Sunday, July 28, 2013

Belle of Cincinnati

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon with temperatures in the 80s with a light breeze and hardly a cloud in the sky.  It was a perfect day for a boat ride on the Ohio River.  Each year BB Riverboats of Newport, KY brings their flagship, Belle of Cincinnati, to Harris Riverfront Park to take guests on sightseeing cruises on the Ohio River. 
We picked Gran up around 2:30 pm and was in line by the time boarding began at 3 pm.  Since speedboat races had the upriver section of the Ohio occupied, the cruise headed down to Kenova and the confluence of the Big Sandy River.  While we waited for everyone to board we sat on the top deck and watched some of the boat races and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
The captain gave an informative description of the Belle of Cincinnati and the history of the sternwheeler.  He also discussed the Ohio River from the days when it varied from a shallow non navigable stream to a wild torrent that flooded towns along the length from origin at Pittsburgh to where it joins the Mississippi near Paducah.  We passed under the Sixth Street Bridge (Robert C. Byrd Bridge) and the 17th Street West Bridge (Nick Joe Rahall II Bridge).  At one point had to lower the stacks for fear of scraping the bottom of the 17th Street West Bridge because of high water from the rains of the previous week.
We had a nice afternoon and decided to have a dinner at El Ranchito which was a big meal but well prepared.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cincinnati Zoo & Krohn Conservatory

Rex, Natalie & Mary near the gorilla exhibit
We picked up our friends, Rex & Natalie Dillinger at 7 am to make the short drive to Cincinnati for a day trip. We arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo at 10 am for their opening for the day. There had been some mists of rain on the trip down but nothing to cause us to change our plans. 

Three toed sloth
The zoo was excellent as always. Since the weather was much cooler than it had been previously, many of the animals were more active. Each of us had our favorite animal exhibits whether the gorillas, tigers, manatees or Mary's red pandas. Neither of us had seen the new Africa exhibit which was very impressive.  When there was a popup shower we visited exhibits in one of the buildings.
We were fortunate to have cooperative weather until we were hit with a cloudburst around 2:30 as we were leaving the zoo and walking to the car.

Steve & Mary at the waterfall near the gorillas
We had a snack in the car as we drove to the Krohn Conservatory. By the time we arrived the rain had passed. In additional to the permanent displays of tropical plants, bonsai, orchids, cacti and succulents, there was an exhibit of aquaponics, aeroponics and hydroponics. Plants were raised in vertical gardens and in tower gardens where growing conditions were optimized in minimal space. It was an interesting and informative exhibit.  
We stopped in the Krohn's gift shop where we purchased some small houseplants and unique gifts for friends and family.
By the time we left the conservatory we were all hungry so we called Greg to drop off some items that Sarah wanted to use for an upcoming social engagement at her house.  Since Greg was available he joined us for dinner.  Since we all love barbecue, Walt's Barbecue seemed like a good choice.  Dillingers treated us to smoked turkey, pulled pork and, best of all, sliced brisket.  For sides, we had fried okra and some of the best beans you will ever taste.  The meal was excellent but we all ate far too much.
To walk off our dinner, we drove north to Jungle Jim's International Market where we picked up a few things from the German, Chinese and British sections.  Jungle Jim's is always an adventure.  We started home on I-71 and made a quick stop by the Party Source in Newport, Kentucky.  The quick stop turned out to take much longer than we anticipated since road construction closed the exit of I-471 at Newport so we had to take a longer route than we planned.
Once back on the road, we picked up the AA Highway and made our way home.  There was steady rain the whole trip back that was heavy at times but traffic was light and we entertained ourselves with conversation from the day's sights.
We will look forward to coming back to Cincinnati for Oktoberfest Zinzinnati on the third weekend in September.

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