield’s replacement, Bucky Heard, as they crooned hits like “Once in My Life,” “Soul and Inspiration,” “Unchained Melody” and “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling.”
The Temptations featured only one original member, Otis Williams, but the rest of the “Fake-tations” did well in presenting such songs as “Can’t Get next to You” and “My Girl.”
The next day, it was off to Loveland, a Cincinnati suburb, for bike rentals and a full afternoon of riding a wonderful entirely paved bike path through the Little Miami Scenic Park. While we didn’t ride all 70 miles of the trail, much of which runs right along the Little Miami River and almost all of it under canopied trees with boughs that often intertwine above, making for a cool ride even on a hot day, we did go over twenty miles in our four hours of “saddle time.”
Once back at the hotel to freshen up, it was back out again, this time across the bridge that spans the Ohio River, to Newport and the Goettafest. Goetta is a German-American sausage-based food type that can literally be turned into anything, from Italian to Chinese to Mexican foods, and is the epicenter of the annual event. Live music and beverages were enjoyed during our two hours there.
On Sunday after checkout, we headed to Great American Park to watch the Reds and the Colorado Rockies, who gave us a tight well-played game, sending the hometown faithful home a 3-2 winner.
Our seats in the 500 section behind home plate, where I always like to sit so my view is unobstructed and there is no danger of a line-drive foul ball rocketing into the stands and off the side of my noggin, were perfect.
It was four truly fun summer activities spread over three days with a spacious Drury Inn suite as our headquarters. And, that’s the recipe for a collection of memories that I hope will get me through the upcoming wintry blasts I hear in the distance.
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.