Donning the road grays
In 2017 and 2018 my wife and I were fortunate enough to visit baseball spring training in Arizona, but this year I couldn't get away from work so we had to stay home. However, the schedulemakers did us a huge favor by having the Brewers play in Cincinnati July 2-4 and then in Pittsburgh July 5-7, and with the 4th falling on a Thursday the stars aligned for a holiday weekend road trip.
We left Wisconsin on Tuesday, July 2
and made it as far as Bloomington, Illinois, where we checked in at our hotel and then headed over to Ozark House
The supper club vibe was strong.
Some very good bread preceded our dinner, and it was even served on the classic knife-holder cutting board.
How convenient...we were there on a Tuesday and the Tuesday special is fried chicken. The corn and beans were serviceable but the chicken, potatoes and gravy were very good.
Mrs. C ordered catfish and since we both expected a couple of standard fillets we were quite surprised to see an actual catfish on the plate. Even better, it tasted just as good as it looked!
Our July 3
schedule had us going only as far as Brown County State Park
and this meant we could take our time and have lunch at a place I'd been wanting to visit for years: Beef House
in Covington, Indiana.
Beef House opened in 1964 and the dining room has a definite '60s/'70s feel.
We had our choice of going through the cafeteria line or ordering off the menu, but I was there for a specific reason. With a name like "Beef House" the choice was obvious: the pan-fried chicken.
But first I started with a cup of tasty broccoli cheese soup.
The chicken was absolutely outstanding and the potatoes were the real deal, although they were served with pork gravy (probably because one of the Wednesday lunch specials is pork tenderloin). My wife had the grilled fish wrap and while she though the fish was excellent, the bacon that was also in the wrap didn't quite work for her.
Beef House is known for its rolls and they're part of every meal. And they're also quite delicious.
After lunch we worked our way to the park and took a little time to check out the Bean Blossom Covered Bridge
, built in 1880.
We arrived at the park with plenty of time to hike the trails, which on July 3 meant we also got caught in a rainstorm while in the middle of the forest. Thanks to a poorly marked trail detour we wound up walking a lot more than we anticipated as well.
BCSP is only a couple of hours from Cincinnati so on July 4
we drove east on Indiana State Road 46, which afforded us the opportunity for a brief respite in the Decatur County Park in Greensburg, Indiana. Great American Ball Park
is right on the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati but getting to it and parking were surprisingly easy. The park itself is very nice although we thought the concession prices were a bit high, and the Guest Services booth even has special certificates for fans visiting for the first time.
The Reds scored a run in the 1st inning and it would turn out to be the only run of the game, although we didn't stick around to the end. Rain halted play for about 90 minutes in the 8th and since we'd been baking in the sun and humidity and had a 2-hour postgame drive ahead of us we reluctantly chose to leave so that we'd be able to stop for dinner.
Did you know that a lot of restaurants are closed on July 4? And that sometimes they'll tell you they're going to be open and then TTM you when you get there?
We stayed in Hebron, Ohio that night and the plan was to eat at the Sunset Inn
; I'd checked with them and was told that they were going to be open...I guess their plans changed. OK, no big deal, right? We headed east to Jacksontown to see if maybe Michael's Pizzeria
were open, but our luck was no better. Ah, but we still had hope: the hotel was across the street from a strip mall that had both a Chinese carryout place and a Subway, and surely one of them would be open...nope. So our July 4 dinner consisted of a chicken wrap for Mrs. C, a package of pastrami and a loaf of rye bread for me, a bag of chips and a small box of wine from Kroger (and unfortunately I didn't think to get a photo).
We were up early on July 5
so that we would have plenty of time to get to Pittsburgh and get settled at the Omni William Penn
before the 7pm game between the Brewers and Pirates. Our plan was to take US-40 and US-22 as much as possible so that we wouldn't miss anything, like the Eagles Nest Monument
outside of Brownsville, Ohio.
US-22 and US-40 diverge in Cambridge, which is also home to the National Museum of Cambridge Glass
. Now I've never really had much interest in vintage glass so I wasn't sure how much I'd like the museum, but we had a couple of hours to kill so we figured it was worth at least a look-see. And worth it it was! The glass itself is spectacular and the stories behind it were just as interesting; anyone traveling to or through Cambridge should allow some time to visit.
That was the good part of Cambridge; the bad part was that US-22 was closed about 20 miles to the east and if I'd seen a closure notice in town we would've stayed on 40 and not wasted about a half hour or so (ODOT's signage skills did NOT impress me during this trip). And even more disappointing was missing out on Capri Carry Out
We finally rolled into Pittsburgh about 2pm or so that afternoon and discovered that even on the Friday after a holiday navigating the downtown area could be a remarkably aggravating experience. Plus there was a convention going on at our hotel and that added extra pedestrians to target...err, avoid. But we managed to find a spot in the parking garage and got checked in without any trouble.
It's probably about a 15-20 minute walk from the William Penn to PNC Park
and since the Clemente Gate opens 2-1/2 hours before games we took advantage of the extra time to browse the concourse, as it would be an hour before we could get to our seats.
PNC gets a lot of hype as one of the nicest MLB parks and we thought a lot of it is well-deserved, although the bathrooms look like they came over from Three Rivers Stadium.
It was also Dollar Dog night so that was all we had to eat as far as ballpark fare went, although a very nice Pirates fan shared a couple of her Chickie's and Pete's Crabfries
The Brewers were leading 6-1 in the 9th so we chose to get a jump on our exit by relocating from our seats along the 1st base line (which gave us this view of the Pittsburgh skyline and the Clemente Bridge) to the left field corner.
However, much to our consternation the Pirates would tie the score with back-to-back 2-out homers in the bottom of the 9th; my wife was so disgusted (I'm not sure I've ever seen her that angry) that she insisted we leave. The walk back to the hotel was OK but there were a lot of panhandlers along the way (especially on the bridge) and one of the streets wasn't very well lit, which made her a bit uneasy but we made it back without issue (and the Brewers scored a run in the 10th to win).
We got an early start on July 6
and it turns out that downtown Pittsburgh is a lot easier to get around at 7am Saturday than it is at 2pm Friday. We stopped in Washington for breakfast and I was finally able to log my first Waffle House
visit ever (country hash browns with a side of country ham, if you're wondering) and the goal was to make it to Columbus for lunch...would anyone care to take a gander at what this is?
You're correct; it's the Bahama Mama
sausage from Schmidt's
and it's as good as Michael and Lisa say it is! My wife chose a regular bratwurst instead and it was equally tasty, and we both liked the almondine beans and the tangy German potato salad.
After lunch we continued west on I-70 to Indianapolis, where we met a couple of my friends for dinner at Hollyhock Hill
. Hint: if you're going to eat there at 6pm on a Saturday, make a reservation or you might not get a table until 7. But dinner turned out to be worth the wait as we enjoyed the chicken, potatoes and vegetables, although it was a little disturbing to learn that my friend Jim likes pickled beets.
Because of the dining room layout and the number of people there I elected to not take any photos.
We overnighted in Indy and that left us a 6-hour drive on Sunday, July 7
. We were both pretty road-weary by then and just wanted to get home, so we stuck to the car snacks in order to make time. It was a fun trip and we'd definitely do something like it again some time; it's too bad the White Sox weren't playing in Cleveland that weekend because we would've made it a trifecta!
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2019/10/08 14:26:40