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When the Urge to Wander Demands Attention

It was a busy summer and fall prepping for our oldest daughter’s wedding. It was a beautiful day shared with family and friends. When the excitement died down, the calendar remained filled with family commitments and our other interests. It had been a while since we had wandered and the urge to do so needed attention.

A family baby shower occupied part of the day, so we planned a late afternoon drive and dinner at the famed Kopper Kettle restaurant in Morristown (southeast of Indianapolis on US 52). Our plans went awry. While picking my wife up at the shower site, there were still mountains of delicious salads, soup, chicken, and delectable desserts. I was greeted with “You have to try this and this and this, and don’t miss this.” Before long we had stayed a few hours and filled up. Not a single bad dish, so this wasn’t a disappointment.

We finally headed out from the Geist area of Indianapolis and headed south to Greenfield and Knightstown. By now we knew that the Hoosiers Gym in Knightstown (our first planned destination) would be closed before we got to town and there was no need to pursue fried chicken in Morristown. Never one for a highway when a back road will do, we skirted a detour near Geist and took a new route to Fortville. Then southeast on Fortville Pike to Greenfield. Thinking we could at least see the James Whitcomb Riley House and the Hancock County Courthouse in Greenfield, we were foiled by Riley Days and the downtown was blocked off. We drove on side streets and made our way east on US 40. We passed Riley Park and his “Old Swimmin’ Hole” at Big Blue River and drove through Cleveland and Charlottesville before arriving in Knightstown.

US 40 is such a pleasure to drive and I am grateful that so many road warriors beat each other up along I-70 which parallels the old National Road a few miles north. Upon arriving in Knightstown, we drove past some lovely homes on our way to the historic Knightstown Academy and the Hoosiers Gym. The sun was just right for great pictures of the two buildings. I love the globe and telescope sculptures on top of the Academy building.

According to Wikipedia, “The Knightstown Academy is a historic school building built as a Quaker Academy in 1876 and affiliated with the Society of Friends. The building was designed in Second Empire style. It has a mansard roof and twin four story towers that are topped by a telescope and a globe. After the building ceased to be used as an academy, it functioned for many years as the local public high school. It is now an apartment building. The attached gymnasium was used as the home court of the Hickory Huskers in the 1985 movie Hoosiers. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976."

We drove through other parts of town as we headed to our next destination. Rather than a square in downtown Knightstown there is a two-block long central plaza/park with a gazebo, tables, plantings, and a National Road Scenic Byway Interpretive Panel.

Turning south on a short stretch of State Road 140, we traveled to the former Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home. Built at the close of the Civil War it went through many iterations until it was closed by the state of Indiana in 2009. That same year the campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, the Indiana National Guard has taken control of the property and is helping students who dropped out of high school. For more...

We started our drive back home heading west through Carthage and Westland, the valleys of Blue River, Brandywine Creek, and crossing Sixmile Creek and Nameless Creek (seems like this a name after all). The sun played hide-and-seek with the clouds at sunset as we wandered through corn and soybean fields waiting to be harvested. After a light dinner in Greenfield, we headed directly home refreshed after scratching the wandering itch.

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