Friday, May 15, 2009

The "Staycation" - Part 1

We're doing a stay at home vacation - a "staycation", as I've heard it called. I'm taking a week of vacation, but we're not going anywhere. Anywhere outside of Indiana, that is. At first, this seemed like an approach that lacked creativity and imagination. But as I've worked through the last week leading up to the vacation, I've gotten a better focus on the possibilities.

We recently received the annual "Indianapolis Monthly City Guide", which contains a series of articles on the things you should see in your hometown. We're going to do a bunch of those things...and probably a few others that didn't make the magazine.

Let's start with Friday night - "staycation eve"...

I was driving home on Friday afternoon, a little before 5 (yes, I snuck out early), with the stereo up loud, singing along to Blind Faith.

(It's really true - you can find anything on the Internet!)

As I approached the I-465 loop, I got a call from my friend Dan. "Hey", he said, "My daughter won a happy hour party at Howl at the Moon. We're going there as soon as I get home and change. Why don't you and Mary join us?"

We'd never been to a place called Howl at the Moon, though my friend Sherod used to talk about it as a concept when we lived in Memphis and needed to let off some steam. (As in, "Come on over tonight, we'll sit on the deck, drink some wine and howl at the moon." We'd go over, sit on the deck, drink some wine, and usually howled with laughter, if not directly at the moon.)

The local Howl is a quick 15 minute walk from our place, and it turns out to be a great concept. They bill themselves as the home of the "World’s Greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll Dueling Piano Show". We arrived right at 6pm and found the place was packed, or so we thought. Because we were there for a party, we didn't have to pay the $5 cover charge. We found Dan and Dona, his wife, and their daughter and her friends at the far side of the room, close to the bar, with a good view of the stage. There were two large pianos, facing each other, ready for the duel. The music for happy hour was provided by one piano player, a bass player and a drummer. They played non-stop til almost 8pm. It was loud, fast and just right.

Throughout the Happy Hour, the place got louder and busier. They had a buffet set up near where we were sitting. It was standard fare - nachos, tacos, hot dogs and salads - but the staff maintained it continuously throughout the evening. The beer was cold, and priced right - Bud Lights were $2 during Happy Hour.

At 8, the band packed up and were replaced by two piano players. They launched into a fast-paced show, taking requests from the audience (attaching a dollar or two to the request helped get attention) and bantering with the crowd. There were opportunities to sing along (we did) and to dance on the stage (we didn't).

We stayed til about 9, then headed home with smiles on our faces and a ringing in our ears. It had been loud, rowdy, fun and inexpensive. Our tab, with tip, was $22. A great way to start the "Staycation".

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