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After That, It's All Down Hill!

Four years ago, Beth and I stood on the upper deck of the IUPUI garage and watched the downtown Indy Fireworks while she was in her first of three hospital stays. Who knew? People were migrating toward the CarmelFest Parade route, but I was heading out of town. I find it hard to celebrate without my dear wife who was always part of the celebration.

(Hoosier Hill Site Entry Marker)

I was visiting state's biggest river at its other end and its highest point, so it was a big day ahead. As my route would be primarily east and west, I never traveled more than 30 miles from north to south the entire trip. Headed north on US31, before heading east on SR28.

I called my work colleague, John, and we talked about a project that he needed my help on. Since I was driving within a mile of his house on my drive to Ohio along SR 28 I agreed to stop by. Paused to capture a picture of an abandoned school building, Beech Grove School (picture left), just NW of Tipton.

I called my brother Stan to touch base and he would have enjoyed wandering with me, but I was going the opposite direction. I was avoiding Tipton, Elwood and Alexandria by driving along

back roads. As I neared Alexandria, I passed an old farm truck that was a red version of an old blue International grain truck which my dad purchased in the early 1960s. I immediately called Stan and talked with him about it. Ours was a 1964 version. I stopped at the GetGo station for gas and the truck pulled in behind me. I took a picture and then asked about his truck, a 1963 model. He recently purchased it and most everything is original and still operable. I took a couple more close-up pictures and sent it to my brothers.

After my side trip to John’s, I got back on SR28 heading east to Albany and then NE on SR67 a few miles. Turned east and traveled clear across southern Jay County to the Ohio State Line. Jogged north on State Line Road and then east on the Mercer-Darke County Line Road for three miles to the Historic Anthony Wayne Parkway Roadside Park at the intersection with Ohio SR49. It is well-kept roadside park with three parking spots, a two-sided interpretive panel erected in 1958 and a few shade trees but no tables or shelters. The Wabash River starts a half mile west of here in a farm woods. There is a culvert under the highway and the Wabash River (trickle) runs along the park’s northern boundary.

Wabash River culvert looking east. From here it circles Fort Recovery, Ohio and travels 30+ miles in Ohio before entering Indiana for the majority of its 503-mile journey to the Ohio River.

Wabash River marker at Anthony Wayne Historic Parkway Roadside Park.

Grabbed my coolers and sat under a shade tree to enjoy lunch. I commented aloud how much I missed Beth and wished she was here physically with me. Almost immediately, a semi-tanker truck drove past, with a Cooper Farms logo emblazoned on the tanker. Cooper Farms was one of Activate Health’s clients and Beth worked with them on several communication projects. Okay Beth, I hear you. Thanks for the sign! I didn’t want to forget this experience so I sat in the truck and captured the first half of today’s journal entry before heading south to Hoosier Hill.

Next, I headed south to Union City. It was interesting to cross the Mississinewa River here as it is a little bigger than the Wabash River and yet is one of its tributaries. I made a quick stop in Union City and then wandered around town taking some pictures. At some time in the future, I need to come back when I can park and walk the downtown streets as the architecture is old and amazing. Back on the road, I headed southwest briefly on SR32 and then south on SR227 when SR32 turned back due west. I continued south on SR 227 and then jumped over to a county road, Arba Pike, and drove through South Salem, Bartonia, and Spartanburg.

(St. Mary's Catholic Church, Union City; Spartanburg Christian Church; Spartanburg United Methodist Church)

Had to back track to find the Union Literary Institute, a historic site that I had not visited previously. The history of this site is more amazing than the structure itself. Here's the Union Literary Institute's two-sided marker and the crumbling school building.

Back on SR227, I followed a couple on a motorcycle onto a country road, turned onto another, and then we both turned into the parking area for Hoosier Hill. I rolled my window down and remarked that I was following them, but I wasn’t stalking them. I walked up the highest point stone marker (Elevation 1,257 feet) surrounded by park benches and a mailbox for people in the HighPointers Club (people who visit the highest points in every state). I returned and began talking with the couple. I learned they were from east of Portland just inside the Indiana-Ohio State Line. They asked about me and I shared where I was from and they commented about my lengthy trip today. I began telling them my LOTH story and he remarked, “Where have I read about your story?” I told him about the Indiana Connection article published by Indiana’s Rural Electric Cooperatives. He said,” That’s it. I knew I had read about your journey!” We continued to talk about their wandering and places they enjoy. I also encouraged them to take a long trip to New Harmony as they seem to be a couple that would enjoy that trip. I took a picture of the big rock marker at the entry to the site.

When I visited this site one other time I approached from the west and noticed the elevation rising gradually for miles.There are no hills, knobs, or mountains, just rising elevation in general. If you look at a topographical map you will notice that a large number of Indiana's rivers rise in this region and flow down in every direction – Wabash, Salamonie, Mississinewa, White (East Fork), Big Blue, Flat Rock, and both folks of the Whitewater River (the state's fastest flowing river). As I concluded my second visit here, I couldn't help but snicker as I thought about how to share it. Here it is – After That, It's All Down Hill!

I was now done and just needed to wander home. I drove through the towns of Arba and Crete before stopping in Lynn for a break. A man on a motorcycle exchanged greetings and he asked if I was from Lynn. Once I told him I was from Carmel, he commented, “You must be lost.” I assured him I was not at all. Then, he admitted he was!

I wasn’t going to settle for driving home on a major highway. I drove cross country to revisit Snow Hill (85º and no snow), Rural (made certain to get a picture on this time visiting), Buena Vista, and Unionport, all in Randolph County. Just kept driving and had to go through Mt. Pleasant to skirt Prairie Creek Reservoir near Muncie. Actually drove through northern Anderson before getting back on familiar roads to come home.

I have traveled through miles and miles of rural Indiana, but this town claimed the name and put up a sign!

It was a beautiful day and a wonderful trip wandering on my own. I often talk with family and friends while I drive and today was no exception, talking with both daughters, my three siblings, a sister-in-law and a work colleague. I also listen to playlists I developed years ago that Beth and I would enjoy while wandering. Today's trip was 244 miles over an eight-hour period. Just the right pace. Yes, you can take a quick loop or take a drive to a neighboring county, but this is more than that. I hope those who read this will make the time, not hope to find the time, and get out to enjoy Life Off The Highway.

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