Heeding Horace Greeley’s cry to "Go West," we climbed in the car one sunny September day and did just that. We got as far west as Indiana, but after three days of turnpike driving, that seemed just far enough. True, we were on a mission to deliver some goods to our son who had headed west several months earlier, but we were also out to explore an area of the country where we had never spent any time.
Instead of driving straight through, we stopped every day to see some sights and walk off the kinks produced by sitting too long in our cozy Kia cocoon.
The first place we discovered was Erie, Pennsylvania. We were lucky enough to stay in the waterfront convention area, which is undergoing somewhat of a renewal.
Our room overlooked a marina, and although most of the pleasure boats were moored, we did see some work boats chugging around and a sportfisherman loading up with day-trippers. We read about the new casino just offshore on Presque Isle; but we were not tempted to stop there. Instead we drove along Lake Road looking for the place where some friends of ours used to live -- and we found it!
Our next adventure took place in the city of Mansfield, Ohio. I love gardens and Mansfield has a showplace called Kingwood Gardens. We strolled happily through the acres of landscaped loveliness, made friends with a couple of peacocks, and annoyed the Aflac-duck’s double when we didn’t have enough food for him too. The property included an imposing Georgian home, but it was closed on the day we visited, so we had to be content to view it from the broad, tree-lined lawn which led to a secluded fountain.
The next six days were spent sight-seeing in Indianapolis. We toured the home of the Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley, as well as Oldfields, the home of Josiah Lilly, Jr. of the pharmaceutical empire. We also visited the gardens and greenhouses at Oldfields and the adjacent Indianapolis Museum of Art. We drove past the state capitol and the capital of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We also ventured out into the vast Indiana farmland and continually marveled at the flatness of the land.
One of the most exciting events of the week was winning the trivia contest at a local pub in the Broad Ripple neighborhood where our son now lives. Apparently, there is a group that routinely wins the contest (and the $25 gift certificate); but we blew through four of the five categories and won by two points. One of the losers came over -- ostensibly to congratulate us; but we believe he was just trying to figure out where we came from and why our team name was "Crane, Poole, and Schmidt." We think he was relieved to learn we were heading back to Massachusetts.
When it was time to pack up and leave, we routed ourselves through Dayton, Ohio, so we could visit the Packard museum there. Located in a former Packard car dealership, the Citizens’ Motor Car Museum provided a delightful hour-long respite from the inside of a much less magnificent automobile. It has an extensive collection of Packards as well as related automotive memorabilia. Our car seemed even more cramped as we climbed in to hit the road again.
Although we spent a night in Columbus, Ohio, we saw little except the fast-food restaurants along the interstate. Our next destination was Rochester, New York, where we took a couple of hours to investigate the Lake Ontario shoreline and appreciate the thousands of acres planted with apple trees. We drove through a few small towns, including Palmyra (the boyhood home of Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith). Then we hit the highway for one last long push to home.
Home is the place you always appreciate more when you’ve been away from it for a couple of weeks. Home, sweet home.
Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.