Oh what a ride!
Eighty miles across the highways; ninety years back in time.
Rod, Kathy, Charlie, Patsy, Chuck, and Jeff enjoyed a perfect (beyond perfect actually) October day driving through the southern Indiana countryside to the past hangouts of the Chicago Mobs, Presidents, Actors, Actresses, and the wealthy. The weather was unseasonably warm, starting in the upper 60’s and ending, believe it or not, over 90 degrees. There wasn’t a cloud in sight.
Cruising along Indiana highway 64 and then along Highway 145, the outbound trip included passing through Marengo and English, IN, and then crossing beautiful Patoka Lake until arriving at the French Lick Resort. Along the way the countryside was beautiful, dotted with trees in varying fall shades. Patoka Lake was a real site, pleasure boaters and fishermen scattered throughout.
Highway 145 ended at the main entrance to the French Lick Resort. The entrance is stunning, as the hotel rises up at the foot of the Indiana hills.
The French Lick Resort and accompanying West Baden Resort Spa have been meticulously restored to late 1920’s/early 1930’s original charm and splendor. Lined with actual pictures from when the resorts catered to the movers and shakers, wealthy and, purportedly, the Chicago Mob, the wall silently spoke of the activities of the past. If you listened carefully, you could hear Presidents Truman and Roosevelt discussing world events and Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel discussing their recent "hits".
Lunch at the Power Plant Pub was filling and very adequate. Most enjoyed the surprisingly excellent hamburgers. All enjoyed the one-of-a-kind “homemade” potato chips. While not the healthiest, the lunch fueled the group for the 80-ish mile return trip.
Somehow skipping the casino, the group left the French Lick resort and passed the railroad museum to take a quick pass through the West Baden Resort and Spa. Nestled in the hill side about a mile from the French Lick resort, the West Baden Spa was also restored to its mid-1920’s charm. The ride along the original brick streets was a little bumpy and added character while admiring the lands and massive hotel. As with the walls in the French Lick resort, you could almost see the people from the "roaring twenties" meandering along the different walkways throughout the property. If you thought about it enough you could also imagine a not to healthy encounter between rival mob members.
Leaving the French Lick area, the group traveled along highway 56 East toward Salem, IN. While highway 56 was a little less well maintained than the inbound roads, the scenery and curves more than made up for the slightly less shoulder area. Highway 56 was dotted with large farms and one massive house, resembling a castle, perched on a hill over-looking pretty much the entire world.
Just entering Salem the group saw Amish women selling handmade baskets on a corner. The baskets looked beautiful, I’m sure we would have stopped if we had room to carry them. The carriage was alongside the baskets; the horse must have been off roaming somewhere.
Passing through Salem the group turned East on highway 60 and proceeded the final “30 or so” miles to Interstate 65. Highway 60 was another road to remember as we passed countless, probably over 50 overall, motorcyclists also enjoying the beautiful day.
The group stopped just short of I65, took an unhurried moment to say goodbye, remounted, and proceeded back to Louisville and points East via the Interstate system.
All-in-all it was another terrific day filled with great roads, conversation, and scenery. Kathy and Patsy took a bunch of pictures, with all of us losing count at the number of times Kathy’s arm was in the air, camera in hand, clicking away.
For those interested, this was a slightly longer trip, about 170 miles total.
July 4, 2013