Thursday, April 2, 2009


I'm sure you've been wondering where the Blogmistress has been. Or perhaps I overestimate my impact on the blogging world.


It is Spring Break in the Schaefer household for both Mt. Vernon, IPS, and Greenfield-Central Schools, so we took advantage of the aligning of the planets and school calendars to spend some time with our good friends the Coles in that vacation hotspot--Cincinnati. No, no beach, no snorkeling, no Disney, no cruise. Cincinnati.

However, Cincinnati gets two thumbs up as long-weekend destination. We stayed in Mason (out near King's Island) at the LaQuinta Inn--for $45/night. An amazing rate, considering NOTHING within a five mile radius of the downtown museums was even close to that--twice or three times the price. The place had a clean indoor pool, a decent continental breakfast, wireless internet, and in-room movies. We were quite comfortable.

I'd heard about the aquarium and the museum complex down in Cincy's Union Station and, since I have a houseful of museum addicts, I'd been wanting to check them out for some time. We started our touring at the aquarium, which is over in Newport on the Kentucky side of the river. It was very enjoyable, well worth the money--we touched sharks and learned that horseshoe crabs have ten eyes, saw more fish than you can shake a stick at and some other animals that were...un-aquarium like. Strange.
Upon leaving the aquarium, we came out into a slick-looking shopping area, which would have been fun to check out if either of the two families had any money to shop with. We didn''t, so we went to dinner at Johnny Rocket's and then saw "Monsters vs. Aliens" at the movie theatre (more on this later, perhaps). We went back to our hotel, swam awhile, played 'Pass the Pigs' poolside, and then put the little kids in one room watching "Bedtime Stories" while the adults and older kids watched "Slumdog Millionaire" (more on this, too, maybe).

Day Two found us down at the museum complex in Union Station. The building itself is wonderful, art-deco, spacious, gorgeous, and makes me sad for our Union Station. I've completely lost track of what its current use is, but Cincinnati should be the role model. Hey, perhaps it could be a new home for KidsPlay! Now there's a thought.
There are three museums in the building: the Cincinnati History Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Children's Museum. There was also an IMAX movie theatre, and a special "Dinosaurs Alive" exhibit (that cost extra, grr).
The Museum of Natural History was interesting--dinosaur exhibit and lots of other earth/animal exhibits. We spent the most time in here.
The Children's Museum, though fun, couldn't hold a candle to ours--the world's BEST children's museum. It more like a big hands-on playground--fun, but not a lot of learning going on. I can't complain about creative play, however. Payton and I climbed all through 'the tunnels' in the tree house. It was fun.
We did not partake in the Cincinnati History Museum, but the Coles did and they said it was interesting. History buff that I am, I would have probably found it interesting, too, but we had timed tickets for the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit and the Coles had tickets for the IMAX movie covering the same material. Pretty interesting exhibit. Animatronic dinosaurs with movement sensors on them that moved when you came into their line of sight. It was also cutting edge dino research--that perhaps young t-rexes had fur and feathers??? And so did velociraptors. REALLY interesting.

The Coles were on their way out of town at this point--we opted to stay another day as we had never been to the Cincy Zoo and the weather looked good--so we followed them through the seamy underbelly of Cincinnati in search of a restaurant where we wouldn't have to keep an eye on our car through the restaurant window. We finally landed at The Outback, enjoyed food and fellowship, and parted ways.

We went back to our hotel to swim--or least, Ben did. We were all tired, so we went to bed early.

Slept in the next day and made it to the zoo at about 11 a.m. There was a huge bottleneck getting in to the place with three lines of traffic all taking turns pulling it. We parked WAY out, but strangely, the crowd inside didn't resemble the mess outside. We REALLY enjoyed it. I think it was the most interesting of our three days. All zoos are remarkably different. They all have basically the same animals, I think (although not all have gorillas--this one did), but I think the difference lies in the presentation. This zoo had a very interesting nocturnal animal exhibit. Who'd have thought? It also had a GREAT insect exhbit with what was basically a giant ant farm of leaf cutter ants, cutting leaves and moving through a hugely long tube with their pieces of leaf. Really cool. The gorillas were great, the elephants were subdued. We saw one of Siegfried and Roy's lions. (I thought John was making it up until I saw the sign that I had missed). We stayed until almost 4 p.m., and then headed back home. Ate dinner at Compton's Cow Palace--which was where we started in the first place.

A fun trip.

Next stop--Cape Cod. Leaving July 1. Charlie wants to walk in the footsteps of "Jaws" on Martha's Vineyard....


  1. I'm from Cincy- did you know that? My parent still live there. The Cincy Zoo is my FAVE zoo. I look forward to taking my kids there. I have a friend from high school with kids close in age to mine. They come here for the Children's Museum and will go there for the Zoo! I'm not impressed with the Newport Aquarium. I lived there when it opened and remember being shocked at the price then. Went with Jeff the summer I was pregnant with Zach and was still unimpressed. I get the same jollies from the Oceans exhibit at our zoo- and think our penguins and dog sharks are better!

    It's been a long time since I've been to Union Station. It sat pretty empty for a long time. It was a working train station when I lived there but rarely saw traffic. Then... nothing. Then the museums moved in. Lots to explore!

    No day at Kings Island? :)

  2. No, I did NOT know you were from Cincy! We really enjoyed ourselves. As you probably know, we do a lot of traveling--we've been to aquariums in Boston, Charleston, SC, Chicago, Minnesota. We were REALLY impressed with the zoo. We've been to zoos in DC, Denver, Dinsey World, Columbus, and of course, Indy. This one was a lot of fun.

    No, no KI day. :-) I don't think it was, I live in a houseful of ride wimps. We wanted to do a riverboat tour, but none were running so early in the season.

  3. Sounds like you had a great long weekend getaway! We want to take a couple this summer since we did a big spring break vacation. We were thinking Mammoth Cave and either Cinci or a train to Chicago. I will have to keep this trip in mind!