Monday, July 9, 2007

A Vacation at Home.

My wife and I are on vacation from work this week. Rather than take a big family trip, we decided to stay home and sample some of the attractions that Indiana has to offer. Today we took the kids for a walk on our downtown canal, and visited the Indiana State Museum. The canal is truly one of Indianapolis' treasures. It winds through downtown, a small piece of the Old world in the heart of the New.

Alicia asked me at one point if it was like Venice; I had to laugh, because as pretty as our little canal is, it can't compare with that jewel of the Adriatic. Both have their charms however, and seem to touch for a brief instant in time at one location. Along our canal there is a stretch where you are walking along between some condos and office buildings, when you suddenly come to an open space with fountains, and an ivy-clad bridge springs across the channel, all overlooked by an old church building. Winding stairs flank the fountains going up to a world that seems apart from the one you are walking in down below.

I told Alicia that it reminded me of my stay in Venice, and how you could walk along a narrow street between tall and ancient buildings; then, you would turn a corner and find yourself in a piazza, paved in cobbles or worn flags, maybe with a statue or a fountain. Sometimes a canal would wind its way into the piazza, but most often there would just be an opening where the road would continue on. You would go through the opening, turn a corner, and the piazza would vanish, and you wondered if for a moment you had not entered into another world, one of timeless beauty, unhurried and unchanging.

Such thoughts went through my mind as I looked on the old church. But like all such places, we had to leave it behind as we walked on, and enjoyed other features of our little canal here in Indy. One of these is the memorial to CA-35, the USS Indianapolis. She was a heavy cruiser that served in the Pacific theater in WWII, and was torpedoed by the Japanese while returning from the delivery of one of the atomic bombs. Of the 1196 men on board, some 800 are believed to have survived the initial attack. They floated in shark-infested waters for days before being spotted and rescued. Only 317 made it home. In honor of their sacrifice, the survivors and our city erected a small memorial to them along the canal.

After the memorial we turned back and headed toward the museum. After a lunch at the cafe, we toured the exhibits and learned some of our state's history. It is not a large museum, but if you're ever in Indianapolis, it's well worth the visit.

We returned home from our little adventure tired but happy, and we promised ourselves that we would make time to go back and maybe take a gondola ride or rent a paddle-boat. Or we may just walk the canal again, hand in hand, sharing the beauty of our city, and catching those small glimpses into that other world where only lovers and dreamers walk.