1. Explore the Broad Ripple Village
In researching all the schools and churches and cafés and bookstores in the area, I’ve come to the conclusion that Indianapolis is a very exciting place. In addition to being a pretty good sports city, the food, the bookstores, and the local culture seems to have a good amount of character. I’m going straight to the Broad Ripple Village to prove me right, since it’s full of hippies and spots like independent bookstores and used music stores. The food’s supposed to be pretty good over there, too. If all else fails, that won’t put me too far away from the Indianapolis Public Market, which seems like an exciting semi-outdoor vendor venue.
2. Visit the Children’s Museum in St. Louis
Now that people I’ve contacted in St. Louis are getting back to me, the city’s also starting to grow on me. From what I’ve been told by people familiar with the area, this is one place I’m gonna want to see. It’s a very hands-on exhibit, and I’m a hands-on learner. Apparently it appeals to adults pretty strongly. Even if it didn’t I’m pretty sure I’d still find it rather enjoyable.
Also in St. Louis is an ornate Cathedral Basilica. It’s the type of Basilica you don’t see in the US a whole lot, much less the midwest.
3. Doing Weird things at the Four Corners
It’s not every day when you can step in four states at once, so I want to do as many odd things as I can that will sound really cool without the context of having been in the four corners. The meeting grounds of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado sure provide plenty of opportunities. Tangoing across four states? That sounds like fun. This could keep going on, but I also think it’ll make some cool photo opportunities and video opportunities at that. Four corners dance party? I think so.
4. Explore the Red Rocks of Colorado
Colorado is one of my favourite states. I love places that can plant an urban culture right by endless nature, and Colorado is one of the best at it. The Red Rocks Ampitheatre at Colorado Springs is a place I’ve heard plenty about- a concert venue that is perfectly amplified as it sits in a red earth colored bastion between striking rock formations. It seems like a great place that reflects its surrounding natural environment well. Just like the Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City which is another visit I am hoping to make.
5. Visit a hipster church in Austin
What happens when Austin serves as the lone progressive oasis in the expanse of hyper-conservative Texas? The two cultures combine to produce a plethora of hipster churches! Web design junkies, check out this church site. Seriously. I’m already somewhat familiar with a few churches in the Austin area due to their podcasts, and there are a few that I am quite fond of. In searching for more churches to contact in Texas, though, I’ve realized if I ever lived in Austin, finding a home church would not be an easy decision.
6. Take the Sufjan tour!
So, in getting familiar with the geography of Michigan to plan our tour, I’ve realized my favourite music artist Sufjan Stevens has already introduced me to the area quite well. I can’t think of Flint without thinking of the Underemployed or Underpaid. Ypsilanti makes me think of it’s fatherless as well as the Widows in Paradise. Sufjan didn’t include my stops of Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor on the Michigan album, but I’ll get to address my Detroit crowds by telling them to lift up their weary heads. Also, while in Chicago, I’ll get to Feel The Illinoize all over the place. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, get familiar with Sufjan Stevens’ music. You won’t regret it. Say yes! (To Michigan)
Also, speaking of music, so many good albums are coming out just in time for me to hit the road! My teammate Menekşe has a similar taste in music, and so we’ll be lucky to have new releases by: Mumford & Sons, Avett Brothers, Grizzly Bear, Freelance Whales, Regina Spektor, Elbow, The Welcome Wagon, St. Vincent and David Byrne all out while we’re driving.
7. Rap on 8 Mile Rd.
I am going to be in Detroit on Halloween, and while I’m there, one thing I think I absolutely need to do is spit a few rhymes on Eminem’s infamous home turf. Bonus points for doing it in a baggy grey hoodie. Is this activity safe? No, probably not so much, but it’ll be a fun story and it’ll build my street cred. One very different activity but similar concept I want to try is line dancing in Texas. I’m not as nuts about line dancing as half of Santa Barbara is apparently, but getting down in Texas while wearing a huge belt buckle will probably build some street cred. God bless Texas.
8. Eat at all those crazy places you can’t find anywhere but America’s Heartland.
I’m not just talking about White Castle, Culvers, and Stake & Shake (although we’re poor and will probably see those places a lot as well) but there are a number of bizzarre eateries along the way I want to try. For example:
Same Cafe in Denver, where you pay whatever you can afford to pay for each meal- and for some good food, too. (Again, we’re poor and will appreciate this.)
Alinea in Chicago: A six-to-twelve course meal made up of absolutely bizzarre experimental foods, like a dessert of butterscotch, apple, thyme, and bacon.
The Safe House in Milwaukee: If you don’t know the password to the bar, you’ll have to perform tricks for the bouncer, which are broadcasted inside. (The password? “I’m looking for the Safe House.”)
9. Drink beer
I’ve never been the biggest drinker, but I can appreciate a good beer. All the big beer factories are along my route- Coors in Denver, Anheiser-Busch in St. Louis, and the entirety of Milwaukee, basically. Miller… PBR… y’know. More appealing to me, though, are small, local microbreweries. My friends from Minneapolis tell me I have that to look forward to over there.
10. Scout out the Twin Cities
I don’t know the actual odds of me one day living in Minneapolis or St. Paul but there’s definitely a lot that seemingly would appeal to me there. It’s in Minnesota, which is a very nature-connected area. All the lakes and everything. I’d enjoy its proximity to Canada, and apparently Minneapolis has a pretty thriving arts and culture filled city life. Not to mention, I find all their sports teams fascinating to a degree… especially the Twins.
In addition to all that, Minneapolis is culturally diverse and the home to a lot of Asian-American immigrant communities, especially Hmong. In other words, great food!
However, the presence of many ethnic communities typically at a disadvantaged class position combines with Minnesota’s proximity to the Canadian border, and the fact that it is home to many refugee resettlement agencies, in a way that makes it an epicenter of human trafficking issues. While that’s not a good thing at all, it means there’s a need that is in line with the things I’d love to work on.
I might be scouting just a bit. I don’t know how likely it is, but you never know.