Engines Starting in Indianapolis
Moments after touching down in Indiana, the L.E.A.P students did not hesitate to start exploring the city of Indianapolis. To commence our Indianapolis experience, we headed to Indianapolis City Market, which is located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. Indianapolis City Market was established in 1866, and has served as a shopping center and a place of gathering for the city’s residents.
Indianapolis City Market is filled with approximately 32 different merchant shops.
Among the shops was an array of food options. The market had options that stemmed from Middle Eastern Cuisine, Mexican food, Barbecue, and any others. Out of all of our options, we decided on “3 Days in Paris.”
No, we did not end up spending three days in the city of love, but our palates were in love! This vendor specializes in both sweet and savory crepes. We ordered the Rene, which was filled with blueberries, lemon zest, and honey. To continue our French theme, we ordered Creme Brulee from Circle City Sweets….
…and some macarons….
After settling our sweet tooth, we made a quick stop by the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a magnificent sculpture in downtown Indianapolis. Built in 1901, the sculpture is 284 feet tall and possesses an amazing amount of detail, a product of sculptor Bruno Schmitz’s creativity.
We also took advantage of the photogenic nature of the place for a couple of photos of us.
Indiana State Capitol
After our lunch-time activities, LEAP Students took a tour of the Indiana State Capitol. One of the first things we noticed as we walked into the Capitol was the stunning stained-glass ceiling art in the rotunda of the Capitol building.
I was taken aback by the beauty of the glass and it was easily one of my favorite things about the building. Our first stop along the tour was a historical section of the building, where we learned about the history of the state Capitol.
When Indiana first became a state in 1816, the Capital was in Corydon, in the south of Indiana. After a few years, it became clear that the state capital needed to be relocated to a more convenient location for all the state’s residents, and the capital was moved to Indianapolis in 1824. Construction for the new state capitol building began in 1831 and was hastily completed in 1835. By 1867, the structure was failing and becoming decrepit, the ceiling to the House of Representatives collapsed and, after much debate, the structure was torn down in 1877. With a 2-million-dollar budget, construction began on the current state Capitol in 1878 and was completed in 1888. For maybe the first time in history, this government project came in under budget at 1.98 million dollars!
After the quick history lesson, we headed to the Supreme Court Chambers. Another favorite room for me, the Court’s Chambers were designed symbolically: to represent “equal justice under the law,” the room was designed as a cube–equal in height, width, and depth. Another interesting piece to the room was more beautiful stained-glass windows. Whether or not this was intentional, the floral pattern for the stain glass resembled owls, which could be another symbolism in the wisdom of our justice system. Interestingly, the Supreme Court Chief Justice is Loretta Rush (whom we briefly passed in the hall), and she is the second female to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court. For two aspiring attorneys, this was a fun room to visit!
Our next stop was the House of Representatives where 100 state representatives come together annually. Brian Bosma is the current Speaker of the House. There are 100 members of this chamber, representing Indiana’s almost 7 million residents and 92 counties.
Unlike the Texas House of Representatives, the floor here is divided by party with Republicans on the right side of the dais and Democrats on the left. Because of the heavy majority, the Republican seats spill over to the back half of the left.
Nearing the end of our tour, the next stop was to the Senate Chambers, where 50 senators gather each year. Republicans have the overwhelming majority with 40 party members. This was a very small chamber and resembled a large corporate board room more than a typical legislative chamber. The current Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate is Suzanne Crouch.
Our final destination before the completion of the tour was to Governor Eric Holcomb’s office.
He is the successor to Vice President Mike Pence, and he is the tallest man to take the office at 6’ 5”. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his office is his beautiful conference desk, which features a detailed wooden inlay of the state’s counties and the state seal and was made by inmates.
A former basketball player, Governor Holcomb has ensured that basketball memorabilia was also included in his office.
And on his desk was a quote used by Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office.
Overall, the tour of the Indiana State Capitol was very interesting. After working in the “TX Lege” for the 86th Legislative Session, Ilexus and I enjoyed learning about the differences between the Texas and Indiana legislatures. And, although we may be biased, we both felt that, while the Indiana State Capitol building was beautiful, we still preferred the Texas Capitol, with its towering dome, pink granite, underground extension–and, of course, its location!
Indiana Dunes-Day 1
After exploring the Indiana State Capitol, the LEAP Students embarked on another National park adventure: Indiana Dunes National Park. The Indiana Dunes National Park claims 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The entire park spans 15,000 acres, and it has a total of 51 miles of hiking trails, some of them on wooden stairs–a necessity because of the difficulty of climbing through sand!
For Maggie, this was the 11th national park she has traveled to in the span of twelve months! However, for Ilexus, visiting a National park is a completely new experience. But irrespective of backgrounds, everyone was excited to begin the steep climb.
The first trail we tackled was the Dune Succession Trail. This trail consisted of an endless amount of stairs and sand. The Dune Succession trail was filled with many species of bird, wild flowers, and a forest of trees.
During this Trail, we were joined by Mark Burns, with whom we have had the pleasure of working for the past 3-4 years.
Before this trip, Burns had photographed every National Park in the US–except for the Indiana Sand Dunes. Now, he is one of only a handful of people to have photographed all 61 National Parks, and, as far as we know, the only person to photograph them all in black and white.
We walked about two miles of the trail, which culminated at “West Beach…” where we photographed each other…
..and posed for Mark Burns!
Of course, we still had to get back to the car. But we again took advantage of the scenery to get some photographs…
…learn from Mark…
…and generally enjoy ourselves as we wound down our first day in Indiana.