My flight from St. Louis is quite early. And the weather is dreadful – a heavy thunderstorm. So we leave for the airport in plenty of time. But at least all my clothes are clean.
Stan and I say our goodbyes and I do the airport formalities of check in and security. Once again it’s pretty much empty and the whole process only takes a few minutes.
Time for some breakfast. I look around for options. Some of the restaurants aren’t even open yet. But I can see one that is. The Budweiser Brewhouse. They do breakfast. The fatty bacony kind I love.
I plonk my bum on a barstool, as usual. I assume they have some decent beer from one of the acquisitions. But the taps I can see only offer Bud variations and Belgian stuff like Stella and Hoegaarden. Not going to drink them in the US. Sam Adams Boston Lager looks the best bit. Only when it’s already been plonked in front of me do notice the taps on the other side of the bar. Featuring a distinctive long-necked goose. Bum.
The breakfast isn’t the best I’ve had. But it’s greasy enough to slip down without much problem.
I notice a Hudson as I’m walking to my gate. Ah, I remember I need a pen. Should be able to get one here. I can. But it’s a St. Louis souvenir pen that costs over $5. I must remember to stop shopping in airports.
The weather is still filthy. It’s announced that our flight will be delayed by 10 minutes. Not good. My change in O’Hare was already tight. It’s now positively claustrophobic. I try not to fret. I’m sure everything will be fine.
It’s a pretty small aircraft, two seat on one side, one on the other. But it’s full. We pull away from the gate, but just hang around ion the tarmac. The crew are negotiating with the tower about their route. Can’t use the original one because of the weather.
The minutes tick by. Then the pilot announces that were too heavy for the new route. We’ll have to return to the gate so someone can get off. Did I mention that this is a United flight? You can imagine the sort of jokes my fellow passengers make. I pity the poor flight attendant. The jokes and comments must get wearing after the first couple of hundred times you hear them.
I prepare to dig in my heels and be dragged into early retirement.
Back at the gate the attendant announces. “There’s an employee on board so we’ll be removing him.” They’ve just been playing with us. They must have known this all along.
We’re running over an hour late when we finally take off. I’m in full fret mode now. Will my connection also be delayed? I console myself in the knowledge that it’s far more serious for some of my fellow passengers. The lass sitting next to me is going to Singapore.
Getting off the plane is a drama. We pull up to the gate, but they can’t connect the air bridge. The plane backs out and tries again. After some fiddling around, the air bridge is finally secured, but another 15 minutes have ticked away. Will I get a flight to Indianapolis today?
I go to the United rep at the gate. While we were in the air, they rebooked me onto the next flight. Which is due to board in 10 minutes. I’ve just about got time to walk to the gate. I’m reluctantly impressed by United’s service.*
Why are there racing cars all over the airport? That’s a bit weird. Then I twig. I’m in Indianapolis. They have some sort of car race here, I believe.
I worry about whether my back was redirected to my new flight. I needn’t have. It soon pops out onto the carousel. A few minutes later I’m in a taxi heading towards my hotel.
Doesn’t look too bad, Indianapolis. Not totally effed up like some cities. St. Louis had some wrecked streets. Not as bad as Detroit, but still pretty depressing. Can’t spot any of that here. And look, they actually have some shops in the city centre.
Just before arriving at my hotel, I notice an enormous column. Judging by the date on it, I assume it’s a Civil War memorial. And a pretty damn massive one.
I don’t have long to rest in my hotel before this evening’s event, which is quite a way out of the centre, in Broad Ripple. Not having eaten since breakfast, I need some food. Something simple, like a sandwich. I consult the computer and spot a sandwich shop, Pot Belly, just around the corner. It overlooks that huge column so isn’t much of a challenge to find.
I quickly eat the sandwich back in my room. Roast beef, if you’re interested. With lots of chili on the top. Nice and spicy.
“Can you call me a cab?” I ask at the hotel desk. “There should be one outside.”
There indeed is. In fact there are several. I head towards the one at the front, but the drivers all start waving at me. It’s not that one’s turn, but the next to last one in the queue. Explain that system to me? How was I meant to guess that?
We head north but when we get close to our destination, my driver seems to get confused. He’s overshot, but then has trouble finding his way back. He switches off the meter “I’ll only charge you $20. That’s the right fare.” Very fair of him.
When we pull into Broad Ripple’s car park, there’s quite a crowd there. As soon as I step out of the cab, one of the crowd comes up to me: “Hello, Ron.” It’s my contact here, Rick Burkhardt. He’s a trim and active-looking retired police detective, with a beard that is in no way ironic.
At the bar, I’m introduced to the owner and founder, John Hill. His grey beard and musical northeast tones – still strong after 50 years in the USA – immediately conjures up my father. Who, like John, left his native Northeast as a young man. Except my father returned, John never did. Marrying, settling and eventually building his own pub, so he’d have somewhere to sit in his retirement.
I admire his long-term thinking. He also put in a brewery to make sure he could get the type of beer he likes to drink. It was the first brewery to open in Indiana for many decades.
I’ve ordered a cask ESB, but John warns me “Get something else. It’s not ready yet. They’ve put it on too early. Have a Wobbly Bob.”
I do. Though because they’ve run out of imperial pints, I get it in a 16 oz. glass.
John looks at my glass strangely, then explains: “It’s named after my Dad. He could be a bit wobbly at times.”
I spot a plate of scotch eggs being hurried to a customer. Now there’s authentic for you.
There’s a crowd of about 40 when I start to talk. Then it gets chilly. Someone goes inside and returns with a blanket to shelter under. The wind has picked up and the sheet functioning as a screen is flapping about like crazy. Slightly challenging circumstances. But I soldier through.
Once the questions are over, we adjourn inside out of the chill. Where I set up my impromptu book stall. I flog a good few books again. And sign some of mine people already own.
Bookselling done, I chat with Rita Kohn, legendary local beer writer. All I can say is that I hope I’m still as mentally sharp when I’m her age. Dolores already thinks my natural forgetfulness is the early onset of Alzheimer’s.
I don’t leave it too late. After eating my burger, Rick gives me a lift back to my hotel, along with his brother and a friend. We get talking about music and am surprised to find myself in the company of fellow punk fans. We talked punk all the way back to my hotel.
I don’t have to be in bed too early tonight. Rick is picking me up in the early afternoon. I can rise whenever I please.
* They even sent me an email while I was airborne telling me about the rebooking.
A-06 Budweiser Brewhouse
Lambert International Airport
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
55 Monument Cir,
Tel: +1 317-423-9043
Broad Ripple Brewpub
842 E 65th St,
IN 46220, USA
Tel: +1 317-253-2739
Buy my new Scottish book. It's why I was in the USA.
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