____________ May 26, 2016 ___________

Adventure Post: Day 4

(or, The Mason-Dixon Line Moved)
(or,  ****COPPERHEADS****)
(or, Greetings from mere Ferdinand)
(or, pushing 900 miles, now… are we there, yet?)

To whom it may Concern:

I’m getting tired.  I’m an old girl, you know.  I’ve actually been saying this all week, with every LONG set of (upward) steps in the woods that we encounter.  Usually I include the age (43) which my family – in unison – continually corrects (“42!”)… but you know.  Whatevs.  One ceases to care when one is tired.

There has been a shift in the Matrix.  Where before it was just us and nature and the silence and incredible scents?  Now it’s people.  This, by the way, has happened just as we hit the Southern Drawl.  Which apparently is about Bloominghell.  Because we woke up, and the EN-tire warld wuz talkin’ li’ this.  It’s kinda crazy.  I should write with twang, but it’d git highly annoyin’, after a spell, don’tcha think?  Anyhow, apparently Southern folk talk a lot.  They also like folk that talk a lot (<< that’d be me.)  Conclusion:  I’m fitting in somewheres, fer th’first time in my whole dang life.  I just kinda wish the folk I’s fittin’ in with had teeth.  ANY teeth.  I think collectively, the six people I’ve interacted with have twelve teeth.  Altogether.  Lawdy!!

Okay, let’s start at the beginning of yesterday.  We were having a BAD hotel experience (Holiday Inn.  We won’t do that again).  We started off by getting breakfast out at McD’s, where the drawl became evident and seriously apparent.  Then we went to McCormick State Park, where the ol’timer let us in fer free, seein’s they took ‘is cash reg’ster n’gave ‘im a COM-puter, and it don’t work none.

We drove down and in, and as we started the first trail (down to the falls), the first thing we see?  Is a sign informing us about copperhead snakes.  Brian was like, “Nooooo….”  And Lydia was like, “Oh. My. Dear. LORD, you’re so totally kidding…!!  Can we go home?  Like, NOW?!?!??!”  And I was like, “I need a stick.  A long one.  Immediately.  Because if *anything* moves – and I mean *ANYTHING*, I’m whackin’ the shit out of it, and flinging it as far from where I am as humanly possible.  Potentially with SUPER-human strength… because adrenaline can make stick-flings from state-to-state possible.”

The falls were beautiful.  Our legs are absolute jelly, at this point, though.  And then we did a mile and a half hike back to Wolf Cave.  The kids were sorry that the inside of the cave was blocked.  I wasn’t.  But it smelled beautiful, it was quiet… and we didn’t see a snake (but someone coming in as we were headed out passed Lydia while saying, “twen’y-four inches lawng“, and she had a serious panic attack.)

Then we had to go back thru Bloomfield (Bloomford?  Bloomingdale?  Bloomin’ something.), and it was on my agenda to see this:  [ https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/32/eb/3a/32eb3af5cbbd8d9124dec3e43d2b4919.jpg ], so we headed into town.  And the ENTIRE place was one-way streets, and construction.  It was hideous And we couldn’t get anywhere near where I suspected the building to be.  So finally we stop Josie (<< that’s a good Southern drawler blonde’s name, right?) on the street, and asked her how to get to Memorial Hall.  She goes, “Oh, that’s where I’m goin’, right now!  Only I’m doin’ it on foot.”  Yyyyyyeah. I’m in a CAR.  How would a car get there?   She wrinkles her nose.  “Well… 10th is closed.”  I know.  “Let me ask him.”  She points at this white truck with shovels and implements of destruction in the back (<< and now I’m in an Arlo Guthrie song).

The old man’s window’s don’t roll down, so he stops in the street, hobbles around to us, and his name is Ar-DELL (<< said like that, and really his name – he had a badge t’prove it).  He’s got a band-aid around the end of his nose, shutting off the nostril holes, and he’s about 105 years old.  Tiny, wrizzled little dude.  He scratches his head, thinks for a really long, long, long LONG moment, and says, “Shoot, you jist follow me.  I ain’t got nuthin’ else t’do.  Don’t tell anyone, but I’s just driving around all day, anyhow.”  ((!!!))

So he climbs in his truck, and takes us ONE block, then climbs out, and comes to tell us about the construction for a while.  Then we all go another block, and he climbs out to tell us which ways we can’t get there, at the moment.  And this goes on for blocks and blocks and BLOCKS… stoppin’ n’ chattin’ at each ‘un, see?  Ar-DELL was lonely, and wanted company, apparently.  He got us within three blocks, then bailed – said his truck’d never git turned back ’round if’n he went in thar.  (!!!)  So we said our thanks and went on our way.  I was REALLY relieved at being done with trying NOT to stare at his stuck-shut nostrils.

You’d think I’m making this up, but even *I’m* not that creative.

We never did find the place.  Well… we did, but it was all reserved parking, ‘no outlet’, construction, ‘restricted area’… we finally gave up.  Ar-DELL took so much of our time, we had to get going.  We renamed that town ‘BloomingHell’.  I don’t advise ANYONE – ever – go there.  (<< Later Kellie told us Bloominghell’s been under construction for five years straight – nobody in thar right mind goes thar.  Would’ve been nice to know, a’forehand.)

Next up was Monroe Lake.  I’d read that the best place to get geodes was on Monroe Lake, by the dam.  The internet said Monroe Lake is the largest lake in Indiana.  So we headed off… but all the signs said that it was Monroe Reservoir.  So… their largest lake isn’t even a natural lake?!  Ooookay.  The signs were a little more than seriously confusing, so we stopped (Oh, Lawdy… not a’gin…) at a four corners where Earl and Cloris were weedin’ the garden.  I introduced myself, told Earl we were looking for the Dam, as we were on a hunt for geodes with our children.  “Well, then, y’don’t wanna go to the Dam for those.  If y’go straight on this here road, it’ll go down and up and curve ’round, and come along Ramp Creek.  Down in the creek-bed’s where that fancy GEE-ologist wuz when ‘e got his bags full of geodes.  Best pickin’s are there.  But if’n y’got child’run, best be careful.  There’re copperheads down in those creek-beds.”  (!!!!!)  He was really nice, and also told us how to get to the Dam.  I figured we were there, we might as well see that, too, right?

So we follow the road to Ramp Creek, and it’s way back in the woods, and we climb down the roadside to the creek (with sticks), and sure enough – the creek bed is just FULL of geodes!  It was so fun!!  So we’re in the creek, making a work line, passing them down as we find them.  We got a good dozen or so.  Brian wants to buy a diamond blade and slice them open.  Could be interesting, don’t you think?  Instead of bashing them and making a mess?

Then we went to Monroe Dam.  Got a little turned around at Fairfax State Park, but the ranger was a sweet ol’ guy.  He told us where we needed to go, instead of there… “Turn left n’ go past th’FAR barn…”  We found out that a ‘FAR barn’ is a fire station, down South.  Who knew?!

Monroe Dam at first glance looks like a… boring old dam.  A straight road across the top of a dam, all grassed over with a chute to push the water down thru.  But there was a bath-house over the other side of the chute, and we needed to use the facilities, so we got out and started walking over to it.  And HO.MY.GAWSH!  I’ve never seen that much water with that much power behind it shooting thru like that in my LIFE!  It was terrible and wonderful, all at the same time!!  People were fishing there – we saw one guy pull a huge fish out of the water.  But that water chute…!!!!  http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/portals/64/siteimages/Recreation/Lakes/Monroe%20%28600×391%29.jpg  In the picture, it looks like it’s shut off, down left.  But when we were there, it was RAGING.  It was incredible.  I’ve never seen anything like that!  It was shooting up and misting us, even from thirty foot, below.

We were hungry, after this, so we stopped at a McD’s (<< all we can afford, to do this trip) near the Bedford exit.  Kind of bittersweet, because my ex-bestie lives in Bedford, but I can’t see her.  Long story.  Her husband told her she can’t be friends with me, because I’m too ‘disturbing’.  She’s uber-christian, you see, and I’m not, anymore.  Anyhow, I was at the register ordering (counting off kids/orders on my fingers), which was tickling Kellie, my cashier.  She looked to be about 78 (which translates to 54, in Southern ages), and she has three teeth.  (That’s two less than Ar-DELL.)  She also looks like she’s been missing them so long, her face has caved in.  But she’s nice, and we’re chattin’ while waitin’ on the food…

And then we’re eating, and she gits off’n her shift, and comes over to our table to talk s’more with us.  Cuz we’re enertain’n northern folk, and got a passel o’ kids.  And with her comes Junior – her son who’s come to pick her up n’ take her home.  (Apparently Mama don’ drive.)  He’s got a peach mohawk, a Harley Quinn t-shirt, a wife beater on, and sunglasses backwards… and no. teeth. at. all.  Anyhow, so they start in to talkin’, and they just aren’t gonna STOP.  Mostly it’s stories about Junior’s stupidity and run-ins with the law (which, forch’nitly fer them, is relations), but homigosh, Lydia was laughing so hard she was crying, and Brian was doing his silent chuckle/vibrate thing that happens when he’s trying not to let people know he’s crackin’ up.  It was hysterical.  Junior was telling us all about rolling his S-10, and how he had some friend drag it out with a Bobcat, and then they shoved it over, and he drove away.  Was written up as having died in the ‘ejection’ accordin’ to the paper.  Mama woul’nt let ‘im cut out th’ article, dang it.  Junior was AN IDIOT, and I swear to you, it was worse not staring at his horrible gums than it was not starin’ at Ar-DELL’s nostrils!!

Anyhow, they gave us advice about Peoli and ‘the casino’ (<< apparently there was one where we were headed, next… and they were well acquainted).  And they went on their way.  But Brian said if’n we’d let ‘um, they’d’ve asked us home for a set in the GAR-age with a beer, jist talk all night long.  Southerners?  LOVE to talk, apparently!

We found our way to French Lick.  I’d read an article about this amazing hotel in the 20’s that had three mineral springs and was like a European palace.  That they’d re-done it, and it’s breathtakingly beautiful.  It’s called West Baden Springs Hotel.  So I wanted to go – just to walk through it and see.  It. Was. STUNNING.  The kind of palatial extravagance that makes you feel like women in jewels and silk will walk past you at any moment.  ((<< They don’t.  Rich people dress like us, with slightly less creek-bed on them.))  But the gardens were like that of a French Chateau, and we got to walk the grounds and see the ampitheatre with all of the balconies off it… it was unlike anything I ever dreamed could be in America.))

The mineral springs had been cemented over by the Fransiscans decades ago, but I thought I’d read there was still one operating in French Lick, so I spoke to a valet (two, actually.  The first had a northern accent and was a clueless heavy-set twenty-something.  The second was possibly Ar-DELL’s uncle.  He was just a wrizzled and old, and had almost a handful of teeth.  He had all sorts of stories, about Lost River, north of town, that disappears underground.  Once a whole team of horses went down the hole… took half the town to get them out.  And when his brother in law was on the emergency team, five years ago, they had to take two days to get some fisherman out of the Lost River.  It’d been a rainy year, and he got swept in during high waters.  (!!)  Another person just wanting to tell his stories.  🙂

From there we had another jaunt to Ferdinand.  There’s a monastery here that is from the 1800s [ https://nancysitesofar.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/benedictine-monastery-ferdinand-in.jpg ], and they give tours of the place.  We were later in the evening, but I was reading how they have accommodations on site, that are supposedly up to 50% less than hotel chains.  So we went to go find out about them, but the ‘accommodations’ smelled/looked like an old folks home, and the rooms were all identical – with two single beds.  That won’t work for us, and the kids were wiggy about it.  So we didn’t stay.  (<< All of this without seeing/talking to anyone – they leave the guest hall unlocked and open, so we explored it, timidly!)

Anyhow, we settled at the Red Roof Inn in town, and took the kids swimming.  They had a glorious time.  And the hotel gave us a free roll-away bed, so we weren’t all scrunched up, quite as much, this time.  But MAN was that a packed day!  And so diverse!  From forest hikes to caves to dams to creekbeds to manicured gardens and palaces to basilica.  Isn’t it crazy?!

You would LOVE Indiana.  It’s nothing like the stereotype (farm, farm, more farm.) The northern third is, but the lower portions are rolling hills thick with forests and TONS of rock – the roads are cut thru rock.  It breaks off and falls on the road!  And it’s different than Michigan in that our cities sprawl out in every direction, forever.  In Indiana, the city ends abruptly, and then it’s untamed land, everywhere.  They also have a 10:1 ratio in favor of hair salons over any other business.  I’d heard about Southern women and their hair, but WoW.

I always thought there was nothing to see in Indiana.  When Brian was gearing up for this trip at work, people were asking him where we were going, and when he said, “Indiana”, they scrunched their faces in bewilderment and asked, “WHY?!”  Even Kellie and Junior… when we told them what we’re doing, they were like, “Why would you come here?!?!”  But it has been amazing.  I had NO idea what there was to see/do, here.  And I’m sure there’s a TON that we’re missing, not even aware of.  We just have so much time, that’s all.

This got long, didn’t it?  Sorry!  But I promise more, tomorrow.  😀

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