Monday, May 08, 2006

Joe's Great MidWestSouthern Adventure

The adventure begins. I'm writing this update from a hotel room in Lexington, Kentucky, on day 3 of my adventure.

Day 1 - Travel to Indianapolis was quick and efficient. The brief layover at Chicago O'Hare was just long enough to stretch my legs (and walk about a mile through the airport to get from one gate to the other) and then take off again. The flight from Chicago to Indianapolis was certifiably the shortest flight I have ever taken in an airplane. It makes the flight from Seattle to Spokane feel like an overseas flight.

The efficiency ceased the moment the plane touched down in Indianapolis. We arrived at precisely 8:30pm, at which point it felt like the entire airport was shutting down. All stores and food places were literally locking their doors, and then we realize that American Airlines has exactly 1 baggage crew working, with the task of unloading planes and delivering baggage to be claimed. As a result, my luggage was not in my hand until 9:45pm.

Luggage in hand I proceeded to my rental car, a lovely silver 2006 Hyundai Sonata. Nice car, so far it has served me well. I made it to West Lafayette by about 11:00pm, fortunately for me still being on Pacific time, it only felt like 8pm or so.

Day 2 - Scenic Indiana. Krista and I went to the Sunride Diner in Lafayette for breakfast, which was about as much of a diner as anyone would imagine. But accordingly, the food was great. We then took a walk around Lafayette and its historic places, which mainly consisted of its downtown historic district, and the old train station on the Wabash River. I must say, the water of the Wabash river looks about as disgusting as it possibly could. Not somewhere I'd like to go swimming.

We then went and checked out Purdue's campus and Krista's office and lab in the Chemical Engineering building. Pictures say much more than words, so check the photo album for interesting stuff there.

The afternoon consisted of adventures at Wolf Park just outside of West Lafayette. Wolf Park is a wolf education and research facility that has a couple dozen wolves, foxes, and coyotes. It was quite an interesting place, including demonstrations of feeding and handling the wolves. The main enclosure at the Wolf Park contains 7 wolves, which get fed a fresh (or sometimes frozen) deer 3 times a week. We were fortunate enough to view such a feeding, though the wolves were apparently not hungry at the time. Of course, Wolf Park doesn't have any trouble obtaining fresh deer due to the efficiency of Indiana drivers who hit them on highways throughout the state with great frequency. An additional feature of the Wolf Park is the wolf and bison demonstration, where as one might expect, they let loose a couple of wolves in their bison range where the bison and wolves are natural adversaries. Once again, on this day the wolves were in no mood to cause a ruckus with the bison, so not too much of interest occurred. But seeing the bison wandering around was definitely interesting.

After the adventures at Wolf Park, we went to the Tippecanoe Battlefield historic site. The only slightly-interesting museum was there, as well as the actual battlefield which is now a historic monument. The Battle of Tippecanoe was between the US and the Indians in 1811, which set the foundation for General William Henry Harrison's future presidency. After wandering the grounds for a bit, hunger set in and we headed back to Lafayette for dinner.

Dinner was good, then we went to Krista's and watched a movie, the 1938 Oscar winner for Best Picture, "You Can't Take it With You". A surprisingly hilarious movie that I would watch again, actually. Very entertaining. Sleep after the long day was next on the menu.

Day 3 - Off to Lexington - An early start to the morning had me on the road to Lexington, and into Cincinnati by about 11:00am. After exploring getting lost in the less-than-desirable part of the city, I ended up at the Cincinnati Museum Center, which is contained within the old Union Station. The highlight of that was definitely the Cincinnati History Museum. I have been to many quality history museums in my travels, but none as outstanding as this museum. First, it was huge, once inside it just kept going and going. Then, it was almost 100% interactive or 3-dimensional, or something interesting stuff to look at. Not just words on displays, but context and interesting stuff. An interesting exhibit about machining tools had a man who was demonstrating the working tools, and I proceeded to spend at least a half hour listening to him telling stories about the history of Cincinnati. That was the interesting stuff. Plus, it makes old men happy when you're interested in hearing their stories. All in all an outstanding museum.

Also in the Museum Center was the Natural History Museum. This was a good museum, but appeared to be a bit dated. It was geared much more towards children than adults, but did have its fair share of interesting exhibits.

After the museums, a driving adventure around Cincinnati took me to the Roebling Suspension Bridge, at the time it was built the longest suspension bridge in the world. After a quick drive across and back, I took a moment to snap some pictures of the bridge, along with the nearby baseball and football stadiums. Following a visit to the presidential birthplace of our 27th president William Howard Taft, off to Lexington I went.

I finally tracked Amy down and after we went to dinner, in this hotel room I am. Tomorrow's adventures may take us down to the land of the bourbon distilleries, or it may not. Who knows? We'll see how early I can wake these silly people up instead of sleeping until 1pm like they usually do.

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