BLINK Cincinnati

It’s big. Twenty blocks big, they say. The southernmost installations are in the Banks area south of 2nd Street; The northernmost is a little north of Findlay Street. That’s where the twenty block measurement comes from. In between, displays can be found in an area three or four blocks wide. The simplest description of BLINK is that it’s a light show. Colorful images, such as the one at right, are projected on buildings throughout that twenty block area of downtown Cincinnati. Thursday was the first night; Sunday is the last.

I made it Thursday night, but not as early as I should have. I had thoughts of parking in the Washington Park and catching the nearby opening night parade. I was way too late for that, however, and could see that streets around the park were blocked off. I turned onto Walnut Street and headed toward Fountain Square. As I drove, I grabbed the picture at the top of the article from the car. Vehicle traffic was heavy but nowhere near what I’ve frequently seen in the past. It was foot traffic that was unusual. It didn’t approach gridlock levels either but it was certainly heavy throughout a large area. At this point, I wasn’t really surprised to see the Walnut Street entrance to the Fountain Square Garage closed. I was, however, feeling a little discouraged and the blocked entrance added to that. I decided to swing around to the other side and if it was also closed, as I expected, I would simply head home and try again on another night.

I did not have to cut and run. The Vine Street entrance was open and there were plenty of spots open in the garage. After a brief look at the area around Fountain Square I headed toward the river. These two photos are of the eastern side of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The lighted tops of the PNC and Carew Towers can be seen in the first one. All projected images are either constantly changing or in motion.

South of the Freedom Center, seesaws with illuminated beams occupy an area between it and the Roebling Bridge. I walked beyond the seesaws and looked back north for the second picture. Images are projected on all three sections of the Freedom Center. On the left are the PNC and Carew Towers with the Scripps Tower on the right.

The Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds, is a participant with a large display of the event’s name and and a series of baseball themed images.

Food and beverages are available in a number of Hospitality Areas and there are several locations with live music. The first picture is of The Mambo Combo who were performing on the Freedom Center Stage. The second is of the Queen City Kings performing in the Saint Xavier Backlot. The King City projection, with rotating tape reels, is on the rear of Saint Xavier Church. I kind of wanted to talk with the young lady in the picture about what she was reading but I didn’t.

There was another snag besides my late arrival. As stated in the online FAQ, “BLINK is designed around the Cincinnati Bell Connector Streetcar route.” Around 9:00, when I decided to take the streetcar to the north end of the event, it was not moving. It wasn’t the streetcar’s fault. A section of 5th Street was blocked for what I assume was an accident. Yellow police tape crossed the streetcar track. When any part of a loop is blocked, the whole thing, in effect, is blocked. I chose not to walk the fifteen or so blocks so I missed a considerable portion of the exhibits. Just more bad timing on my part.

Trip Peek #62
Trip #51
2007 National Route 66 Festival

This picture is from my 2007 National Route 66 Festival trip. The festival was in Clinton, Oklahoma. It was the centennial year for the state of Oklahoma which was a factor in holding the festival there and it also meant there were other things going on. One of those was the opening of a time capsule in which a brand new 1957 Plymouth had been buried. This was a fly-and-drive trip and I arranged my flights to be in Tulsa for the Plymouth resurrection then cover a little Route 66 before the festival. The capsule had leaked and the Plymouth pretty much ruined but it was still a cool event. My time on Route 66 was enough to get me to my first overnight at the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and a look at two almost but not quite ready to open new businesses on the Route: Boothill Restaurant in Vega, Texas, and Pops in Arcadia, Oklahoma. Among the things making the festival itself memorable was the one and only appearance of Route 66 e-group founder Greg Laxton and the first of many appearances of the now legendary Road Crew.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

There Goes the Sun

We just had a total eclipse of the sun and by we, I mean me. The United States, has had total eclipses before but we (i.e., people within shouting distance of me) haven’t. I actually thought we had but that’s clearly not the case. I have a memory of standing on the school playground watching the image of an eclipse created by a pinhole in a piece of paper. Total eclipses have been visible in the U.S. in 1954, ’63, ’70, and ’79. Two of those are within my school years but both took place in the summer (June ’54, July ’63) when classes would not have been in session. But what really stomps on the idea that I’d previously seen a full sized solar eclipse in person is the fact that the 1954 event was visible only in Nebraska, Wisconsin, and neighboring states. The only states caught by the 1963 eclipse were Alaska and Maine. The best explanation I can come up with for my school playground memory is that some group met at the school specifically for the 1954 eclipse and saw about 79% obscuration. Maybe that’s it or maybe not. My recall sometimes reaches 79% obscuration, too.

Last Monday’s eclipse delivered 100% obscuration to fourteen of the United States and partial obscuration to all of them except Alaska and Hawaii. I could have stayed home and had 90.43% obscuration but I wanted to not see the whole thing. Not all complete obscuration is equal, however. NASA identified two “greatest” points. The self explanatory point of Greatest Duration was in Illinois near the town of Makanda. The point of Greatest Eclipse, which NASA defines as “the instant when the axis of the Moon’s shadow cone passes closest to Earth’s center” was in Kentucky near the town of Hopkinsville where most of the 30,000 plus residents embraced the name “Eclipseville”. Hopkinsville is about 240 miles from my home.

Area motel rooms and campsites sold out months in advance. I visited Hopkinsville about 24 hours before the big event but lodged more than 60 miles away in Owensboro. Food and souvenir vendors lined downtown streets and entertainers performed in areas set aside for the purpose. It wasn’t as jam packed and hectic as I had feared and my understanding is that even on the next day, when it was jam packed, it was not terribly hectic. People came to see something not say something.

My plan for eclipse day was to get somewhat close to Hopkinsville then seek out a parking spot on some back road. The Western Kentucky Parkway was busy but tolerable until it neared the Pennyrile Parkway where traffic tightened up in a way that promised congestion from that point on. I turned north (away from the congestion) on Pennyrile, took the next exit, then followed secondary and tertiary roads south to the path of the eclipse about twenty-five miles away.

It really was kind of ridiculous for me to even try photographing the eclipse. Without even considering the pros at NASA and other organization, thousands of real photographers with much better equipment and infinitely better skills would be recording images that would capture the event for all of us to enjoy. I was here because I wanted to experience a total eclipse not because I needed a photograph. But… I got some anyway. I found a spot at the edge of a corn field about fourteen miles from Hopkinsville. It was far enough from population centers to keep my phone from picking up a signal. That’s why the screen capture is for the town of Trenton some two miles distant. I set up my tripod and mounted my camera on top. I snapped on the hood with a welder’s lens duct taped to it. I put on my googles. I took some pictures and I watched something marvelous unfold.

The first picture at right is the very first picture I took. Things had started happening as I parked the car and aimed the camera. A little bit of the sun was already gone by the time of the first shutter click. The photo of totality at the top of this post is sized to minimize fuzziness and to show some of the black sky. Although it does not show up in the photo, a star (or more likely a planet) was quite visible to the right of the sun and moon. A vision of totality with unfettered fuzziness is here. The second picture is my version of the diamond ring effect that appeared as totality ended. The third picture shows the sun starting to reassert itself. The Greatest Eclipse point was about 12 miles west of Hopkinsville or about 26 miles from where I stood. The duration of totality at that point was 160.1 seconds. The point of Greatest Duration, 90 miles beyond, beat that by 0.1 second. At my spot next to the corn it was 159.7 seconds. To paraphrase a slogan from an event that occurs in Kentucky on a more regular basis, it was “The most exciting two minutes in amateur sky gazing.”

Witnessing the sun’s disappearance, the mid-day darkness, and the drop in temperature was definitely exciting. It was also thought provoking. To some it was spiritual. More than anything, though, it was uniting. For a short period the eclipse was at the center of the actions of a huge number of people and the conversations of even more. And almost all of those conversations were quite friendly. Sure, in Kentucky I heard some grumbling about traffic and comments about “crazy Texans who drove all that way for two minutes” but there was no real anger in the grumbling and chuckles accompanied the Texan comments.

It was way short of a “The Day the Earth Stood Still” moment but there was just a tiny glimmer of that “tiny ball in a big universe” understanding. In the diner where I overheard the comment about “crazy Texans”, I also observed one fellow explaining the positions of earth, moon, and sun during the eclipse to what seemed to be a regular breakfast meeting of a local “Liars Club”. He wasn’t breaking new ground or fighting against doubt. All the old timers at that table understood the basics but were just a little foggy on the details.

A few weeks ago I visited some mounds in eastern Ohio that are believed to have been constructed at least partially to study the movements of the moon. On the day of the eclipse I held a device in my hand that, bad reception in the cornfield aside, was capable of telling me the precise effect that two heavenly bodies were about to have on the exact spot I was standing on. I thought of Arthur C. Clarke’s well known statement about advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic. It somehow applied but far from perfectly so. I’ve since learned of other lines from other writers that proceeded Clarke’s and may have influenced it. One that seems quite appropriate to me comes from Leigh Brackett’s 1942 The Sorcerer of Rhiannon: “Witchcraft to the ignorant, … simple science to the learned.” Even though, as the latest and loudest news stories often show, plenty of ignorance remains, we really aren’t quite as ignorant as we used to be. I’m guessing that those mounds helped.

There will be another total solar eclipse within range of Cincinnati in 2024 and again in 2045. Those guys in the diner knew about both. There’s a decent chance I’ll be around in 2024 and a very slim but non-zero chance I’ll still be here in 2045. If I am, I hope that someone drags my ancient bones outside and makes sure my chair is facing the right direction.

Competitive Cardboard

New Richmond did it again. On Saturday, folks from near and far were happily “Creating corrugated chaos on the Ohio” at the twenty-fifth Cardboard Boat Regatta. There weren’t quite as many entries as last year but I think last year’s field of 60+ was a record breaker. About five minutes of light rain fell an hour or so ahead of the start but it instantly forgotten and the skies stayed clear for all of the races. That does not mean that competitors stayed dry.

There were twelve heats for the various classes plus the free-for-all “Cardboard Cup” race. Not all of the races started with perfectly formed lines though many did. But cardboard craft clusters were just as likely to form from those perfect lines as from the less perfect ones.

Some of the racing was really serious but many, in fact most, of the competition seemed to involve more creativity than speed.

Construction materials — cardboard, tape, and paint only — remain the same but construction skills have improved considerably and there aren’t a lot of “dissolving” boats anymore. Crews can still end up in the water, however, and that’s when not losing your head is most important.

Posts on previous Cardboard Boat Regattas are here (2010), here (2011), here (2013), here (2015), and here (2016).

Trip Peek #60
Trip #7
49 & Counting

This picture is from my 2002 49 & Counting trip. Unlike other national Corvette caravans that were focused on the Corvette Museum’s 1994 Labor Day opening, the 2003 caravans were focused on the first Corvette production on June 30, 1953. As a sort of warm up for the fiftieth anniversary celebration, a single caravan made up of a Corvette from each model year traveled from Detroit to St. Louis to Bowling Green. I don’t know why I picked a photograph of the 1954 model to represent the trip as a photo of the 1953 model appears right next to it in the journal. I drove to the museum on one day, hung around for another day of festivities then took a scenic route home along the Ohio River through Indiana on the third. The forty-nine cars in the caravan, or Historic Motorama, always traveled in model year sequence leading one of the driversto quip, “The view never changes… unless you’re the ’53.”


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #58
Trip #116
2014 OLHL Meeting

This picture is from my trip to the Ohio Lincoln Highway League meeting in 2014. You are quite right if you feel that’s not typical LHA headgear. The picture was taken on the third day of the trip when I stopped at the Viking Festival in Ashville, OH. The actual meeting took place in Upper Sandusky on the second day of the trip. On the first day, on the way to the meeting, I took in both the “oldest concrete street in America” and the “World’s Shortest Street” and I ducked into Ohio Caverns, too.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Lincoln Highway Conference 2017

I’m on my way to the Lincoln Highway Association’s 25th Annual Conference which begins Tuesday in Denison, Iowa. When I first decided to attend, I envisioned a slow drive of the Lincoln Highway from Iowa’s eastern border to the western side of the state where Denison sits. Events in Cincinnati prevented me from leaving before Mondays morning so that slow drive on the LH has become a much speedier drive on the interstates. I do have the eastbound route of the LH through Iowa loaded into the GPS and hope to drive all or some of it after the conference. We shall see.

The trip journal is here. This entry is to let blog only subscribers know of the trip and provide a place for comments and questions.  

Trip Peek #57
Trip #88
Lincoln Highway Conference 2010

This picture is from my 2010 Lincoln Highway Conference trip. This was my first Lincoln Highway Association Conference and part of the reason I was able to attend was that it was my first year of retirement. Immediately prior to the conference in Dixon, IL, I attended the Route 66 Festival near Joplin, MO, and drove directly from one to the other. Among the many things I learned was the difference between a festival and a conference. There were a couple of bus tours, a couple of group dinners, and a day of presentations. The picture is from the awards banquet. Brian Cassler had recently become an Eagle Scout by preparing some Canton, OH, Lincoln Highway bricks for use in a display in Kearney, NE. Bernie Queneau traveled the Lincoln Highway as an Eagle Scout back in 1928. Brian chose Bernie to share his award with and is shown pinning the badge on the 98 year old Queneau. This “pair of Eagles” photo is one onf of my favorites. Bernie is a Lincoln Highway legend who remained active in the association until his death at 102.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #46
Trip #55
2007 Illinois 66 Festival

pv40This picture is from my 2007 Illinois 66 Festival trip. Day one of the four day outing was spent crossing the Chain of Rocks bridge, cruising to Springfield, Illinois, on Historic Route 66, and taking part in the festival’s huge cruise-in. There were more festival activities, including a downtown car show, on the second day and the third and fourth days were spent traveling home. I had recently developed an interest in the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway and followed portions of that historic named auto trail as I returned to Ohio. The featured photo was taken on the last day of the trip as I followed the PP-OO  through Hillgrove, Ohio, where I lived as a child, and past the town pump that I remember faintly.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Bock Again

cbf16_01It was cold and cloudy for the 24th Cincinnati Bockfest Parade. It was, however, dry so a friend and I braved the 40-and-falling temperature to walk beside the merry participants. It was my friend’s first exposure; my fifth.  The cold seems to have kept some observers away but it had no noticible affect on the size of the parade itself. I think a few past entries were absent (e.g., the whip lady) but I doubt that temperature was the cause and there were compensating new entries to keep things interesting.

cbf16_02cbf16_03Proving that the temperature was not a deterrent to everyone was this this wading pool accompanied group wearing shorts, T-shirts, and water wings. Some Red Hot Dancing Queens gathered in front of Arnold’s, Cincinnati’s oldest bar and traditional parade starting point. The Dancing Queens instantly became one of my all time favorite parade groups when I saw them on their second outing at last year’s Northside 4th of July Parade.

cbf16_05cbf16_04I failed to get a picture of parade Grand Marshall Mick Noll and barely caught Schnitzel the goat pulling the ceremonial keg of bock beer. That’s 2015 Sausage Queen, Elyse Lohrbach, in the Caddy. Her reign ended Saturday night when the 2016 queen, Rachel Appenfelder, was chosen.

cbf16_06cbf16_07It’s always good to see perennial favorites Arnold’s self propelled bathtub and the Trojan goat. I personally prefer the original motorized tub (two paragraphs back) although I’m sure the new model is both safer and more reliable.

cbf16_10cbf16_09cbf16_08And now some of the new entries. In case you haven’t noticed, the parade is a real showcase for certifiably groan-worthy puns. Here we have “Whatever Floats Your Goat”, “Bocktor Seuss’ Whodeyville”, and “The Empire Strikes Bock”.

cbf16_11cbf16_12That cluster of Red Hot Dancing Queens in front of Arnold’s had grown to full strength when the parade stepped off. The fun that these gals have is truly contagious and there is no known cure.

cbf16_13I normally probably would not post this blurry picture of a float that has appeared in previous parades but I really need to this time. The 185 year old Rabbit Hash General Store was destroyed by fire just three weeks ago but, as the sign says, “You Can’t Keep a Good Town Down”. There were no injuries and there is some insurance but it isn’t really enough to rebuild the store. A GoFundMe campaign, accessible through the Rabbit Hash website, has been established.

cbf16_14We got inside Bockfest Hall which is something I did not do in either of the preceding two years. I guess that was our reward for dealing with temperatures that not everyone wanted to deal with. In the warmer and brighter 2014 and 2015, when the end of the parade reached the end of the route, the street outside the hall was filled withe people trying to get in. Of course getting in didn’t mean getting to see or hear much. The reduced crowd was still a very big crowd. I snapped this picture over to to of that crowd and only later realized that it contained the previously miss Grand Marshal. That’s Mick Noll in the blue hat at the photo’s left and Christian Moerlein’s Greg Hardman in the top hat on the photo’s right.

The following links lead to evidence of my previous visits: 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015