Friday, August 28, 2009

Airports: Indianapolis International Airport (IND)

Airport Name: Indianapolis International Airport
Location: Indianapolis, IN USA
Airport Web Site:

Well, a huge improvement.

The old IND was retired last year and the new IND airport opened up beginning of this year. The old one was unattractive with small hallways, cluttered layout, and was overcrowded for its traffic. The new one is a large spacious central atrium with windows looking out to the runway surrounded by a shopping/food area (not a lot, but enough). There are two main concourses off to each side with their own security screening areas. The old one was a difficult driving/parking scene, the new one is much better connected to the highway.

Still that same sweet spot size - large enough for many services, small enough that the rental car pickup is right across the street.

Best discovery so far - good sushi in the feed court.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rental Car: Toyota Prius

So I found myself in southern California on "Earth Day" 2009. My rental car was a 2009 Toyota Prius. It's like some Bizzarro world where everything is backward. I can't think of a more opposite way to define myself than "driving a Toyota Prius through southern California on Earth Day".

I ended up with this car because it was very late when I landed in LA and this was the only car left with GPS navigation. In retrospect I should have just skipped the GPS. When introducing a new type of car technology I don't understand why you wouldn't want to make it similar to the old car technology to ease the transition. Why not turn a key to turn on the car? Why not have a standard transmission shaft on the steering wheel or the floor? Why not a standard layout ventilation system?

Instead, you insert a key-like-thing into a hole in the dash then push a start button. Sometimes this made a TV in the dash turn on or resulted in cryptic lights blinking on top of the dash. There was a small joystick looking thing near the wheel that was reminiscent of a transmission, except it provided no tactile feedback that what you were doing had any impact. All the controls were replaced by a touch-screen in the middle of the dash that was extremely distracting with animated displays while driving, especially at night. It often was a 15 minute exercise in frustration just to figure out how to get the vehicle moving.

Once it was moving it had surprisingly peppy pickup and surprisingly uninspired, mushy steering. There was a lot of under-steer to the car, perhaps a result of the low-friction tires which is part of how it gets high mileage.

The interior had good head room for me, although the styling of the exterior leaves a lot to be desired.

Final verdict: I suppose the car is attractive to those seeking some kind of environmental statement and willing to put up with a learning curve on how to drive it. But, a bad choice as a rental vehicle unless you have one already and are used to its quirks. The rental price premium I was charged far outweighs any fuel savings you would get, even with extremely long driving.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Restaurant: Ruth's Chris Steak House Pier 5, Baltimore

Restaurant: Ruth's Chris Steak House, Baltimore Pier 5
Web Site:
Address: 711 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410)230-0033

We don't get up to Baltimore enough lately, and while I still know the more traditional places that are still there, the Inner Harbor has really changed from a place where tourists go to a pretty cool place to hang out. The "inner" part seems to have extended all the way out to the Domino Sugar sign with lots of hotels, and the dining scene is greatly expanded.

Unfortunately, the dining scene is mostly the typical chain places. A lot of the more local joints that give Baltimore all that great character don't seem to be around the harbor. So, not a real Baltimore dining experience until you walk around to Little Italy or some place away, but the waterfront is very nice with a lot of activity.

We hit the Ruth's Chris in the hotel on Pier 5, selected mostly for proximity to the concert pavilion. Very good, in that traditional steak house way. Service was great too, with the wait staff being nice to talk to yet not chatty. I think we liked Shula's a little more (a few blocks away) as it had nicer presentation with the meal, but the Ruth Chris location (here, there's another a few blocks away) is definitely a cooler place to be.

View Resturant in a larger map