I now interrupt this Big Journey travelogue to talk about my STA final video and upcoming web development. But fret not, because I will pick up with my travels in Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, and Hawaii upon the completion of this madness called the "final round".
The Indy Video
For those of you coming from other worldwide destinations, Indianapolis seems like a barely noticeable bump on the map. For those of us coming from towns of 13,000, it's a Mecca of development. We inhabitants often make fun of Indianapolis and its available opportunities, holding it up to the same light as NYC to point and laugh, but we also get very testy when people come down on this city that actually has a lot that keeps us completely content.
Given the objective to highlight a local spot in town and convince STA travelers to hit it up, I decided it was going to take more than a good eatery to make budget travelers flock to the Circle City. I took my cameras and traversed the entirety of the capital to find Indy's best, knowing fully well that I had in my back pocket my favorite spots and events that would cause any outsider to come a-running. And documenting just one of the three gems wouldn't be effective in letting people know how multi-faceted this place truly is. Crossroads, indeed.
Joe is my favorite cook in town. The day I asked for my staple B&B (black beans and caramelized, only to hear it was no longer available, was the day I lost hope in the culinary efforts of mankind. Luckily that dark period didn't last long, and my favorite is back on the blackboard menu.
My friends and I have envied the boys who work here for years, wishing we could get the chance to spoon out this fresh grub to the eclectic, young crowd of Broad Ripple and beyond. Unfortunately, those who grasp the opportunity to work with Joe never let it go, so turnover in this restaurant's roster doesn't often occur.
Cajun creole, freshly made each day, doesn't seem like a uniquely Indianapolis type of fare, but Indianapolis doesn't really have a food style. We are a blend of every nationality on this spinning ball, and every once in a while a local joint pops up that showcases the dedicated, sophisticated, and multi-cultural taste reflecting that fact.
The frequent diners at this establishment are truly appreciated by the staff and get the kind of special treatment neighbors give neighbors (not to be too down home and cliche). Everyone at this place calls me "Winnie", from the Wonder Years TV show, and they all say it as though they were the first to come up with this revelation every time. I guess it's flattering; she was the idolized girl-next-door. But man did she have some bad bangs!
The Slippery Noodle Inn
The superlatives: The oldest Bar in Indianapolis. One of the Best Blues bars in the Country.
What's this place actually like? Sit outside on the patio and enjoy the tasty bar food and drink while enjoying a part of downtown that feels more like a small town street corner. Sit inside and watch biker dudes smoke their Lucky Strikes, laugh about their daily trials, and smile at you when they realize you're filming them for a video segment. Feel the warm embrace of their toothy grins and further suggestions of awesome bars in Indianapolis. Harley guys are sweethearts.
John Dillinger was the typical 1930s bank robber/gangster, a notorious man who claimed Indianapolis as his hometown. He and his automatic-wielding posse used the west wall of this building for target practice; the slugs are still visible in the bricks today. During Prohibition, whiskey and beer were produced in the basement. The offices of today, on the bar's top floor, used to be the whorehouse for the patrons. Oh, such interesting and classy history.
Wandering the maze of hallways and hideaways on the bottom floor is an eerie experience when coupled with the thoughts of former slaves hiding where liquor bottles now stack. The Slippery Noodle, which shares parking lots with Union Station, was a part of the Underground Railroad. Gravel crunched under my feet as my waitress graciously showed me around, pointing out the original wooden doors that hid the worrying eyes from happenings during the Civil War.
Now, I love a good, frosty beer, but this whole package makes driving the half hour into downtown seem completely worthwhile.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May is big in Indianapolis. Crazy people are out running around downtown in the nation's largest mini marathon. Others prefer to take on the hectic parking scene and the sometimes aggravating task of opening lawn chairs in order to be among the 300,000 spectators of a parade only trumped in grandeur by the Macy's Turkey Day and Rose Bull parades.
My kicks come from joining a group of friends and becoming one with a half million koozie-grasping, checkerboard-wearing sports fans on race day. The Indy 500 is the world's largest single-day sporting event (the single-day inclusion is to sidestep the shadow cast by the Olympics). If you've got a seat on Turn 1, never let it go. You may even find yourself in the background of an MTV Japan newscast or sitting next to the resident big shots in Indy.
People like me, though, are all about the infield. Be prepared with your sunscreen, cut-off jean shorts (a.k.a. "jorts"), and a cooler on wheels. The more checkerboard paraphernalia you have dripping from your sweaty frame, the better. ESPN2 has it all wrong; it's not about the cars going around in a circle, it's the cultural immersion into a fun-loving crowd of race fans on Indiana's biggest day of the year.
The New Website
In the coming weeks, I will be dropping my beloved blogspot for something more substantial. Nomadderwhere will wander on and find a new home elsewhere. The new site will include videos, blogs, photography, links, and maybe even additional information if the need calls for it. I tell you this because I like people who read. I like people who read my posts down to the bottom (you!). I like people who believe the world is bigger than the US of A...and like to read about that.