Monday, February 25, 2013

Goodbye, Indianapolis

For the past 4 days I was in Indianapolis for the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.  Check out my photos from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 here.   Here is a basic blog about my travel experience in Indy.  The majority of these photos were taken with my cell phone.  Check out more of photos on NFL.com.

2/20/13:  Flight from LA to Chicago was typical.  Upon arrival, the flight crew gave us the temperature, which was 15 degrees.  I can’t say that I’ve ever been in 15 degree weather, but I had prepared for cold weather.  It would be warmer in Indianapolis, but it was still balmly.  After landing in Indianapolis, I took a cab with some other NFL Network staff and talent to the Westin Indianapolis.  On the way there, we got word that a group of coworkers were planning on going to the Indiana Pacers basketball game to watch them take on the Knicks.  We started looking up tickets on the cab ride to the hotel.  I was quite surprised at the prices of these tickets, only because I’m used to paying like a minimum of $75 a ticket on the cheap end for sporting events.  These tickets were going for $7, $10, $13 bucks or so.   So of course it was a no brainer that we go to the game.  We landed at around 5:30, and got to the hotel at around 6 pm.  The game would start at 7 pm, but it was just a 4 block walk to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.  I dropped my stuff up in the room and then walked to the game.  



This is the 3rd NBA Arena I have seen, and I have to say that we are really spoiled with such a great arena in Los Angeles.   




Anyway, the Knicks ended up getting spanked by the Pacers, and we left the game early to head to a place called Kilroy’s for dinner, and to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday. 

Kilroy’s has this Long Island that is literally a pitcher, and you can get like 20 different flavors.  I ended up getting a root beer flavored one, and it only costs around $4.  Me and Ben ended up ordering something called Tachos, which is a tater tot plate made with all the nacho fixins.  Pretty good stuff.  

Tachos and my root beer long island
2/21/13 - The next morning, I reported for duty at Lucas Oil Stadium, which is a short walk from the hotel.  In fact, there are walkways that connect the local hotels directly to the Indiana convention center, which is also connected to the football stadium.  After about a 10 minute walk through the walkways, I ended up directly beneath the stadium on the event level.  From there, I grabbed my gear, and set up in the media room.  


For 2 days, I was stationed in the media room photographing press conferences by NFL coaches, general managers, and college prospects.  Pretty standard stuff, and it was a constant cycling of people coming in and out to speak.  Kept me pretty busy.  You can see the photos here and here.  


While I worked the media room, Ben was set up to do portraits with the players.  He had set up 4 different backdrop colors, and photographed players depending on different colors.  You can see his portraits here


Night 2, we went out to dinner with the video crew and ended up on an adventure that included some drinks, and ultimately ended up in an SUV ride home full of 10 people, on icy roads, through a flurry.  This was the first time I had ever seen snow fall from the sky, and it was pretty awesome.  The first time I had seen snow was when I had flown to Virginia a few years ago during the winter for my Aunt’s funeral.  When I saw the snow fall, I just thought about my last trip to the east, and it brought back some pretty nice memories.  



Throughout the week, the snow stopped, but the ice remained on the sidewalks.  Walking around downtown Indianapolis was quite the experience, and although I had brought a bunch of coats, I was thankful that Under Armour had supplied us with some swag, including a beanie!  I don’t really wear beanies, mostly because I live in Southern California, but also because I think I look stupid wearing them.  Well, for whatever reason, I put it on, and I think it looked ok.  I ended up wearing it on my walks around downtown, and it was probably one of the best things to keep me warm. 

2/22/13 - Day 3 was more of the same in terms of press conferences, but this day was different – Manti Te’o would be speaking to the media.  I don’t think I need to go into details of the Te’o story, and it ended up being just a regular press conference with a lot of people.  Anyway, earlier that week, I had gotten a suggestion from a friend that I should go check out this place called Maxine’s chicken and waffles.  I looked up the directions, and walked about a mile to the restaurant, which was pretty small.  I got the fried chicken and strawberry waffles, along with some iced tea



I swear these horses are immune to cold weather.  They stand there motionless.
2/23/13 - Day 4 included more player testing and drills.  After work I get back to the hotel and jump into bed, check my phone, and I get a Facebook message from my cousin, informing us that my grandpa had passed 15 minutes ago.  5 minutes I get a call from my sister, saying that my cousin was planning the funeral.  I told her to call me back with the date, and I would make arrangements from there.  I heard back the next day and decided to try to fly to Virginia for the funeral, which would be in 2 days.  I was able to call and change my flight on 2/26/13 back home to LA, to reroute to Virginia at 8 pm.

A view of the Capitol in Indianapolis on a cold walk through downtown
2/24/13 - I ended up working the day from about 8-5, and then headed over to St. Elmo’s to try their shrimp cocktail.  I first heard about this place last during the Super Bowl, when I discovered that this was the staple of Indianapolis, and everyone who visits Indy, has to go to St. Elmo’s.  When my friend Yang discovered I was in Indianapolis, he suggested the same thing, and since he is a “foodie,” I knew it had to be good.  I ended up dropping my stuff at the hotel, and started walking a block and a half to Elmo’s.  


If you like horseradish and shrimp, this cocktail is no joke
The shrimp cocktail “has a kick” to it, which is a ton of horseradish.  If you ever have sinuses, go and eat this thing.  My first two bites produced a few tears, I must admit.  I had a local beer with it, and was on my way. 

The flight that left Indy at 8 pm, landed in Chicago, and was supposed to have just a short layover.  When I got there, I discovered that my flight was delayed 2 hours.  It has now been stretched to almost 3 hours now, and I was also told that there is a great place to eat here called Torta Frontera.  I met photographer Todd Rosenberg in Indianapolis (he was there on assignment for Sports Illustrated), and he suggested it.  He’s actually from Chicago, so I would imagine he knows the best places to eat.  He said that it was the best airport food ever, so I had to try it.  At this point, I was 2 for 2 with all the local spots that people had suggested, and I was going to make 3 for 3 with this one.  When I walked up to the line at 9:15 pm, the dude said that they were closed!  I ended up ordering at McDonalds.  Next time I'm at O'Hare, I'm definitely checking it out. 

I finally got to Richmond at 3 AM.  Got to bed around 4:30 AM, and was up at 5:45 for the services.  

Peace out, Indianapolis!

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