October 2nd, 2005



We've done a lot of driving over the past 10 days. In fact, we almost doubled the number of miles on our Prius, though that's more of a testament to how few miles we normally put on the car. We went to Chicago to see threadwalker, to Indianapolis to see gaffetheorist, and I also drove to Monticello (pronounced "Montisello") twice for the Allerton Conference.

The trip to Chicago was interesting. Any way you slice it, Chicago is a big city, and one things I noticed is that driving was quite a bit more stressful there than at home (in part because no one seemed to stay within their own lane). But even apart from the traffic, you can feel that you're in a big city by all the people, all the energy, activity. Having grown up in a city, I get this strong feeling of belonging when I'm inside a city core. I remember noticing this before, walking around wide Toronto sidewalks crowded with people and feeling in my element. It made me wonder a bit if I've made the right decision moving to a much smaller place, but I don't so much feel anything missing most of the time, it's only when I get to visit bigger places that the contrast jumps out at me.

Apart from visiting with threadwalker, her mother, and a couple parakeets, we took care of shopping that we can't do back in Urbana-Champaign. We stopped by a Russian store and picked up some sweets, dumplings, and sausage. Then we drove to Peet's to restock our dwindling supply of coffee beans. Our last stop was supposed to be Ikea, but after we drove there, we realized that we forgot fanlain's purse back at Peet's! We made a mad dash back across town and found that the store was already closed, but they were still cleaning up and had her purse. Much relieved, we drove back to Ikea where we had about 45 minutes before closing time to do some shopping, and finally drove home.

The trip to Indianapolis felt very different. The drive was shorter, though not as short as we had hoped — still over two hours door to door. The city itself was ... about as exciting as you might imagine Indianapolis to be. We met up for coffee downtown and then wandered around looking at strange statues and the not-so-picturesque canal. Then we went off to see "Serenity" (which was good) and have some dinner before gaffetheorist and we went off on our respective two-hour drives home. Perhaps it's not an entirely fair evaluation, since most downtown areas aren't that happening on a Sunday afternoon, and I'm told all the real action in Indianapolis is at the shopping malls (which is in itself a bit of a scary proposition...), but we left without \ a strong desire to return anytime soon. In fact, getting back into our corner of Champaign, we felt glad to be back. As they say, it may not be much, but it's home.