Indianapolis, Indiana: Population = 853,173 (metropolitan area= 2,336,237), elevation = 715 feet, Average January low temp = 20.5º (4.7 days below 0º), Average July high temp = 85º (18 days over 90º), annual snowfall = 25.9”, annual rainfall = 42.4”
From the rolling hills of Kentucky, to the flat plains of Indiana, we keep tending North for the summer. Indianapolis is a very large, sprawling city, surrounded by a ring of freeways. Our next rental is just off the freeway on the Northeast corner of the loop: Castleton. The distinguishing thing about Castleton seems to be the malls. The Castleton Mall is a huge enclosed mall, surrounded by strip malls. You can travel for miles on 86th street and never run out of malls. Every American franchise is probably represented here. All the restaurants too. Good food! You have seen lots of malls so you don’t need photos.
Leaving the Bourbon Trail behind, we find ourselves back on the Craft Beer Trail. That trail runs most everyplace these days, and Indy is well represented. There are a great many well stocked breweries and taprooms all around the city. IPAs are very popular, but there is a great selection of fine Belgians that we enjoyed too.
Whenever we enter a new state, we ask around to find out what the local favorite foods are. Lobster rolls in Maine, po’boys in Louisiana, hot browns in Kentucky, BBQ in Tennessee. In Indy it is pork tenderloin sandwiches and sugar cream pie. We tried one of the reputedly best pork tenderloins in town at Squealers and it was awesome. The tenderloin was the size of a hubcap, juicy, tender, and flavorful. The regular sized bun it was served on was comic in comparison. For the sugar cream pie, we went to kind of a handcraft-y sort of place: Locally Grown Gardens. Yes, creamy and sugary, with a hint of cinnamon, on a great crust. Nice!
The most famous site in Indianapolis has to be the Motor Speedway. This is the 2 1/2 mile long oval that hosts the Indy 500 race. We visited the museum and were awed by the collection of racers. They have the first 500 winner, the Marmon Wasp, which won in 1911. They have racers of every style since then, including some very rare exotics. From the Museum, you can only see a little of the track. We were a little disappointed until we realized that that is because the track is so huge. To see it all, you would need a helicopter.
Indianapolis is the capitol city of Indiana. The Capitol building is classic and beautifully decorated. The dome and the hallways are elegantly decorated in simple classic patterns with tastefully applied colors. The House and Senate were in session when we visited, but we did manage a peek into the chambers and they appeared to be utilitarian and business-like.
Our 23rd president of the USA was Benjamin Harrison. His Indy home has been nicely preserved and hold many of his actual possessions. When his term was over, everything was boxed up and delivered here, where it has been carefully stored and maintained.
Probably our biggest surprise in Indy was the Scottish Rite Cathedral. This is an amazing building built by and for Masons. I expected the usual cathedral setup: nave, transept, apse, and so on. This enormous castle of a building has ballrooms, lounges, a cafeteria, and a huge auditorium. The carved woodwork and marble are beautiful, but it is the glass that really stands out. Much of the glass here is German art glass. To make these windows, colored glass is finely ground and painted onto clear glass. The whole piece is then baked so the glass and colors fuse. Look closely and you can see the brush strokes, feel the textures. The rest of the glass is “ordinary” stained glass, but it is also wonderfully realized.
The Indianapolis area is a huge metropolitan area. We spent most of our time out in the suburbs, taking care of tasks that build up while on the road. Our forays into the city were relatively painless, even considering construction, haphazard one-way streets, and massive numbers of aggressive commuters. Whatever you are looking for in a big city, they have it.
Next up: Springfield, IL