Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Grand Time at the Indiana Grand Lodge

Several years ago my husband served as Grand Marshal for the Masonic Grand Lodge of Indiana. During that year we were able to travel around the state and were blessed to make many new friends. Since then we have kept in touch and have watched as our friends moved through the Grand Lodge line.

This week we were invited to attend some events at the annual Grand Lodge in Indianapolis. The timing of the events was such that it just made sense for us to book a reservation at the hotel with the others, rather than traveling back and forth over the course of three days.

This is our home away from home - The Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Airport.

I see my dear husband has already made himself at home.

This seems like a nice room.

Nice - a mini bar and fridge.

Oh. My. This is unexpected.

Very unexpected.

One of the rules I have about hotels is that the room I book must be at least as nice as my bedroom suite at home. I'd say that this room exceeds my standards. Now I'm spoiled.

At least this view beats the last hotel room view.

The hotel has thoughtfully provided us with ear plugs, a sleep mask and lavender pillow mist. How nice.

And the Grand Lodge has given us a bag of assorted goodies. What fun!

And I got another gift from the Grand Master's wife. Thanks, dear!

The atrium of the hotel. It's all right, but I'm not really into 'modern' architecture.

A cheerful, babbling fountain.

Anyone up for a dip?

Our first event was the Grand Master's Banquet. Attendance is by invitation only.

The harpist plays for the pre-dinner group.

I liked this photo of the centerpiece. Click to enlarge the photo and notice the air bubbles on the underside of the flower.

Look, more gifts!
Since this is Indianapolis, proper reference to the Indianapolis 500 must be observed.

Well, this is unfair. The husband gets this neat gold-toned Indy car/clock. Bonus - the wheels even turn. Honey, how about you get the chocolate and I get the car/clock?

Oops, I guess I was hungry. I didn't get any pictures of the salad. But on the other hand, it was just your run-of-the-mill, ordinary iceberg lettuce salad.
The entree was beef and chicken with roasted potatoes and sauteed sugar snap peas. We had to ask the kind waiter to get me a plate without chicken. He returned with a plate that had two pieces of beef. I can live with that.

The dessert was German Chocolate Cake. This is not necessarily my favorite dessert, but it was decent.

Hmmm, what is this? And what is that noise?

Ah, the mystery is solved the next day. The Fed Ex hub is just across the street from the hotel and the planes were landing every few minutes - all night long. The hotel-supplied ear plugs are beginning to make sense now.
I guess that is why this hotel is called The Crowne Plaza at the Airport?

The next morning I hit the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Not bad and the price was all right at $9.95. Of course, I later found out that I had a ticket for a free breakfast, but my dear husband had neglected to give it to me.

One thing that you learn early on at these events is that there is a lot of waiting and eating. During this particular event, there were also a lot of bus trips. Two round-trip excursions to be exact.
The Ladies' Lunch was held at The Columbia Club on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.

We are greeted by the bagpipes.

The dining room on the third floor was just beautiful.

We were furnished with this bit of history about the club.

The entertainment was provided by The Victorian Lady, Kandie Carle. She took us through the day-to-day late Victorian era while she dressed for the day. Her well-researched, and often humorous, insights into that time period were quite delightful.

All right, I admit it. I'm an architecture nut. I just love these old buildings.

Each lady received a felt hat pin cushion.

Wow, is this art or candy? Oops, a couple of the ladies at my table ate theirs. I guess that answers that question.

The waitstaff had been informed of my chicken allergies and they went out of their way to accommodate my special dietary needs.
On the menu was a tomato bisque. However, the base of the soup was chicken stock, so I was given a vegetable soup in its stead. Unfortunately, I seem to be rather sensitive to salt right now and salt was all that I could taste in this soup.

Again, my salad had to be changed out as the salad on the menu had chicken in it. My salad had steak instead of the chicken. I was even given my own vinaigrette.

Even my dessert had been changed out as the others had an apple pie with a sabaygon sauce. I was given these gorgeous strawberries that were coated in a luscious dark chocolate. Perhaps they were afraid that I was also allergic to eggs?
Thank you to The Columbia Club for going out of your way to take care of me. It was much appreciated.

I took this picture of the Soldier's Memorial while sitting on the bus.

Ooh, there's even a fountain.

Yet another bus trip and more food.
Tuesday evening we attended the Grand Lodge Banquet at the Murat Shrine Center.

We entered through the newer part of the building. What were they thinking in the 60's?

Dinner was served in the Egyptian Ballroom.

Detail of one of the ornate light fixtures.

Above the old entrance to the ballroom.

Stained glass!

I love stained glass.

This gorgeous window must be 15 feet wide by 8 to 10 feet tall.
And you would not believe the trouble I had getting a clear picture of this window. Apparently, this window is a magnet for people, who seem to love to sit or stand in front of it.

Back to dinner. First up was an iceberg lettuce salad with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion and black olives.

The dinner entree was beef in a sauce, pecan-crusted salmon, twice baked potato and roasted veggies. The beef was good, as were the veggies. However, salmon is a very difficult dish to serve large scale, and my fish was very dry. I do have to give the caterers points for attempting a more complex dish for such a large dinner, even if the execution was flawed.

And finally, dessert was a very nice carrot cake with whipped cream and a half strawberry.

This was such a wonderful time and we truly enjoyed getting to spend some time with our old friends, as well as getting to know new friends. But, boy does it feel good to be back home again.
Back Home Again in Indiana.... (Sorry, just couldn't resist - it is almost that time of year, after all.)

1 comment:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Day-um. Them Masons know how to do it up! And the hotel digs were awesome.