Indianapolis...Part 2

So, I always thought that I had some common sense. In fact, I thought I probably had more than most folks. However, I proved myself wrong by going sightseeing in a near-blizzard. I was literally the only person with a map in one gloved hand and a camera in the other wandering the windswept, snowy streets of Indy on Monday. Although I couldn't feel my thighs after about 20 minutes and my eyelashes froze, I still managed to have a good time...go figure. Must have been those four years in Minnesota for undergrad.

After my room service breakfast and a luxurious three-shower-head shower at the hotel, I dropped my overnight bag with the bellhop and headed out into the blustery cold. I walked along the canal (didn't know there were canals here!) to the memorial for the USS Indiana, which sank during World War II in the Pacific. In fact, I learned that Indianapolis has more war memorials per capita than any other U.S. City outside of Washington, D.C. Here's a picture of one of the much larger World War Memorials...hiking up the stairs to the top was an exercise in core strength. Fighting the headwind was tough!
I also tried to get into the Scottish Rite Cathedral, admittedly because I was freezing and needed to warm up. But, I also have a thing for Gothic architecture and this was a beauty. Apparently, it was built in the 1920's, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. I read that it also includes a great deal of Masonic imagery...very Dan Brown, eh? Unfortunately, it was locked up tight, offering no glimpses of the interior and no shelter from the storm. Bummer.

Eventually, I got cold enough that I decided it was time to head back over to the Eiteljorg Museum for an official warming session. It was so cool! Definitely worth the trip! The American Western Art was really great. I was expecting that to be the low-light of the museum, but I really enjoyed it. I think it may have inspired my next domestic trip to possibly New Mexico...any takers? They also had an amazing train layout that my grandpa, a true train aficianado, would have loved. The artisans had crafted all these monuments and buildings from the West from bark and wood...it smelled like a cedar forest! And, of course, the kid in me could have stood there watching the trains go around and around all day. Luckily, the hundreds of screeching children forced me to move along.

As great as all that was, the coolest part of the museum was definitely the Native American art and artifact collection. It was an interesting mix of contemporary and historic works. Gorgeous jewelry, baskets, katchinas, leatherworks, pottery, etc. divided and organized by region. There was a nice overview of the tribes and characteristics of each region of the US with some really fascinating info. Amongst the contemporary work, there was some stuff that I'd have to defer to my art professor sister, Dr. Laura's, expertise on, but the above picture is of an installation I found easy to understand and moving. Apparently, the US government sent "care packages" to different Native American tribes with medicine and supplies for an epidemic of some sort that was sweeping the nation. They also included body bags, which this native artist found symbolic of the "Americans" treatment of the natives from the moment they landed. From the first biological warfare (blankets infected with smallpox) to the theft of land, I don't think that attempted genocide is too strong a word. And neither did this artist, whose name I, unfortunately, did not write down :(  On a lighter note, the museum also had a fantastic café with yummy food. This is the buffalo chili. Made with real bison! Delicious and warming.

I milked my visit for all it was worth, but eventually had to head back out into the cold when the museum closed at 5:00. I wandered a bit more and scoped out a couple fun boutiques on Mass Ave, another war memorial that gives the city the nickname "Circle City" and even wandered aimlessly around a mall, which I haven't done since I was 16. Hey, it was indoors and it was still snowing. Need I say more? Finally, it was time to head back to the stinky Megabus and Chicago.

Indianapolis wound up being an excellent way to kick off a 2012 of more independence and adventure. Can't wait to see what else the New Year will bring!


Indy...pre-SuperBowl...part 1

So, as I reflected on the New Year as Christmas wound down, I realized that it had been awhile (since July!) since I'd been somewhere new. I was getting itchy feet. So, I made one, and only one, resolution...to travel somewhere new in the New Year. Rather than give myself a chance to put things off, I went directly onto the Megabus website and booked myself a little 32-hour trip to Indianapolis leaving on New Year's Day!

I've never ridden Megabus before, but it wasn't too bad...other than the immensely overweight guy with onion breath, who fell asleep and snored stinkily into my face the whole time. Ah, well...got off the bus and walked in a staggeringly strong wind to my hotel, the JW Marriott. It is brand new and gorgeous! I had booked a room on Priceline and upon arrival was upgraded to an Executive Room on the top (33rd) floor. What a view of downtown Indy! It was kind of interesting to see the small cluster of tall buildings after getting used to Chicago's sprawling, spiny skyline.

The main purpose of my trip was to visit the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. I have always been fascinated by Native American culture and this place has been towards the top of my domestic travel list for awhile. But, I found that somehow after being enveloped in an oniony cloud on the bus for three hours, having lunch, watching cable TV and taking a nap sounded more appealing than braving the crazy wind gusts to walk across the street to the museum.

So, I ate a veggie burger and watched about 20 football games at the same time in the hotel's bar...snuggled up in my king-size bed...and dozed through about 800 episodes of House Hunters International on HGTV. The moral of this story is that Indy is a sports town, the executive-level beds ARE more comfortable, and I subliminally got the idea to buy a villa in Martinique.

After waking up somewhat disoriented, I realized that the museum was closed and would have to wait until tomorrow. So, I settled in for a night of TV and Kindle-reading and decided to treat myself to another first. Room Service!! Why is it that an overpriced, late-night Cobb Salad tastes so much better than your average, day-time salad? I can't say, but I impulsively placed an order for breakfast to be delivered in the a.m...

Au Revoir, Paris...

So, time to say "au revoir" to Paris came too soon...before we knew it, it was time to head back to the States. But, not before I had time to stop by to say hello again to some of my all-time favorite sites in the city...these are the ones that I have seen a million times, will probably see a million times more and it will never be too much.
First on my list, is Sainte-Chapelle, the epitome of high Gothic splendor. The chapel is actually two, with one built directly on top of the other. The lower chapel was for the less-important members of the royal court...while the upper chapel was clearly meant for the crème-de-la-crème! The stained glass is...éclablouissant...a hard-to-translate word that means something along the lines of "it will knock you clear off your feet with its amazingness." I can't think of a word in English that has the same effect, except perhaps the REAL meaning of the word "awesome." Too bad pop culture has corrupted that one.

And, of course, no trip to Paris could be complete without me taking a few shots of the Eiffel Tower. I can't help it. It's an obsession...but I hear acknowledging you have a problem is half the battle.

So, a fond "au revoir, Paris"...see you in the spring :)