Saturday, June 16, 2007

Back to Jackson

It wasn't a long trip, but the odometer tells the story-- 389 miles between Tuscaloosa and Mississippi's Capital City.

This time it was a doctoral dissertation defense that took me back to the city.

The re-visit reminded me of the original journey about six weeks ago. In many ways, it seemed shorter than before. This time, I stayed in Pearl, Mississippi where regular unleaded gasoline was 2.78/gallon, some of the least expensive gas I've seen in while.

I topped off my tank before heading back this morning.

While it wasn't my cup of tea, the Jubilee JAM was going on this weekend in Downtown Jackson. This photo of the big crowds was taken earlier today and posted on the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau site.

Now that we're back from Jackson, it's time to prepare for Columbia, South Carolina, which comes later this week.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Six Down, One City to Go

We're back in Tuscaloosa tonight as we complete City #6 on the "Seven Cities, Six Weeks" tour.

I gathered a lot more images in Indianapolis than I've published on this Web log. I hope to have a way to display those shots within the next few days.

As summer school begins this week, our travel opportunities will be decrease significantly.

The seventh city-- also a state capital-- will be Columbia, South Carolina where I will be participating in a Narrative Writing Workshop on the University of south Carolina campus.

Memorable Visit to Indiana Statehouse on eve of big changes

INDIANAPOLIS— From seeing the relatively cozy chambers of the Indiana State Senate to standing behind the speaker’s desk in the Indiana House of Representatives, an unusual close-up view of center for government capped my weekend here in Indianapolis.

Today's visit occurred just a day before new tighter security measures take effect at the Statehouse. When the building opens tomorrow, visitors will have to walk through metal detectors and screening devices that will check for guns, knives and other weapons.

I ran into one videographer from WTHR-Channel 13, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, shooting exteriors of the capitol, presumably in connection with this story.

You can read what WTHR has on its site about the story here.

According to the Associated Press, visitors will not be allowed to bring in firearms or other weapons that can cause serious injury, such as certain knives, Taser guns, other stun devices, explosives and various chemicals.

But things were as open as they've been for the last 120 years at what some state lawmakers here in Hoosier State called "the people's building."

Maybe it was the fact that I went to four different entrances before getting to the right one for a Sunday afternoon tour. Since I was the only one in place for a guided view of Indiana Statehouse, I got to ask all the questions I wanted

Austin, the part-time tour guide made sure I knew every interesting detail about the construction of the Capitol, which took almost 10 years to build and was completed in 1888. He provided a great historical view of the stained glass ceiling which sits under the dome, including the manner in which crews keep it clear and why there is so much blue stained glass.

I was surprised at the access I was given to the floors of both houses of the Indiana legislature. Austin just took me right in and I was able to take photos at the front of the Indiana House of Representatives. He even posed for a picture.

Along the way, I learned that this part-time tour guide is a student at Marian College majoring physical education. You might think with all the historical and political trivia that he has to remember to give a tour of the Capitol, he must aspire to be one of those politicians walking the halls.

Actually, Austin aspires to be a high school coach.

After a great weekend attending the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, it was nice to get outside of the hotel and conference center and see some of Indiana’s capital city.

Even though I walked two of the four floors of the Circle Centre Mall and even picked up a souvenir t-shirt, seeing the seat of Indiana’s state government was the most memorable event of this day.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Finally in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS-- After an unplanned four-hour layover in Atlanta Hartsfield, I finally got on an AirTtran Airways flight to Indiana's State Capital.

I arrived in Indianapolis about 2:45pm, and got to the Leadership Institute about 5 minutes late.

More to reflect on later as I post this evening.

More now, this view of the IUPUI campus will have to do. Gotta go to dinner.

Kicked off AirTran for Taking Notes

ATLANTA-- It’s now 10:27 a.m. I was supposed to be almost in Indianapolis—City #6 on my SEVEN CITIES, SIX WEEKS summer tour. But, I am still in the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport for taking notes on the flight.

Sounds bizarre?

I thought so.

In these jittery post-911 days, flight crews like the employees on AirTran Airways Flight 419 have to be on the lookout for suspicious passengers.

I suppose taking copious notes about my first travel experience on AirTran in almost 10 years could be construed as suspicious.

AirTran has apologized for the inconvenience and given me a free pass for another flight. They’ve re-booked me on an afternoon flight that will get me to Indianapolis in time for the start of the Society of Professional Journalists Scripps Leadership Institute on the Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis campus.

But, the bigger story here is that something as harmless as taking notes might get you kicked off a flight.

Fortunately, I as a journalist did not have to surrender my notes and I don’t think I was the cause of the flight being about 10 minutes late taking off. The AirTran Airways attendant who escorted me off said the flight was held up also because they were waiting for ice.

For now, I’m happy recounting the strange experience as perhaps the most memorable event in my “Seven Cities, Six Weeks” tour.

More later.

At least this gives me time to blog about what I experienced getting into the Atlanta Airport this morning. I’ve been gathering elements for that posting.