The plane landed in the Midwest city of Indianapolis and my first impressions were not good. The weather was a blanket overcast which muted all the colours making everything look a bit grey. Not a great start.
I was in town for the Museums and the Web conference 2009 for the best part of four days so I wasn’t expecting to have much time to get out and take many photos. Luckily I manged to get a few pictures in between sessions.
I stayed at the Canterbury hotel which is very central and it was only a short walk round most of the downtown ‘attractions’. On the afternoon I arrived there was an anti-Obama demonstration outside the Indiana State House. There was a band playing music, the signs and placards were great but otherwise it seemed a bit muted and generally the mood was ‘quietly angry’.
I woke up very early each morning which gave me the opportunity to go for a walk around the city centre. The light was really low and bright and I enjoyed experimenting with some back lighting. For a city centre and a state capitol I did find Indianapolis relatively empty of people and it never seemed particularly busy.
My top cultural experience of the trip was an encounter with a genuine biker – ‘Bird Dawg’. My colleague and I went for a beer and discovered that there were no tables free and ended up sharing with a couple. The guy looked a bit scary at first, shaven headed and decked out in leather and sun-glasses. He noticed our English accents and started up a bit of conversation and the more things went on the nicer he and his partner seemed. It turns out that when he’s not biking, he was a professional trucker, owning his own rig which was quite interesting to hear about.
Bird Dawg was the very proud owner of a fabulous Harley Davidson motorcycle, which he very generously let us have a sit on. He insisted that I borrow his leather vest so that I at least looked the part for the photo. I declined the offer of the chaps even though he said there was no ‘butt smell’ as they had no butt which I guess made sense.
Before going I had really considered going to a a baseball game and in a way I slightly regret it as ‘Victory field’ was right in the downtown area and looked really homely. I think I may have missed my chance.
We did visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art which turned out to be very good indeed. They hold a very wide selection of art from Turner and Reynolds to Chuck Close and many others. A small criticism would be that the art is crowded very closely on the walls and I would have preferred less but more spread out. Well worth a visit.
On my visit here I was in the closing stages of my marathon training and I had been worrying about where I was going to go for a run. I shouldn’t have worried too much as the quiet and art filled White river park was very close to the city centre. Considering that I’d worried about running around a city, the river path was a welcome surprise.
The conference itself was pretty good and I got quite a lot out of it. I do slightly wish it had been in a slightly more popular city, but on reflection it could have been a whole lot worse.
Don’t go out of your way to come to Indianapolis, but if you find yourself here then there are a few things to do.