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20 August 2010

Cincinnati, Here We Come! - Part I

Actually, we have gone and returned, but we just want those burglars using social media to case joints to say, "Rats!  Foiled again!".

Cincinnati is a really happening place. However, let us not get ahead of ourselves. First, we start by taking 2-lane roads through Sublette, Joliet, Bourbonnais in Illinois, Lafayette, Green Castle and Bloomington to arrive at Columbus, Indiana, considered the sixth most architecturally interesting town in the nation, and probably the smallest in that group which include New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.  Its strength is Modern architecture (just in case you were coming into town to see Gothic or Federalist or even Frank Lloyd Wright).  It is also home of Cummins Engine Company headquarters, and Viewpoint Books. The owners, like us, were on vacation (another thing in common is that wife has weekday gig, although closer to store -- manager of the Visitors' Center Gift Shop just a few blocks away).  It's a lovely, quiet downtown, coming in around 3pm on a Monday, through typical developed sprawl, including shopping centers and motels.  We crossed a striking bridge -- gateway to the "Modernist Mecca."

The trouble I saw was that downtown was too quiet.  Columbus has some 40,000 people and the downtown appears to be for business only.  There were several restaurants and eateries which closed at 3pm or 3:30, obviously catering to the breakfast and lunch clientele.  Cummins HQ even has its own cafeteria.  So, is there enough business for even these few?  There are a number of shops (including one selling Cummins merchandise).  Viewpoint Books is downtown and does not open on Sunday.  They tried, we were told, but the downtown was "just dead."  There are several of churches downtown, including The First Christian, designed by Eliel Saarinen and designated a National Historic Landmark and St Peter's Lutheran Church with its very interesting spire.  But then, again, bookstore employees told of "customers" coming in, browsing, and writing down titles of books to download onto their e-readers.  I don't call them customers unless they also bought something on-site in addition to waiting to purchase on-line.  Hmm, I wonder if there's wireless internet connection in Downtown Columbus.  Booksellers need proactively to remind the public that amazon.com does not carry all books in the Kindle format.  Maybe we should offer to look up the availability so that potential customers become actual customers when they have a physical book in front of them and know that they wouldn't be able to download it electronically anyway. 

We stopped for ice cream at Zahararkos, which is open daily, but closes at 8pm.  Not bad, although not a leisurely sought destination after a movie or concert, unless concerts start at 8pm. Yes, we did hear the Welty Orchestrion play.  It just sort of started up by itself (like it's supposed to), but I couldn't recall the name of anything I heard.  There was a group of young party-goers sitting right in front of it, so we did not attempt to look at it too closely.  It would be great to have an ice cream parlor in Dixon again.  Carebears, where are you?

The weather was beautiful and we had a lovely time inspecting the Cummins Diesel Engine Museum in the lobby of HQ.  Since it would take a good two hours to drive to Cincinnati via interstate (20 miles to I-74), we did not continue on the two-lane road trip.

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