Posted on

Inexpensive vacations abound close to home

Inexpensive vacations abound close to home Inexpensive vacations abound close to home

I have just witnessed the most beautiful scenery ever and learned a good many lessons along the way. It was a fabulous adventure. I have, through the years, traveled extensively all around the world, seeing wonders every day. But during this special trip, my feet never strayed from the soil of Southern Indiana. I did not encounter any foreign language nor were there tigers and lions in the bush. All I was trying to do was get from our farm in Harrison County to Orleans.
There are several routes recommended to a traveler leaving Wyandotte Forest and heading to Orange County. With plans that involved traveling back and forth on two separate days, I wanted to find the quickest and easiest route available. I studied current Internet-provided maps, good old-fashioned paper maps and asked the advice of locals on both ends of the trip. It seems it is no simple matter to travel from Harrison County to Orange County.
Finally, as I ran out of time for continued route studying, I said to myself, ‘Highway 37 is a road that goes directly where I want to go, and I am going.’ At the time, it seemed the safest choice when a strict schedule was involved.
What we experienced was one of the curviest and most beautiful roads one could travel on a late spring day in Southern Indiana. The sun was bright, the fields were green and the driving was slow.
The first two times I drove it, I was knuckle-gripped to the steering wheel and didn’t take in much of the distant vistas or rolling hills. Going up, down and around took major concentration. The few cars I encountered came in two versions: those which seemed to jump up over a hill at me and those driven by local motorists who knew where the curves were and wished I would drive faster. It took me a couple of trips to know where the safe pull-offs were that allowed me to get out of the way so the seasoned drivers could pass.
Once I became a little more accustomed to the system one needed to safely navigate S.R. 37, the trip became a vacation in itself. Everywhere were clues that told the historical story of a specific group of people living in a very unique and special place. The hilly land was spared the scraping and leveling affects of the giant glaciers that covered most of Indiana. We have no glacial till, which I often decry, no rich deep soil that calls forth large farm operations. Instead, farm families have hacked out small patches to grow what they can eat and a bit to sell. Our forests are heavy and deep. They enable our rich hardwood’s industry to stand beside the Hoosier National Forest. The public lands that preserve and manage our natural resources are good but pay no property taxes which is bad for local governmental services.
Along S.R. 37 are small communities that are experiencing their own unique growing pains and triumphs. They show the signs of starts and renewal and scars from floods and economic shifts, but mainly one sees life playing out as it has for generations in these beautiful hills. Barns are built and others are crumbling to the ground, but planting and raising animals goes on. Commercial enterprises come and go, while those who run them or use their products adjust and shift their lifestyles. Schools change their curriculum and buildings, but kids still go to learn.
It is an affirming ride along S.R. 37. Yes, it is scary on a curvy road but, if one pays attention, hangs on, is cautious, careful and full of wonderment, it is a great drive.
With all the sameness through the years, do not for a moment think you are aware of all the new and exciting activity that is intertwined with an old route. Who would have ever dreamed that the beautiful Lucas Oil Golf Course would arise in what before the floods was a part of downtown English? Who could have predicted that Paoli would, in 2018, house a progressive organic food co-op and an art center in the middle of their current core town? Did you know that a music concert will take place in the once-abandoned Paoli Tomato Products Co. on Aug. 11? Are you aware that outside Paoli is the Brambleberry Nursery, where you can purchase a great variety of plants from the growers who make their home in a straw house? Have you visited the farmers market in Orleans to seek new ideas? They fund their market by selling used books to additionally grow minds. And, by the way, how long has it been since you actually had a road-side picnic?
There is an opportunity for a terrific, easy and inexpensive summer vacation right here on one highway route in Southern Indiana. If you have two days, you can stay overnight at Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell and eat in the lodge that looks like it did when it was built way back when.
Now, let’s stop and think. What other two-day jaunts are there awaiting us here close to home? Greater yet, what can we package, advertise and provide for others to visit on our turf in their free time? The cash from tourism is great, but the comradery is even better.