Even though we spent a full month in Bluffton, we decided to make a another stop in the southern part of the Hoosier State, and spent a week in Columbus. We stayed at a quiet campground on I-65 which was south of Indianapolis, north of Louisville, and west of Cincinnati (in The Midwest Triangle).
A polar plunge was in the forecast and we were about to find ourselves in the middle of ‘snow-vember’. Since there was a good chance we would be hibernating at the end of our week, we braved the extra-cold-but-at-least-dry weather on the front end of our visit and got to as many attractions in the area before the roads became too much of a nightmare.
Since we were staying in Columbus, the downtown of that interesting community was first on our list. Although Columbus is a small town within America’s heartland, it has a few advantages that set it apart from most all other agricultural communities – anywhere. First of all, it is the global headquarters for Cummins, Inc. The same engine that powers our Monaco. When a world-wide company is based in a small town of 45,000, it is a good bet that the local economy is strong and thriving. Secondly, because the late J. Irwin Miller, former Cummins chairman and philanthropist, was part of the city’s leadership in the 1960’s – big dreams and goals were lined out in a vision that would help Columbus become ‘the very best community of its size in the country’.
Fifty years later, Columbus is ranked sixth in the nation for Innovative Architecture. It has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America, one of America’s Safest Cities, one of the Best Places to Live and Launch a Business, AND one of the top Historical Places in the World. Everywhere you look you see municipal buildings, private properties, gardens, sculptures and other attractions designed by world-class creators like I.M. Pei, Dale Chihuly, Robert Venturi, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, and many more.The most interesting thing to me about the collection of world-class architecture is that the predominately modern designs are all set seamlessly within the backdrop of historical Empire and Victorian styles.
There were snow flurries dancing through the air the entire time we walked around the streets of downtown, but nothing was sticking to the ground and we were grateful. After the dogs were satisfied with their outing, we put them in the warm car parked in a public garage, and went to get a cup of hot chocolate at the famous Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor – which opened its doors for business in the same building in 1900. We also stopped into a local historic brewery and pub to grab an early dinner before heading back to our campsite.
The next day we visited Nashville and Bloomington. Nashville is a tiny little artist colony located in the Blue Hills of Brown County. It was about a 30 minute drive west from our campground. The little town was full of art galleries and American craft boutiques. We stopped there for a late breakfast, and then walked through some shops on the way back to our car. After our bellies were too full, we continued driving west for another half-hour until we got to Bloomington. Since we like to visit university campuses, we found a parking garage in the middle of Indiana University and walked the dogs throughout the beautiful grounds filled with elegant limestone buildings. We also wandered around the downtown square before returning to the car.
Our last outing from this stop was to Indianapolis. Mike found a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurant in the ‘little Mexico’ section of town called The Tamale Place. We drove there first and had a yummy lunch of nachos, tamales, chips, salsa, rice, and black beans. After we were stuffed (again), we drove into downtown Indy and parked near the White River State Park. It was game day for the Colts on this Sunday afternoon, and our parking lot was starting to fill up with tailgate parties. Once again, we walked the dogs through the streets of downtown to see the important spots like the iconic War Memorial, the State Capitol Building, and Lucas Oil Stadium. As our walk was coming to an end, it started to snow. We took that as our cue to get back home before the roads became icy and treacherous.
The snow kept coming down for about 12 hours, and we woke up the next morning to a winter wonderland. The only problem with the pretty snow covering is that Mike acquires even more chores to tackle as the white stuff piles up. He spent most of the morning up on the roof shoveling snow and ice before all the extra wet weight found some obscure crevice and started melting to the inside of our rig. He is an ace at preventative maintenance. He also wrestled with our water hose connection where we hooked into the campground’s utilities. It is a bit of a challenge to keep water running in an outdoor hose when the temperature stays in the 20’s for days on end! Our water connection was completely frozen one morning, so we just disconnected from that source and switched to our fresh water holding tank. It was still flowing, and we were grateful for our ‘back-up system’.