Tuesday, July 28, 2009

had an Israel flashback during lunch. Falafel, humus, tabuli at a Mediterranean cafe behind Castleton Mall. Mmmm. Thanks, Ali.
just booked clients on a horse and carriage tour through California wine country. Doesn't that sound fun!

Monday, July 27, 2009

McCormick's Creek State Park - Spencer, Indiana

Saturday we made a day trip to McCormick's Creek State Park in Spencer, Indiana to celebrate my son's fifth birthday. The drive took about 1 hour, 15 minutes from the northeast side of Indianapolis, most of it on I-70.

We got to the park around 12:30 and headed to the Nature Center for our first stop. Unfortunately, most of the exhibit area was closed for renovations that will last until the fall, but there were a few exhibits out, including a couple of snakes. We also watched a couple of kid-friendly videos about owls, chipmunks, mice and ants.

At 1:30, a park ranger met us for a guided hike off the beaten path to an overlook of the falls. The theme of the hike was geology and how erosion was working in the park. The ranger kept it interesting even for the kids, with some smooth rock to touch and stopping at some sink holes to let us see for ourselves the effects of erosion under the ground.

As the hike continued, the most interesting thing we saw was the variety of mushrooms growing in various places. I had no idea that there were blue mushrooms, but we saw blue, red and yellow mushrooms in addition to the standard brown.

After the hike, we drove around to the other side of the creek to the official overlook of the falls. There's also a staircase that leads down to the creek. We ventured down and enjoyed wading in the cool, knee-deep water. Quite a few teens and young adults hiked the 100 yards to the falls and were able to stand beneath and behind them as they cascaded down. We walked 30 yards in the other direction where there were no other people so the kids could throw rocks - a favorite pasttime of everyone who has ever been a kid.

Next we headed over to one of the park's 10 shelters and picnic areas for a cookout. There was a playground nearby, so the kids played while we got everything set up. Nothing like hot dogs, really juicy watermelon and some smores to put a smile on everyone's face.

We capped our day with a 45-minute hayride ($4 per person) around the park and through the packed campground.

Our one-day stay allowed us to do a lot, but a weekend camping trip would certainly be merited to McCormick's Creek State Park. There are a total of 10 trails of varying difficulty over the 1,900 acres. Non-campers can find hospitality in the Canyon Inn or one of several family cabins.

There's also a pool and tennis courts.

Wolf Cave, on the northern end of the property, is temporarily closed - as are all caves in Indiana, due to a fungus that is killing bats. We'll have to go back and explore that another time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park

Saturday evening we had the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. What a great perk to have a state park just 10 minutes from our house.

We went for a free outdoor concert by the Indianapolis Symphonic Band at the base of the sledding hill. (Don't get me started about the sledding hill. We had a great time there last winter.)

The band, comprised of wind and percussion instruments, put on a 45-minute performance that was very good.

The concert was right across from a playground, shelter and restrooms. We spent half an hour at the playground after the concert to let the kids unwind.

The evening was a good reminder that we should visit the park more often. It's comprised of 1,700 acres and features several walking and jogging trails, fishing access to Fall Creek and two national historic districts. There's also a saddle barn offering horse rides.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Princess adds Oberammergau land tour

Princess cruises is combining a 10-day Scandinavia/Russia cruise with an eight-day land tour through Bavaria that includes tickets to the famous Passion Play in Oberammergau in August 2010.

Click here to read the article

Friday, July 10, 2009

Indianapolis Children's Museum

I just spent the day with my family at the outstanding Children's Museum in Indianapolis. It is continously reported as one of the best in the country. I honestly can't compare it to any others, but it definitely gets an A+ in my book.

A King Tut exhibit opened at the end of June and will remain until the end of October. The exhibit features artifacts and treasures from the "Boy King's" tomb as well as others. Admission to this area is in addition to the regular price of admission - even for members.

For those not willing to dole out the extra cash - $40 in the case of my family of 4 that has a membership - there is a "Take me to Egypt" exhibit separate from the King Tut exhibit that is included in the regular admission.

We spent the first hour of our visit today in this area. A representative of Egypt Air welcomed us at the entry of the exhibit and ushered us to seats in a cut out of a giant airplane. Fortunately, the 13-hour flight from Indianapolis was condensed to a two-minute video presentation about some of the highlights of Egypt and was followed by a very smooth "landing."

The exhibit room includes numerous hands-on exhibits and interactive displays - a currency exchange, ride in a tuk-tuk, design your own bracelet, listen to types of music. There are sample homes from a village and a city, showing what family life is like in Egypt. TVs in various areas place Sesame Street in Arabic and show a soccer game.

Periodically, kids can participate with staff members in a "sebou" ceremony. A ceremony involving dancing, singing and playing instruments to welcome a new baby into the world.

There's quite a lot to experience in the Egypt area.

Of course, we spent a couple more hours at the museum as well. There's currently a Star Wars exhibit with costumes, light sabers, and more that were used in the filming of the movies.

We checked out the trains, dinosaurs, and we had to ride the carousel.

We also spent 30 minutes in Lilly Theater watching an Egyptian-themed magic show.

Great fun at one of Indy's top attractions.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Air fares aren't heading up yet

The general consensus among travel experts is that air fares are due to start climbing any time now. The combination of summer travel season and rising fuel prices usually trigger increases. That hasn't happened yet, though. Prices continue to stay low - and a new fare war is dropping fares on some routes even lower.

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