Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - "Pilgrimage" - 1/18/09

This week’s Sunday Scribblings prompt is “Pilgrimage.” The following event came to mind:

I have driven across the United States several times. Well, nearly all the way across. I usually have driven back and forth from Idaho or Wyoming to the coast of South Carolina or Georgia. One way is between two thousand and twenty six hundred miles depending upon points of embarkation and debarkation. Though I love my country, the vast majority of it is pretty boring visually, particularly the Midwest. The only thing that rises above the horizon of corn is an occasional silo. It is topographically challenged.


So in order to break the monotony of interstate highway driving, I have sometimes ventured off the beaten path to visit a point of interest. I have seen the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas.

I have detoured to see professional and collegiate stadiums and Boot Hill in Dodge City Kansas.

I have visited the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois

and Carhenge (yep there is one) in Alliance, Nebraska,

But none of these were really planned, just a spur of the moment diversion. Sometimes just spotting and advertisement, "Prairie dog town, two miles."

On one of my trips south, I actually did make a major course change and embark on a pilgrimage of sorts. Along with reading, music, and film, sports are a major part of my life. Two of my all-time sports heroes, Larry Bird and Don Mattingly, are from Indiana. Larry is from French Lick (the name alone is worth a visit) and Donny Baseball is from Evanston. I am certain that some of my readers are alarmed that I would know that minutiae. People that know me will not be surprised at all. Anyway, Indiana is not on my normal intracontinental route. I am guessing that Indiana is not on anyone’s route, unless one races automobiles. I am probably the only person in history who has gone on a pilgrimage to Indiana.

So after I passed through St Louis (always a pleasure), instead of taking Interstate 57 South toward Paducah, Kentucky, I stayed on Interstate 64 and took it into Indiana. I visited French Lick first because I did not know what time the Larry Bird Museum might close. At the time, it was located in the lobby of a hotel, so I did not need to worry. French Lick was pretty much a hell-hole, but in the years since my visit they have built casinos and golf courses. If I lived in French Lick I would open up a massage parlor/ice cream shop. Happy endings for all.

But it was heartwarming to see how a small town (under 2,000 then) honors their favorite son. His image was everywhere. I come from a small town that has never really had anyone to honor. The only resident’s images are on the wall of the post office and sometimes offer a reward. Exploring French Lick, I was pretty sure that Larry got his looks from some selective in-breeding.

Then it was on to Evansville about 90 miles away, where I had dinner at Mattingly’s 23 Restaurant and met Don’s brother, Randy. At least, he said he was Don’s brother. It is possible that Evansville residents take turns hanging around the restaurant bar pretending to be Don’s brother, encouraging tourists to stay and have a few drinks. After hearing what a fan I was and that I was on a pilgrimage, Randy gave me an autographed photo of Don. At least, he said it was autographed by Don. It could have been autographed by any of the town’s Randys.

Anyway, I felt good about my pilgrimage; even though I found out later that I was only 500 miles from the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.
You might think that is quite a haul but I once drove 830 miles from Darien, Georgia to O’Fallon, Illinois to have lunch with a woman, because she didn’t believe I would. I guess the joke was on you, Angie Buhrman. Never, test my inclination and resolve to do ridiculous things.

18 comments:

Granny Smith said...

Wonderful journeys told with a sense of humor! I'm more apt to take a detour to something with an intriguing name such as Craters of the Moon national monument even tho I had no idea what was there. I guess we all have our foibles and fables.

Tumblewords: said...

You have pilgrimaged in the most adventurous ways. What could be more fun - great read! Why was I thinking Bartlesville?

Ann said...

The pleasure of a road trip is being able to stop or detour on a whim. And no, 500 miles wouldn't have been a crazy distance to extend your pilgrimage, had you known. I'm from Texas, and I can drive 500 miles west and still not be near the state line.

goooooood girl said...

your blog is very good......

paisley said...

having done a fair amount of travel on my path of life,, i always thought i would love to take an rv out on the road and just move around in my "golden years" with the economy and oil prices that "dream" fades miserably,,, but i am still glad for all that i have had the opportunity to see,, and i feel in some ways sorry for people that have never been anywhere.....

GreenishLady said...

I like your spirit! Makes me feel lacking in adventurous spirit. But I think if I saw a sign for the Field of Dreams, I'd definitely head that way. Enjoyed this post!

Michelle said...

Hilarious! I share your adoration for Larry Bird, (die hard Celtics fan here)... Although I don't know if I'd drive all the way to French Lick.
I drove from Massachusetts to San Diego six years ago... I agree with you on the monotonous mid-west!

Silver Valley Girl said...

I love trips like that, when we take little diversions to places we have never been. My husband would have been right there with you going to French Lick. He is a big Larry Bird fan, as well. I actually knew that Larry Bird was from French Lick.

qualcosa di bello said...

'topographically challenged'...i love that!!

ps. your co-pilot might want to consider american idol next season...just sayin'!

rosey said...

The longest road trip I've done is 30 miles, but I've not been driving long!
Loved your piece, great journey.

keiths ramblings said...

Here in the England we are not really set up for road trips cos it's only 350 miles top to toe!

I did a very long car ride up through India. A subject for a post maybe!

Redheels said...

Love trips when you can just meander around, they make the best memories.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I have done that a bit myself, meandering is by far the best way to travel if you ask me. And all that distance for lunch....hmmmmm! Someone mentioned to me that no one would be worth a 2 hour drive. Well, we know better now don't we. co

myrtle beached whale said...

CO:

It was not that anyone was worth the drive it was the fact that I was doubted.

Go Figure said...

Whale: Drive...you can take a SVGuy out of the SV, but you can't take the approach to life. HA!

forgetfulone said...

You've been some interesting places! That carhenge cracks me up.

sarala said...

I almost wrote this Sunday of my pilgrimage to Indiana to take photos but I wound up too tired and busy to go through with it. There are pictures of Gary on my site though. Not farmland, that's for sure.

Liz said...

I may live in North Idaho, but I am a Bostonian at heart. I've been to the Larry Bird museum.
And I slept on the pavement to see the Celtics play at the old Boston Garden before they tore it down. And yes, it was when Larry was still playing...