Monday, September 08, 2008

southern sojourn 1: indiana wants me, lord i can go back there

Last year, my family went on its first long-distance roadtrip in years. We easily survived a week together in Ottawa, so I set my sights on a more ambitious trip this summer. I often daydreamed about a trip along the Mississippi and through the upper South to visit landmarks in the history of popular music - the blues of the Delta, rock and soul in Memphis, country in Nashville. Since none of us had ventured through these areas, I was able to convince Mom and Amy to join in the adventure.

We packed up the official Warehouse Transport Vehicle on the first Saturday of August and began our southern journey.


Trying Not To Step In Something Natural In Shipshewana
Our first stop was Shipshewanna, located in the heart of northern Indiana's Amish area. Mom used to visit frequently with her Detroit-area cousins to check out crafts and a giant midweek flea market. As is usual with such towns one of the main obstacles for pedestrians is dodging the horse flop.

Blue Gate Restaurant

Blue Gate Family Style Meal
We ate lunch at the Blue Gate, which had expanded since Mom's last visit to town. We ordered the family-style meal to keep our stomachs happy for the rest of the day - I figured a Frankenmuth-style meal would be a fine way to begin the trip. Clockwise from left: chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken dressing, noodles, green beans, smoked ham and chuck roast. Not shown: salad and fresh-baked bread. One round of the all-you-can-eat affair was more than enough for us to handle. Eyebrows raised when I tried the green beans and liked them - usually I only eat other strains (Italian, long) and not a serving of plain old string beans.

Blue Gate Pies
Dessert was also included. The menu listed 25 tempting varieties of pie, causing numerous mental coin flips. We narrowed our choices to blackberry, coconut cream and peach. All were good picks.

After lunch, we briefly wandered nearby shops. The Christmas store did not feature any Santas as scary as one on our last roadtrip.

We drove south along Indiana Route 5, aka the Harold H. (Potch) Wheeler Highway. Miles of farmland, including stretched where the corn stalks towered over the road, made this a relaxing drive. Few absurdities struck our eye until we hit Huntingdon, where one of the town's main attractions induced uncontrollable laughter...

Dan Quayle Center and Museum (2) Dan Quayle Center and Museum (1)
The museum appeared to be closed so we were unable to take in the full wonder and glory of one America's most memorable second-in-commands.

Boom City Fireworks
I-69 hit us with a bang

Except for a stop at an outlet mall south of Indianapolis, we stuck to freeways until we arrived in Louisville at dusk. I hadn't planned on booking a hotel beforehand but decided that (a) I might be pooped from a late drive from Toronto the previous night and make an irrational choice, and (b) I didn't know how long the trip from Detroit to Louisville would be. After surfing the web, I picked a Hilton Garden Inn on the east side of the city, due to a combination of price, decent reviews and promising-sounding breakfast.

After checking in, Amy and I hit the hotel pool. It was tiny and would have been fine except for a unruly mob of kids in town for a baseball tournament. The legal disclaimer noted that no more than five people were allowed in the pool, but there were at least a dozen rangy kids whacking each other with pool noodles and doing cannonballs into the shallow pool. That any water remained in the pool was a marvel of science. A few parents sat on the sidelines, oblivious to the mischief their offspring were up to. Amy and I shot frazzled looks at each other whenever the next faceful of water hit us.

At least they enjoyed themselves.

We feared that the kids would bounce off the walls and run amok in the hallways all night but we didn't hear them once we returned to the room. While Mom and Amy settled in for a night's rest, I studied the maps for the next day's adventure.

All pictures taken Aug 2/08. Full set.

Next: All the way to Memphis 

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