Saturday, October 2, 2010

On the Road Again

Early on a recent Saturday, with the gorgeous autumn blooming, the hub asked, “Wanna go for a ride?”
Around here, mid-north Indiana, that can only mean one thing: let’s drive down to Brown County. Several miles south of Bloomington, this is where the state begins to roll into the Appalachians; the rounded hills are coated with trees that glow red and gold and orange by mid October. Even on an IU football weekend, your route takes you around the fans. You can escape whatever noise and stress by turning into the state park and following what seem like an infinite number of roads and paths, paved and unpaved. Even as many take this trip, the park always seems close to empty.
Once, on an adventure there, we got caught in the rain so we pulled over and took refuge on an empty cabin’s porch. Within 10 minutes, three deer joined us.
Such are my memories of Brown County.
I just assumed Mike had read my mind.
We climbed aboard what he says is ‘the best brand of motorcycle,’ one that belongs to someone else. This bright red Honda touring bike was a revelation for me: as passenger, I sat on a padded cushion with lots of room, this after years of perching on an 8” square metal platform with a thin layer of leather covering it.
Hoodie on and up, I was ready for our adventure.
We headed to Indianapolis. Did I forget to mention to the driver that one vein of I-465 was thick with construction? Did he not recently drive Mom to the airport along the same route? Wouldn’t he remember this? Apparently not. Our journey to get around Indianapolis took much longer and coated us with dust.
No matter. We cleared urbania and headed off to the south.
Except, within a short distance, the hub turned into Morgan Monroe State Park. Long ago, Mike took some hiking trips there. He has also joined some bicycling treks there. But it’s not so great for driving and sightseeing. As the passenger, I’m not even a co-pilot. I may have thought that this was a side trip on the way.

It was not.

“I don’t remember this being such a plain place,” said he.

“This isn’t where I thought we were going.”

“Where did you think we were going?”

I told him.


Coupled with the long trek through road construction and now, the Indiana University game day crowd, fatigue was curling the corners on our enthusiasm for adventure. We were now dusty, thirsty, tired, and stiff. A quick consensus was that we would pop into that empty-parking-lot McD’s for some sweet tea and not-too-bad coffee before we made the Go Home/Go South decision.

We walked up to the counter and ordered our drinks just as a busload of little-girl-athletes-working-on-their-tough-image emptied into the place. With them, they brought their sweat and swearing and swagger. Close in. CLOSE IN.

We grabbed our drinks and, muscling our way through elbow pads, headed to the door. Our thought of a quick, restful break became a dash for the motorcycle.

Ok, the vote now was to head back home. We would follow the other side of Indianapolis. We might stop at a bookstore….oh, come on, we WOULD stop at a bookstore.
So we were off and pointed north.
The day: a failure? No way…..more like those kinds of trips which daughter Allyson describes as “so us.”

From my vantage point, I got to watch the cars whiz by. One was particularly entertaining: a young man had restored an old 70s Grand Am, painting it flat black and adding fins. As it flew past us, we admired the even blacker flames painted on the doors. Then, from the rear we got the real show: he had rigged something above the dual exhausts which, every once in a while, shot flames out the back.

Yes, we stopped at a favorite bookstore. Another coffee for me. And then, back to the homestead.

Those glorious fall days lay ahead. Perhaps another try at Brown County.

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