I did manage to take a few photos of some of the buildings on the IU campus this morning, and here’s the best of the bunch. After that, I headed south out of town. It’s funny, but in the two years I lived in Bloomington, I never actually took the main highway south out of town. Turns out there’s a whole other section of town over on the other side of that highway, although it looks fairly new and may not have actually been there 25 years ago [g]. They’re also building a new interstate from Evansville to Indianapolis, and they’ve almost reached Bloomington with it. Bloomington on the interstate. Very strange.
Anyway, I was headed south towards Kentucky, and the landscape became hillier and hillier the closer I got to the Ohio River. I also stopped for lunch in the small town of English, and saw this car in the parking lot, which vastly amused me.
I hadn’t realized until I was looking at the map at lunch (after standing in line next to a man who wanted to blame all of the U.S.’s troubles on illegal immigrants [sigh]) that I’d all but be passing by another Lincoln site. This one was where he grew up.
But first I passed through the town of Santa Claus, where I came around a corner and discovered an amusement park as well as a lot of Christmas decorations. Most peculiar for the time of year.
Lincoln’s Boyhood Home NHS was another big monumental building, but it was also a living history farm, which was kind of cool. Well, not cool. It was 97dF and humid as all heck, and I really felt sorry for the people doing the living history stuff, but it was interesting.
It’s not far from either Santa Claus or Lincoln’s Boyhood Home to the Ohio River, where there was another bridge that looks like what the 21st Street Bridge in Tacoma wants to be when it grows up. And I actually managed to get a photo of this one.
I had planned on spending the night in Owensboro, Kentucky, but somehow I wound up on something called the William H. Natcher Parkway, and there wasn’t a motel anywhere until I drove fifty more miles to Bowling Green (I need to find out why Bowling Green is called Bowling Green). On the bright side, I’m less than an hour to Mammoth Cave, so that’s something. And I did regain an hour (western Kentucky is on Central Time).
But I did not want to drive well over two hundred miles today!
Ah, Bloomington. It’s amazing how much has changed, but how much has remained the same. This morning I went looking to find places on campus that I remembered – the building in the music school (at the time, and still, I suspect, given that I saw no less than three new-to-me buildings with music school signs, one of the best in the U.S.) where I worked as secretary to the director of undergraduate studies (my longest job title ever [g]), while my ex was going to library school. I loved the job and my co-workers, but, oh, dear godlings, I still shudder when I remember the stage parents. Kids came to study here from all over the world, but the American parents were the worst. Pushy, omigod.
But I digress. I also found the library school, excuse me, now it’s the:
It was the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) when I was there. Wow, do I feel old.
Anyway. I also found my old grad dorm Eigenmann Hall, see below, which is not one of the beautiful old stone buildings that most of the campus is made of. I will try to take some photos of them on my way out of town tomorrow, because Indiana University really is a gorgeous campus. Even if at least one of those buildings (the music school undergrad office) housed a waterbug the size of a silver dollar that wasn’t crushable by anything. We ended up scooping it up with a piece of paper and throwing it out the window.
This place is bringing back some singularly weird memories.
I got my hair cut for the first time since I left home, too. She did a really good job. And, no, that’s not the borderline TMI.
In the afternoon, I drove thirteen miles east of Bloomington to one of my favorite places when I lived here, Brown County State Park. The guy who took my money at the gate (and who gave me the “honorary Hoosier” price because I told him I’d gone to IU — $7 instead of $9) was from Pasco, Washington [g].
I love Brown County State Park. It’s actually hilly so the views are pretty impressive and the woods are dark, deep, and full of so many different leaf shapes, sizes, and colors that it’s impossible to count or identify them all (I remember it being particularly spectacular in October, but the shades of green now are still pretty amazing). The roads wind from viewpoint to viewpoint, down to two little lakes (really reservoirs) and around and about. Picnic areas everywhere. And a neat lodge and a nature center (which latter, alas, was being remodeled, so I didn’t get to visit it). Oh, and a nifty little covered bridge. I ate lunch at the lodge, and drove around just remembering and enjoying.
But by the time I got back to Bloomington late this afternoon, my rear end was hurting again. TMI warning. I didn’t just crack my rib and bruise and scrape myself up when I fell out of the van. I also managed to bruise my tailbone. Anyway, unlike everything else (the rib doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it did, mostly, I think, because after a week and a half the bruising is all gone), the backside is still aching, more than it did right after. So I stopped at a drugstore when I got back to Bloomington and bought one of those doughnut cushions. Inflatable [g]. Anyway, I should have bought one right after the accident, because wow, is it making things feel better!
Anyway, end TMI.
Tomorrow, I am off to Mammoth Cave NP. This is one of those places that is definitely on my mental list. I am so looking forward to it.
But I’ll try to remember to take at least one good photo of the IU campus before I head out. If I can figure out where to park, I might even go into the Student Center and see if the Venus de Milo is still gracing the staircase inside as a newel post [g].
Yesterday was pretty much a driving day. I had anticipated it only taking me a couple of hours from Decatur, Illinois, to Indianapolis, Indiana, and had called listee Kevin Kennedy (who is in rehab for some health problems) to arrange to come visit her yesterday afternoon. When I was still only on the outskirts of Indy at 3 pm, and still anticipating a grocery stop, plus rush-hour traffic, I called her back to rearrange things for this morning.
The drive across the rest of Illinois was flat and corny and soybeany, which was fine. Big skies, making me feel tiny again. But as soon as I crossed into Indiana, three things changed. First was relatively minor – Indiana needs to spend more money on their roads. Tooth-jarring is an exaggeration, but not by much. Second was even more minor – I lost an hour going from Central to Eastern time, which was another reason it took me longer than I expected to get to Indy (also, Indiana now observes DST, which it did not when I lived here in the late 80s and early 90s – I’m glad they came to their senses about that). The third was bizarre. No sooner than I crossed the state line, the landscape went from flat as a pancake to hilly — not just rolling, but hilly. It was like there was a reason for the state line to be there. Very strange.
Still, there wasn’t much to take photos of. As a matter of fact, I only took two photos yesterday, and here they are.
Last night I spent my first night of the trip in a hostel. It’s called the Indy Hostel, and it’s on the north side of Indianapolis in an old craftsman style house. It was nice and clean and quiet. I like hostels, but there simply aren’t very many of them in the U.S., especially outside of big cities. I’m hoping to take advantage of more of them when I get to Canada (they have a lot more hostels up there).
This morning it was much easier to find where Kevin is doing her rehab than it should have been, and I even found a parking place right out front. We had a good hour’s chat (or at least I did, and I hope she did, too), which wasn’t quite as far ranging as the one I had with Jim the other day, but every bit as enjoyable. She also called me right after I left to let me know Lois had posted on the list that the new Penric novella is now available (I bought it this afternoon [g]).
Then I drove down into the hoots and hollers of southern Indiana. Not directly to Bloomington, because I wanted to stop at one of my favorite places when I lived here, McCormick’s Creek State Park. It’s Indiana’s first state park, and it, like the National Park Service, is celebrating its centennial this year.
It’s a beautiful little park, with a lodge (restaurant, rooms, and cabins, like a proper eastern state park) where I ate lunch – a delicious pork tenderloin sandwich (an Indiana specialty). It also happens to be where my second husband and I told my parents we were getting married, so that was kind of weird.
Then I drove the winding road into the park and wandered down through the dense green woods (I don’t know why I always think of evergreens as the forest and deciduous trees as the woods, but there you go) to the little canyon and waterfall. Southern Indiana and large chunks of Kentucky are karst country, similar to what I saw near Jasper Township in Jasper NP, Alberta, last year. That’s why Mammoth Cave and so many other caves are around here.
It was cooler today (80 something instead of 90 something), especially in the shade, even if it was humid enough to need to drink the air instead of breathe it, so walking around in the woods was actually rather pleasant. And the waterfall is beautiful.
The park has a nice nature center, too, with a glass-walled room lined with bird feeders on the other side, so you can watch the birds in air-conditioned comfort [g].
After I left McCormick’s Creek I drove on into Bloomington and did a little exploring around. I lived here for two separate years, once (1986-87) while my ex was in library school, and once (1991) while I was in library school. But I hadn’t been back since. I found some landmarks – the apartment where my ex and I used to live, way out in the country, and the bar where my friend Heidi from the library school library and I used to go to drink Long Island Iced Teas and Blue Hawaiians on the occasional Friday night and then weave our way back to the dorm [g].
And now I’m ensconced in a Motel 6 here for a couple of nights, because I have more that I want to do in Bloomington. It’s good to be here. This is the one place, where if someone put a gun to my head and said, “you have to move back to the Midwest,” I’d say, okay, send me to Bloomington. I have a lot of good memories here.
I hated the Midwest the entire six years I lived there — and, no, hated is not too strong a word — but now that I’ve been back in the Pacific Northwest for over twenty years, I can admit there are some things that I miss about the landscape there. Spring wildflowers carpeting the ground under the bare-limbed woods. The colors of fall (but not trees after the leaves fall, which then proceed to look dead for the ensuing six months). And the wide-open spaces. I even took a vacation to North Dakota summer before last, and reveled in a sky that looked like it took up more than 180 degrees horizon to horizon.
It’s not that I want to move anywhere else, you understand, but there are aspects of all the places I’ve lived that I wish I could have brought with me. Well, except for Louisiana, but we left there when I was three and it didn’t make much of an impression.
Southern California gave me a need for color all year round. My father used to prune the roses in our yard there back every January, not because they’d gone dormant, but because if he didn’t, the bushes would grow so tall that the flowers would bloom six feet over our heads, where we couldn’t appreciate them.
Colorado showed me what seasons are like. I still remember my mother waking me up before dawn the first day it snowed in our yard, so that I could see the flakes falling. And living so close to real mountains is very different from just visiting them from time to time.
Northern California isn’t at all like southern California. Not desert, but fertile farmland. I’d never been to a place where I could pick my own produce before. And while neither were in my backyard anymore, both the ocean and real mountains were only a day trip away.
The Willamette Valley of Oregon is so, so green and lush. More fertile farmland, but the mountains wrap around the valley like a hug. I was back in the land of seasons, too. They were called About to Rain, Rain, Showers, and Road Construction <wry g>.
And then somehow I left that glory and moved to the Midwest, first Indiana then Ohio, which turned out to be a colossal mistake.
When I finally escaped back West, I took a job in Montana. Not the wide-open spaces of eastern Montana, but to a small town in a claustrophobically steep-sided river valley in the far northwest corner of the state. Evergreens as far as the eye could see. I wasn’t there long enough to experience a winter, but I suspect claustrophobic wouldn’t have begun to describe it.
And then here, in western Washington, where I have volcanoes, an inland sea, an ocean two hours away, and, you’d think, just about anything a person could want. Except those wide-open spaces and early spring wildflowers.
So, do you have geography from places you’ve lived that you wish you could have brought with you to where you live now?