Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

American Road Trip 2018

After tons of planning it was time to realize what I’d been preparing for. I had more than I needed and yet I was riddled with anxiety and nerves. To me, this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had no clue what to expect and my itinerary was the only thing that comforted me. A piece of paper with a 4 month plan somehow eased the unknown.  I packed my car with a cooler, a 60L backpack, a huge suitcase… and things for emergencies. There was no turning back now. With just the road ahead I drove to Cincinnati.

1st Stop: Cincinnati

9/5/18: It took me about 8.5 hours to drive from my dads house this morning to Cincinnati. I was so excited to see a new city. Unfortunately, about 30 mins before I arrived the clouds opened up with a tremendous storm. I had planned to wander the city and go to Covington, KY. for dinner. My plan was to wander around the city, photographing the area until I’d eventually walk across the suspension bridge and into another state. It would’ve been nice to stretch my legs after sitting in a car all day. Instead, I was getting alerts from my phone, ‘Flash Flood Warning’. Not a hot start. I was disappointed by my luck and worried about the rest of the trip. I quickly realized a plan is just a plan and I needed to learn how to be more flexible. 

Rain was not on the itinerary today

The entire ride here was mostly dry. To be fair, I hate driving in the rain so I am happy it held off. I truly don’t mind the rain when I am in a big city. Rain creates more vibrant colors in photos and keeps people indoors- except me and dogs on walks. In a big city, this is my preference; I am not a huge fan of crowds. Either a rainy day that keeps people indoors or atleast a chilly work day. I was only upset because rain was not included on my itinerary for Cincinnati, this wasn’t the plan! Certainly not the downpour and flash floods. The streets were full of water and it was not going to fit my plan to explore. 

It takes a lot to break my energy… I wasn’t completely deterred. I checked-in to my hotel and settled into my upgraded king suite, a surprise to me! Then I searched my phone for a nearby restaurant that I wouldn’t have to swim to. I found a new gastro pub right around the corner from my hotel- Crown Republic. The food was great, I recommend eating here. My order: a beet salad and fried chicken. While I was inside the rain stopped and the sun was going down. This was my chance to explore a little.

John A. Roebling suspension bridge at 'blue' hour in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Plan B

The sun set had set and the dusky glow was soon to disappear… it was time to head back. I am pretty confident and am not intimidated easily but I wasn’t feeling particularly brave this night. My purse was zipped under my jacket and I gripped a knife in my hand tucked in my pocket. My other hand gently holding my phone- my dad on the other end. I feel safer when I am alone to be on the phone but not distracted. Essentially so if anything happens the person I am speaking to will know.

I walked as quickly as I could as I passed some shady characters. Mike said this route wouldn’t be too bad but to be careful so I had been very mindful- I’d hate to go to the place he told me to stay away from. I was relieved when I saw a few police in a particular area I was hesitant to walk.

Night time picture of the ferris wheel in downtown Cincinnati

Safe at last?

Finally I was back at my hotel. It felt so much better when I arrived back to my hotel room. After I scanned my key card at every ‘checkpoint’ in the hotel and latched the dead bolt behind me I felt myself exhale. I was able to finally let my guard down and relax for the night. It wasn’t Cincinnati; I was feeling overwhelmed and realized how little I could control.

Others before me have done this so I knew I could too, I just needed to relax. The shower was amazing. It had a regular shower head with great pressure, plus a rainfall, and side jets. I used them all simultaneously at 101 degrees and didn’t run out of hot water or pressure. This literally saved the day; it was exactly what I needed. I ended the night feeling more hopeful and sure of myself.

Good morning Cincinnati

breakfast at Maplewood in Cincinnati

9/6/18: Getting up at 8AM was not easy. I knew I had to get ready for Chicago- my favorite city in America. My friends would be hosting me this weekend and I had plans with them for dinner. Remembering this, I excitedly walked to  Maplewood for breakfast.

This place wasn’t too far and based on their online reputation, it was a MUST. My order: lemon ricotta pancakes with a green pressed juice. They were worth e.v.e.r.y single calorie. This place lived up to the hype!

It’s too early for this

On my walk to Maplewood there was a bunch of commotion. Police sirens were echoing all around and I’d see cars zoom past the intersections- they were SPEEDING, like a high speed chase. Had a person been in the wrong crosswalk, they’d be hit. The police were running all the lights. I have no clue what was happening and no one in the restaurant seemed bothered by it. I figured it must be normal so I browsed Google Maps looking for a few shops I could stop in to grab snacks for my ride.

By the time I walked out of Maplewood’s front door, 3 roads were shut down! I freaked out when I read the letters on the next van that passed by: HOMICIDE. And on that note, I walked back to my hotel and packed the car. Instead of grabbing snacks I just stopped at the downstairs bar to fill up my water bottles. The bartender at Spoon and Cellar was watching the news while cutting lemons. There was a shooter on the loose. 2 people had been shot only 2 blocks from where I had breakfast.

Regardless of the chaos from my first day on this trip I remained optimistic. It could only go up from here.

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