Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nashville, IN (10/26)

I had never heard of Nashville, Indiana until the day I drove through it on my way to the campground in Gnaw Bone.  That was on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the streets of Nashville were jam-packed with shoppers and tourists.  I immediately concluded I would have to return, but during the week when there was a little less traffic.

Nashville is a quaint village in the hills of southern Indiana.  With a population of about 800, it is the largest town in,  and the county seat of, Brown County.  The area was first settled in 1809, but the town wasn't incorporated until 1872.  For some reason, the area began to attract artists in the early 1900s and still has a thriving arts community today, practicing a variety of art forms.  Several activities make Nashville a destination attraction.

Bill Monroe, known as "The Father of Bluegrass" bought property in nearby Bean Blossom in 1951 and started the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in 1965.  That event had its 50th anniversary recently and is still held on the same property.  In fact, Highway 135, which runs through Bean Blossom, was proclaimed the Bill Monroe Memorial Highway in 1999.  There is also an annual Blues Festival in Bean Blossom.

In addition to music festivals and the artist colony, Brown County's rolling hills, scenic farm lands, fall foliage and antique sales attract many visitors.  Numerous B & B's, inns and hotels provide accommodations for them.  For such a small town, there are at least 26 restaurants serving the community.

This was my last stop on the 2015 summer trip.  I had plans to re-visit Lexington, KY to check out fall foliage there, but heavy rains led me to keep moving.  In fact, the rain was constant well into Georgia, so I just kept going and soon made it home.  Now I'm thinking about a spring trip, so stay tuned for that adventure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brown County, IN (10/25-10/27)

When I took the Agawa Canyon train tour out of Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, I sat with a woman and her two children, a 27 year old son and a 19 year old daughter.  It was a nice family and the daughter was into photography, so I felt fortunate to have such compatible seat mates.  Through the day, we chatted about numerous things, but when we discussed my upcoming travel plans, I mentioned stopping in Indianapolis.  The son immediately advised that I make a point of visiting Brown County, south of Indianapolis.  He really didn't have much specific to say about it, other than it is a nice area.

When I was preparing to leave Indianapolis, I remembered the advice I'd been given and looked for a campground in Brown County.  Driving to the campground I had selected was a neat experience.  I was on back roads all the way and saw lots of farms, fields and woods, including some colorful fall foliage.  I drove through the village of Bean Blossom (no joke), then the town of Nashville, finally arriving at my campground in the village of Gnaw Bone (I'm not kidding), right down the road from Brown County State Park. Driving around southern Indiana was very enjoyable, with lots of fall foliage, old barns, log cabins, etc.

The Bean Blossom Covered Bridge, built in 1880, was especially interesting.  It is one of three bridges with its type of truss to remain in existence.  I understand it's the most photographed and painted covered bridge in the state of Indiana.  Even though I was there around sunrise, the traffic of people coming by to see and  take pictures was amazing.  It was on the main road through this area until 1936, when Highway 135 was built and bypassed it.
Bean Blossom Bridge

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cataract, IN (10/23)

As always, when checking into the RV park, I had picked up several brochures of attractions in the Indianapolis area.  One of them had a picture of a beautiful waterfall, but no indication of its name or location.  A quick Google for "waterfalls near Indianapolis" turned up Cataract Falls, complete with directions.  After visiting Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the morning and having a spot of lunch, I headed for Cataract about twenty miles outside town.

Once off the Interstate, I began to pass beautiful fall foliage and stopped occasionally to take a few pictures.

When I arrived at Upper Cataract Falls, I could see the water level wasn't nearly as high as in the brochure photo.   Still, it was a lovely scene and I enjoyed walking around the park, checking out different viewpoints.  There are actually two separate falls at this location.
First Upper Cataract Falls

Second Upper Cataract Falls
Mill Creek

The Cataract Covered Bridge spans Mill Creek near Upper Falls.  Built in 1876, this bridge was designed with a new type of truss developed by Robert Smith of Ohio.  His design could be constructed off-site at a factory, disassembled and shipped to its location for re-assembly.  An earlier bridge here was destroyed by a flood, as were all bridges in the county except one based on the new design.  As a result, all new bridges in the area were specified to use the new Smith Truss. 
Cataract Covered Bridge

Road To Lower Falls

Lower Cataract Falls is only about 15 feet high, compared to 30 feet at Upper Cataract Falls.
Lower Cataract Falls

Picnic Area
 On the drive back to Indianapolis, I explored a couple back roads that had some colorful trees.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Speedway, IN (10/23)

Funny, I thought the Indianapolis 500 was a race held in Indianapolis.  Who knew that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is actually located in a small suburban town named Speedway?  I learned that the town of Speedway, surrounded by Indianapolis. was laid out in 1912 by the four men who founded the racetrack.  Only about five square miles in size, the "city" of Speedway has a population of 12,000.  Every May, however, the population swells to nearly 400,000 people for the running of the "500".  NASCAR's Brickyard 400 is another annual event.  A road course was added, which hosted the United States Grand Prix for several years.  Motorcycle races have also been held here.

Main Gate
 The entrance to visit the track and museum is an underpass that goes below the grandstand (and track) located directly on a major thoroughfare.
Museum and Tour Entrance

I visited the Hall of Fame and took a bus ride around the racetrack.  More complete tours are offered, including a lap in a race car at nearly 200 mph.
Museum and Hall of Fame

The starting point for the bus tour was near a memorial honoring Louis Chevrolet, a race car driver and founder of Chevrolet Motor Company.
Chevrolet Memorial

This is one of the smaller grandstand sections that collectively seat more than 250,000 spectators behind a safety fence.  Others buy admission  to the racetrack infield, either to the family area (no alcohol allowed) or to the party area (known as the Snake Pit).  Grassy hills are available for seating with good views of the track.
Grandstand section

Originally paved with bricks, the track has a more modern asphalt surface now, but a small strip of bricks has been retained at the Start/Finish Line for the sake of posterity.
Start/Finish Line

The tower known as the Pagoda houses press box, timing equipment and overall race control facilities.  The viewing area is a special place for invited guests only, no tickets are sold for it.
The fastest recorded lap was set in 1996 during practice, so the record speed of more than 239 mph is not official.
Lap Record Holder

 The Hall of Fame showcases many vintage racing cars and a few motorcycles.

Richard Petty's Car

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon has a special place in the Hall of Fame, commemorating his five wins at the Brickyard 400 race.  I learned that Jeff's family moved from California to Indiana when he was eight years old.  He was already driving race cars and had won 35 midget races by then.  The move allowed him to participate in more races, winning all 51 races the year he was eleven, and gaining experience that helped him become one of NASCAR's most successful drivers.
Jeff Gordon Commemorative