Friday, October 1, 2010

The Great Indiana Roadtrip!

So, let's continue with 2009.

We just finished with July where I spent the first week in Florida, about nine days in the office, and the rest of the time in Alaska.

Then, August happened...and September too. I did some things, my sis and nephew both had birthdays. Football season started, the weather cooled down, general fallish activities were attended and that was that.

So now we're in October, one of my most favorite months! October '09 was truly stellar...and here's why: Halloween roadtrip. My best friend Jenny and I try to take at least one vacation together every year. In '08 it was Alaska, and in '09, we were heading to beautiful...

(Indianapolis specifically!)
Neither of us had ever been there before, and we both have the goal of seeing all fifty states before we head on off to Glory. Traveling, seeing new things, and experiencing new places are pretty much at the tip top of both of our lists. Now, as far as planning the trip, it was an elaborate and well thought out venture that went something like this:

"You want to go to Indiana over Halloween?"


"Let's just get in the car and start driving. We'll figure it out when we get there."

"Sounds good."

So, that's exactly what we did.

We left Friday night after work and drove until we got there. It's a straight shot up I-65, so it wasn't a difficult trip at all. We made a few stops along the way, mostly for copious amounts of caffeine and sugar. On one such stop we picked up a tourist guide of Indiana, figuring we'd eventually need some kind of directional to fun. We noticed a list of wineries and thought a tour might interesting. Easley Winery looked to be close by and sounded pretty good by description. We plugged the address into the GPS and headed that way. So, yeah, we were cruisin' for a boozin'.

...I can't believe I just wrote that.

Outside Easley Winery
We arrived before the winery opened, which would usually put a damper on our 'do it now' kind of schedule. However, the owner, being there early, came out to greet us. He was an older, Caucasian gentleman, decked out like a Rastafarian, complete with fake dreads and a laid back attitude. (You win again, Halloween!) He told us they would be open in about a half an hour and would be happy to give us a tour at that time. When we told him we'd driven straight from Alabama to his door, he was impressed enough to say shuck the thirty minutes, come on in for a private tour!


Now, let me preface this posting by saying that I am by no means a true "coin-assuer" of vino.  I enjoy a glass now and then, know a few basic types, and am pretty sure that MD20/20 won't be on the wine list of your favorite restaurant, unless it's a 7-11. Still, don't expect me to start spouting off about oak undertones and full bodied notes. And, as it happens, I know even less about the process of making/bottling/and selling wine. So, if the terms 'doohicky,' and 'thing-a-ma-bob,' aren't beneath you, soldier on, friend. 

Here's what I'm calling the tank and barrel room. It also had a chandelier, so it's ultra fancy. Our guide, who I will be referring to as 'Rasta' from this point on, told us all about the different varieties of wine they produce, the awards they've won, and how everyone at Easley just likes to have a good time doing something they love. 

I like my wine chilled, thank you.
Each of these huge cylindrical tanks contained a different type of wine sold by Easley. Several of them had iced over thanks to the twenty-six degree temperature at which they are kept. I do recall that one of these housed a blueberry wine that is very popular with the employees!

Jenny, she likes her wine straight from the spigot. Don't get in her way if there's Pinot Grigio involved.

Here, Rasta is showing us around the bottling and labeling room. I've always been a fan of wine labels, even as a child I found them interesting. Walking through the wine isle at the supermarket was like stepping into a miniature art gallery. They've got an artist that designs all of their labels...and they're doing custom pieces now. Label art is a branch of design in which I would love to be involved. Although, I might have to move out of Alabama.

I don't believe these are in use anymore, but these giant casks were formerly employed to age wine. They're huge, I'd say eight to nine feet tall. They keep a couple of them around for their novelty and history.

Totally looks like an Apollo Capsule.
This doohicky, and I believe the black thing-a-ma-bob in the background, has something to do with the process of making Champagne...what part it plays in that process, I can't tell you. Perhaps if I wasn't writing this a year after the fact, I'd be able to recall...but probably not.

Cheers mon! 
So here we are at the end of the tour tasting a sampling of the wines offered by Easley. A normal tour and tasting consisted of an offering of seven wines, but Rasta just kept bringing over bottle after bottle. I think we tried every single wine they had! Easley Winery was a great first stop, and I'd recommend dropping by to anyone passing through the area. The employees are fun-loving folks with great attitudes, who are willing to go out of their way for visitors. The wines are tasty and the tour is interesting and educational. For all of my ignorance about the wide world of wine, I did learn quite a bit. Jenny and I each bought a bottle of our favorite, thanked Rasta for a fantastic time, and headed off to see what else Indy had to offer. 

Thankfully, Indy offered a place to stay. We were running this whole trip on a shoestring budget so we weren't looking for anything too expensive. (This was before we knew about the wonders of couchsurfing.) We ended up at the Garden Hilton in the very center of the city. Their rates were a little too high but we heard if you booked online using a special code it was cheaper, so in a complete act of shamelessness, we asked to use their computer. They obliged and we came out spending fifty bucks a pop. Not too bad when you consider we were within walking distance of nearly everything.

So walk we did.

The Civil War Monument
We were right across from monument circle, so we headed down that way. There's a pretty impressive that circle.

 She hates me!
I love the romance of the Handsome Cabs. I've never actually ridden in one, but I assume it's a nice thing to do. I also love Draft horses and usually get on well with horses in general. This was Daisy, and at first, she acted very uncomfortable around me, shying away, snorting, stamping and stomping her glitter covered hooves. I turned to Jenny and said 'she hates me!'

 She doesn't hate me!
No sooner than the words left my mouth, Daisy swung her massive head around and nuzzled me in the chest. From that point forward, we were friends!

She was a sweet horse.
We walked down to the Capital building and decided to take a few pics. It was a beautiful Autumn day and the weather was insanely perfect. How insanely perfect?

This insanely perfect.

After enjoying the weather, the leaves, and the monuments, we decided dinner should be next on the agenda. We didn't really have any idea what was around us as far as eats, so we asked the locals and ended up at a brewery. There was beer and cider to be had of course, but it was the salad that really made me raise an eyebrow...

Yes, I'm actually wearing public.
...because it contained one ridiculously long carrot curl. Every bit of carrot you see on that plate is connected...and I don't mean that existentially. That was one single curl. I'm thinking it must have been an entire carrot. Apparently you make them with one of those spiral apple machines. Who knew?

We finished dinner around dusk and made our way back to the hotel. Halloween night was quickly approaching and we had things to do and costumes to wear. It took us both a while to come up with something to be for Halloween, but in the end, we settled on...

(That monument really came in handy for staging Gotham!)
(The door gate made a handy Arkham!)
 (The pics are grainy for that extra Dark Knight Grittiness!)

One nice thing about Indianapolis was that so many people were in costume! It was great to be in a city that actually participates in one of the best holidays ever.  We headed out to the main part of town again and ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe...for dessert. 


 Some men just want to watch the world burn...I just want dessert.
Because let me tell you, there is nothing the Dark Knight and his (her) arch nemesis like better than a little hot fudge cake. 

Word had it that there was fun to be had down in Broad Ripple, so we hailed a cab and headed that way. It was the only thing we did that wasn't within walking distance. Anyway, we ended up just traversing the length of the district seeing the thousands of costumes and listening to the 'music' coming out of various clubs. People in the bars would hold up signs as you walked by ranking your costumes from 1-10...I'm glad to say Jenny and I both scored highly. ha! Also, just fyi, guys dressed as the Joker really, really get a kick of of seeing a girl dressed as the Joker.

We ended up in one club/bar/venue that had a decent live band and some fantastic costumes...

...none of which are in this picture...or any picture I or Jenny took apparently. However, lil' Manning back there, he found his way into a few, thanks to his completely creepy stalking of Jenny appreciation of Jenny's costume. Other than fanboy, (how old is that kid anyway? He looks about 12!) it was a fun night of costumed shenanigans.

So that was Halloween. I was going to try to fit the whole trip into one post, but I suck at condensing things. Still, the next day, it pretty much deserves its own page, because, WOW, was it cool!


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Photoshop is fun!
Simply the result of too much spare time.


J_on_tour@jayzspaze said...

Some great pictures of your trip, love the equipment in the winery.

Elizabeth Douglas said...

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed them. It was a very interesting tour. :)