Exploring the Hoosier State

Downtown Indianapolis

Well, darn it. I really wanted to try and fit a post in during October as I hate to see that month-long gap, but alas – it was not meant to be. My blog absence can be attributed (mostly) to a lovely, long holiday in the US visiting my folks. We left in mid-September, and I didn’t return until a couple of weeks ago (the Mr. came back a bit earlier as someone has to earn the dough).

Given the big changes heading our way (see last post if you missed that news), the Mr. and I decided that we should probably just focus on visiting my family and friends during this trip to Indiana rather than try to fit in a “bonus” trip somewhere else as we’ve done in the past. Last year, for example, we did a side trip to NYC before we flew to Indy. (I just realized looking back over my entries that I never managed to write about that trip. Boo.) And we’ve also been to California a couple of times. But those side trips are expensive, and gosh – babies are expensive. Or at least all of the stuff they seem to “need” is. Anyway, I did feel a little badly for the Mr. that we didn’t manage something, well, a little more “vacationy” during this trip stateside, but we did head down south for one night with my folks to lovely Madison, Indiana, on the Ohio River.

A shop in downtown Madison, Indiana

We had been to Madison with them a few years ago, and were impressed with this picturesque little river town. It’s not terribly big, and apart from some cute shops on the main street and a nearby state park, there isn’t a whole lot to do. But there is a lot of interesting history, some beautiful old homes, and a nice paved river walk along the Ohio. It’s definitely worth staying a night or two and checking it out.

We stayed at Clifty Falls State Park rather down in the town of Madison, and on the day we arrived, the Mr. and I decided to do a short hike on the same trail we had done a few years back when we were last in the park.

Clifty Falls State Park

It was a nice day, not too hot or too cold, and we were excited to get out and stretch our legs. We started on the trail, and at the very beginning, there’s an observation deck that you can climb to get a nice view of the surrounding park. It all started off well enough and we climbed up the stairs to the top, snapped some photos and climbed down again when it hit me – a horrible cramp in my thigh. In my thigh. It was really painful. And weird. I mean, who gets a cramp in their thigh?! I guess I can try and attribute it to some sort of weird pregnancy symptom, but that’s surely a new entry to add to “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Anyway, I hobbled along on the trail (because what kind of loser backs out during the first 15 minutes?) and the Mr. tried help me along. It did get better as I walked a bit more, but we cut the trail back a bit shorter and I was sore for days afterwards. Days! That evening we had a really delicious seafood meal at the Key West Shrimp House, so that helped make up for my suffering.

The Attic, in Madison, Indiana

The next day we walked around town, shopped a bit, and enjoyed some delicious dutch apple pie at this cute little coffee shop called The Attic. My parents have the tradition of always stopping for a slice of this pie while they are in Madison, and we were happy enough to oblige. The other highlight of the trip for me was discovering a soap shop called “All Good Things” right downtown. The owner of the shop was there (I think she was busy making soap), and it was great to be able to talk to her about all the different types on offer. My mom and I spent ages inside, smelling every bar and going a little crazy buying what we couldn’t resist. (I kept smelling my soaps on the way home…I couldn’t stop!) There are so many things I love about this shop, in addition to the soaps, of course. Firstly, their products are all natural and never use artificial fragrance oils, borax, sulfates, detergents, propylene glycol, animal products (except beeswax), etc. And secondly, I love that it’s a small business that we were able to buy from and support in a small town. In addition to the soaps, I ended up buying a box of Numi decaf vanilla tea they had for sale (and that I am quickly using up) and a homemade product called “Bug Go Away All Natural Insect Repelling Essential Oils Spritzer.” I’m always on the lookout for more natural products that we can use on our bodies and in our home, so I’m excited to try this out next summer. You can check out their website here. And they are willing to ship outside of the US.

Walking along the White River Canal in downtown Indianapolis.

The Mr. and I also made our way to Indianapolis one afternoon as he complained that despite my parents living about 40 minutes from downtown, he’s only been walking around there a couple of times. We picked a nice, sunny (but chilly) Saturday afternoon to park at the Indianapolis Zoo and walk to the downtown Circle Monument.

Indianapolis has changed a lot from my childhood. I think as a kid, we went downtown maybe only a handful of times (despite living 40 minutes away) and I’ve heard it said that it was pretty run-down and rough back then, not really a place where families would go “for fun,” so to speak. Of course, my parents still live only 40 minutes away and rarely go downtown. So maybe my family is just weird. But downtown Indy has a lot to offer that I know didn’t exist when I was a kid: nice walks along the White River Canal, an interesting state museum with an IMAX theater, Circle Center Mall,  numerous cafes and restaurants…. The list goes on, really. I personally prefer a very “walkable” and compact city like San Francisco, but Indy has a lot going for it – one could do worse.

A view of downtown Indy from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

We made our way to Monument Circle and decided to pay the elevator fee to ride up to the top of the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. I was fairly tired after having walked all the way to the Circle from the Zoo, so the small fee for the lift sounded like a good idea. At the top, we enjoyed some great views of the “Circle City” and snapped a few photos. I don’t think I had ever been to the top of the monument before (or if I went as a kid, I don’t remember it) but I really enjoyed looking out over Indianapolis and getting a different perspective. After leaving the Monument, we made our way over to Circle Center Mall (which was packed) and had dinner at P.F. Chang’s before making our way back to the car.

Sodalis Nature Park

The only other “excursion” the Mr. and I made was just before he flew back to Germany. We decided (after my Dad mentioned it to us a couple of times) that we should check out a relatively new park that’s opened in the Plainfield area called Sodalis Nature Park. Compared to the more compact and urban parks in the town of Plainfield, Sodalis is quiet, offers several different trails, and was practically empty on the afternoon we visited. We walked along one of the trails, and only encountered other people a couple of times over the course of the hour or so we were walking. We got lucky yet again with the weather; it had turned a bit grayer by the time I snapped this photo, but we had had sunshine that looked gorgeous illuminating the autumn colors of the turning leaves. We’ll definitely be visiting again during our next trip to Indiana.

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About bittenbythebug

I love travel and have always been fascinated by other cultures. Back in 2004, I began my life as an expat in Edinburgh, Scotland. Fast forward 5 1/2 amazing years later to 2010 and the new chapter in my expat adventure: Würzburg, Germany.
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2 Responses to Exploring the Hoosier State

  1. Emma says:

    Re cramps – I had horrible calf cramps at night when I was pregnant and woke up actually screaming once or twice (which caused poor hubby to freak out a bit cos it hurt so much I couldn’t tell him what was wrong!). Yay pregnancy! 😛

    • I think a calf is a more “normal” (though perhaps even more painful) place to get one. We were actually sort of relieved I wasn’t having a calf cramp as apparantly that’s what you get when you have a blood clot after flying. So this was inconvenient, but we probably would have been freaking out if it had been in my calf!

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