The Crossroads of America – Indianapolis, Indiana

Crossing from Illinois into Indiana was a bit of a homecoming for Julie.  Even though she had not been to the state in years, she had more 2nd cousins and 3rd cousins in the state than she could count.  We had been planning the Indiana leg of our trip for a few months now as we would be spending her birthday in Indianapolis with her parents and a few of her cousins.  We were both pretty excited to be seeing and staying with family here.

Let’s go Buffalo Bills!

Today though was Sunday morning and as Julie’s parents would not be arriving until the night (it’s a 9-hour drive from Avon, NY to Indianapolis), Julie and I decided to find a spot to watch our favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills.  Most NFL teams have fans in cities all across the USA and the Bills are no exception.  Their fan club is called the Bills Backers and spots to find member bars are as easy as searching on Google.  We had stopped at quite a few of these over the last few years to watch games (Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles) and now we had found one located in Indianapolis.  If the fan club is big enough, they take over the entire bar such as in Portland, SF & LA or if it’s a smaller club just a section of the bar or a back room to watch like in Seattle.

We found online that the Indianapolis Bills Backers met at a bar called Chatham Tap in northern Indianapolis, so we headed over.  We walked in and were directed to a back room where we were greeted by about 10 people who all greeted us with warm smiles and saying “Yeah, there’s more of us!).  After sitting down, we started to talk to the others.  Unless you grew up in, moved to or have a spouse you are generally not going to be a Buffalo fan.  Because of this we were not surprised to find that everyone in the room was either from Buffalo or Rochester or had lived there for at some point in their lives.  It was a pretty neat atmosphere as they had decorated the room in all Bills posters and even had magnets to give and randomly ketchup from Buffalo.   As the game started Julie started to have fun talking to the wives in the room as the guys ate chicken wings and watched the game.  All in all, we had a blast with the Indianapolis Bills Backers crew.  They invited us into their group with open arms and were a blast to hang out with.  The cherry on the top was that Buffalo beat the NY Giants.  So far Indianapolis was starting out great!

The group is formed

After the game was over, we hopped back into Bubbles and headed from northern Indianapolis to the south end of the city where Julie’s cousin Susie lives.  After arriving we had a blast catching up as Julie had not seen Susie for years.  A few hours later Julie’s parents arrived, and our group was complete.  That night we went to El Jalapeño for dinner, a great Mexican restaurant just down the street from Susie’s house.  Even though I have no connection to Indiana and Julie had not been here in years, the city was already starting to feel like home.

Mass Ave –  Indianapolis

The next day we woke up excited for a day of touring and seeing even more family.  After breakfast we all hopped into Susie’s van and she took us on a tour of downtown Indianapolis.  After driving for a bit she drove over to the Massachusetts Avenue area then parked and we started to walk around.  This area of the town was beautiful.  There were renovated historic brick buildings with shops and restaurants for blocks. We stopped in and out of a few shops before we started to get hungry and headed into the Rathskeller for lunch.  The Rathskeller is a German restaurant opened in 1894, making it Indianapolis’ oldest restaurant.  The building that it was in was absolutely gorgeous and huge.  There were dining rooms, ball rooms and even a beer garden.  Here we had a delicious German lunch and some great German beer.  We then drove back to Susie’s for a bit of relaxation for the party to come.

All the Indiana Family

That evening we drove out to the outskirts of Indianapolis to have dinner with the rest of Julie’s Indianapolis family.  We arrived at their farmhouse and almost immediately all I could think was that ……this is a lot of people.  The head of the family couple was there, who had five kids of their own plus their spouses.  All the “kids” in turn had kids of their own, each having between 1 to 3 kids.  All of that side of the family plus our van-load equaled a very full house.  Julie and I both have very small immediate families so being around a huge family was a little overwhelming at first.  In no time though it felt like they took me in and made me feel welcome, comfortable and one of the family.  That night we grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, had a few beers, told stories and just had a blast with one another.

Indiana Capitol Building

The next day we woke up on a very special day; it was Julie’s birthday!  We had a lot of fun planned for today.  After eating breakfast, we hopped into Susie’s van and headed downtown.  As is our usual when visiting the capitol of a state we headed over to the Indiana Capitol Building.  We had good timing here as we arrived just in time to take a tour.  The building (as most capitol buildings) was beautiful.  Here we saw every floor including their house and senate chambers.  We even had a bit of fun after the tour as chairs, a podium and microphone were set up for a press conference at some point that day.  They were however left alone which gave us a tiny bit of time to have some fun with it and say happy birthday to Julie over the loudspeaker in the middle of the building.  Ah, memories!

St. Elmo Steakhouse

After relaxing during the afternoon, the main event for Julie’s birthday was upon us.  We all dressed up and headed back downtown for a dinner at St. Elmo Steakhouse.  St. Elmo is the oldest (established in 1902) and the best steakhouse in Indianapolis and probably the entire state of Indiana.  It’s the kind of place where you don’t have to dress up but if you don’t you will look vastly out of place.  Julie’s parents, Susie, Julie and I all went.  St. Elmo is famous for two things, its steak and shrimp cocktail.  The actual shrimp cocktail is not the famous part but the extremely spicy cocktail sauce.  As our waitress told us, just a little will make your eyes water.  She was certainly right.  At St. Elmo, Julie got the best birthday dinner that she could have asked for.  We all had amazing drinks and food.  The icing on the cake was that a bunch of people that she loves were there to spend time with her.

After we got back to Susie’s we all stayed up with a cup of coffee to give Julie a few gifts.  I had ordered a few things online and had them shipped to Julie’s parents so that I would have a few things to give her as well.  We all talked, laughed and enjoyed one another’s company.  Julie said that it was a perfect birthday.

The next morning, we woke up and ate breakfast with everyone.  Sadly, it was time to go.  Julie’s parents had a 9-hour drive ahead of them, so they took off pretty early.  Julie and I slowly packed up then said goodbye to Susie and thanked her for everything before we hit the road ourselves.

Next up…..We head to Ohio!  Columbus & Cleveland are next!!

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