Great American Ballpark

Friday we visited our 3rd major league baseball park – the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio to see the San Francisco Giants play the Cincinnati Reds.  The park gets its name from the Great American Insurance Group which owns the naming rights for the park. The park was built in 2003 to replace the Cinergy Stadium which was used by both the Reds and the NFL Brengals.

Unlike PNC Park and Safeco Field this park does not provide views of the city while watching the game.  We got to the park early and I took a walk around the park. As I walked around the main level of the park I was surprised to find suites on the main level from home plate all the way around to third base.  I did not like the fact that these suites block the view of the game while people visit the concession stands.  The park has some really nice scoreboards for other games that are being played that show the number of whom is at bat, base runners and number of outs. The only problem with them is they only have six and the concentrate on the National League.

Great American Ballpark

Great American Ballpark

The food side of the park the Great American Ballpark was excellent.  We started our ballpark dinner with huge ice pops. We then got some smoked wings from Mr. Reds Smokehouse which were really good, not just for ballpark wings.  Leslie took a little walk and saw a vendor that was selling something called Sausage Bleu Fries.  This sounded like something that had to be tried. The fries were not cooked as much as they should have been but the blue cheese sauce was really nice, and the sausage chunks were a good match. They are not garlic fries – but we had to admit they were great.

Sausage Blue Fries

Sausage Blue Fries

Oh yes there was a baseball game also. The game was great. The game went into extra innings and the Reds won. After the game there was a fireworks show set to music from the sixties. It was a fantastic fireworks show set to some classic songs.

Great American Ballpark Fireworks

Great American Ballpark Fireworks

Three parks down – 27 more to go.

The Ohio State Fair

According to Wikipedia the Ohio State Fair is one of the largest in the country. From the 5 hours we spent there today we would have to agree that it is quite large. The first Ohio State Fair was held in 1850 and 1886 it moved to the its current location – the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds.

We arrived at the fairgrounds and were surprised to see Ohio State Highway Patrol Officers directing the parking of cars. We got parked and took the tractor pulled shuttle to the gate and started our exploration of fair. We headed to the Main Street Stage to watch part of the Sugardale Bac-on. The Bac-on is a cooking competition hosted by the Sugardale in which a main ingredient is bacon. Unfortunately the competition completed a bit early so we missed it all fun. We did however happen to pick up the recipes for the entries and some of them sound delicious. We can’t wait to try them.

After missing Bacon, we went to the Budweiser Clydesdales exhibit. One of the five traveling hitches is visiting the fair and puts on a display every day except Tuesdays. We watched them get the horse ready and hitched up to the wagon and then start their route through the fair. As we watched the trainers pull the wagon out from the tent to get it ready to hook up we wondered if the mighty Clydesdales laugh watching the humans pull the wagon.  Clydesdales are striking animals and it was interesting to note that each one does have a unique personality.

Budweiser Clydesdales

Budweiser Clydesdales

After the Clydesdales we wondered thru part of the commercial area which was pretty much the standard fair products. After a break for some sausage from Schmidt’s we continued our walking thru the commercial areas. We then walked thru the main area of the fair and went through the horticulture building and looked at some beautiful gladiolas.

Gladiolas at the Ohio State Fair

Gladiolas at the Ohio State Fair

After walking about the fair a bit more we were ready to call it day and head back. We took the sky ride back to the other end of the fair and stopped by to say goodnight to the Clydesdales.

Ohio State Fair

Ohio State Fair

This is the time of year for state fairs – perhaps we find another to visit.

Sausage Buffet

Sausage and Buffet two words that bring all kinds of wonderful and tasty images to one’s mind.   We were lucky to find a restaurant that combines them in the most delicious way.

Over the years we have noted interesting restaurants that we have seen on programs on both the Food Network and Travel Channel. A little while back the Travel Channel had a series of what they consider to be the 101 tastiest places to eat – The Chowdown Countdown.

Number 83 on the show is a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio called Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus. J. Fred Schmidt emigrated from Germany and opened the J. Fred Schmidt Meat Packing House in 1886. Schmidt’s first foray into the restaurant business was food booth in the Ohio State Fair back in the 1920’s. Today Schmidt’s booth is the second oldest and among the most popular. J. Fred’s grandson, George opened the first restaurant around the corner from his grandfather’s meat packing plant.

We were seated in the restaurant and started looking at the menu, but then we went to take a look at the buffet and knew we did not need to look at the menu. The Buffet had the making for salad, Potato Soup, 4 different kinds of sausage (their famous spicy Bahama Mama, mild Bahama Mama, Bratwurst, and Garlic Knockwurst), Sausage Stew, Meatloaf, German Potato Salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, and various accompaniments.

The Potato Soup was superb; all of the sausage was good the Bahama Mama and Garlic Knockwurst were excellent. Leslie said the meatloaf was just like her grandmother made. I feel that many German Potato salads I have had were too sweet, but not Schmidt’s – it was the best I ever ate.

We filled ourselves at the buffet but couldn’t leave without one of their giant cream puffs. These (according to Man V. Food) 8 oz. cream puffs come in 3 flavors vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter fudge. We ordered 2 to go and they are fabulous.

Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus

Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus

We have eaten at numerous places from the 101 countdown and this may be one of our favorites so far.  So many places to eat, so little time.

Christmas in July

Whenever you pull into a new park you always get a pile of papers. These usually include a park map, the park rules, perhaps some coupons for local establishments, and sometimes news of events at the park. When we pulled into Deer Creek State Park we got a notice that the park was going to celebrate Christmas this weekend. As part of their celebration they held a decorating contest last night. Remember this weekend the heat index here in Mt. Sterling, Ohio has been over 100 this weekend so the thought of Christmas is not on the top of our minds.

Since we fulltime in our RV – we carry our decorations with us so we put them up.

Senerity ready for Christmas in July

Senerity ready for Christmas in July

Then we took a walk around the park to look at the other decorations

Deer Creek Christmas in July

Deer Creek Christmas in July

We won an Honorable Mention in the contest. Perhaps we should see if we can find some room for a few more decorations.

Deetr Creek Honorable Mention

Deetr Creek Honorable Mention

Cedar Point

For the last few days we have been staying in Sandusky, Ohio.  Sandusky is located on the shore of Lake Erie and is known as the home of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and its flagship amusement park, Cedar Point.  Cedar Point is the third oldest amusement park in the United States having opened in 1870. Cedar Point sits on a narrow peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie.  Currently Cedar Point occupies about 360 acres, is the only park in the United States that has 4 coasters taller than 200 feet, has 3 of the top 10 steel coasters according to Amusement Today, and has won Amusement Today’s best amusement park award for the past 13 years.

Of course we needed to visit to check it out for ourselves. We split our visit over two days.  The first ride we rode in the park was the Wicked Twister which is not the typical coaster.  On this ride the ‘cars’ have no floor and shoot up and down two twisted towers. It was a good way to get the blood flowing.

Wicked Twisted

Wicked Twisted

From there we moved to the Corkscrew which was the first steel coaster to have three inversions when it was built in 1976. We then moved onto Magnum XL-200 which is currently rated the 8th best steel coaster.  Built in 1989 it was the first complete circuit coaster to break the 200 foot mark. We both enjoyed the ride on the Magnum XL-200. We continued making our way around the park and enjoying other coasters along the way then arrived at the Mean Steak. Mean Streak is a wooden coaster that was the tallest and fastest wooden coaster when it opened in 1991. The Mean Steak gives a great two-minute 45-second ride that includes a lot of ups and downs. It was wicked hot so we were exhausted after 6 hours of walking, standing in line and riding.

Mean Streak

Mean Streak

We returned a second day to ride the water rides and a few more of the coasters we did not get to ride the first day we were there.  We started our second day with a ride on Raptor which is a floorless coaster on an overhead track that whips around steep turns and six inversions. We felts this ride was one of the best in the park.

Raptor

Raptor

We then moved on to the three water rides in the park Shoot the Rapids,  Thunder Canyon, and Snake River Falls.  We were pretty wet after 2 rides but felt we needed to get totally drenched so we did 2 rounds on each of the three water rides. Given that it was still in the 90’s after 6pm, it felt good.  I then waited in line for about an hour to ride one of the coasters the park is famous for – the Top Thrill Dragster. The Top Thrill Dragster uses a hydraulic launch system to propel the coaster up to 120mph in 4 seconds.  It opened as the tallest and fastest coaster in the world in 2003, but now is second behind a coaster in Six Flags in New Jersey. It uses the momentum to climb a 420 foot tower at 90 degrees.  You can feel the coaster slow as it crests the hill and then drops down at 95 degrees with a 270 degree twist with speeds that again approaches 120mph. The entire ride is over in about 20 seconds.  It was an incredible ride but I have to say not one of my favorite because of the shortness of the ride.

Top Thrill Dragster

Top Thrill Dragster

We enjoyed our time in the park but were a bit disappointed overall.  For so many thrill rides in the park we would have expected the overall excitement to be higher.  Perhaps we have gotten use to the magic at Walt Disney World and we did not have our roller coaster riding buddy, Lex.