Crazy for Hippos at the Cincinnati Zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo is delightful. It is one of the top 10 zoos in the USA and so much bigger than my hometown zoo. It is also a botanical garden and attracts lots of butterflies. I drove directly from Louisville to the Zoo and began my wondering and wandering with a big smile plastered on my face.

I learned a group of hippos in a pile is a bloat. It has a been a long time since the Sacramento Zoo hosted Jewel the hippo. I was delighted to meet baby Fiona and her mom. I watched them while listening to the keeper tell us about hippo habits.

A big motivation for my #MiddleAmericaTour is to visit states I’ve yet to visit to reach all 50 states in 2020. I stayed in Louisville, KY because Google maps said Cincinnati, Ohio was close (1.5 hours away). It all sounds so doable when you are at your kitchen table researching options. And it would have been much easier if it hadn’t rained cats and dogs while I was driving home. I pulled off the freeway to a McDonalds to get a diet coke and wait it out.

I revived enough when I got back to Louisville to research a place for desert, pie specifically. I drove to Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen. It was yummy, yummy ice cream and the pie was above average.



Remembering a Childhood Passion at the Kentucky Derby Museum


The Kentucky Derby Museum is a combination of Derby trivia, interactive displays, walking tour, and surround-a-movie. It is a terrific bargain at $15 per person. You can pay extra for longer walking tours. I was only allotting about 1.5 hours because I needed to visit Ohio!


Right out of the starting gate I liked how the museum curators did their best to help you imagine what it is like to be the horse, the jockey, the trainer, the owner, the betting fan, and so on. There are lots of lists of all of the winners for the longest consecutive Derby in the United States–145 years!

This was the first year where the stewards played a role in the outcome. Several jockeys lodged a complaint of interference by Maximum Security–the first horse across the finish line. Twenty minutes later the second place horse, Country House, was declared the winner. I personally was relieved when the public generally supported the stewards. Too many people seem to think it is okay to cuss out the referee and it feels like more people are cheating in all arenas of life.

When I was 10 years old, I watched Secretariat win the Kentucky Derby and go on to win the Triple Crown. I was a horse crazy little girl. As I spent more time riding horses and watching horse events, I became a little less enthusiastic about horse racing. It has always been too cavalier about horse health. And now the concerns mount as the number of deaths at Santa Anita Racetrack mystifies the trainers and others. Watching the film at the Kentucky Derby Museum brought back to my memory all the reasons I loved horse racing as a kid. It is a truly beautiful sport. I may have to watch the movie Secretariat again.

IMG_8290The walk underneath the grandstands and out to the track was very interesting. The tour guide knew her stuff. And we got much closer to the places at the track than most people ever will on the first Saturday in May when 150,000 people pour into Churchill Downs.

#MiddleAmericaTour. I can now say I’ve been to KENTUCKY!

Celebrating Jane Austen in 2017


Any year is a good year to celebrate Jane Austen. If you agree with this statement then you don’t need the 200th anniversary of her death to do a little Jane Austen inspired travel. The good news is that many places in southern England are using it as an excuse to offer plays, special exhibits and special events. If you have complete flexibility in your travel check out Hampshire county’s website.

janes-tombstoneI have a specific time in June when I will be in Hampshire county and Winchester, so I will be able to see three exhibits at the Winchester Cathedral where the novelist is buried:

  • The Mysterious Miss Austen
  • Jane’s Winchester: Malady and Medicine
  • Jane and the Alton Apothecary
  • The Jane Austen Story

My favorite is an ephemeral event called #RainJane.  “Explore the city of Winchester and be delighted as 12 of the writer’s quotes from her novels or correspondence magically appear various locations across Winchester city centre when it rains. Rediscover Austen’s words in Winchester, her final resting place, and re-experience their enduring relevance. Copies of the trail can be downloaded here or hard copies can be collected from Winchester Tourist Information Centre. Explore the city to find the quotes and share your images on social media with #RainJane. A carved wooden and wrought iron bench is placed in College Street in the Winchester College garden as a place to reflect upon a living wall of ivy showcasing one of Austen’s memorable quotes “Know your own happiness. Call it hope.”


If you have flexibility, the week of March 13th there are a number of plays and other events scheduled in surrounding towns. It looks like fun. Events are scheduled at Steventon, Chawton, and Southampton.

England to far away for you? North America has two celebration for Janeites.

The largest Jane Austen event in North America will be in Louisville, Kentucky from July 14 to 16, 2017.  The theme this year is “Celebrating Jane Austen’s Legacy: 1775-1817.”

The Jane Austen Society of North America hosts the 2017 Annual General Meeting:  “Jane Austen in Paradise: Intimations of Immortality,” at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa October 6-8. Registration fills quickly in early summer, so become a member in good standing so you can take part.