When Mr. Baseball Fan was first planning this trip, he casually commented that I probably wasn’t interested in going to Columbus, and I might or might not have shrieked, “THERE’S A HUGE CHIHULY EXHIBIT IN COLUMBUS AND YOU CAN’T KEEP ME FROM GOING!”
Ahem. I’ve been a big fan of Dale Chihuly’s astonishing glass work ever since we went to his gallery in Seattle a few years ago (L.A. Angels annihilated the Mariners 10 -3, but the younger kid’s exuberant dancing got the whole family on the JumboTron), and I’m always on the lookout for more of it. So I was more than a little excited to go to the Franklin Park Conservatory.
But before that, we headed over to German Village for lunch at a traditional German restaurant, Schmidt’s. My online searching described the area as a charming, original neighborhood, with close-built houses. They weren’t kidding. The houses were packed in with scant feet between many of them, and I saw few garages.
You know what that means: everyone parks on the street. You know what THAT means: once the restaurant parking lot is full, there is NO PLACE to park. We only had to go a few blocks, but navigating those fairly narrow streets while looking for a place to park was more than a little frustrating.
Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant (yes, really) doesn’t short the tradition when it comes to the food. We started with the Pretzel Bites as an appetizer. I know I just raved about the pretzels at Four Winds Field. It’s the Midwest; there’s a lot of German heritage here. Pretzels are a thing, so get used to it. These pretzels were cut into bite sized pieces and deep fried until very crispy, and served with a honey mustard sauce. They were good, but the amount they gave us would have been better for four people than two, not that I’m complaining.
We decided to split a sampler of their four sausages, with sides of potato pancakes with applesauce and green beans with spaetzle. Everything was really tasty, although there were disappointingly few spaetzle amongst the green beans. When we were done, our be-dirndled waitress asked if we had room for their signature dessert: a cream puff.
Holy smokes–the confection that came to our table (already conveniently split in half) was at least as big as Mr. BF’s fist, and full to the brim with a creamy, custardy filling. Here’s the thing, though–it wasn’t heavy at all. Decadent, yes, But not a lead weight in your stomach. It was amazing. As we left, we agreed that splitting everything had been the right idea, because although we were satisfied, neither of us felt overfull.
And then, on to the Conservatory. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were pleased and a bit surprised at how empty the lot was, considering how close we apparently were to the entrance. Yeah. About that. When a little voice inside your head tells you that something seems off, like an emptier than expected parking lot, listen to it. Otherwise, you might end up stuck at the farthest possible spot from the actual entrance, conveniently near a bit of wrought iron fence that looks like an entrance but isn’t. Just sayin’.
I could happily go on and on and ON about all the Chihuly we saw, but I won’t. I really really want to, but I won’t. I will restrain myself to four bullet points:
- When we went, they had some extra glass art pieces from Chihuly, but the majority of them are permanent, so if you’re a fan, this is worth seeing at any point.
- Even though I am a fan, sometimes I feel like his forms get a little repetitive, with the swirly chandeliers & all. I was happy to be proven wrong as soon as we walked in the door–the very first piece you see is a series of metallic spheres bonded together. A very different look from anything I’ve seen from him previously.
- All the outdoor pieces were exquisite, but my favorite area was the indoor koi pond. The integration of the art with the plants with the fish was stunning. All Chihuly’s work seems to be simultaneously organic and otherworldly, but this one really took it to the next level.
- The Conservatory has a great section for kids, letting them get really hands-on with the process of making art, which I heartily applaud.
As for the rest of the space, it was lovely on its own, too. If I were hosting a small wedding, and was willing to tempt fate by having it outside, the Bride’s Garden lives up to its name. And although we didn’t spend a lot of time wandering around the rest of the space, we easily could have spent the whole day there.
We could have spent the whole day there, except that we had a baseball game to go to. That, and it was . . . wait for it . . . really hot. Eh. At this point, it was just another hot day, like all the others.
Before we arrived at the game, I noticed that the Columbus Clipper’s logo included a tall-masted sailing ship. Insert perplexed look here. Ohio isn’t a totally landlocked state, but it’s hardly coastal. And Columbus is pretty much right in the middle of that state–again, not a lot of maritime history there. So what’s up with a clipper ship? When asked, Mr. BF replied, “I always thought it was because of Christopher Columbus.” Insert forehead slap here, accompanied by an eyeroll for my own cluelessness.
When we got to Huntington Park that evening, it had cooled down to a manageable 83 degrees. It was Marvel Superhero Night, and they were passing out small plastic figurines. I got a Spider Man that I ended up giving to a friend’s son who adores the web slinger. This is a classic example of how minor league parks try to appeal to families as much as possible.
Another example of this is the mascots. Lou Seal (I swear I thought it was an otter until I looked at the program) is a typically cute cartoony animal, this one dressed in a pirate outfit. His co-mascot, Krash (this I don’t get–Columbus Clippers Krash? They changed it so it wouldn’t have three C’s in a row?) is a green and yellow parrot in a Clippers shirt. Someday, I’m going to interview one of those mascots, and the first thing I’m going to ask is how often they get heatstroke.
And on Sunday afternoon games, everyone gets to run the bases. Originally, only the kids were allowed, but grandparents complained, so now it’s open for all. If we were traveling with small kids, this would definitely be a factor in choosing which game to attend (frosting isn’t just for me.)
The Clippers are the Triple A for Cleveland Indians, but Huntington Park has more in common with Fenway (home of the Boston Red Sox) than Jacobs Field. For one thing, they have a smaller version of the Green Monster, the famous wall at Fenway. They also continued the Fenway tradition of everyone in the park in singing along with “Sweet Caroline.” I know it’s cheesy, and it doesn’t have the spontaneity of doing the Wave, but I like belting out the “bah, bah, BAH” as much as anyone.
Sadly, the Clippers ended up losing to the Buffalo Bisons, 5 – 3. Afterwards, they had fireworks, but Mr. BF I didn’t stick around long, instead electing to beat the crowd back to the parking lot.
Next Up: You see some zany stuff sometimes.