Indianapolis is one of those towns that I have heard of for many, many years, yet never have visited. Having never visited the Midwest before this journey it makes perfect sense that I have never visited Indianapolis. Since I found myself in the heartland and I was headed in the general direction of central Indiana, I decided to stop in Indy and check it out. Of course being where another co-worker lives just made it that much enticing to spend some time there.
Indianapolis State Fairgrounds Campground
Wanting to stay as close into the city as I could, I ended up staying at the Indiana State Fairgrounds right in the heart of Indy. My timing was impeccable as the state fair was going on during my stay, which meant that the normal fair campground wasn’t available as it is in the actual fairgrounds now occupied by, well, a fair. There is an auxiliary campground that is used during the fair. Basically this is just a big grass field but does offer full hookups (water, power, sewer) which was quite nice. Because the fair was going on I got the pleasure of paying an extra $5 a night. Good times!
The fair campgrounds were fairly well utilized during my mid-week 4 night stay. While most staying there seemed to be involved in someway with the actual fair, there appeared to be some campers who were there to visit the fair. And there I was. Just needing a place to stay convenient to the city.
A day before arriving in Indianapolis I found out that my good friends Kristin and Jason, aka the Snowmads, were going to be passing through Indy on their way to their home in Knoxville, Tennessee. They were selling their Airstream trailer and needed to unload all their belongings before delivering it to the new owner in North Carolina. Of course we had to meet up in Indy to catch up. We last saw each other in Omaha on my last day there.
I first met the Snowmads in Albuquerque and caught up with them in Fort Collins, Colorado and Omaha. Our meeting in Indy would put it at state number 4 we had seen each other. If I didn’t know better I would think they were stalking me. At least I don’t think they were…
Once I set up camp at the fairgrounds I hightailed it to a local brewery to meet up with Kristin and Jason. We tend to meet where beer is served, so we continued the tradition. And my co-worker Khad and his wife Heike were able to join us also. I hadn’t seen them since our annual company get together in January, so it was great to see them again. The five of us enjoyed some tasty beer and good conversation. And then the Snowmads and I hiked over to another brewery to sample their offerings. Not a bad way to kick off my arrival in Indy.
I figured since I was staying at the state fairgrounds and the fair was going on, I probably should see what it was all about. It turned out that the Barenaked Ladies were performing Monday night, and who doesn’t like some Barenaked Ladies? I sure do, so I made plans with Khad and Heike to see the free concert. It also turned out that for the first time in Indiana State Fair history they were having a beer and wine exhibition where four different local wineries and four different local breweries were featured each day and fairgoers could sample their goods. We had to check this out, so we did, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves sampling some of Indiana’s fine alcohol offerings.
Once we were feeling happy, we decided to get some fine fair food and go see some Barenaked Ladies. The concert was wonderful as BNL certainly puts on a great show. By the time the concert was over we had time to make a quick pass through the cow barn and head back to the campground.
Turns out that one benefit of staying at the campground was the ability to hop on the shuttle that takes you inside the fair gates. This means that we gained free admission to the fair, which was a nice bonus!
Another advantage of staying at the fairgrounds was incredibly easy access to the Monon Trail, which literally runs right next to the fairgrounds. A rails-to-trails path, Monon offers many miles of urban recreation, so I knocked out a 20+ mile ride to help burn off that wonderful fair food I enjoyed.
I picked a nice overcast day to make the ride, which helped keep things cooler. Of course there was a nice wind that gave me a headwind both ways. Can’t quite figure out how that worked out, but it certainly helped me burn off what was probably a many thousand calorie feast at the fair.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis is famous for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is the home of the annual Indianapolis 500 auto race. I headed over to tour the Hall of Fame Museum on Wednesday (my Saturday) and checked out their collection of winning race cars as well as an interesting collection of turbine powered race cars. These turbine powered cars were very intriguing as they used aircraft turbine engines. As a former aircraft mechanic these were definitely fascinating to check out.
Turbine Powered Cars
I opted to take the track lap bus tour where you pay $5 to take a lap around the actual track and listen to a pre-recorded narration of what you were seeing. The driver supplemented the recorded information while answering questions you might have. It was definitely interesting to be on the track that has such a storied history.
Each night I was in Indy, Khad, Heike and myself went out on the town, which gave me an opportunity to see what the city had to offer. They took me to many of their favorite haunts that were places I wouldn’t have found on my own. It is always good to be able to get a local’s perspective on a city instead of having to use a tour book or a website to try and figure out what to do.
Again I enjoyed the opportunity to visit a coworker and to get to know them outside of a work setting. So far I have visited 4 coworkers and I have throughly enjoyed doing so. Unfortunately I was about to enter a part of the country void of people I work with so I have no idea when I shall visit the next one.
My time in Indy came to a close, I bid farewell to my wonderful hosts, the interesting campsite, and headed east to the next Midwest state of my journey.