Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cincinnati, Ohio

"When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times."  (http://www.twainquotes.com/Cincinnati.html says This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but until the attribution can be verified, the quote should not be regarded as authentic.)

The above quotation attributed to Mark Twain was mentioned by the docent who gave us a tour of the Union Terminal building in Cincinnati currently housing the Cincinnati Museum Center.

This huge structure whose rotunda is the largest half dome in the United States was begun in 1929 in an effort to combine the five separate railroad stations in Cincinnati into one Union Terminal.   It was completed in the year 1933 just as railroad travel was beginning to decline because of the increased utilization of automobile and airline travel.   That decline in railroad travel gave rise to the use of the opening quote attributed to Mark Twain, 

Train traffic increased for a brief time during World War II as railroads became the main means of military transport.  But the end of the war in 1945 again reduced train travel to a mere trickle.

Fifteen local businesses were represented in the industrial mosaics designed and created by German American artist Winhold Reiss in the train concourse.  Each mural is 22 feet high and 110 feet long.

Train service left Union Terminal in 1972.  However. in 1991 Amtrack returned and continues to provide one train eastbound and one train westbound each day.  The main attractions today are the three museums housed in Union Terminal:  Cincinnati History Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, and Duke Energy Children’s Museum

 In addition, the Museum Center houses the Cincinnati History Library and Archives.  MarySue  spent two major blocks of time there,  searching in vain for information about her great-grandfather who apparently lived in Cincinnati for a while.   To her knowledge nobody has ever been able to accurately identify that great-grandfather's parents.

During our stay in Cincinnati we have stayed in the Winton Woods Campground -- one of three campgrounds in the Hamilton County Parks (www.greatparks.org).

The campground features full hookup sites as well as water and electric sites and tent sites.
We have enjoyed the two-mile plus paved hike and bike trail around Winton Lake with views of Winton Woods and the boathouse on the lake.

Tomorrow, we'll head east for one last visit with our son over the Labor Day weekend.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Starved Rock State Park

Along the south bank of the Illinois River less than 100 miles from Chicago is Starved Rock State Park whose scenic trails, canyons, and views from bluffs attract over two million visitors a year.

Seen from the Starved Rock bluff is the lodge and restaurant on an opposite bluff where we enjoyed a delightful brunch with family and friends from Peoria and Chicago.

While bird watching is always a popular activity, the numbers of Bald Eagles increases during the winter months since thousands of eagles migrate to this area.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kankakee River State Park

It was our first visit to Kankakee River State Park, but memories of our one night stay in the campground there makes us want to return in the future.   The park encompasses 4,000 acres along 11 miles of the Kankakee River. 

Since we were there only one night we did not take time to unload the bicycles, but we did enjoy hiking on the 10.5 mile bicycle trail that travels nearly the entire length of the park and includes views of the river like this one.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bison on the Wabash River

It was almost as if we had stepped backward 200 years into the mists of time!  We marveled at a herd of bison grazing peacefully on Indiana grassland near the banks of the Wabash River.
Almost, but not quite.  The animals were confined behind a sturdy double wire fence and we could hear the sound of vehicles in the distance! No, it wasn't two centuries ago.  In fact, it was just this morning.
We are again staying at the Ouabache (pronounced "Wabash") State Park near Bluffton, Indiana.  The unique spelling of the name of the park is the French spelling of an Indian word.  The area in which the park is located was home to the Miami tribe of native Americans several centuries ago.
The park is lovely.  It has many hiking trails, an accessible fire tower, fishing and boating on a small lake.  It also has a beautiful bike trail which connects to the bike trail into the city of Bluffton.
We have enjoyed our two-wheeled travel on this route in the past.  But this very foggy morning, it was our feet that were carrying us on our morning walk when we stopped to admire the bison.
The park and its staff maintain the herd.  Perhaps that is another reminder of the original inhabitants of the Wabash Valley.
The animals are amazingly large when viewed close-up!  They must be quite used to being watched by humans because none of them paid us the slightest bit of attention!
The lady who checked us into the campground reported that the bison herd consisted
of about a dozen animals

including this spring calf!
We really enjoyed this visual history lesson of east central Indiana that we got on our morning walk this morning -- as well as the exercise.