Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vacation: Day One

Indy Central LibraryToday is my first of eight vacation days. We don't have any major travel plans, just plans for some day trips and some things to do around Indy. Today, we took the kids downtown to the Indianapolis Central Library. We had some almost overdue books to return, and had never been to the main branch, so we thought it would be nice to check it out (no pun intended).

I have to say that the Indianapolis Central Library is a beautiful library. Several stories high, with a huge atrium, a large children's area, even a garden. The children got to browse through the books and videos in the children's library and selected several items to take home.

Indy Central LibraryThere's even a "theater" area, with a large seating area that faces a stage with a green screen background. There are monitors in the room with cameras aimed at the stage. While background images are played on the monitors, the image from the cameras aimed at the stage are projected over the green screen onto the monitors and, much like the map your local weather personality uses to forecast the weather, the "actors" on stage are magically transported into the scene. My son's favorite was a scene with a skateboard. He stood on the stage where he would appear to be on the skateboard, and as the skateboard rolled across the screen and jumped over several ramps, my son would jump into the air, as if he was riding the skateboard over the ramps. It was quite a scene.

Albeit a beautifully designed and decorated building, the Indianapolis Central Library was a major disappointment for me. After more than an hour of walking through several rooms in the library, I was unable to find the book I was looking for: a new release that should by now be out in the libraries. I have found this to be the issue at other branches of the Indianapolis Library, and have been quite disappointed with the Indy Library system since we moved here. I guess I got spoiled at the library where we used to live.

Indy Canal WalkAfter leaving the library quite disappointed, we decided to go for a walk along the Indianapolis Canal Walk. Having actually lived in Indianapolis several years ago, I never knew that this Canal Walk even existed. Before moving to the city, my wife and I visited here on several occasions and never knew to visit the Canal Walk.

With our two young children, we walked from one end of the canal to the other, then went to street level on Indiana Avenue in search of refreshments. Our exhaustive search was fruitless and added about three miles to our total walking distance by the time we headed back down to the Canal level.

Heading back down the other side of the Canal, we stopped at the Sky City Cafe at Eiteljorg Museum, hoping to eat dinner and give our feet a rest. Unfortunately, the cafe closes at 5pm, which left us just ten minutes. We grabbed a soft drink to go for each of us and headed back down to the Canal level.

Five Guys BurgersAfter more than three hours of walking, we decided to stop for some dinner before heading home. My wife had heard of a place called Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries that sounded pretty promising. Voted the #1 Burger several years in a row, I was eagerly looking forward to having a taste of my own.

We were not disappointed. The burgers were delicious, my wife said that the hot dogs we bought for the kids were some of the best hot dogs she had tasted in a long time, and the french fries -- fried in 100% pure peanut oil -- were unbeatable. My wife asked me if it was the best burger I had ever eaten. Giving it a little thought, I can only say: maybe. I would have to have a three-way taste test to decide for sure. One of the best burgers I have ever eaten was at Culvers. It's hard to beat a butter burger.

Royal Red Robin BurgerBut not impossible, as Red Robin has proved with their Royal Red Robin Burger. It is quite simply the most delicious burger I have ever eaten. Topped with three strips of hickory-smoked bacon, American cheese, crisp lettuce, tomatoes and mayo, and crowned with a fresh fried egg, the Royal Red Robin Burger simply has no equal. Of course, I would love to get my hands on all three at the same time to conduct a taste test.

As for the peanut oil fried french fries at Five Guys, the only other fry that can even compare is that of Penn Station, and I honestly believe that Five Guys might have the Station beat.

After our long day of running around Indianapolis, we returned home just in time to put our daughter to sleep, and my son and I started watching movies we picked up at the library. That is, if the stinking things will play. It seems that free DVD rental, such as those that are loaned at the library, are frequently damaged by prior patrons and unusable .

One day down, seven more to go, with many other planned activities. It's great to have some work-free time to spend with the family. Stay tuned for more updates.

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