I woke up this morning to sunlight bursting through the curtains of my hotel room. I had a busy day yesterday — leaving home at 4 am to catch an airplane, racing to make my connection in the airport of Big Midwestern City, and then an afternoon of catching up with friends before going to the rehearsal for a friend’s wedding. The rehearsal was followed by dinner at a lovely French restaurant, and then an after-dinner trip to a brewpub that had stained glass windows, a church-like ceiling, long wooden tables, and patrons who brought their own steins. The young man who sat next to me at the long wooden table told me the pub had been a funeral parlor, which explained the chapel-like design.
Today I had the luxury of a lazy morning with no obligations. So I did what I usually do my first day in a new city. I grabbed my camera and went for a walk. I love exploring urban areas: you never know what you might find.
I’d seen a river during our drive in, so I knew it wasn’t far away. Sure enough, a path led me down below the bridge and along the edge of the river. I passed several runners, who nodded hello as they went by, and two men in suits, carrying cups of coffee. Just past the next curve, I heard music – a solo trumpet. I expected to see a street performer, but instead, the musician turned out to be a college student, dressed for an audition. He’d stopped by the river to warm up. After wishing the kid luck, I kept walking.
Farther along, I heard the unmistakable sound of a mallet on a metal pole. Sure enough, as I rounded the curve, I saw workers setting up white tents, along with stacks of folding chairs and tables, on a grassy lawn by the river. Dozens of people in matching bright shirts were carrying piles of stuff, talking excitedly, and working hard to set up what looked like some kind of fund-raising event.
I left behind the flurry of activity and walked under another bridge, this time close enough to watch the muddy water as it surged past. A little farther, and I saw two old men, both dressed as if for a winter day, sitting on a bench, talking and raising their faces to the sun.
The path led me up and over the next bridge, and that’s when I heard carousel music. I peered through glass windows, and sure enough, I could see painted horses moving up and down. Too curious to just keep walking, I made my way around to the front of the building, which turned out to be a big museum. I can never resist a museum, so soon I was wandering through an exhibit of old dolls, looking at some artifacts from the Titanic, and walking through a whole street of stores that made me feel like Laura Ingalls.
Eventually, I pulled myself away from the museum and returned to my hotel room, satisfied with the morning's discoveries.