Same Old Mistake Blues
CHASING THE BLUES, CHAPTER 29: Chicago, IL, to Indianapolis, IN
We should have learned our lesson in St Louis, but apparently we did not. Since we were leaving Chicago on a Sunday morning, we had the clever idea to take some unobstructed and uncongested photos of city landmarks, including a skyline shot from the Adler Planetarium. Sound familiar? .
You’d think we would have checked the calendar of events after our fiasco with the St. Louis marathon, right?. Nope. So we didn’t learn until we tried to turn onto a closed street that the March of Dimes Lakefront Walk for Babies was being held this morning in the very places we needed to go. Ten thousand participants filled the streets. So yet again, we had to abandon our photographic plans.
|March of Dimes Walk for Babies fills Chicago streets.|
Since we were so near it, we decided to visit the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a unit of the National Park Service. When we explained our limited time, the friendly rangers at the visitor center recommended the West Beach. In a brief walk on the beach, we marveled at the appearance of waves on Lake Michigan. In winter and early spring, the lake even serves up some surfable breakers. The tan dunes were small and grassy with scrub growth. We never quite caught the geological or historical significance of this spot that would make it rise to the level of a nationally protected sanctuary. Compared to Great Sand Dune National Park in Colorado or the coastal dunes of North Carolina and the Florida panhandle, we found the lakeshore rather 'mundune.'
|What's all the fuss about?|
After that sobering stop, we drove south of town to search for another letterbox at Saint Joseph’s College, a private Catholic liberal arts institution founded in the late 1800s as a secondary school for Native American boys. Today the campus was abuzz with the annual “Little 500,” a traditional go kart race postponed from yesterday due to rain. We missed the earlier alumni competition, but made it just in time for the 2 p.m. student contest. As we were to learn later in Indianapolis, most Indiana colleges hold some type of “Little 500” race each year, whether they race beds, bicycles, or go karts.
|Saint Joseph's Little 500|
Near Lafayette, we left the freeway to seek another letterbox which our friend Karen asked us to investigate after seeing the story behind it on Atlas Quest. The letterbox was a sweet tribute to an undeveloped child lost to an ectopic pregnancy. When we left the cemetery, we decided to continue south on US-52 rather than returning to the heavy traffic and frenetic pace of I-65. We found this surface road much calmer and stuck with it to US-421, which took us into Indy.
After checking in at a Residence Inn about a half mile from the state capitol, we hit the local P.F. Chang’s for dinner before going to look for some blues music. We found just what we were seeking at the Slippery Noodle Inn, a large blues bar and restaurant near the Amtrak station and the football stadium, though the club predates them both. In fact, this esteemed tavern is the oldest commercial building in the city. Having opened in 1850 as the Tremont House, it has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operated bar in the state. During its checkered history, it has served variously as a stop on the Underground Railroad, a speakeasy and a brothel.
|Gordon Bohnam and friends|
After more than two hours of their smooth and soulful blues, we returned to the hotel to plot our visit to the Indiana state capitol tomorrow.
- Miles driven: 247
- Letterboxes found: 4
- Weather: sunny, 39° to 58°
- Wow-inducing dunes: 0
A Sampling of Indianapolis Blues
Gordon Bonham Trio
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