By Norman Knight
It was raining Thursday morning as we left for Indianapolis, but then again it had been raining for days upon chilly days, and by this point Becky and I were resigned to it.
Our plan was to pick up our race packets for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and also to check out a couple of the museums at White River State Park. When you can’t be outside, being inside a beautiful museum is a nice alternative, and the Indiana State Museum as well as the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art are two of the nicest anywhere.
Packet pickup wouldn’t begin until 4 p.m., so we decided to do the museums beforehand. Because we are members, we receive yearly complimentary passes to the IMAX Theater at the state museum. We knew the film National Parks Adventure was showing at 1:20.
“How would we not enjoy a giant screen 3-D movie about National Parks?” we reasoned. We were right: the movie was fantastic beyond our expectations.
Maybe it was because for the past few months we had been training for the mini and the recent rains had put a bit of a damper on our physical activity, but the story of three very active, athletic people who set out hike, climb and explore America’s National Parks worked its magic on us.
Becky and I felt as if we were there with the trio as they stood on the pinnacles of impossibly tall and thin spires in Utah. We could feel the ache in our muscles as the climbers inched their way straight up the wide grooves of Devil’s Tower.
We gasped for breath as they climbed ice walls on the shores of Lake Superior slipping occasionally in 20-below-zero temperatures. When the lights came up at the end, we could almost convince ourselves we had gotten our daily exercise. National Parks Adventure is showing until May 25.
Avoiding the rain, we walked through the underground parking garage to the Eiteljorg for our next museum experience. The exhibit “Dogs: Faithful and True” had been high on our list of things to see since we’d learned it was coming. Having said goodbye in January to our faithful and true buddy, Sydney, we knew this would be an especially meaningful show.
The exhibit divides dogs into three categories: companions, workers and heroes. We learn that the relationship between humans and a subspecies of the Eurasian grey wolf began 30,000 to 40,000 years ago and evolved between 10,000 to 15,000 years into the distinctive genetic species we know today.
I was fascinated to learn that both humans and dogs experience a surge of oxytocin when they gaze into each others eyes. This same hormone is released when human mothers look into their children’s eyes. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with trust and maternal bonding, so that might be part of the reason why some people treat their dogs as children.
The exhibit has photos, artwork and objects showing the working relationship dogs and people have had over time. Pack animals, herders, and bomb sniffers are a few of the jobs dogs do for us. We also learn of Balto, the lead sled dog who in 1925 along with his team delivered diphtheria antitoxin over 674 miles in 5 1/2 days thereby saving the people of Nome.
Becky and I eventually will welcome another companion into our home. This exhibit gave us more information to process and consider. It runs through Aug. 6.
It was time to head to the convention center to get our race packets which we did without a hitch, and soon we were on our way home.
I write this on Friday; the mini-marathon is the next day. The forecast is for rain, wind and temperatures in the low 40s. Normally I might complain, but I will try to picture those intrepid adventurers climbing ice walls at 20 below zero, and Balto trekking through the Alaskan wilderness. Maybe that will help.
Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.