Sea of Lights

My visit to Cincinnati started as most of my trips involving Suzie seem to; going to her house to pick her up and then going away from there.  There are probably other things in Covington, Kentucky, but to me, it consists of a gas station, a Red Robin, and a driveway next to a brick house that a friend of mine sometimes sleeps in (the house not the driveway).  Another friend of mine had gotten us an obscenely cheap room at a hotel in downtown Cincinnati and after depositing our things Suzie and I went to the top of the Carew Tower, the second highest building in Cincinnati to, well, see things.   The tower itself is a standard steel skyscraper with brick facing built during the inter-war years in a not-terribly-ballsy style of Art Deco that was gimped by the Great Depression.  I imagine I would have loved the building the tower could have been but the brass accents and mail drops in the elevator banks remind one of what could have been.

After a brief breakdown of arithmetic from the cashier at the observation deck, the cityscape was ours.

Cinci Towards the River

I think Cincinnati is at its best when it remembers that its heritage is as a 19th century boomtown and the city relives that boom every half-century or so.  Right now, it’s coming out of another such swing in development that saw billions dumped into developing the downtown area but in a way that the city isn’t aware of itself.  Since structures are changing, buildings don’t know what’s next to them and there hasn’t been enough time between revamps for an organic patina of similarity to develop.  The buildings could be picked up and re-arranged and you’d have the same city in a way that’d never fly in Chicago or even Tampa.

The Land of Rust and Packman

Rust and packman.

While on the observation deck, Chris Dodds informed me that he had started  Suzie caught my reaction:

With friends like Chris who needs enemies?

Downtown is captivating from street-level and tiny splotches of modernity abut the wealth of development.  The city has a history but one that it needs to remind the resident of rather than one that is obvious.  Each element feels ad-hoc and I think that confusion stems partly from geography.

Blessed Ice Skating Rink

And like any city of reasonable size, Cincinnati has its juxtapositions.

Wedding Cropping

Our evening adventure was visiting the light displays at the Cincinnati Zoo.  These were neither the displays I am used to at Shady Brook Farms nor the accent pieces I’m used to from the Philadelphia Zoo but simply a lot of lights.  1/2 of the displays were open and the Zoo seemed quite busy.  I wanted to get a shot of the main tree and only through a combination of patience and giving people with smart phones the stink eye did I get a clear shot.  A non-HDR shot with which I am happy.


The night was warm and we were moving quickly so it didn’t feel terribly holiday-ey, but still, there were illuminated candy canes, outlines of animals, and golden bamboo.

Path to China

After doing a lap of the park we tried to leave and somehow failed to find the exit after two full rounds.  I feel like someone should cut a corner off my Orienteering merit badge card.  On the penultimate round we stopped by the elephant hut where I took no pictures.  I have little compunction about photographing animals but am rarely happy with pictures of elephants as I can never convey what I consider their intrinsic dignity.  With the loss of the Pleistocene megafauna, the animal kingdom only has a handful of land animals that break a ton.  Of these, only the elephant breaks 10 tons and represents to me the idea of “this is what land-based animal life can be”.  The eye of an elephant is only about a cm larger than a humans despite two orders of magnitude difference in size.  I tend to stare at eyes and hands in people and I wonder if this relatively small ocular size gap misregisters their mass to me.

We finally made a right at the correct Santa and made it past the Winter Post Station and into the baffle of ropes back to the main street.  After dinner and soft serve we retired back to the hotel room and in defiance of all our previous interactions we were both a sleep before 11 PM.  Good day.

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