The year is 1859. Experienced balloonist John Wise attempts to deliver airmail for the first time in U.S. history. He plans to fly his balloon from Lafayette, Indiana, to New York City with a bag of 123 letters. Unfortunately, the wind blows in the wrong direction. Instead of flying northeast, the balloon flies southward. He gives up after 30 miles and lands in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Fast forward to 2017 and the Conner Prairie living history museum where one of the attractions, the 1859 Balloon Voyage, represents Wise’s airmail attempt.
I was excited to ride in the Conner Prairie 1859 Balloon Voyage because despite my fear of heights, a ride in a hot-air balloon is on my bucket list. The 1859 Balloon Voyage isn’t quite the same as a hot-air balloon ride, but it’s a step towards it. Read more
As I toured Peake Orchards in Waukon, Iowa, I bit into a Honeycrisp apple. As fruit goes, apples have never been one of my favorites. But that Honeycrisp was true to its name—a crisp crunch followed by sweet flavor. I’d find out later why the apple tasted so good, but at the moment I was learning about all the work that goes into raising apples. Read more
From the mid-1930s through the 1960s International Friendship Gardens was a popular tourist destination. The gardens in Michigan City, Indiana, represented countries around the world. The venue also hosted musical and theatrical entertainment. The gardens lost popularity from the 1970s to the early 2000s, but have now sprung back. Today people visit the newly named Friendship Botanic Gardens to stroll through rejuvenated gardens, hike forest paths, and even get married. Read more
One of our favorite impromptu day trips is to southwest Michigan, following the Lake Michigan shoreline. Resort towns dot the route with beaches, small shops, galleries, and restaurants. Every time we make the trip, I get a craving for a burger from Redamak’s, an iconic mom-and-pop diner in New Buffalo. But it’s rare that we stop there. Either our meal timing is wrong, or it’s high season with a lot of people waiting outside the door. On our last trip, however, we hit it right—a weekday at 3 p.m. Read more
Did you know there are fossil beds in Indiana? They’re some of the the largest, naturally exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world! Last autumn we visited Falls of the Ohio State Park, where the fossil beds are located. Luckily, it was the river’s low time of the year, and it happened to be lower than in most years. That meant more fossils were exposed than usual. Read more
When visiting someplace I haven’t been before, I often tour a historical museum to learn the history and culture of the area. While the general history of an area is interesting, what I find most intriguing are stories of individuals. Hearing stories of real people, especially everyday people, makes the history of a place come alive for me. I was fascinated by several of those stories when I visited the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Read more
As a youth, Dr. Ted Waflart frequented a local Louisville amusement park with his buddies. His favorite ride was the carousel, but he couldn’t let his friends know that. So he rode roller coasters with them. However, whenever Ted passed the carousel, he slowed his pace, for it was the calliope music, rather than riding the carved horses, that really captured his attention. Today Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels, in southern Indiana’s Dubois County, showcases Dr. Ted’s mechanical music instruments that he has collected and restored for over 40 years. Read more
When I first heard, several months ago, about the total solar eclipse crossing the United States this summer, I knew I wanted to go to a point of totality. It would be cool to watch the moon completely cover the sun and to experience total darkness in the middle of the afternoon.
In the weeks leading up to the eclipse I read several articles about the subject. One article suggested that scientists would be studying the effect of the eclipse on wildlife, including whether cicadas chirp during a total solar eclipse. Odd, I thought. It seems that would be a simple thing to find out. Scientists should already know that. I made a mental note to listen for cicadas myself. Read more
Most everyone is familiar with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But there’s more than one race track in the “racing capital of the world.” Lucas Oil Raceway is only seven miles from the Speedway, and some big races run there, as well. Read more
Step on the old-time scale to see if you’re a witch … walk in wooden shoes … feed a goat … see how cheese is made. There is so much to do at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan, our three-generation family spent almost a full day there. Read more