Why Cincinnati Reminded Me Of Vegas

Why would a city like Cincinnati remind me of Las Vegas?  Simple….. Everything reminds me of Las Vegas if I let my mind wander a bit.  There is more to it than that.  My wife and I decided to go on a road trip last month.  Vegas was on the table like always, but for one of the first times, I decided against going to Vegas.  I know… Crazy right?  Well, we’d been there earlier this year, and we’d be travelling with an ‘almost 2-year-old’ (who’s been to Vegas twice already).  I thought maybe it was time to switch it up a bit and do the road trip thing, which we have fairly limited experience with.  My wife wondered if my son would hold up with all the driving, but I preferred the thought of that over trying to keep him contained on an airplane for 5 hours, plus all the customs and security BS.

So we chose Ohio.  We’d been to Cleveland before, but this time we stopped in Akron to visit friends, and continued on to Cincinnati, with a couple of stops in Columbus before heading over to Pittsburgh.  I know my wife was thinking that Vegas might be easier.  She was preaching to the converted.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder however, and I thought that going somewhere else this time was the right call.

Cincinnati had some reminders of Vegas though.  The first one was actually not in Cincinnati itself, but in Newport Kentucky, which is a walk across the pedestrian bridge away.  We ate at the Hofbrauhaus which is a German brewery/restaurant that has great food (who would have known that I would love Sauerkraut Balls), and also great beer.  The original Hofbrauhaus was built in Germany in the 1500s.  There’s quite a few of them in Europe, but this was the first one built in America.  Guess where the second one was built??  Vegas baby!!!  It’s slightly off the strip, close to the Hard Rock Hotel.  I always seem to pass there on my cab ride from the Airport to the strip.  The menu is good.  I had Schnitzel, but the appetizer sampler platter was awesome.  As nice as the quiet lunch we had was, I’d love to see it at night with a bunch of drunks in there 🙂

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The next day we went to the Great American Ballpark to watch a Cincinnati Reds game.  Very nice experience, especially when it came to the food and beer selection.  Before the game I went into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.  Even though the Reds aren’t my team, I’m certainly ‘baseball nerdy’ enough to know a lot about their history, and appreciate much of what I saw in what I thought was a great attraction.  The Reds best teams were in the mid-70’s when they won back to back World Series Championships.  One name that kept popping up was Pete Rose.

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Pete Rose is an absolute legend in Cincinnati as he should be.  He is the most prolific hitter in the history of major league baseball.  He owns the major league record for most hits over a career.  A record which will likely never be touched in my lifetime.  Derek Jeter who recently retired is the closest this past generation got, and he was still about 800 hits off the mark.  Below is a tribute to the World Series team as well as that record.

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Pete Rose unfortunately is known a lot more these days as the guy who got kicked out of baseball for gambling.  I’m not necessarily saying I’m OK with that, but I’ve seen a lot worse in terms of crimes going either unpunished, or being forgiven.  This happened so long ago, and the MLB has been so stubborn about upholding this lifetime ban.  I’m not saying they should let him manage a team or anything, but at least let him into the Hall of Fame.  It’s not like his accomplishments on the field should be in question like if he took steroids or something.

Pete Rose is in Las Vegas if you ever want to meet him.  He makes his living signing autographs at memorabilia shops in Casinos.  I’ve seen him at Caesar’s Palace, and I’ve seen him at Mandalay Bay.  It’s sad, because for all he’s accomplished I feel like there should be a huge lineup of people trying to meet him.  It might just be that I tend to go during ‘off travel season’ when it’s quieter, but I’ve seen him alone with no lineup, eating takeout food waiting for someone to come in.  It’s sad.

I’ll leave you with a Pete Rose quote from the ESPN 30 for 30 short doc…….

“I”m just a guy looking for a second chance….other people get second chances….. alcoholics, drug addicts, spouse abusers…… not gamblers though.  If you want to put something on my tombstone that was very important to me.  It’s 1972.  That’s how many winning games I played in.  So that makes me the biggest winner in the history of sports.  No one else can say that.”

Good on you Cincinnati for not forgetting him.

Father’s Day In Vegas??

Father’s Day is fast approaching and it makes me want to go to Las Vegas.  I know what you’re thinking….. What doesn’t make you want to go to Las Vegas??  Valid point.  I guess the Father’s Day-Vegas connection started last year.  I only became a father for the first time last October, but since my wife was 5 months pregnant last June, we celebrated Father’s Day in anticipation of me being a father.  The fact that we were in Vegas was totally unrelated.  Some call it a Babymoon.  It’s that last trip before crazy times ensue.  I can think of no better place to be than my beloved Las Vegas.

Father’s Day started for me last year at ‘Mon Ami Gabi’ which is an incredible French Bistro at the Paris Hotel.  If you’ve spent anytime in Vegas, you’ve seen it, because they have some seating that actually overlooks the strip.  We were dining in the inside portion of the restaurant because, let’s face it….. my wife was pregnant and it’s Las Vegas in June which is extremely warm.  I got a corned beef hash with poached eggs.  My wife got oatmeal, with a side of bacon.  I’m not sure what they did with her bacon, but it was the BEST BACON EVER, and I know that sounds cliché, but it was ridiculously good.  So ridiculous… So good…. I remember thinking as I was eating this meal that it could very well be the best breakfast I ever had in my entire life.  IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!  We just looked the menu up on-line, and it said ‘Date Glazed Bacon’.  I’m pretty sure that was it.  So do yourselves a favour.  Get on a plane.  Fly there now.  Celebrate Father’s Day the way I did last year.  We ate there again later in the week, even though I have a thing against eating in the same restaurant twice when I’m on a trip.  We had to break that rule.  Another couple we knew had arrived for the following weekend, and the way I was talking????  They had to go too.

After brunch we jumped in a cab, and headed to Cashman Field to watch the Las Vegas 51’s game.  They were the AAA team of my beloved Toronto Blue Jays at the time, although they no longer are.  This didn’t go so well.  First it was crazy hot, and my wife was giving me the look in the 2nd inning.  Second, the 51’s pitchers were getting lit up to the tune of 12 runs in 3 innings, making it impossible for anything good to come out of the game.  I made a mental note to go to a night game next time.  It was probably irresponsible to bring my pregnant wife to an outdoor ballpark in 105 degree heat, but hey……. It’s not the craziest thing someone ever did in Vegas.

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After we went back to the hotel to get changed, we headed to the Mirage to watch ‘LOVE’ which is the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show.  If you love the Beatles, love dancing, love performance, love music, or basically love anything, you need to see this.  It was awesome!  My first Cirque show (which is strange since you could throw a golf ball down the street and hit about 8 of them), but it won’t be my last.  We got half price tickets, which helped.

We FINished the night off at the restaurant FIN which serves upscale Chinese food also at the Mirage.  I don’t remember what all we ordered, but I do remember it being a perfect ending to an amazing day.  That was the first day of that particular trip, which started off with a bang!