Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend: Southern Indiana

Photographs made while traveling across the Hoosier State.

My partner Laura and I traveled across Southern Indiana from Terre Haute back to Cincinnati this past weekend. Differing from the recent road trip stories, this one's relatively short.

On Saturday night we came across a traveling carnival. While one local referred to this annual setup as "Dirt Fest," another heralded it as "The Start of Summer." The guy working the squirt gun booth hailed from Cape Town, South Africa. His accent was prominent as he barked to the crowd and spoke to us about his second tour of duty making money in the States for the summer. We were the only ones to step forward to his challenge in the final hours, spending $12 to win a stuffed unicorn as we sipped lemonade.

Terre Haute: come to witness college graduation, stay for the Memorial Day carnival.

I've photographed a lot of "parking lot carnivals" over the years and they always seemed to coincide with a rough spot in life. This time though, one appeared at a nice time. It was great to come across.

On Sunday, we left the hotel and its painted pony out front to visit a coffee shop called Java Haute. To date it's the only coffee shop I've ever seen that sells pretzel dogs as a breakfast item. This also makes it one of the better coffee shops I've ever been to.

- Iced coffee and pretzel hot dogs are a surprisingly good combination.

Last summer, we took a trip to Eastern Ohio where there's this castle you can stay at. The staff was nice, but the description of it being a "castle" is a bit misleading. In a nation born from a time long after castles were in vogue, you'll be hard pressed to find anything even remotely mimicking Europe's fortresses. We were curious though when we left Terre Haute and saw a sign for a castle/bed and breakfast nearby.

A few miles of transitioning dirt and gravel roads later, we found it.

We didn't stop in or stay here, but the Yelp reviews seemed positive. However, I don't think many European castles feature vinyl garage doors. Throw a "live, laugh, love" doormat in front and you might mistake this place for your average suburban McMansion.

In Bloomington, we walked about the campus of Indiana University, grabbing lunch at a restaurant in the downtown square. Judging by the street signs discouraging you from giving your money to panhandlers, Bloomington seems to have an issue more akin to major urban centers rather than college towns. Even the anarchist book store displays a sign warning the homeless to not sleep on their porch.

- Bloomington alleyway.

- Monroe County Courthouse, Bloomington.

Nashville, Indiana featured fiddle players, antique shops-a-plenty, and a tractor dressed up as a train pulling families. Felt like a minor league version of Gatlinburg, Tennessee although there was a disappointing lack of go-karts.

On the outskirts of Nashville's main antique district, there were plenty of flea markets to be found featuring great deals on guns, fishing poles, Magnavox televisions, and VHS tapes. I didn't have a need for any of those things at the time, but enjoyed browsing.

Also, for a state that's not in the South, and was on the winning side of the Civil War, Indiana sure has a lot of prominently displayed Confederate Flags. Might be a good idea to provide a free history book with each one being sold.

We took a brief driving tour of Columbus, Indiana, described by some as an "architectural mecca." The small city features some incredibly unique buildings as well as several bridges such as the "Front Door Bridge" and Quadripod Bridge seen below:

In Greensburg, the courthouse features a tree growing out of its town square tower. Trees have been growing in the spire since 1870.

There's also decent ice cream in Greensburg just before you reach I-74 back towards Ohio:

I've spent plenty of time in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Angola, and stopped at an Arby's outside of Gary once, but it was nice to see another side of a neighboring state.


  1. Hi! I've followed your blog for a few years (after randomly searching for Cincinnati-related blogs); I'm a Cincinnati resident who graduated from Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute a few years back. I'm guessing that's where you were attending a graduation! Java Haute was like my second home for four years, so it's neat to read about it. The Cincinnati - Terre Haute trip (and the small towns along the way) are a familiar sight. :)

    1. Yeah! That's exactly what brought us there, Laura's sister graduated from Rose this past weekend so we spent a day in Terre Haute grabbing dinner, drinks, and eventually finding that carnival. I loved Java Haute, the pretzel dog was amazing and the coffee very strong. We ended up going this route in the above photos due to the 500 weekend happening in Indy. Curious: which route did you typically utilize between Cincy and Rose?

    2. Taking I-74 to I-70 is unequivocally the fastest way, and I started doing that more and more over the years. But I've logged at least a dozen trips along this route: http://bit.ly/2sizTqA (hoping that link goes to directions!) It passes through Columbus, Nashville, "Gnaw Bone", Bloomington, Spencer, and more. I always meant to stop and photograph interesting signs and places along the way but never got around to it. There are some gems along the way.

    3. The route is a little messed up at the very end - I'd take IN-46 all the way to 40 through Riley instead of getting on 1-70.

    4. Wow, that's pretty much the same way we travelled minus the Petersburg part, but that's where the ghost ship is at! Have you ever thought about heading back to Rose for a visit and snapping photos along the way?

    5. Neat! My parents live in NKY, so I just dropped the start somewhere on 275 the way I would leave town. I'll probably keep visiting for Homecoming, so I'll have to take the leisurely way home sometime and take photos along the way. It's a beautiful fall drive, especially near Brown County State Park and the stretch of 46 just outside of Bloomington.

    6. If you ever get around to shooting the photos, be sure to shoot us an email!

  2. I used to live in Terre Haute (Indiana State U). You bypassed Connersville and Brookville. Maybe next time! Love your blog!