“I come from C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I…”

I think I was in grade school the one and only time I’ve seen “Babes in Toyland,” and I remember a bunch of other classmates getting all excited about the goofy Cincinnati song. Why bring any of this up?

Downtown Cincinnati 4:00 a.m.

Because I’m home!!! For the first time in four years, I’m back in my hometown. And really, for the first time since I moved to South Dakota, I’m getting to spend a decent amount of time here (normally, the bulk of any visits to Ohio are spent up in Columbus, which, despite my being born there and going to college there, is NOT my hometown, no matter what my mom says!).

This would’ve been evident on my old blog (the Blog-City incarnation, which is no longer with us), but flying isn’t really an option any more. It’s too much of a hassle, it’s too restrictive, and I’ll be damned if I put my 5-year-old through a secondary security screening (not-so-fun-fact: He did go through said screening back in 2009, when he was not quite 2, and that was what put the nail in the coffin of us flying any time, if ever again). This time around (after the glowing review from Jay’s supervisor at the radio station), we chose to travel by train:

California Zephyr - Omaha, NE

Yep, good ol’ Amtrak. It meant a drive down to Omaha, but thankfully Jay’s sister was willing to schlep us to and from the train station. The only issue I have with train travel is the ungodly departure/arrival times! Leaving Omaha at 5 a.m. meant arriving in Cincinnati at 3:15 a.m.–The following day! Still, it’s been worth it (so far). We took Mr. Quinn’s advice and got ourselves sleeper cars…Basically so we didn’t have to share the bathroom with that many people. It wound up being more expensive that I’d’ve liked, but that was primarily because I had to book this trip sooner than I wanted. I had planned on going later in the fall…Until I remembered that a certain little bambino would be starting school next month. A piece of advice: If you’re going to try and book the family-sized bedrooms, do so quickly. They fill up fast.

But it’s been rather nice. Jay and I don’t have to do 2 days’ worth of driving, and we can all get up and stretch our legs. Plus, we weren’t just confined to our train cars.

Breakfast with Grits

Breakfast was a welcome treat. And it was SO nice being able to get up and walk around. And just watch the world go by.

Somewhere in Iowa

Or, in the bambino’s case, sit and color pictures:

Jay and Bambino

We had a nice layover in Chicago (since we had sleeper cars, we got to hang out in a special lounge), then we separated for the rest of the trip. Jay and the bambino in one room, and myself in another. And this is the whole reason I booked sleeper cars instead of just riding coach:

Train Toilet

Train Sink

My own private toilet (and sink)! Granted, it wasn’t bad sharing 3 bathrooms while we were on the first train, but it was very nice to have a bathroom right there in my bedroom. Next time, though, I’m going to book the room that has the shower as well as the toilet and sink. I did bring shoes to wear in the event I did decide to shower, but in the end, I didn’t bother.

I also have to say, I’m most impressed by the food…Our meals came included with the sleeper car arrangements, and I was just thrilled we actually got food–Unlike the crappy snacks you get on a plane.

Pasta on the Cardinal

I liked this pasta enough, I think I’m going to try and recreate it when I get back to Brookings. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my time at home, limited though it may be. I’ll probably pop in with some of the local stuff I’m forcing my dad to do, as well as some of the fun foods I haven’t had in years.

I will also take this opportunity to mention that (in case you haven’t noticed the new ad on the sidebar), I’m now a Gastrolux Cookware Ambassador. Which means a couple things–Basically, if you click that link here in the blog post or use the one on the sidebar, and you purchase anything from Gastrolux, I will receive a small commission from them. I am hoping that in the near future, I will be able to purchase some of their cookware myself, so I’ll be able to give you more of an insight into why I wanted to be a part of their program (beyond the obvious money-making aspect of it). But to forewarn y’all, I’ll probably be pimping their stuff pretty frequently, just because I’m really geeked that this is my first big brand ambassadorship.

So with that, I’m off to take my first shower in 2 days now (I know–TMI), and then shove a few cheese coneys in my craw!