The Long Trip Trouble

First off, you're lucky to have the time and money to take such an epic backpacking trip. The biggest impediment to travel, regardless of where you're from is typically money.

And that relates to the second biggest impediment, at least for Americans, time. The US has no required vacation time. Most employers offer it, but it's usually no more than two weeks a year for younger employees and it is often frowned upon to take the full two weeks at one time other than for using it up before going onto unpaid maternity leave.

My employer is very generous with vacation time, but the workload is so heavy that it requires a ton of planning ahead and catch-up afterwards to take more than a week off.

Last year I spent months getting projects and job responsibilities assigned to others before taking five weeks off to travel. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to do that as taking that amount of time is highly unusual for working adults in America.

A large part of it is the huge distance of travel destinations.

With relatively inexpensive means, a European can go pretty much anywhere in Europe, and Africa and the Asia aren't terribly far either.

Our close destinations include Canada, which is lovely, the Caribbean, which most use for resort style vacations (i.e sitting on a beach and getting drunk) rather than cultural ones, and Mexico, which is rapidly becoming too dangerous for most fairweather US travelers.

It costs a LOT of money for us to get to Europe, Asia or South America to find radically different cultures.

Most Americans, with their 2 weeks of vacation that they are strongly encouraged to not use, would rather spend it at a domestic destination like the beach or skiing, or go to an all inclusive Caribbean resort.

If you take advantage of all of your vacation/sick days, you will most likely be passed over for promotions or raises, because this is perceived as laziness and not being devoted to work.

Sad really.

Thanks to the economy improving my workload is heavier than it's been in years. So heavy in fact that any trips were limited to long weekends and I'll finish the year with at least three weeks of unused vacation.

Don't forget a lot of employers look at long gaps of unemployment as highly suspicious regardless of reason.

There is a lot of fear about not being able to get a job when you come back from a long trip, especially if it's a career. I've seen quite a few people say that they wouldn't hire some one that went traveling for a year because they probably aren't reliable or they might do it again.

Go 'Merica!

Columbus Local News

The only things local news is good for are the weather, high school sports, and advertising revenue for the station.

I get my news online and on public radio. Local news is too full of "What dangerous item is under your kitchen sink? Find out at 10!"

My mom at 56, is not in the target audience anymore. Local news wants female viewers, ages 18-34, more than any other audience. Watch for this in their promo slant.

There's nothing on them that matters to me.

They'd rather spend the morning standing in front of a house fire that doesn't change my life in any way, than do stories that matter. I want to know why my streets suck, schools suck, and utilities cost too much. Those stories are difficult to tell in an interesting way.

They involve getting a reporter to a City Council meeting and covering an ongoing story—and that takes time and effort. If they can do an early-morning fire with flames and fire engines in the background–well that makes eye-catching pictures on the TV, and it's an easy story to tell.

Guess which one they're going to tell?

I love me some public radio, I don't care for Ann Fisher though – see the above points about local TV.

I don't mind Tom Borgerding nearly as much as Ann Fisher.

Steve Brown does a great job in the mornings since Marilyn Smith moved to afternoons, though. I remember when he first came, he did a station ID from the station in Florida he must have moved from. Steve Brown was a great addition, I'm glad they picked him up.

I think Marilyn has allergies, so I cut her some slack. It can be brutal when they're bad.

Terry Gross gets into a flow with her interviewees, and it seems like a conversation, in which questions flow from the previous answers. Now, Terry Gross's interviews are produced and edited, so I may be unfair here. But Ann Fisher seems like she just has a list of certain questions she is going to ask, and no matter what the previous answer is, she's asking her next question.

A Day In Dayton

There's a ton to do in Dayton and we go several times each year. You can rent kayaks or if you have one Eastwood lake is fun to paddle around.

We have hundreds of miles of connecting bike paths.

We have tons of nature reserves for hiking within 20-30 minutes of just about anywhere you are in Dayton. We have a lot more outdoor activities than people realize. The Urban Krag is a very unique climbing gym back in the Oregon district. The art museum, the Air Force museum, lots of summer festivals. I also highly recommend the Wright Brother's Aviation Museum and bike shop.

It's a small museum and most people I know haven't ever been there, but its well worth it and the video they play at the start is crazy cool.

Also, Woodland cemetery is extremely interesting to walk through or drive through.

There are some cool graves (like the wright brothers) and some cool ghost stories. And one of (if not the?) highest points in Dayton. Absolutely stunning view.

Go down to the Oregon district.

Toxic Brew Company will be opening next month (cross your fingers), there are some neat little thrift shops, record stores, restaurants, and a really cool bookstore. Also if you like coffee there is Press (which is cash only), and Ghostlight just down the road.

Also, check out activedayton. Com they will have any events going on posted as well as a lot of other things to do. Oh and the art institute. Plus quite a few neat parks, gardens, and nature centers. I can give you more info if you're interested.

The Victoria Theatre's Cool Films Series is awesome. Every weekend during the summer they show a classic movie, tickets are only $5 with free soda and popcorn in the lobby before the show. I've gotten to see some of my favorite movies on the big screen. You can see the full lineup on their site.

Sports Rivalry

Cincinnatians and NEOs have a continual pissing match about which city is better, and while they were distracted, Columbus became awesome and stole the title from both of them.

Still pissing is a strong term which I sure haven't seen much of.

Even during Browns-Bengals games, people act more like they are casual neighbors than blood rivals like Cleveland and Pittsburgh once were.

Cleveland and Cincinnati are both more focused on Columbus than they are on each other. A CLE-Cincy rivalry may have been more of the case once upon a time, but Columbus' rapid ascent has made it the chief target of angst and animosity from both ends of I-71 in Ohio these days.

he Bengals-Browns rivalry is friendly these days because one team has been successful and the other hasn't. It used to be petty heated — not Pittsburgh heated — but strong.

Oddly, the Steelers don't consider the Browns to be their rival anymore. Again, too one sided. The Browns are like the little brother trying to get attention. By far the fiercest rivalry in the NFL right now is Bengals-Steelers. I lived through a lot of the toughest Pittsburgh-Cleveland years, and it is nothing like the animus now being bandied back and forth between the Steelers and Bengals.

Oddly enough, the hatred seems to mainly be between the players; the fans are alright with each other.

I've lived in Cleveland for 3 years, I never heard anyone give a negative opinion on either city. Columbus is known mainly for Buckeyes football, and people like to take a weekend trip there to visit the Short North, the zoo, and Polaris.

Cincinnati never comes up really, except for the sports regarding the Reds or Bengals and the very mild/friendly rivalry with the Browns and Reds.

My husband and I were talking about this the other day and honestly, the only real in-state rivalries that exist are between Cleveland and Columbus, and Columbus and Cincinnati.

Cleveland is very jealous and bitter towards Columbus for usurping its status as the #1 city in the state for population and economic growth, while Columbus is jealous of Cleveland because it still has many of the amenities and much of the cultural and historical depth that Columbus lacks and has really only just recently begun to develop. Coumbus would die to have University Circle and Playhouse Square, while Cleveland wishes it could annex its suburbs and again become a major city of nearly 1 million people or more.

As for Cincinnati, it isn't even on Cleveland's radar, nor is Cleveland of much interst to Cincinnati. They might as well be in different states. Pittsburgh probably matters more to Cleveland for economic and cultural reasons. Cleveland and Cincy are really only bound by state politics and policy.

Cincinnati does feel bitter towards Columbus, however, for many of the same reasons that Cleveland does, but the sense that I have gotten is that while the Cleveland-Columbus rivalry is a two way street, Cincinnati-Columbus is one way. Columbus mostly ignores Cincinnati, seeing it as part of Kentucky, while Cincinnati feels that its power and influence in the Ohio Valley has been usurped by a mere cow town capital on flat land.

Some Cincinnatians think their city should be the capital of its own state.

Honestly, despite the "HOME" marketing campaign and all the other pro-Ohio stuff that's emerged over the past decade, you could split us three ways around the 3-Cs and they'd all probably be better off for it.

Ohio isn't Texas–state lines here are just a relic of colonial times.

Sale Is My Favorite Word

When I went to the Orchid sale, I picked up a cool-looking Euphorbia enopla and a couple of others but keep in mind, the plants they are selling are retired because they aren't suuuuper healthy.

That's part of why they are so affordable. My enolpa would still be living, though, if my cat hadn't knocked it over and broken it. Poor thing. It was doomed 🙁

If you are looking for a lot of variety, I would recommend going to the show/sale in May as they specifically say there are rare and hard-to-find specimens for sale. I'm not sure about price at that show, though. Here is their website for the sale.

I've found luck at Strader's Garden Center, which has a lot of locations across Cbus.

The one on the east side is especially awesome and has really good prices. Even places like Lowe's has a decent selection, but I would def go to a garden store first. The ones at other places don't tend to be super healthy. I just typed in "Garden Centers near me" on google maps and found a lot. Indoor Gardens is another one, but they get a meh from me.

The Up And Coming Columbus Scene

I feel weird cratiquing Columbus this much. I really like it. The city has a lot going for it.

  1. A huge part of downtown (just south of the capitol) is completely vacant. It seems like a place that could be vibrant, but is just a ghost town.
  2. Arena District is nice when something is happening, but on an average Tuesday, it feels like a haunted theme park.
  3. Culture of recycling here seems largely up to individuals. Nowhere I've worked recycles regularly, and public trash don't normally have a recycle option.
  4. What is considered hot or spicy is exactly what you would expect from the midwest.

Blue recycling bins were delivered last winter to every house in my area, and I hear it's slowly spreading. Recycling is completely free for us, where before the blue bins, it was a paid service.

A train is on a set line, busses can change an adapt to almost anything though!

Problem with COTA is that they have slow lines moving from one end of the city converging to the center. It can take forever if you need to make a transfer. COTA drivers are pretty generally helpful and awesome.

Bikers are all over the place.

I think a good solution would be more express lines with regional hubs thet get local to various neighborhoods. Get on your neighborhood line to the hub, take an express to the hub near where you want to be, and another neighborhood line to your exact destination. Does that make sense?

A train sounds fun, but it is fixed and not practical unless where you want to be is right off the line.

A good rail system takes years to implement, and I would like to see some preliminary studies and rights-of-way investments being done now so we can have a rail system in 20 years.

In the short-term, It's difficult to say what would be best, since our roads are already crowded, and any bus system would be confined to current construction.

A great rush hour bus system includes bus-only lanes and I don't see where we would get that.

The only thing I can think of that we can do right now without building new roads is to improve bus stop placement, and run weekend services before and after the bars close.

Columbus is very much so a "neighborhood" town.

I wouldn't so much call that a thing that sucks about it, just an aspect of it. One thing that surprises people is how deserted downtown gets on weeknights. High Street is the place to be, but people think there'd be something going on downtown on any given day.

In Columbus' defence lots of cities have pretty deserted downtowns at night. Downtown is, in a lot of places, where businesses are. Everything is focused on the week day and people who are there 9-5.

The areas immediately around downtown are where things happen outside of standard business times. This is not unique to Columbus, though it is likely exaggerated since it's the state capitol.

Columbus has the 15 largest population in the country but this is primarily due to our land area. In terms of population density, we are ranked 115th. This is a huge disconnect and has hindered mass transport potential. A lot of people in the 'burbs do take advantage of the park and ride bus system. However, $80 a month for a bus pass and an inconvenient schedule for many people makes driving yourself a lot easier.

One of the great things about Columbus is also one of its weaknesses, and that is the relative "newness" of much of the city.

On the one hand, this makes traffic flow pretty smoothly compared to other cities (town has good infrastructure), but compared to some older cities like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Cincinnati, I find that various desirable Columbus neighborhoods (Short North, Victorian Village, Clintonville, etc) don't have as much contrast as different desirable neighborhoods in the other cities that I mentioned, that had a different ethnic bent or crowd.

Columbus' weather is much more mild that Cleveland's.

As someone who has spent a decent chunk of her life in both cities, the only issue with Columbus is that they don't have enough snow plows to make the roads safe quickly after it snows.

But that goes with any Midwest city.

Growing up in the snow belt, I never understood why people would freak out over a couple inches of snow. Yeah, the weather here is bipolar, but if you're going to live somewhere in Ohio, Columbus is not the worst choice as far as weather. I went to college in the Cinci area and I would even venture to say that we got a bit more snow there from higher humidity and being in the Miami Valley.

Ohio My Home

Ohio's my home state and I love it! Columbus is a relatively "new" and up and coming city trying to find its identity. I actually got the same vibe from Indianapolis.

The city is based around Ohio State, but there are some cool neighborhoods such as the Short North and German Village that have nice shops and great restaurants. I'd also recommend going to the Columbus Zoo since its one of the nicest zoos in the country. About an hour away is Hocking Hills State Park, which is probably the nicest natural area in the state.

Probably even better than Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

As for other cities, Cleveland (rocks!) is more established than Columbus and is getting better and better.

In Cleveland I would recommend going to neighborhoods like Little Italy, Tremont, and Ohio City for food as well as Lakewood which is a suburb of the city. We also have a very nice metro park system throughout northeast Ohio that makes it very easy to find a running trail, hiking trail, and even a castle.

We're also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame (actually in nearby Canton), which are both worth a visit if you've never been. Like another commenter mentioned, Cedar Point is a little over an hour away in Sandusky, and is one of the premier attractions in Ohio. During peak season, you could easily spend 2 days in the park without riding the same ride twice.

On the Cedar Point peninsula is the beach and Soak City waterpark, and if you drive 5-10 minutes down the road you will find Castaway Bay, Kalahari, and the Great Wolf Lodge waterparks along with other touristy attractions. Down near Cincinnati you can find Kings Island amusement park, which is also one of the premier amusement parks in the country and worth going to.

I'm not as familiar with the Cincinnati area, but I always have a good time when I'm there.

If you really want to get an Ohio vibe though, I would go to a sporting event. Our state loves sports, and theres nothing quite like a football Saturday at Ohio State.

If college sports aren't your thing, go to any of our professional sports games and you'll get a good feel for Ohio culture!

Life In Cbus (And Ohio)

I find it belittling that half the state is corn, hillbillies and wasteland. Even knowing Toledo had got it rough, it's insulting to compare it to Detroit or call all of Cuyahoga County a ghetto. KKK and ignorant asshole presence aside, I find labeling any part of the Buckeye state as the South or WV fairly insulting. Essentially, if it was less accurate, I'd suspect it was written by someone outside Ohio and I'd be pissed off.

I get the joke, it's just hard not to find something like this insulting when people legitimately view Ohio as nothing more than farmland and Cedar Point. It's frustrating as all hell when family and friends come visit and lament how boring everything is. Want to go see a world-renowned orchestra?

Hike or bike a great Metroparks system?

Best amusement park in the country? One of the country's best zoos? A really f'ing cool aerospace museum? Cultural gardens? Some really unique and great restaurants at any price range? Visit the islands? Gallery Hop? West Side Market? Rocky Horror at Cedar Lee? Cinci's great aquarium?

In general Ohio has some things to put us on the map when it comes to agriculture:

  • Has the largest ketchup production plant in Fremont
  • 3rd in tomatoes
  • Ohio is the largest producer of swiss cheese in the US
  • 2nd largest egg producer

Columbus Has Tech

The key is to remember that Columbus is <1% unemployment rate in IT right now, especially in web development. The market is white hot, don't be afraid to ask for a LOT! Everything is negotiable and the worst they can say is no and offer you less.

You have to watch out for those companies that say they know Sharepoint. The only way to qualify a Sharepoint consultant is if you yourself know the depths and details of the beast… and, from my experience, only two people at Microsoft HQ have that depth of knowledge.

A friend's company had a SP consultant come in, start a major project, and then hand it off to an internal developer who knew ASP.NET but not SP.

The consultant had created the project in a way that would work with ONE server, but was utterly broken when deployed to a proper farm.

The weekend before it was supposed to go live this friend had to do a few things that Microsoft specifically said were impossible, and in addition, do some wicked IronPython-fu, in order to get this project going in production.

It is hard to find good developers willing to do it.

And that is why hubby ended up going for his degree in tech.

Alcohol And Wedding Venues

I have posted a couple of times about weddings here in the city. I assume it is because mine is just a couple of years back, and I learned a lot about what this great city has to offer. On top of that I have been to so many weddings in the recent years for close friends that I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what you can get. There are so many choices. Some of them are the more party style reception with lots of alcohol. And that is what makes finding a nice venue hard.

Not because it is hard to find ones that serve alcohol, but finding the ones that offer it in bulk is more of a challenge.

For the amount of hard liquor you'll need for a relatively small reception, the savings alone doesn't make the run to the Party Source worthwhile. Unless you have a liquor license the price you'll get at a beer distributor is the state minimum. Being friends with a bar owner would save you 25%. That said, if you like booze for its own sake, go on down because their selection is crazy.

A regular joe isn't going to save much on beer or wine buying wholesale beyond established case discounts for wine and the like. Beer is sold so close to state minimums, or at state minimums, that there's not much advantage to buying it other than retail. If you know anyone that owns a bar and is willing to sell you the booze at their cost, that might be worthwhile.

Depending on the permit of whoever is serving the alcohol, you may be able to get kegs of local brewers' beer at wholesale cost. I believe they need an "F" permit? You'll have to forgive me, my wedding is 2 years away and I had this conversation while about 8 Kitschy Kolsches deep with the owner of Zauber.

We order from frequently when we have a party. Honestly it's got the best deals on bulk orders. They have a large selection but their prices on bourbon, for example, are only a couple of dollars better than you'll find in Cbus.

Also if you're looking for top shelf or rare stuff, they're not the place to hit. I was disappointed in their top shelf bourbon selection and their top shelf scotch wasn't much better either.