Family reunion – Hosting visitors in Indy

Several months ago, my parents and I got the news that my brother would be returning home to the United States after being stationed overseas in the Air Force.  That’s all I can say about that, so let’s not waste any more time, okay?  Good, I was hoping you’d see it my way.  He informed us that he would be flying into Louisville, KY, which is close to the area that we grew up, spending a week with our folks, a week with my wife and I, and then a week with his best friend.  And then all contact was lost.  That is, until I received a phone call on a Tuesday evening stating that he would be flying into Chicago, IL that Friday morning. 

His arrival plans had changed a bit, but the overall plan was still intact.  He was still looking forward to visiting our hometown, mainly in part to the timing of the county fair.  He hadn’t been to one since he enlisted, and he was foaming at the mouth to see a good ol’ demolition derby.  Who can blame him??  I fully expected him to be completely bored out of his mind after spending a couple of days in the wasteland that we grew up in, and figured he’d be dying to get to my place in the city.  Little did I know that he had a lot of priorities that needed immediate attention and would keep him occupied for a week and a half. 

Finally, the time had come for my opportunity to host my visiting brother to my fair city.  When my wife and I made a visit to England last year to see him and the country, we made him feel a little like a taxi driver, but that’s kind of his own fault…he explicitly and repeatedly stated that anything we wanted to do was completely up to us while we were across the pond.  Naturally, we took full advantage of that!  However, oddly enough, we missed out on seeing Stonehenge.  I know, I’m not proud of myself for that.  Anyway, now it was his turn.  Even though we had grown up in Indiana, neither one of us ever spent a great deal of time in the capital city, and I was eager to show him what the mild midwest had to offer. 

Calls were made, plans were mentioned, and I was looking for his arrival on Wednesday afternoon.  That came and went.  I got a message around 5:30 that evening that his car was loaded and he was getting ready to leave my parents, who live approximately 3 hours away.  No big deal.  At 10:30 that night, there was still no sign and no word, so I gave him a call…turns out he had to make a pit-stop at White Castle!  I couldn’t be mad at him for that – he had been outside of the United States for the better part of a decade.  Totally understandable!  At midnight, he finally rolled up to my house.  Day #1: gone.

I offered several possibilities of things we could do/things I wanted to show him, but ultimately left all plans up to him.  After a whirlwind of activity upon his return, he decided that day #2 would best be spent resting, relaxing, and recuperating.  No arguments here…there’s not much I like more than lying around the house and having a totally lazy day!  We ended up having homemade lasagna (thanks, dear!), and rented a movie.  He was a little confused and surprised (confounded maybe?) when I mentioned renting something from Redbox, then I turned into a McDonald’s parking lot and stopped in front of a red box. 

The next morning, he decided that he had rested enough, and it was time for some P(hysical) T(raining).  After the gym, I went to return the movie and we ended up driving by a Rally’s (or Checker’s, for my friends on the east coast).  His eyes immediately lit up and I knew that his re-integration to American food was well on its way.  Before his arrival, my brother had inquired if there were any walkways on a body of water…similar to what San Antonio, TX has to offer.  Unfortunately, while Indy doesn’t boast of a river walk that compares to San Antonio, it does offer a much smaller scale canal winding through the downtown area that is a nice place for a stroll

Brothers, can you tell?

So that’s where we headed on day #3 after a surprisingly delicious meal at the Bosphorous Istanbul Cafe…another feature on my brother’s rather cultural stay in Indiana.  (WINK!) 

The Bosphorous Istanbul Cafe

Day #4 is what I was most excited about, and I just couldn’t hide it!  I like cars, but my brother is a total gear-head.  Greaser defined.  What else would be more important, during a trip to Indianapolis, than to visit the most famous race track in the world – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?!?  We entered the infield of the track by driving through a tunnel underneath the short, straight stretch between turns 1 and 2.  Because it wasn’t race day, we spent our time wandering through the museum and taking in the wonder of the enormity and history. 

IMS Museum

Before we left, you can bet we ponied up the few extra dollars to make a lap around the track.  How many people can say they’ve made a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?!?  I can! 

IMS Japanese-inspired press Pagoda

IMS Gasoline Alley

From there, we ventured north to a building I pass by everyday on my way to work.  As I already stated, my brother and I are both enthralled with cars.  Especially American muscle cars.  so I could hardly wait to take him to the RPM Collection – American Muscle Car Museum, only to find out that it is not open to the public.  Wait, what?  What kind of crap is that??  I assume it is some kind of auction house, but on the side of the building it plainly claims that it is an American Muscle Car Museum.  Hmm…moving on.  With that bit of disappointment, we proceeded to cheer ourselves back up by going to Red Robin for dinner – “Yummm.”  (See what I did there?)  Welcome back home, broseph!

His weekend with us concluded on day #5.  We woke up, and made our way straight to the gym for more PT, only to find that they did not open for almost an hour and a half from when we got there.  I decided to waste a little time by taking him around Monument Circle.  I explained to him, in my best tourist guide voice, that Indianapolis was second only to Washington D.C. in the number of monuments and memorials within the city limits. 

Admiring the USS Indianapolis Memorial

Then it was time to get our swell on.  We followed up the gym with an afternoon of re-integration for my brother.  He had been salivating all week to go to Target, so we spent hours walking through nearly every aisle so he could see all the cool new toys and gadgets.  (Not that things are so different in England, mind you, but hey, it was his trip.)  My plan all week was to treat him to a little slice of pizza heaven by introducing him to Greek’s Pizzeria – a little hometown pizzeria chain that I grew to know and love while attending Ball State University.  And that’s when things turned tragic.  We pulled into a deserted parking lot, and after sneaking a peek through a window or two, I couldn’t help but notice that the joint was bare!  Eventually, we settled on ordering Papa John’s, which is pretty high on his list of pizza places.  Crisis: averted…but I was still totally bummed.

All in all, it turned out to be quite an enjoyable week.  Family is a stressful institution.  I use that word purposefully, because it’s not something that we sign up for.  It’s not always enjoyable.  It’s forced on all of us and we don’t have a say in the matter.  I am quite certain that my mom goes completely out of her way to embarrass me in any way that she can possibly think of.  In a horrific manner.  My dad teases me, but in a funny, playful way.  My brother tries.  It’s cute, kind of.  But he fails miserably in his attempts.  I’m sure that’s not much different from your family.  Families can be a bit of a train wreck.  That’s life.  But mine sure is fun!

Another theme from this post is to get out and experience your area.  I strongly encourage you to get past McDonald’s and the movie theater.  Go see a play.  Check out a museum or art fair.  Find a greenway.  Support a local sports team.  Go camping or spend a day at an amusement park.  It’s pretty amazing what you can find when you look outside the box.  What’s your favorite hot-spot in your hometown?  Leave your thoughts below, and don’t forget to tell me why!

Thank you, that is all.

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