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WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Travel   |   WHEN: November 29, 2010   |   WHERE: Princeton, Indiana
Kylie & I just got back from spending a few days in southern Indiana with her family for the Thanksgiving weekend.  We decided to make the 12 hour drive this time instead of fly because we love torture.  Oh, and because we wanted to bring the dog.  Ah, yes... that's why we drove.  Paying $200 (in addition to our tickets) just to allow Mia to sit in our lap on a plane seemed like robbery.  (Although seeing one of those TSA guys give her a pat-down mighta been worth it.)

So we gave me a little doggy sedative, piled in the car, and headed to Princeton (IN) last Wednesday.  Of course we, or at least I, spent Thursday eating myself into a coma with all the fantastic Thanksgiving day food Kylie's mom and grandma prepared.  We ate around noon.  I watched football and checked my eyelids for holes for a couple hours after that, and then we had round two for dinner before resuming my horizontal position in the living room.  I. Love. Thanksgiving.

Friday, Garry (my father-in-law), Bryce (Kylie's brother) and I headed out early to, well, drive around.  And drive around we did.  And around.  And around.  We ended up on some back-country, over-the-river-and-through-the-woods, winding road for a while where - from the back seat of the truck - I nearly revisited my breakfast if you know what I mean.  Funny thing is we were talking about car-sickness just before that, and I told them I was good to go because, well, I was at that moment.  Shortly after, though, I dunno what happened... maybe it was me bragging how I rarely get car sick, but I about lost it.  Thankfully, I managed to keep it all down and everything was fine after our next stop when I got out of the truck and got some coooold air.

Anywho, I took my camera for our drive and grabbed a few images along the way, and here they are.

First up was this round barn Garry and Bryce knew of.  (And for the record, Garry and Bryce know about everything you could ever wanna know about Princeton and the surrounding area.  I joked that in the course of our 8 hour excursion, I think there were only about 3 houses we passed where they didn't know who currently or previously lived there.  Seriously.)  The barn was kinda interesting because, well, who builds a round barn?

This next one was just a drive by image from the back seat. 

Both Garry and Bryce created a lot of build-up for the jug rock.  I mean a LOT.  Like, you haven't lived until you've seen the jug rock build-up.  By the sarcastic tone in their voice, I prepared myself to be underwhelmed, and I was not disappointed.  It's basically a rock... on top of another rock.  (see below right).  Interesting?  Sure, kinda.  Geologically significant?  Debatable.  Worth the drive through "deliverance country" (as Bryce put it)?  My queasy stomach is still deciding.  One of the more fascinating aspects for sure is how little marketing the locals gave this 8th wonder of the world for as much build-up as it gets.  Check out the huge green "Jug Rock" sign below the "Keep Right" sign (below left) pointing out this marvel as your driving down the road.  They spared no expense, eh?

We did also finally find this covered bridge which was pretty cool.  What was not cool, though - as we heard from one of the locals - is that in the last 5 years someone has tried to burn this bridge down twice.  The good news is there's a renovation project in the works to tidy up the bridge and make it fire-resistant.

Our final stop before heading back to the house was in French Lick, Indiana to see the West Baden Springs Hotel, and it was pretty amazing.  This hotel was considered by some to be the 8th wonder of the world back in the day when it was first built because of it's huge dome that many said architecturally couldn't be built.  If you've ever been to a Gaylord hotel, the West Baden Springs Hotel was kinda like a Gaylord hotel looong before there were Gaylord hotels... and much more opulent.  Walking through the hotel kinda felt like what I imagine walking around on the Titanic was like.  Very elegant in it's hay day with unmatched decor, prestige and reputation.  If you're ever in the area, check it out. After a long period of neglect and deteriation, it's recently been completely restored.

Here's an image of the dome covering the atrium.

A view from the library in the hotel.

A chandelier with a beautiful wood ceiling in the main lobby.

A decorative glass fixture hanging in one of the stairwells.  This is actually a combination of 2 images.  I took a close-up image of the fixture in focus, and then took a second image of the fixture out of focus.  Finally I just overlaid the second out-of-focus image on top of the in-focus image in Photochop and changed the blending mode of the top layer (the out-of-focus image) to overlay.  You can see the two original images below the final image.

Back at the house, my brother-in-law's dog, Phyllis, on the left and Mia on the right, both looking out the back door.  I think this photo is the only time during our 3 day stay these two weren't chasing, playing with, barking at or generally antagonizing each other. 

Yesterday, Garry and I went out to find some heavy farm machinery for me to drive around, but we found a vintage tractor pull first at the local fair grounds.

The tractor pull was kinda interesting, but I had one big beef... I wanted to see a little more bling on the tractors.  I mean, c'mon... I know all the tractors in the competition had to be built before 1958 (or something like that) to be allowed to participate, but why not spruce these babies up with some flame paint jobs, blue under-carriage LED lighting, or at a minimum a little chrome?  Huge marketing opportunity they're missing here.  You know, to appeal to the younger crowd.  Anywho.

Finally, Garry hooked me up with a ride in a Terra-Gator.  That just sounds cool... Terra-Gator.  This chick magnet is a beast, and was so cool to cruise in.  He was brave enough (or crazy enough) to let me drive this bad boy out on the open road (with his supervision, of course, and I gotta tell ya... I was honestly a little terrified I was gonna pancake something or someone with the gigantor tires while cruisin' down those narrow county roads at a top speed of 35mph.  I apologize if I ran you off the road.  I didn't mean to. Promise. 

Actually, everything went fine and good times were had by all.  Well, at least me... Garry was probably white-knuckling it the whole time I was driving.  I'm pretty sure I was a natural, though, so if this photography thing doesn't pan out, I might just become a Terra-Gator driver.

All in all, a fantastic trip.  It was great to see Kylie's family and get some down time in.  And now it's back to the grind to finish out the next few weeks strong before calling it quits for the holidays.


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