UPDATE: Moon Ohio, a Virus, and Armchair Travel

The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal


I haven’t posted in Travel is Fatal since November 1st, for which I apologize. That’s not very good discipline on my part and not very good practice for a blog. However, there have been a few things going on to unpack…

First off, I have an incredible new project to share with you! I have been selected to write a brand new travel guidebook for Ohio called Moon Ohio. Some of you may be familiar with the Moon series; you can find them in the travel section of any bookstore. The last edition written for Ohio came out in 2003. Needless to say, a thing or two has changed since then. A lot of my time is now devoted to researching, writing, and traveling for this book which is due in 2021. For more on Moon Travel Guides, visit moon.com.

Already, my travels and research have strengthened my appreciation for my home state. I’ve learned so much that I’m eager to share in the book. My first target was Cincinnati, a place I hadn’t really spent much time until now. I was surprised to find so much history, so many good views, and so much good food! In particular, the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is an overlooked gem with one of, if not the largest collections of Italianate architecture in the world. Though the neighborhood is old, it’s only in recent years that it’s been considered an attraction. In another 10 years, given the size of the neighborhood, number of historical buildings, and quality of the food, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this place get the kind of widespread hype currently reserved for places like the French Quarter and Savannah, GA.

Downtown Cincinnati from the Carew Tower Observation Deck
Downtown Cincinnati from the Carew Tower Observation Deck
Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine
Findlay Market is an anchor of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is one of the best examples of Art Deco in the state, if not the country. Also, it is the inspiration for DC Comics’ Hall of Justice!

Next on my list was Southwest Ohio, in particular Dayton. I knew that Dayton was home to the Wright Brothers and was thus a pivotal place in the history of aviation, but I hadn’t really taken the time to visit the related sites. I also had no idea that one of the original Wright flyers has been sitting in the Carillon Historical Park, an hour away from my house, this whole time. So cool! I had, however, been to the National Museum of the United States Air Force as a kid. It was cool to go back 20 years later to see what’s changed. The Presidential hangar is the highlight, I think, with the opportunity for visitors to walk inside Air Force One.

The next biggest find in Dayton was pickle soup from Blind Bob’s. Life. Changing.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is massive and a must for aviation-lovers.
The Wright Flyer III at Carillon Historical Park
The original Wright Flyer III, restored by Orville Wright himself before his death in the 1940’s, can be found at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton.

Some other highlights so far include:

  • The Cincinnati Observatory (with the oldest telescope in use IN THE WORLD)
  • Devou Park in Covington, KY, with its overlook of downtown Cincinnati
  • Fort Ancient Earthworks in Lebanon
  • Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton
  • Mariemont Inn in Mariemont

And then my travels hit a roadblock called COVID-19. Things were starting to get serious in Ohio when I was in Dayton, where things were noticeably quiet. I was the only person on the 11 o’clock tour to the Wright Brother’s bicycle shop. I had planned to grab lunch at the 2nd Street Market, but it had already closed indefinitely due to the virus. In the following days, most things in the state shut down including some sites I had luckily visited that week. My traveling has since been limited to bike rides in my neighborhood and snack trips to my kitchen. Where this puts the release date for Moon Ohio is still a question mark, but likely it will be delayed.

In the meantime, my topic choices for Travel is Fatal will likely depend on where I have thus far traveled for the book because currently my choices are very limited. A trip to Mexico in May was going to fuel a few posts, but that trip has been canceled. What a time to be a travel writer!

Fortunately, there is already a wealth of travel writing on bookshelves (and e-bookshelves) and there’s never been a better time to be an armchair traveler. I recommend anything by Bill Bryson to get your feet wet, in particular A Walk in the Woods (about the Appalachian trail) or In a Sunburned Country (about Australia). If you like small tastes of places, I recommend picking up any of the Best American Travel Writing anthologies which each come with a couple dozen short pieces. And there’s always The Waygook Book: A Foreigner’s Guide to South Korea written by yours truly.

So there you have it. I’ve been tremendously busy with a huge project, and now a pandemic is throwing travel writing for a loop. I can’t wait to get back out there and continue to be astounded by Ohio’s hidden gems, but for the meantime I’m following the advice of medical professionals and staying home.

If you would like to follow along as I travel and write (and catch up on the traveling I’ve done thus far) you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @mattiswhatiam.

Take care!