I have to say that as much as I've enjoyed the constant on the move and see as much as I can see in a limited amount of time thing it feels like a relief to touch down in Indianapolis and know I'll be here until Monday.
From the moment I stepped foot in downtown Indy I set a new personal best by visiting three major cities in one day. No, this was not the goal so I could say exactly that and yes, I achieved precious little in each of the three because I simply didn't have the time to. The point behind it all was simply the journey to get there. Like the fascination I got on day three going through New Mexico and parts of Colorado on the Amtrak it was about seeing the paths relatively unknown to outsiders, and to be honest some locals too. This is the stuff you don't see in movies and tv shows and the stuff most of us don't even know exist.
As opposed to going through red rock country in New Mexico Missouri is more flat and grassed and the majority of the state's towns are beautiful with old style weatherboard homes. From the tracks it appears to be traditional country life at it's best. Acres of paddocks for all, lots of cattle and plenty of hay stacks. Passing over the Missouri river also seemed to spell the end of unfrozen waters. The Desmoines lake in Iowa was half way to becoming an ice skating rink and at our stop in Fort Madison I could certainly feel the drop in temperature. It's now at the point where thermals and a good jacket are no longer an option, they're a necessity.
Suburban Illinois from what we could see is as equally stunning as the farm life of Missouri but for different reasons. Everybody about an hour west of Chicago seems to own two story houses on pristine streets with matching trees on their nature strip. The one thing that stood out most was the lack of fences separating people's property. It's as if a lot of these communities are built on trust and love for your fellow neighbour. I just can't imagine not having a fence to block the neighbours away from my property but in some of these suburbs it's just a literal hop, skip and jump to the neighbour's porch.
In terms of cities my layover in Kansas City provided not a lot of excitement. To be honest it was all about stretching out in a king sized bed and getting decent night's sleep before hitting the rail again. But what I can tell you about Kansas City is that the downtown area is virtually a great big construction sight. I don't think I've seen as many road blockages, bollards, fences, drilling and hard hats in my life. On top of this a walk around the streets also showed me just how deserted it is. In a way I felt like I was walking through a town in 'The day after tomorrow'. I felt zero desire to break out my camera or stand in the one space for more than a couple of seconds at a time. Where did everybody go? There's lots of big buildings around, surely people live and work here? It's 8am on a Wednesday for heaven's sake!
I knew it was time to make my exit when I was looking over my shoulder for somebody that wasn't there. So it was off further towards where the war memorials are, and funnily enough more people. The monuments there are painfully well kept and respected and as a result a thing of beauty. The city's Union Station is even bigger and better than the one in LA too and boasts a whole heap of well preserved history. It even has it's own stage theatre with regularly sold out shows.
I was in Chicago for a grand total of two hours with a change over of trains but it was still long enough to know the place is damn cold. Kansas City, Indianapolis and Fort Madison have nothing on the windy city by the lake. It was also long enough to notice just how incredibly huge the Sears Tower really is. For a sky line as thick and tall as Chicago this monster easily dwarfs everything. It certainly has gone on my list of things to do on Monday to get shot up to the top.
From what I've seen so far of Indianapolis I've got to say I'm impressed. Weather aside, it's been raining literally all day, the place is a stunning blend of park life, monuments, lakes and lights. And for those that know me, Lucas Oil stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Victory Field are a stone's throw away from each other in downtown in this seemingly sports obsessed city. It's not big but it's safe, with hardly any unruly behaviour or sirens blaring and it's as if all of the city's homeless have been huddled into one small area. The Amtrak - Greyhound station is full of homeless who actually seem to take up residence inside the station foyer at night with no qualms from the staff that work there.
When I got off the train late last night I was startled at first but then thought about it. What a smart idea to keep the streets clean and safe in your city.
Another thing great about downtown Indy is that you can practically walk the entire city from what they call 'Sky Walk'. It's similar to what you see in Melbourne with Myer and the Central mall walk over Lonsdale Street but it goes for blocks and blocks here. After the weather we've had today I'm not surprised at this fantastic set up.
My hotel here is right opposite Lucas Oil stadium and right now it's getting progressively full with excited college students and their families ahead of one of the biggest college football games of the year tomorrow night, the Big Ten Championship. The media trucks are starting to swarm the parking lot with their gear and giant signs are being erected with team logos and banners. Having a chat in the elevator with a couple of excited Ohio State Buckeye fans gave me just a glimpse of what to expect tomorrow. I'm lucky enough to have a ticket to that game and cannot wait.
And for those that know I'm no chance of hitting my one thousand, two hundred kilometre running challenge this year I can at least say I am back running for the first time in two weeks. And in true American, non-metric system style my month's total is so far four miles.
I'll sign out with my fingers crossed for snow hitting Hoosier nation overnight so I can bust out my SLR camera tomorrow for some amazing photo ops. Out of everywhere I've been so far I like this place the best.