A trip to Champaign Urbana and Indianapolis

So this past weekend we were once again out and about, this time traveling to a wedding in Illinois.  As it happened, we went in to Indianapolis and rented a car to drive the rest of the way (about 2 hours).  For once, it was a trip that was not filled with stress or anxiety.  We didn’t really have a large part in the wedding, we were just guests;  We had plenty of time to get to places on time (we didn’t have to be at the airport until about eleven and arrived mid-afternoon friday); and there was plenty of family (all from my wife’s side, but hey, they’re family any way you cut it) as well as good food.  The wedding itself was VERY nice.  It was located at the Allerton Park mansion not too far from Champaign-Urbana where the bride and groom live.  The morning after the wedding we were able to stroll around the gardens for a bit.  As a matter of fact the only portion of the weekend that wasn’t good was that our flight on monday left at 6:10 am which meant we had to wake up at 4:30 am (an ungodly hour if ever there was). 

However, as it turns out even that was a minor blessing.  As we had to be at the airport so early we stayed in Indianapolis on Sunday and were able to spend time exploring the city.  Let me say, it is pretty darn cool.  There were a bunch of neat monuments (particularly the soldiers and sailors one), some intersting sights around the canal district and good food.  We ate at the spaghetti factory, which was fun because my wife had never eaten at one.  I hadn’t eaten there since early 2002 and let me tell you, it was better than I remembered it.  (My family used to always get together at the one in Portland OR for family get togethers.)  As an added bonus there was a political diner in town that night so Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were both in town, and, more importantly there supporters were out in arms.  They sat across the street from each other in front of the conference center yelling and dancing and what not.  Unfortunately, it seemed like most of the Clinton supporters were being disparaging, mocking the Obama supporters for there dances (they had a drum line and dance squad) and making rude gestures.  Oh well, what do you expect?  If we would have known that the dinner was that evening we almost certainly would have sprung for the event ($100 for dinner) just to hear them speak in person.  As it was, we settled for watching it back in the hotel room.  My feelings are just being reenforced and my disapproval of Hillary is growing daily.  I certainly hope Obama is able to end this soon…

Another benefit of the weekend, as always for me when I travel, was that I got in a good amount of reading.  I finished up Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins.  I would have to say that I did not like this one as much as Jitterbug Perfume, but it was still pretty good.  I could see how it is that it is a cult classic.  It does a pretty good job of capturing what I imagine the sixties were like for some people… Not having been around back then I can’t say for certain though. 

I did like the way that Robbins intermingled all of (presumably) his views on government, capitalism and religion with speeches by the characters.  Some of them were quite entertaining, some of them painfully funny and others that strike to close to home to laugh at.  I would have to say that today, if I were to see a hot dog shack / zoo I would be much more inclined to stop and stroll around 🙂  Furthermore, the roman catholic assassins were a good laugh as was the body.  No we can’t discuss the body….

I can’t quite decide how much I actually liked any of the characters in this book.  They all had something that was pretty entertaining; some quip or habit, some description that set them apart, some monologue or story.  But, unlike Jitterbug there didn’t seem to me to be as much of a driving factor for any of them.  I guess that with Jitterbug the theme was there and relevant across the board.  Alobar was intent on not dying, and, after awhile so was Kudra.  Priscilla, Marcel and Madame Devalier were trying to match the perfect scent.  Sure, there was more to it than that, a lot more, but they had some driving goal.  It didn’t seem like there was as much of a goal for Roadside Attraction.  And, I guess that that might have been planned.  This was the sixties.  Everything was supposed to be freed from the constraints placed on them by society.  And, the characters certainly were free…

After I finished this one (about twenty minutes into the flight from Charlotte NC to Indianapolis IN on Friday) I started up the next book, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.  This has been a really fun read after the last two novels which were a bit out of my typical genres (Then again, a few years ago this too would not have been on my bookshelf).  The book is set in the near future and is a psuedo steampunk novel.  America has unraveled and almost everything is commercialized.  I will probably talk about it a bit more after I have finished (I’m about half way through with it now), but for now I would highly recommend it.

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