St. Louis and beyond

A measured look

Today I spent a little time at Jim and Kevin’s studio, then we went out to lunch at the place where Jim did the identity. They had this signs to install on the windows.

It went, not so good, and it was determined the bitter cold was culprit.

I got to eat though, and watch them with Chad. They were very entertaining.

Then we got free desserts.

Then I drove home to Cincinnati.

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Pancakes, train stations, dream stars and UNO®

This image makes no sense

Sunday, January 4 – It began with the smell of breakfast at the 3 bears house. TheMonkeyBear was in the kitchen, up before anyone else, making pancakes, sausage and eggs. We sat at the new fangled dining room table and sat down to the vittles, complete with parsley and fresh orange garnish.

After the dishes were cleared, Monkey and Art talked photography while the other two-thirds of the three bears joined me for some Mario Party 5 action. Somehow I managed to win and become the Dream Star (Though I much prefer the old Party Star moniker).

Then it was off to the train station to drop off Art so he could head home to Kansas City. Odd place the Amtrak station. I think one fella was still in his hospital garb.

Back at the bears, we spent the evening playing UNO and making up new rules. It started with the basics, compiling Draw Two’s and Draw Fours. Then we created a rule for 7’s. Each color of 7 forced everyone to switch hands in a different way. If that wasn’t enough mayhem, we incorporated math to get rid of the huge hands. For instance, if someone played a red 9, you could start off with a red card and add or subtract whatever you needed to get to 9.

Utter chaos.

It was great fun.

Tangent links:
• Tons of versions of UNO are available. Who knew? (Even a Hello Kitty version)
• There seem to be lots of variations on playing as well.

Four Seasons in One Day

Crashpad (complete with little towels and mints)

The day began with a run through tour of the Cincinnati Art Museum while the weather was still a bit springlike and t-shirty. Hitting the Cincinnati Wing along with some of the modern, European and American rooms, Art and I absorbed as much as we could on a tight schedule.

Since we were in Eden Park, we drove by the Rookwood Pottery building (now restaurant) and went through Mt. Adams – a place that could give San Francisco a run for it’s money with steep hills.

Then were we off to St Louis and went directly to the MonkeyBear’s for an evening of videogames and a quick trip to the bar. Then more videogames.

It progressively got chilly heading west. It seems like winter again.

Some photos from the Cincinnati Art Museum Things that struck my eye.
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I’ve been here before

The toddler from hell points at the projection unit

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.” This is the high pitched noise the toddler makes when something bad happens: Something shiny becomes dim. A book or snack is completed. Or of course, if it is too silent.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiii” This is the high pitched noise the toddler makes when something favorable happens: Dad tickles him. The flight attendant brings out a cookie (No more sugar you idiots!). Or of course, if it is too silent and nothing bad is happening.

5.5 hours on the tarmac of the aborted flight + 8.5 hours of the actual flight the following day, I sat listening to this kid while watching the same looped programming on the badly focused and off-centered video screen on Delta’s flight from Frankfurt to Cincinnati.

Our video selection at the time of this photo? A program about amazing dogs. This particular dog, Lulu, half golden retriever and half golden lab, works at a home with autistic children. Lulu has a disposition for kids: meaning, she has been trained not to bite their heads off when they grab tufts of her fur.

I channeled Lulu’s spirit as I sat there on my numb tailbone, put on headphones and read my book, unable to sleep.

The canceled flight was the only shitty part of the trip. I enjoyed the sights, food, company and being unplugged immensely. There are photos. A gig of ’em. Some may be ok with color correction and cropping.

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Noch auf Deutschland

(Insert picture of Frankfurt Airport)

Mechanical problems. Sat on tarmac for 5.5 hours. Flight cancelled. Got sandwich. This kezboard is weerd.

Home soon? (fingers crossed)

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Europe: Day 10 – Relaxing

Inside the Dom in Aachen

Our last day in Europe and we decided to take a day and relax at a spa. Not just any spa, but a fancy one about an hour away in Aachen. This gave us the opportunity to visit a Christmas Market without the crowds and enjoy some Frühwein Glühwein together.

The group was a little tired at this point, and we were all a bit glazed bumbling around the city. A tangent trip into the smaller cathedral proved to be quite nice. The stained glass was funky.

We found the spa and finally figured out the entry and locker system and were raring to go. I had my fantastic newly acquired bad german swimtrunks and towels borrowed from the hotel. This place, the Carolus Thermen, was like an indoor waterpark. A family joint, it had all sorts of pools and hot tubs. You could swim outside to a “swirly” pool that fired up every half hour or so and created a current around the perimeter where you could float or swim. It was great fun and I think we managed to get there three times.

I stepped inside the first sauna of my life, and I stepped out a few minutes later. It was hot and dried my nose out. Made me sneezy.

The highlight though, was the “tepid room.” A place to quasi-meditate that was perfectly suited to the body’s temperature. After trying to focus, I eventually found myself floating away in a nap.

The tepid room was the first step of a complicated German process, but we failed to complete the other steps as there were no clocks or clear labels for the steps.

One last swim in the whirly pool, and it was time to head back to the hotel. Some Döner kebabs for din-din and an insanely early flight awaited each of us.

It was a great way to end the trip.

Europe: Day 9 – My poop is green

The big event

After a day of getting all the shopping done we could, we prepared ourselves for the big event of the weekend.

Needless to say, a tangent is appropriate: All the dietary changes, the cheese and air-cured meats, the beer, the wine, the vita-drinks, caught up to my bowels. Not pretty. Which pretty sums up the main event at the bear run.

There was a loose hollywood theme, and contestants sang bad Madonna songs and other showtunes with the lyrics changed to incorporate bear lingo.

It was a large space yet everyone crowded around the doors in an impassable thicket. We sat in the back with plenty of space and yawned. Bad Americans, us, we left early only to find the coatcheck was under duress. High-tailed and proper train found, we went back to the hotel and got our stuff packed. Lounged around and watched TV, played with Legos and drank a few.

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Europe: Day 8 – Glühwein

The Christmas Market at the foot of the Cathedral

I took today to explore the city on my own while the other fellas went to the sauna. There was cautious tones that there may be long lines and I have that standing-in-long-lines disorder.

So off on a merry way, I found Glühwein at the Christmas market was a great way to follow a wurst with kicky mustard to warm up the day. I wandered around, doing some shopping for the holidays, and stumbled upon the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, outlined in our travel memo as a good place to visit.

It was. I enjoyed the type of course, and peering closely at the artifacts within.

That night, while everyone else was tuckered, I went out to the disco.

There was a staggering amount of people, and I couldn’t finish my beer fast enough to get back to the hotel. Whereupon I nursed a tasty Czech Budweiser and went to bed.

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Europe: Day 7 – Shoppin and ice cream

The streets of Cologne

A lull of a day, planted in the middle of the trip after we’d experienced many sights, sounds and tastes. We took some time to explore the city and wander through shops. Holiday decorations were going up all around and the Christmas Markets were planted in every square. As touristy as this place is, it didn’t seem over-done. The vibe was genuine.

We went to likely the best CD store I’ve been to aside from Amoeba. It was a little overwhelming and I didn’t have a crib sheet with me, but perusing the aisles was good fun.

Afterward, we avoided Starbucks and had some fancy ice creams with liqueurs. Actually, I had hot chocolate. We took a moment to piece together a torn up note we picked up along our walk, in hopes to recreate a moment from Amelie. Sadly, the letter writer Nils had nothing much to go on, other than he was gifting a ring and sorry about a death in a family.

There were no other clues or poignant meaningful messages. We shed no tears over our ice cream.

Europe: Day 6 – You say Cologne, I say Köln (poorly)

I ♥ European timetables

Leaving Amsterdam seemed jolting. After I had just realized I had no notion of how to get around, it was time to leave. Alas, it was a nice pace of getting up and having one last breakfast at the Golden Bear. This consisted of meats, cheese, bread, juice, coffee or tea. I had been stuffing extra sandwiches in my bag that had come in handy over the course of the trip.

Brian and I managed to get ourselves to the station and on the right train without our cruise director. They were off earlier on a sidetrip to visit family of some sort.

The ICE was a nice ride. With ‘lectrical outlet for computery types, nice seats that reclined. Fancy LED lights at the head of the car, and countless amenities.

I studied the train schedules and marveled at the nice information design while the scenery zipped by. It was an overcast day and the line between Netherlands and Deutschland was a blur.

We got to the hotel and rejoined with our travel companions not much later and probably went to a bar.

It was a pretty swank hotel considering (the room had a bidet!), and sleep was prudent, albeit increasingly difficult with the onset of jatlag.