Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Terracotta Warriors in Indianapolis

After packing our bags and enjoying a full breakfast, we left the Sleep Inn around 9 am.  We continued to be impressed with our lodging.  I don’t know how we could beat it at around $65 per night.  We arrived at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis about 9:30 and parked in the free spaces at the garage across the street.  Admission to the museum is $20 but we got a 10% AAA discount.  Tickets for the Terracotta Army exhibit are an additional $10.  A family membership at the museum is $155 which would be a great deal for someone living nearby.  Our tickets for the Terracotta Army were for the first group at 11:45 so we had some time to walk through the other displays.  The first thing we saw was a massive 43 foot tall glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly that ended in a glass ceiling viewable from the lower level.  This Fireworks of Glass display was quite a spectacle.
A large water clock moved blue tinted water to track the minutes and hours.  Another display was the Dinosphere which is a live sized diorama with reconstructed dinosaur skeletons and plants of the time.  The domed ceiling had projections of the sky that simulate the passing of days and seasons.  One thing in particular that we noticed was that the museum was divided up into areas that would separate noisy groups of children. We also liked the Reuben Wells steam engine which is a locomotive that could push a load of rail cars up the 5.9% grade near Madison, Indiana that is the steepest railroad incline in the United States.  We found it amusing that the steepest rail grade in the US was in one of the flattest states!
When we entered the Terracotta Army display we saw about 6 of the excavated statues from China.  This is the first time that artifacts from the Terracotta Army than have been in the US.  There were many interactive touch screen displays that described the layout of the excavation and the history of how and why the soldiers were built and placed in the underground rooms.  Illustrations of work showed how up to 700,000 workers toiled for 30 years to build the soldiers, each of which has unique faces, uniforms and postures.  There were also clay horses that were constructed with the army.  We learned that the clay soldiers were originally painted with bright colors but that over the 2000 years since, the paint has degraded and flaked off.  It is believed that over 8,000 terracotta solders, 700 horses and many weapons, chariots and other artifacts are in buried in the Shaanxi province.
After leaving the exhibit on the terracotta warriors we walked around the museum a little then headed across the skywalk to the car in the parking garage across the street.  We had a lunch of peanut butter and crackers, fruit, jerky and corn nuts then drove the short distance to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The art museum has a huge collection of excellent art in their permanent collection that includes works by Picasso, Monet, Chagall, Matisse, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Renoir and many others.  There was a special exhibit of works by Georgia O’Keefe while we were there.  The art museum was huge and we hardly saw a small portion of it but we really wanted to see the gardens on the grounds of the huge property.  The Indianapolis Museum of Art is built on the property of the Lilly family and includes over 150 acres.  About a third of this is maintained as gardens.  
We walked around through many of the gardens and took some snapshots of some of the more interesting flowers.  We went into the greenhouse store and saw some of the plants for sale.  I would have purchased some succulents for my houseplant collections but I am not 100% certain that my problem with powdery mildew has been eliminated.
We left the garden area of the museum around 4 pm and headed toward Cincinnati.  We parked at the Gateway Garage (where we parked for Oktoberfest on Saturday) and met Sarah & Greg for dinner at Taste of Belgium in the Over the Rhine (OTR) area of Cincinnati.  We had meat croquettes as an appetizer that we all enjoyed.  Sarah had a chicken salad, Mary had a traditional crepe, Greg and I had the waffle and chicken.  I was a little apprehensive about it since the meal is roasted chicken coated in Texas Pete Hot Sauce served with a waffle covered in maple syrup.  I have to admit that it didn’t sound all that great but I trusted Greg’s recommendation and gave it a try.  It was actually very good.  The spicy chicken and the sweet waffle worked well together.
After dinner Greg needed to leave for choir practice so Sarah, Mary and I walked around OTR for a bit then stopped in a Graeter’s for ice cream which we all enjoyed.  We took Sarah home and picked up some LED light bulbs that she bought for us then headed for Georgetown, Kentucky to visit with Emily & Ian
On arriving at their Georgetown, Kentucky home, we visited with Emily & Ian for a short time before turning in for the night.  We woke around 6 am on Wednesday and set to work painting Ian’s “man cave” in Secret Meadow which is a hunter green color.  Before we could start the final green paint, we had to prime the walls to cover the claret red that the walls had been painted.  We used much of the leftover paint from the other rooms to put a good primer coat on all the walls.  The Behr paint covered well and looks good in the room.  I know Ian is anxious to get moved into the room and get it set up for his needs.  We finished painting around 6:30 and were pleased with the results.  Emily made an excellent auflauf for dinner that was a casserole of potatoes, carrots and cauliflower with a light sauce. 
Although we hated to eat and run, we needed to get started on the over two hour drive home so we headed out around 8 pm arriving home by 10:30.  We were very tired but had a great vacation and still got back in time to take care of some chores at home over the next few days of vacation.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Eiteljorg Museum and Indianapolis Zoo

We awoke at the Sleep Inn around 6 am after sleeping well.  We watched the morning news and went down to the lobby for a nice breakfast.  After a shower and answering some email, we left for the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art which is next to the Indiana State Museum and along the canal.  We saw paintings and sculptures by western artists like Fredric Remington, C. M. Russell, Georgia O’Keefe and many others.  A room featured work by many contemporary western artists as well.  Upstairs we saw art by native people from antiquity as well as items produced by modern native artists.  There were several items from Maria and Julian Martinez of the San Ildefonso Pueblo near Santa Fe.  
I also saw several pots in the Mesa Verde patterns that I liked a lot.  Both of us saw a number of items that we liked and spent about three hours there.  We were also pleased that we received a AAA discount that took the $12 admission down to $10.  They also validated our parking pass which was worth $12 so our visit there was quite a bargain. 
After leaving the museum we went to the car in the underground parking garage below the museum and had a snack lunch of peanut butter and crackers that we had packed from home.  After our snack, we walked the short distance across the canal to the Indianapolis Zoo
When we checked in at the zoo we were told that our Cincinnati Zoo membership would get us a discount but the admission we were charged didn’t seem to reflect a discount.  Since the money was going to the zoo we didn’t protest.  We walked around the zoo for over three hours and really enjoyed the displays.  Although the zoo isn’t large, the animals are very well displayed.  Perhaps the Indianapolis Zoo’s feature animals are the orangutans.  They had six orangutans on display of all ages.  They seemed to enjoy their enclosure and entertained the human visitors.
The rhino’s exhibit was also very nice with three adult white rhinos.  While we were there two of the rhinos had an altercation and butted heads right in front of us.  The giraffe exhibit had three adult giraffes that were easy to see.  They had a polar bear, brown bears, a red panda and a number of African plains animals.  We stayed in the zoo until nearly 4:30 before walked the short distance to the White River Gardens and Hilbert Conservatory.  Although much of the growing season is over, there were many plants still in the gardens and conservatory.  We wished that more of the plants had identification labels but the gardens were very worth visiting and the admission is included in the zoo admission.
By 5 pm, we were very tired and ready to rest a bit before looking for a dinner spot so we walked back to the parking garage under the museums and made our way back to the Sleep Inn.  We expected traffic to be really heavy since we were leaving the museums at the height of rush hour.  However, we had little trouble making our way back the short distance to the motel.
After a short rest, we decided on a local drive-in, Mug-n-Bun, that has been in Indianapolis since 1960 serving the local favorite pork tenderloin sandwiches as well as other diner food choices.  We first heard about Mug-n-Bun from the Roadfood segment on NPR’s Splendid Table.  You can eat in your car or at a table under a shelter there so we got a table and ordered pork tenderloin sandwiches and onion rings with homemade root beer to drink.  Neither of us could finish our meals although they were very good. 
After leaving Mug-n-Bun we drove past the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the way back to the motel.  It was a very good day.  We are tired since we were on our feet all day but we enjoyed everything we saw and did today.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Indianapolis Canals

We were able to sleep in a little at our motel.  The bed was comfortable and the room was very quiet.  We went to breakfast at 8:30 and we were pleased that the breakfast included scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy, waffles, hash browns and fresh fruit.  It was much more than we expected from a motel in this price range.  We left the Sleep Inn after showering and drove around the city some.  We parked at the White River State Park and walked around the canal area and to the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument where we walked through a small but informative museum inside the monument.  
We had planned to go up in the monument tower but it was closed for maintenance.  We walked around the canal area of the city a little more past the gondoliers and paddle boat rentals.  The canal here is a restoration of one of Indiana’s many canals that were operating in the area in the 1830s to transport passengers and freight from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River.  
I was impressed by the steam powered clock by the museum.  Since much of Indianapolis is heated by steam, a clock was designed that is powered by steam.  At the quarter hour, the clock sends steam to pipes that play the Indiana state song.  It was quite a thing to see.  We grabbed a sandwich from Subway for lunch then walked to the Indiana State Museum which was near our car at White River State Park.
We were pleased that our membership card from the Cincinnati Museum Center got free admission for us at the Indiana State Museum saving us $26.  We did pay an extra $3 each to visit the exhibit on Prohibition.  The museum was large and very well displayed.  The Prohibition exhibit has only been open for a few days and included displays on the social and political background leading up to the 18th Amendment then went into the growth of organized crime that characterized the period from 1920-1932.  There was a replica speakeasy and an instructional display on how to dance the Charleston.  
The cultural history section of the museum has many displays of the influence of Indianans on science, culture, commerce, politics and other fields.  Many manufacturers have operations in Indiana and have displays at the museum.  One of the better displays was on the canals of the state that included working models and sections of old canals that have been preserved and reconstructed for the museum.  The natural history area focuses on the geologic history of Indiana.  There were large interpretative displays of Indiana’s native rocks and fossils.  Maps show how Indiana changed over geologic time with the movement of continents.  We found this museum to be one of the better museums we have visited.

We crashed at the room for a bit after the museum just to rest our feet.  Mary did some searching for places to have dinner while we rested.  When we travel we try to avoid chain restaurants or at least chains that have locations in our area.  We like to find places that serve items that are popular in the area we are visiting.  Mary usually consults TripAdvisor for recommendations and we consider restaurants that are highly rated and have mostly positive comments.  We settled on the Rathskeller Biergarten in the Athenaeum Building near the historic Lockerbie Square area.  The menu was mostly German but had a nice selection of sandwiches and bar food as well.  They had a wide selection of German and domestic beers on tap.  The bread basket before our dinner had multigrain rolls and a great hot pretzel.  There was also a cup of hot mustard on the side.  There was so much horseradish in the mustard that it even made me take notice.  Mary had the rouladen which is thinly sliced beef wrapped around a pickle spear and covered in a light sauce. She had a house salad and red kraut on the side.  I had a pork tenderloin sandwich with a potato pancake on the side.  The tenderloin was basically a schnitzel on a bun.  The pork was pounded to an oval shape that is over ten inches long by 5 inches wide.  These tenderloin sandwiches are very popular in the Midwest from Indiana through Iowa.  Mary had a draft hard cider and I had a Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen draft with dinner. We both enjoyed our dinner and our drink.  We returned to the Sleep Inn and planned Monday’s visits to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and the Indianapolis Zoo.  

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Zinzinnati Oktoberfest 2014

We always look forward to the third weekend in September because that means that we go to Oktoberfest in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Zinzinnati Oktoberfest is the world’s second largest with only Munich’s being larger.  Oktoberfest started in Munich in 1810 as a wedding celebration for the popular Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese.  Although starting in September, the original two week long party lasted into October 1810.  Even today’s Oktoberfest celebrations begin 16 days prior to the first Sunday in October.
Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest is only one weekend but is no less festive.  There are tons of bands from Germany, the US and other countries.  Dancers, street performers and other acts line five blocks of East Fifth Street as well as out Vine, Walnut, Main, Sycamore and Broadway.  The streets are closed to all but foot traffic.
We met our friends, Rex and Natalie Dillinger, at 9 am to drive down the AA Highway to Cincinnati.  Since we were planning to drive on to Indianapolis, we needed to take a separate car from Dillingers.  We took a break from the three hour drive in Cold Spring, Kentucky at a Gold Star Chili which we all enjoyed.  When traveling to Cincinnati, a bowl of Cincinnati Chili can really hit the spot.  We continued on to the Cincinnati Museum Center to see the Cincinnati Under the Sea exhibit.  Although not a large exhibit, the informative displays illustrated what the area of current Cincinnati was like during the late Ordovician Period (450 Million Years Ago).  
We moved to the Cincinnati History Museum where we saw a model of the city as it looks in the early 1900s through the 1940s.  A large display showed the role of Cincinnati in World War II.  In the replica of the Cincinnati waterfront there was a full sized replica of a riverboat of the late 1800s and many historical interpreters to explain the significance of the items.  We finished up at an exhibit of black and white photographs of the Cincinnati area.  We all enjoyed our visit to the museum especially considering that we had seen only about one third of the exhibit area.
At three o’clock we drove to the Over the Rhine area and, on Greg’s recommendation, we found parking easily at the Gateway Parking Garage.  Although this parking area was further from Oktoberfest than other parking areas we have used, it was very easy to get in and out.  As we were parking we saw J. K., Deanna, Ian and Emily outside the parking garage.  It was great to see them there.  We walked several blocks over to Fifth Street and we were very surprised at the size of the crowd.  In other years we typically came earlier in the day and had much smaller crowds but at 3:30 the streets were packed.  Lines for beer and food were very long.  There were bands on the stage at Fountain Square as well as sponsored tents on each of the streets intersecting Fifth.  Lots of guests were in lederhosen, dirndl, and chicken hats.  There were living statues and even a “naked cowboy” on the street.  We ate goetta balls, goetta reubens, sauerkraut balls, potato pancakes from Izzy’s, Kaiser Schloss, Mecklenburg Gardens, Laslo’s Iron Skillet and other street vendors.
Of course we took part in the "world's largest chicken dance" led by Drew and Nick Lachey (formerly of the band, 98 Degrees) with just under 50,000 people participating.
I was pleased to meet up with my former student Andy Adkins.  Andy was a classmate of Sarah’s and was a star member of our school’s Quiz Bowl team.  It was great seeing Andy and we hope to meet up with him again soon since he is living in Cincinnati. He told me that his brother, Tim, had lived in Cincinnati but is now living in Arizona.
At five o’clock, Greg was part of the Young Professional’s Choral Collective that performed several German songs on the main stage at Fountain Square.  We enjoyed the performance and our visit with Greg afterward.  We left Oktoberfest and said our goodbyes to everyone and drove west to Indianapolis where we had reserved a room at the Sleep Inn near the convention Center.

We were very impressed with the Sleep Inn here.  The lobby borders on luxurious and our room has a king sized bed, microwave, refrigerator and tasteful d├ęcor.  With our AAA discount, this motel is quite a find.  We watched a little of Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts on PBS then turned in for the night.

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