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I owe you guys a post – I’ve just been so busy and I don’t have Internet, cable, or anything!  It’s been nice, though, to spend my free time cooking, reading, watching movies or sports at a friend’s house, and playing guitar.  But I’ve suddenly got so many things coming up on my horizon that I realized I need to throw a post in here before I go!  Next week, I’ll be revisiting AISES National Conference.  This year, it’s in Denver instead of Anchorage.  Been there, done that…but I plan to take a road trip to Cheyenne and do a few other new things.  Then, come New Years, I’m taking back off to Europe and Africa for a short winter break.  More to come!

But for now, let’s focus on where I left off: Exploring even the simplest of cities.  Now, I’m from Pennsylvania and I will boast until eternity that nothing in Ohio will ever top either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, two of my favorite cities.  That doesn’t mean Ohio has no cities to offer.  In fact, it has quite a few.  The thing about Ohio, though, is it’s more of a gateway state to other, greater things, and none of the cities are attractions.  You just don’t hear someone hyped up because they’re about to go on vacation in Cleveland.  Most don’t even know where that is.  And Ohio has many heard-of-it-before-but-couldn’t-place-it cities, sprawled across its large space: Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Cincinnati, Dayton,…

And, yes, the capital is Columbus.  They actually have an NHL team, too, which I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago (and, folks, I played collegiate and international hockey).  If I had to pick a favorite city in Ohio, I would definitely put Cleveland and Toledo (a dirtier version of Detroit, in my opinion) at the bottom of that list.  In fact, I prefer Cinci.  That’s probably because it’s so close to Kentucky that it feels like, well, not Ohio.  I also have many friends there.  The Dayton area isn’t so bad either; I used to spend the majority of a month there every August for the Grand American trap shoot in good ole Vandalia.  But, no, this post is about Columbus.

Columbus is one of those cities that kind of pops up out of nowhere.  You’ll be driving on the mind-numbingly straight, pancake flat Ohio highways for ages when suddenly you see some big buildings pop out on the horizon.  You drive through, panicking to find the painted road numbers to guide you into the right lanes as you zip out of Columbus as quickly as you entered it.  And, voila, back into the sleep-inducing, straight lines that make up the interstates of Ohio.

But what if you decide to stop over?  What can you do?

My company is actually headed out of Dublin, a small suburb in the north part of Columbus.  (Yes, Ohio loves to steal names from other places, as my mom always joked while I was growing up.)  You might be tempted by the Skyline Chili signs as you pass into town, but remember this is a Cinci tradition.  Skyline Chili is some Italian guy’s rendition of spaghetti topped with cinnamon-spiced chili and a series of toppings.  Depending on if you want a three-way, four-way, whatever-way, you’ll have a different amount of toppings, including choices from cheese, onions, etc.  Vegetarian is an option and you get oyster crackers with your dish.  But maybe save that for a trip to Queen City.

One thing more popular in this area (but still available elsewhere) is Jeni’s icecream.  I wrote an article about the Cleveland version of this shop, which you can find here.  My friend and I took a stop over at Jeni’s on our way out of Dublin to enjoy it’s Snowville, Ohio cream and homemade concoctions – like mint ice cream that really tastes like it came from your backyard herb garden.  Some flavors are weird, but all are delicious.  You’d have to be a coward not to try one!

I had low expectations when I rolled in for work in Columbus on a whim.  However, I pulled out my FourSquare app and did some quick investigating on the fly with two friends.  Columbus of course has the Nationwide Arena and other sports attractions, but I was looking for some solid, local food and brews and maybe something a little unique.  That’s when I searched for good food and found a place that a lot of my Cleveland friends had been to on business.  Must be good, right?

The place is called Barley’s Brewing Co. & Ale House.  It’s a beer garden, brewery, and gastropub with outdoor seating available, cheap food, and the ability to pay with a credit card – all good things!  The address is 467 N High Street and the menu is a serious array of everything, just like their home brews.  Just check it out!

I had spent some time with a friend at the Crowne Plaza hotel earlier this year and we were told to try out a bar nearby, but we never did.  This time, I finally did it with my more adventurous friends.  The place is called The Big Bang and it’s one of several existing duel piano bars.  FourSquare checked this off my to-do list as I checked-in at the ID-checking counter.  My friends and I went downstairs to find a vastly empty bar for a Thursday night in Ohio State’s main campus city.  Only a few people sat at the bar, but the floor of tables was empty.  Two pianos, end-to-end, sat at the middle of the room under the lights.  Two guys were playing them, accompanied by drums and some other instruments that changed here and there.  My friends and I took advantage of the emptiness by submitting tons of request cards – and most of our songs were played.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find Pumpking on tap!  The address is 401 N Front St (at Nationwide Blvd) and I am one of many of my friends to try this place out – so you should too, regardless of how busy it is!

Sadly, Ohio just doesn’t have the natural attractions to elaborate on the way that Tennessee, Alaska, and some of my other favorite places do.  But bars and restaurants are always my next favorite places to go to experience a new atmosphere, new tastes, and new personalities.  I’m sure I’ll make many more trips to the capital and share any new findings if I do.  In the meantime, keep creative and don’t be afraid to try new places.