o-h-i-o, ohio!

this past thursday morning i boarded an md-88 with several coworkers to fly to columbus, ohio for our annual company meeting.  between team gatherings, putt-putt golf, and drinks at brazenhead, the event was quite the success in melding many offices together as a united front for the successful business years ahead for which we are striving.  go team!

most folks flew back to atlanta friday night, but i had the wonderful pleasure of staying the whole weekend.  as it would be, phillip has family only minutes from our dublin location – such a small world!  so, it was a no-brainer for phillip to take some time off work and join me.

once work things wrapped up friday afternoon, phillip picked me up and we checked into the local embassy suites.  we rested our feet for a little bit and then were in the car again.  where to?  well, seeing as how our stomachs were grumbling, it was a good thing we were headed to dinner with grandma lorraine and cousin tony at the local favorite the rusty bucket.  they were seated at a booth just inside the restaurant awaiting our arrival.  both greeted me warmly as we scooched into our seats and got to know one another.  conversation came easy among the group among local brews and delicious food.  i highly recommend the wedge salad to start and then the buffalo chicken sandwich – it was massive!  the chicken parmesan that grandma lorraine had was a generous serving also.  tony’s quesadilla and phillip’s philly cheesesteak didn’t disappoint either.  so much else on the menu looked so appealing that i guess we’ll just have to visit again!

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after paying the checks, grandma lorraine called it a night.  tony, phillip, and i, though, were in the mood for another drink, so tony led us to a local bar called the dub pub.  most certainly a favorite dive bar of those who live nearby, we grabbed a high-top and continued visiting while enjoying some whiskey-gingers and a few ipa’s from the columbus brewing company (referred to by ohioans simply as “cbc”).  soon tony’s friend sean joined us, and i think eventually we blended in with the regulars as we chatted, cheered on team usa during the olympics, and took in some preseason nfl games.

as our glasses emptied and the early evening grew into the later night, phillip and i were about ready to call it a day.  we bid tony and sean farewell and hopped in the rental.  as we cruised along to the hotel, phillip pointed out the grater’s right nearby and the convenient fact that they were open until eleven p.m.  it was only 10:30 at that point.  phillip swung the camry into the parking lot and we helped ourselves to the counter.

now, any of you who know phillip know that he has quite the sweet tooth.  i used to “blame” his mother because she is an ice cream lover, but now i know it is grandma lorraine who started it all.  she revealed that each night she either has an ice cream or a cookie with some milk before going to bed.  old habits die hard, i suppose!  😀

with many more choices at the store as opposed to just the grocery aisle, i did a bowl of strawberry cheesecake and mocha chocolate chip.  whoa, that stuff was unbelievably good.  the strawberry cheesecake was undoubtedly my favorite, and it was lucky i even got to try it since it is a limited summer flavor!  phillip considered his options for a while and then settled (to no one’s surprise) on a scoop of the buckeye and a scoop of the peanut butter chocolate chip.  i am telling you, this boy could eat only reese cups for the rest of his life and be satisfied.  i suppose it’s hard to deny a man his ice cream when it makes him this happy.

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it was finally after over-eating on quite possibly the best ice cream ever created on this beautiful earth that we hit the hay.  with two more days to go in ohio, we needed our beauty rest!

phillip and i freshened up saturday morning and made a quick drive across the street to bob evans for some breakfast.  this trip was a nostalgic one for phillip, and bob evans is a memory he holds close to him.  he remembers the good ‘ole days of him and his sisters and parents eating breakfast here before visiting grandma and grandpa.  well, we decided it only made sense to take part in that tradition, so we also ate breakfast at bob evans that morning.

phillip created his own omelette and stuffed it with crumbled bob evans sausage, tomatoes, and american cheese.  although loaded with high-quality ingredients, the omelette was a light and delicious starter to the day.  i on the other hand had no shame in ordering and devouring two biscuits smothered in gravy.  perhaps not the healthiest breakfast, i at least made an attempt to offset it with some fresh fruit.  do i get credit for at least making an effort…?

we took a few last swigs of coffee and, before heading out for the rest of the day, i noticed two things.  first, everyone i’d encountered so far in ohio had been extremely polite.  i don’t know why it stuck out to me, but it made me feel as though i hadn’t left the south at all.  the second thing i noticed is not nearly as poignant but still worth noting:  this hilarious little promotion at bob evans.  i could hardly contain my laughter at this brother feeding his sister some eggs.  i hesitated not at providing the imaginary dialogue going on between them:  “hey, brother.  whatcha got there?”  “oh these?  these are scrambled eggs.  want a taste?”

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anyway!  we got settled up at bob evans and then made a quick stop at kroger before heading to grandma lorraine’s condo.  one of the best parts about dublin is that just about everything is within a ten minutes’ drive.  that’s something i could get used to!  especially consider everything in atlanta i just default to at least half an hour away.  grandma lorraine greeted us warmly at her front door, and we showered her with some yellow roses (her favorite) and some dark chocolate hershey kisses (can’t go wrong there).  she gave me the tour of her tidy home before we all sat down to chat and visit.

an hour or so went by, and then grandma lorraine had things to do!  so phillip and i drove into columbus to visit the ohio state university campus.  some of my fellow uga grads may see me as some kind of traitor, but considering osu isn’t in the sec, can i please be forgiven?  plus, it’s a love for all things collegiate and football that we spent the afternoon there.

we easily found a spot in the south parking deck and turned right to go find the union.  a gathering place for everyone who’s anyone, i promptly found the information desk and asked for a map of campus.  emily was glad to oblige and even pointed out a self-guided walking tour we could take.  how fantastic!  after admiring the modern and active space, we got started.

because it was right nearby, we made our way over to the oval first.  a large open space representing the heart of campus, i can easily see the oval being a spot for between-class breaks and social gatherings.  according to our visitor guide, “legend has it that if you take the ‘long walk’ from the seal at the east end to the william oxley thompson statue on the west end holding hands with your loved one, you’ll be together forever.”  not one to pass up such a golden opportunity, phillip and i did just that under the bright sun and the blue sky.

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a little warm once at the other end, phillip and i cooled off inside the william oxley thompson memorial library.  and, per emily’s suggestion, we rode the elevator up to the 11th floor where we entered the quiet and calm campus reading room.  if any of you went to uga, this floor would remind you of the fourth floor of the slc, but obviously way more exclusive and a bit more harry potter-esque.

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this top level of the library offers sweeping views of columbus from every direction.  here’s the view looking west…

…and then east over the oval…

…and finally south towards downtown and campus.  pretty cool!

we continued our tour to the west and ventured into the recreation and physical activity center (rpac).  the kind gentleman at the turnstile allowed us to enter and take a tour.  now, if you are familiar at all with uga’s ramsey center, you might say ramsey impresses you with its many levels of fitness options.  folks, ramsey has nothing on the rpac, unless ramsey has undergone some serious renovations since my time there.  the rpac has nearly endless workout possibilities.  first, i have never seen so many cardio machines in one place ever in my life.  they call this area the cardio canyon.

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and just around the corner is a sea of weight machines just waiting for you and your buff muscles.

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elsewhere in the building there appeared to be about 20 racquetball courts, a great running track, and oodles of basketball court space.  if you’re interested in possibly choosing osu as a potential student, i highly recommend checking out the rpac.  it just might make your mind up for you.  and if you need any swaying, just go take a darling little picture with brutus.  he’ll welcome you with open arms.

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we continued our westerly walk and as we swung open the doors to head back outside, phillip and i couldn’t believe our eyes or ears:  the osu marching band, known as “the best damn band in the land” and also “the pride of the buckeyes”, was practicing!  every marching band bone in my body wanted to rush over and tell my marching band story, but i respectfully kept my distance so that i wouldn’t disturb their all-brass section breakouts.  but still!  what a cool sight!

before moving on, we couldn’t help but snap a few shots of ohio stadium.  i mean, when you’re in rome, do as the romans would do.

we took a little stroll north and enjoyed the sights along the way.  i very much appreciated that the osu campus is relatively flat (unlike uga’s rolling hills throughout) and also liked that it was expansive and very green.  so many trees around here and so much ohio pride.

before calling it a day, we made a few more stops.  first, we gave our legs at break for a bit at mirror lake.  we watched as tour groups strolled by and as the ducks and geese cooled off.  although not a terribly hot day, the sun was relentless when it did peek between the clouds.

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next we made a quick stop at the browning amphitheater, where we channeled our inner actor and actress.  i knew my cousin sara would appreciate it.  🙂

we were making our way back to the union to do some osu shopping right as the heavens began to open up.  the rain was coming down in sheets, and although it was just a quick pop-up storm, i’m glad we were able to take refuge inside.  heck, while we waited for things to clear up, we even made a new friend!

we picked up some school swag (buckeyes included) and made our way back to dublin.  all-in-all, i’d say visiting the osu campus was a great success!

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after driving through even more rain (quite thankful that it didn’t come down us as we were on our tour), we met up with grandma lorraine at the local parish to attend five o’clock mass.  modestly attended, i enjoyed taking in the catholic traditions and also participating in a little bit of singing.  the gospel was a good one, and i very much appreciated grandma lorraine inviting us to go with her.

we met a few of grandma lorraine’s church friends, received a tour of the chapel, and then met back up at donatos pizza to eat some dinner.  her favorite and also a favorite of phillip’s mom michele during her college days at osu, the warm pizza was the perfect meal for our group.  over more conversation and even more story-telling, the three of us devoured (with only slight hesitation) a medium cheese pizza and a large pepperoni zinger.  as grandma lorraine pointed out, they cut the slices here in small rectangles rather than the traditional triangular shape, so it’s quite easy to say “i’ve had 10 smaller slices, which really only equates to a couple of normal-sized slices.”  i guess whatever you have to say to yourself!  after a little persuasion, i finally finished off the pepperoni.  delish!

with a full stomach and sleepy eyes, grandma lorraine bid us goodnight and headed home to her condo.  with a little bit of daylight left, though, phillip took me on a tour of the town worthington, which is where his mother and her brothers grew up.  we even made a quick stop by her high school, thomas worthington high school.  go cardinals!

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we battled more rain on our drive back to dublin but safely made it back to frantz road.  as phillip drove, i realized he’d passed the turn to our hotel.  “phillip, where are you going?”  he could hardly keep a poker face as he drove us to grater’s again.  well, it had been about an hour since and dinner, and with a long line inside, it was hard to argue with more delicious dessert.  i didn’t put up much of a fight and used some self-control to order only a single scoop of cookies’n’cream in a sugar cone.  phillip figured if he was going to have ice cream he was going to go all the way with a large two-scoop serving of double chocolate chip.  i guess if you’re going to be bad, at least enjoy it while you’re doing it!

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we had a lazy night at the hotel watching the olympics and eventually falling asleep with the tv on.  those cushy pillows were a win for sure!  we woke up sunday morning, cleaned up, packed our things, grabbed a bite to eat, and then headed to grandma lorraine’s for one last visit before our departure.  the three of us relaxed in her living room as we watched the rain fall.  grandma lorraine had been hoping for some steady rain to quench the summer’s dry thirst, and boy did she get it.  after a couple hugs, we waved goodbye as we pulled out of the driveway.  until next time, grandma!

at this point, phillip and i weren’t really in a rush to make it to the airport (after all, it’s not like hartsfield-jackson where you never know what you’re going to get), so we had time for one more stop:  skyline chili.  conveniently there was one located not ten minutes from grandma lorraine’s condo, so phillip navigated us there through deep puddles and unfamiliar traffic.

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i’d been introduced to skyline a few years ago when i attended a wedding with my family in cincinnati.  ever since then i’d been hoping i’d one day have the opportunity again to taste that divine chili, noodle, and cheese combination.  well, phillip gladly obliged that request, and i think we’d both say it was the best idea we’d had all day.  still not super hungry having already eaten breakfast, phillip went with a coney and i had a small three-way.  after inhaling the oyster crackers, we both barely said a word between bites.  there’s nothing like skyline chili anywhere in the world, and i will readily admit that i could have eaten at least two more bowlfuls of the stuff.  you can buy the chili canned in some stores down in georgia, but as we could all probably agree, it’s close but just not as good as the real stuff.  as we waited for the check to be brought, it took every ounce of self control for me to not order more.  it was even more difficult to resist as i saw mounds of noodles and chili and cheese being served up all around us.  even as i write in this moment i am craving skyline and am regretting not having a second helping!  as they say, it’s the things in life that you don’t do that you regret later.  i regret not eating more skyline.

we paid the check and then finally headed out for the airport.  although a very brief trip, i would say phillip and i made the most of our time here in the buckeye state.  with family and work and so much good stuff here in the center of ohio, i can bet you we’ll be back.

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