St. Paul, Minnesota.
September 3, 2016.
7:16 PM CST
Temperature: 74 degrees Humidity: 52%
The last field reports of the Cincinnati Campaign come from St. Paul, where I departed six days ago. I am back home after an overnight drive that lasted twelve hours. The drive was less comfortable than the drive down a week ago. I’ll attribute this to the fact that I was considerably less “fresh” and the nature of my work all week (which had me basically driving around all day). My neck is sore. It did not take long for it to begin cramping up on the drive and while I was conscious of my body position (i.e. keeping my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel), it did not help significantly. What helped the most was initiating cruise control and reclining in my seat, allowing my head to rest in more of a supine position.
I need to look up effective strategies to help my neck and shoulders when driving.
Other than that, the weather was perfect the past two days both in Cincinnati and on the road. Lows tended to be in the high 50s with highs in the mid 70s. September is here and the first hints of fall weather. The skies were also clear with pleasantly gusty winds.
Three days ago, Thursday, I spent my last night in Cincinnati down by the Riverfront and it was absolutely gorgeous. There happened to be a Bengals game that night so parking was non existent on the Ohio side so I drove across the river into Newport, Kentucky and easily found a spot. From there I walked across one of the many bridges and just ambled up and down the parks, stadiums and monuments all along the river. Highlights were the Great American Ball Park where the Cincinnati Reds play and learning about the rich history of Cincinnati. Back in the 19th century it was one of the largest cities in the country and the busiest river port in U.S., shipping goods down the Ohio on to Southern cities such as Memphis and New Orleans. I thought it was near that Cincinnati was known as the “Gateway to the South”.
When I found myself back in Kentucky I grabbed a beer and grub at a Hofbrauhaus, which is this very German fare restaurant. Completely authentic, it’s a chain from Munich, and I would liken it to a Berliner going to eat at the Uno’s in town. But it was great! There was a polka band playing so I just sat at the corner of the bar pleasantly buzzed.
Then I headed back to my lodging at about 8:30, finished up my work and fell fast asleep.
Before my travels downtown, I spent a couple hours at the Spring Grove Cemetery, which is the enormously beautiful cemetery where several generations of my family is buried, including my grandma and (biological) grandfather.
It was only the second time I’ve been able to visit the spot and the first time by myself. I wondered how I would pay my respects and realized that I still had my sandwich with me! Fortunately the spot is right on the edge of the road so I was able to sit down on the curb and have a picnic with them. At the same time I was playing some music that I know they liked, George Jones and Conway Twitty. And whadd’ya know, I love those guys too! It was just a really nice time spent there, feeling the wind blow and with it a little bit of them as well.
The next day I woke up with the excitement of knowing it was my last day! While it had been a good week I was still anxious to get home.
Among my last schools was Taylor Elementary which was near Pippin Road and I kept thinking, Pippin… Pippin… why does that sound familiar? I called my mom and she told me it was where her grandparents had lived! Her and her family as well for a short time. When I mentioned Taylor Elementary, my mom told me my Aunt had gone there! This was probably the early 1970s so I thought it was pretty rad that the school was still there. A similar thing also happened when I turned on to Colerain Ave. and my mom again told me that my grandma had live there and attended Colerain High School. What do you know, I drove right by it! Lots of family history in those parts and I definitely felt like I was meant to go to Cincinnati and really get in touch with my roots there.
After that I left the Queen City behind! I drove back into Kentucky and headed down the road to Louisville where I was going to get a drink with a friend/ fellow theatre professional who works at the acclaimed Actors Theatre of Louisville. Just finally visiting that theatre was wonderful enough – and downtown Louisville was beautiful! Also on the Ohio River, it has a stunning skyline with lots of pretty bridges. My dinner/beer was great with even better company and I was super glad I made the quick jaunt there, especially considering it would be my last bit o’ fun for the evening.
It was 6:45 when I left Louisville and I was feeling pumped. So pumped that I actually decided to drive more than I had planned, making it all the way to the Quad Cities on the Illinois/Iowa line. The time change helped but even if the clock said midnight, my body was feeling 1:00 am, so after six hours I got a room at a very cheap motel in Moline (near the airport) and just fell asleep. My neck, shoulders and driving leg appreciated the rest.
Now that brings me to this morning! I rose probably forty-five minutes before my alarm, at 6:45. I was OK with that and felt well rested. I then did some stretches (which felt amazing, holy hell…), watched the news for a little bit (not something I do much these days, what with no cable and all…) and just got back in the car and headed into Iowa.
I was feeling pretty good to finally be leaving Illinois. Now, I gotta be honest, I hate driving through that state, as well as Indiana. Sorry for those folks living there, but for a road tripper, all I see is twin pillars of nothing-ness and pay tolls. Good job, Alabama, you’re no longer the only state to earn my disdain!
Iowa, on the other hand, is great! Still pretty flat but enough rolling hills to keep it interesting, especially the eastern part of the state near the Mississippi. I had actually been in those parts earlier this summer on a road trip with my brother. We had explored the Quad Cities of Rock Island, Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf for an afternoon and we had a good time. There’s more to that trip for another time, but it was nice to be driving back through.
One thing I did today, however, that I didn’t even know was around in June was the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Presidential Museum! Leave it to me to sniff out where a president is buried, but this site was beautiful. I was there right after opening, at about 9:15, and was treated to a passionate Ranger, a quick video and a nice little visitor’s museum. The Presidential library and museum, however, was too much for this morning (unfortunately I was on a schedule), but it’s definitely something worth going back to. Hoover’s final resting place itself is stunning in it’s simplicity. He’s next to his wife, Lou, whom he met at Stanford and who was coincidentally also from Iowa.
Hoover, to his credit, was a great person! Like Taft, I feel cheated when it comes to his legacy. All we hear about our the “Hoovervilles” and how the Depression happened under his administration. What would be nice to also know is that he was a true example of the American Dream; a self-made man who was orphaned at nine but managed to attend Stanford University, earning a degree in geology. With that he operated engineering firms in Australia and China, amassing a huge fortune. Personal success aside, during World War One he personally organized food relief to millions of Europeans earning the nickname, “The Great Humanitarian.” He later went on to plan and co-found UNICEF, in part due to his own experiences as an orphaned child.
That’s fantastic! Him, Taft and Calvin Coolidge have all impressed me with what eloquent men they were despite was pop culture would tell you.
Beaming with pride for America, I knew I had to haul ass to Minneapolis for a rehearsal. Four hours later I made it and now here I am. You’re welcome.