Sunday, August 5, 2018

Cycling activities are gathering tourists for organized rides (150Cong.Rec.H8063)

People have various ways they recharge during R&R. Me, I like to ride dozens of miles over a period of weeks, interspersing beer along the way. It's particularly restful when someone else plans your route and carries your crap. This year, I became a Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) "veteran" by doing the ride for a second time. In my opinion, I earned my stripes by suffering tent, bike, and weather (blinding fog and rain) malfunctions -- all of which I somehow managed to luckily avoid the year before (well, there was some rain). 

This year was more relaxing for a lot of reasons, but most of all, I was just more laid-back, not feeling like I had to prove my mettle. I wasn't worried that I would be the last one out on the course, so I wasn't afraid to linger at sights along the right, such as Mill Creek Covered Bridge (top left) and Deer Creek Lake (top right). I took my time at the rest stops. The unofficial snack pit by Buckeye Lake (bottom) was a particular respite, considering I somehow missed the official lunch location that day. 
Other stops were easier to find because they were at known tourist destinations, such as Smeck Historical Farm and Park (top left) and Dawes Arboretum (top right). I also felt no guilt about opting out of the optional rides on overnight stops. I spent a lot of my time "rehydrating" in local establishments, such as Staas Brewing Company in Delaware and Double Edge Brewing Co. in Lancaster, but in the latter town, I also took a stroll on the trail up to Mount Pleasant (bottom left), where I could look back on Fairfield County Fairgrounds, where we stayed for the night (bottom right), and think about the suckers who were likely getting rained on out on the route.
Fully recuperated from that organized ride, I charted my own courses during a short trip to Cincinnati. After setting up camp for the night, I took my car, not my bike, to Brink Brewing Co., where I sampled Gabe's Northside Rye and Debbie Jean Cherry Lemonade blonde ale (left). It was a Monday night, so I mostly had the place to myself, except for what appeared to be my kind of Mommy and Me group (right). I was about to head to Fretboard Brewing Company, but the bartender told me that Foreigner was playing there that night, and I wouldn't be able to get in without tickets.
So I ended up at March First Brewing instead (top), where I had a flight of Denali IPA, Mosaic Pale AleSwiss Chocolate Stout, and Maple Red Ale (middle left). Again, most of the place, including the vat-viewing tables, was empty (middle right). I can only assume that the better-informed beer drinkers in town were enjoying an acoustic version of "Jukebox Hero." I also had relatively few neighbors at my waterside site at Winton Woods Campground as well (bottom left). As it is with camping, I tucked myself as the sun went down (bottom right), so I would be well-rested for my first beer-biking loop the next day.
 
Upon waking up, I realized my route might be ambitious, considering I didn't calculate the fact that breweries don't tend to open in the morning. With some time to kill, I took a nice walk along the Kingfisher Trail (top left) before fueling up with a late breakfast of goetta tacos Foster's at the Troubadour (top right). Then I drove to the start of my loop, Listermann Brewing, which blessfully opened at 11 a.m. (middle). I unloaded my bike just their doors opened, then christened the day with a flight of Yacht Rock milkshake IPA, Stoppage Time cream ale, Freat wheat beer, and house cider (bottom left). The bartender was intermittently engaged in bottling beer (bottom right), but during a break, I told her what I was doing; she wished me well and sent me on my way with a Cincinnati Brewery Passport
It was mostly a downhill ride to downtown, where I crossed the Purple People Bridge into Kentucky (top left). To delay an early arrival at my next stop, I snapped some shots of the Queen City skyline (top right). I reached Braxton Brewing Company and Labs just after it opened, and it was pretty dead due to it being a mid-Tuesday (middle left). While some employees cut an industrial-size bucket of limes behind me, the bartender happily commiserated with me and offered some sudsy suggestions: a Brut IPA and the appropriately-named Cycle Coffee Stout 002 (middle right). She also recommended I get lunch at McK's Chicks, just down the road from the brewery's nearby main location (bottom left). Indeed, McK's ghost pepper mac 'n' cheese was washed down real nicely with a Haven hefeweizen (bottom right). 
 
 
It started to sprinkle as I finished my pork sandwich, but nonetheless, I decided to risk the quick ride to Wooden Cask Brewing Company. The downpour was just beginning as I ran into the brewery (left). The law-student bartender was a gracious host, letting me in a few minutes before opening time and suggesting that I bring in my bike as well. I didn't bother as it was already soaked by the precipitation onslaught. Instead, as I sipped a 7th Street Runoff brown ale (right), I considered the karmic consequences of my being smug about avoiding most of the rain during GOBA.
 
It was coming down so bad that I considered calling a taxi, but then I saw a ray of light (or thought I did), so I made a run for the border, back to Ohio. Not going to lie, I got drenched on my way to Rhinegeist Brewery, but nobody seemed to mind that I was sopping wet in the old Christian Moerlein bottling plant, which is big enough to accommodate both extensive brewing (top left) and cornhole (top right) equipment. (Incidentally, I was unable to visit Moerlein's current operations, as they were closed the day I was in the area.) It was a difficult choice at the bar (middle left), but in the end, I had a flight of Pia pale ale, Bubbles rose ale (a kind of cider), Flamingo IPA, and Spike witbier (middle right). By the time I left, the sun had come out, which was good because I had a long climb out of downtown (full disclosure: when I stopped to walk, a dad with his daughter in a kid's seat passed me) to Woodburn Brewery (bottom left). There, I only had one drink, a Marzenbier, because my appearance -- and odor -- weren't mixing well with the swank ambiance (bottom right). I returned to Listermann, where they rewarded my feat with some free sips.
 
The second day, I was awakened quite early by some woodpeckers (top left). So I had some time to reconsider my plan based on my newfound understanding of opening hours, and ultimately, I trimmed down my brewery list. I parked at my starting point and set off immediately on the Little Miami Scenic Trail toward Fifty West Brewing Company (top right). The brewpub offered six-pack flights, so I selected Coast to Coast IPA, Tastee Whip cream ale, Samba blonde ale, Pop Top pale ale, Straight 8 pale ale, and Main Street amber ale (bottom left). Sure in the fact that I didn't need to rush, I lingered over my beer, enjoying the pubby atmosphere and singing along to some good tunes with the bartender (bottom right). 
My next stop, MadTree Brewing Company, was almost the exact opposite of a warm, wood-filled brewpub; it was more of an industrial, steel-built loft (top left). But the numerous taps were certainly welcoming. I struggled with narrowing down my choices, but finally went with Between the Spreadsheets saison, Heifer Weizen wheat beer, Rubus Cacao chocolate raspberry stout, and Yes! Cuban B! American imperial (top right). Before I left, I talked myself into a free sample of PsycHOPathy IPA, then visited the more sad than mad tree in the brewery's outdoor pavilion (bottom). 
I headed on to Streetside Brewery, which clearly wasn't taking itself as seriously, what with the Lite-Brite panels attached to the walls (top left). The brewery has lots of whimsical beer flavors, including the dangerously tasty Cereal Milk milkshake IPA, which was seriously reminiscent of Fruity Pebbles remnants. Besides that brilliant creation, I filled out my flight with Key Lime Pie Goes? goze, Many Hills oud bruin, and S'more Fun Together imperial brown (top right). I took advantage of the equally creative on-site food truck, Street Chef Brigade (bottom left), to nosh on a snack: a flatbread with Mexican-style toppings (bottom right).
 
With a peaceful ride by the river, I was back at my car, parked at Little Miami Brewing Company (top left). I had already finished an Earth Cookie brown ale and Magpie Rye (top right) before I realized there was some spectacular seating overlooking the Little Miami (middle). But I didn't have time to linger, and I soon headed home to Mansfield. A few days later, after I put the bike back in the basement there, I unwound by watching a dragon float over nearby Ashland during Balloonfest (bottom left). It was a good way to bookend my R&R, considering I had started the trip by taking my dad to the city's Uniontown Brewing Company for Father's Day (bottom right).
 
 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Accolades over Slovenia’s accomplishments (141Cong.Rec.E969)

I arrived in Ljubljana just as the sun was setting, but even through the cloudy dim and my tiny window, I could already tell that Slovenia was going to be something to behold (top). I became even more enchanted during the walk downtown from the AirBnB, during which I passed an illuminated Trnovo Church (middle left). The moon was shining high over the capital, as was its namesake castle (middle right). The whole atmosphere was utterly romantic, especially when passing the love locks on Butchers' Bridge (bottom left). Lots of couples were enjoying the outdoor seating at Magda, so TJ and I found a table inside where we could eat a late dinner (bottom right).
The city was just as lovely by day, when the sun revealed all of its storybook spires along the Ljubljanica River (top left). Many people load up for boat tours, but we opted to enjoy the center on foot. Particularly enjoyable for walking is the promenade near Joze Plecnik's Arcades, named after the city's famous native architectural son (top right). Many buildings, especially banks, are designed by famous architects. Josip Vancas gets credit for the People's Loan Bank and Municipal Savings Bank, but I give top billing to Ivan Vurnik for the Cooperative Business Bank (middle left). Even when the facades aren't famous, it's fun to wander amid the windy streets filled with outdoor cafe dining (middle right). It's so quaint that you barely even mind the climb up to the castle, especially when you get to enjoy breathtaking vistas along the way (bottom).
 
But the best view in town is from the clock tower, which makes the admission price to Ljubljana Castle worth it (top left). You get a 360-degree perspective of the surrounding mountains as well as a bird's-eye view of the castle courtyard (top right). Located in one corner is a pleasant cafe (middle left); it seems like you would have to pay admission to access it, but you don't. You do have to shell out some cash if you want to get inside the fortifications, which contain a chapel (middle right), a history museum, and a rotating exhibition space. During our visit, the latter dungeon area featured a display on local dragon mythology. The creature has a fiery presence in the capital; it's featured prominently on the flag and on the Dragon Bridge (bottom).
  
The bridge is located right by the city's Central Market, which has both covered and outdoor areas (top left). It's also a great place to find a bite to eat. We passed up some "first lady" pie, paying homage to Slovenian-born Melania Trump (top right), in favor of some fresh native seafood and wine (bottom left). Later, during a stroll through Tivoli Park, TJ didn't want a bite of my burger from Hot Horse (bottom right), but I figured, what the heck, considering I had already broken the seal on eating horse.
 
TJ was much happier partaking in local specialties of the beverage variety. I got lazy about keeping track of the craft beers we had, but I know we tried offerings from Pelicon BreweryHuman Fish Brewery, and Bevog Brewery, which is actually just across the border in Austria. One of the best tap lists was at Sir William's, which is not nearly as cheesy of an English pub as it name indicates (top left). Still, I preferred Lajbah because of its casual al fresco sipping space (top right). The night of the UEFA Champions League Final, which actually was being held about a block away from our flat back in Kyiv, almost every drinking establishment found a way to create outdoor seating for soccer spectating (bottom). 
 
We figured a good way to work off the beer would be a day trip to walk around Lake Bled (top left). As you circumnavigate the water, you can continually see its little interior island, which is home to the postcard-perfect Assumption of Mary Church (top right). Many people rent boats to row or ride out to Bled Island (bottom left). But others, including ourselves, are content to gaze upon the lake's majesty from its shores (bottom right).
A great place to get a view of the entire lake is from Bled Castle, just a short walk up from the main waterside town (top left). The castle was swarmed with tourists, and its tower didn't seem like it would provide that much better of a vantage point (top right), so we simply walked around outside its walls. About halfway around the lake, near Camping Bled, we left the shore to hike up the nearby hills (middle left). We turned around not even halfway to Ojstrica, so we didn't feel like we deserved some of the inventively-chilled trailside beers (middle right). But we did treat ourselves to some Slovenian cuisine, trout and goulash, at Mlino restaurant before the rains blew in (bottom left). We got soaked making our way back to the bus station, so while we dried off and waited for the next bus, we capped off the day -- and our trip -- with some Kremsnita cake (bottom right).