May 19, 2006

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Ways to refresh and re-create on a mini-vacation

We start making vacation noises about this time of year.

But with the friendly skies becoming less and less friendly, we may choose not to fly to Florida or another fun spot. Nor will we want to drive anywhere in the car since it’s too expensive to buy fuel except when absolutely necessary.

What to do?

Here’s a thought: Maybe if we consider shorter vacation trips within Indiana, we’ll be able to afford the cost of gasoline in exchange for eating out and staying several nights in motels. Maybe we can have a great time closer to where we live with, of all things, the actual comforts of home at the end of the day.

For instance, nine miles southwest of Lafayette, about an hour from Indianapolis, you can visit the historic Farmers Institute Community. This is a real Quaker village illustrating the simple everyday life of Indiana in the 1860s. Sarah’s Oaks boarding house on the grounds offers bountiful farm meals, a flower garden and gift shop in a peaceful, wooded setting. Call 765-538-3880 for information.

In northeast Indiana, you can tour the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site, which was once home to one of Indiana’s most famous novelists and nature writers.

Porter’s best-known work is A Girl of the Limberlost, set in the forested swampland area of the historic site. Visitors may hike the wooded trails, visit the author’s cabin in Wildflower Woods, and view exhibits and documentaries in the Carriage House Visitors Center. Call 219-854-3790.

Civil War buffs might enjoy seeing the trail in Indiana where Morgan’s Raid occurred. It was the only skirmish of the war that took place in Indiana, with Morgan and his men looting and pillaging from Corydon through Salem, Lexington, Paris, Vernon, Dupont, Versailles, Sunman, New Alsace and other towns before being chased into Ohio. The trail is marked, but more information is available by calling 812-689-6410, ext. 5.

A great destination for lunch or dinner after a pleasant drive through southern Indiana would be the Blue River Café in Milltown, which straddles the border between Harrison and Crawford counties. The café is located in the former Knights of Pythias Hall, constructed in 1890. While the food is upscale, the setting is small town. Call 812-633-7510 for dinner reservations.

Delphi, in the Wabash River valley of northern Indiana, boasts the longest remaining section of the historic Wabash & Erie Canal that still contains water. The canal towpaths, local interurban paths and other transportation open spaces form the Delphi Historic Trails, part of a parks and recreation system that welcomes families and visitors. Call 765-564-3034 for details.

Brown County lovers can add the town of Story, 14 winding miles southeast of Nashville, to their travel agendas. The

little village was founded in 1851 and nearly abandoned during the Great Depression. Today, the Story Inn offers itself as a bed-and-breakfast as well as a gourmet restaurant. If you can find it, it’s worth the trip. Call 812-988-2273.

Indiana is a beautiful place to travel around, even when we need to be environmentally careful. Summer’s a comin’, and God is good.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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