Thursday, April 16, 2009

Geodes, Bakers and a little French Lick

That old Indiana magic started again at the Providence Grotto in Jasper, with the charming and chatty Father Angelo showing us what his predecessor Father Phillip had done with rocks for "the glory of God."  We've seen grottos in many shapes and sizes, but none where geodes prevailed the way they do here.  No blueprint or even sketches, just a twenty year explosion of building walls, planters, fountains and shrines that sprawl across the grounds of this Catholic-run nursing home.  Father Angelo mentioned that he's hoping someone might come along to maintain and watch over the place, much as he did fourteen years ago.  With health care costs the way they are now, Don said to add his name to the waiting list,  he might be just the guy for the job.

Jasper is only half an hour away from French Lick, the home of basketball's Larry Bird, so we decided that we'd head there for lunch.  While we were admiring a Romanesque bust of #33 across from the big new casino, a guy in a black pickup gave us 4 copies of the 2004 French Lick High basketball yearbook.  We tried to give 3 of them back, but he said he had thousands, so what could we do?  Eat large sandwiches at a place on Brick Street...

Last stop of the day, Smithville--where The Big Ball's arrival was being anxiously awaited by John and Cheryl Baker, owners of an attraction called Baker's Haunted Train.  John started it all in 1976 by purchasing not one, but two small train stations, then bought a few railroad cars to hold his very own railroad museum.  He, however ran afoul of Bloomington's zoning folks, and "pinheads" on the planning commission.  The legal battles have taken their toll, so scaring people in the train cars and mazes around them has been their main moneymaking mode for the last few years.  We particularly liked the Petticoat Junction-esque water tower/swimming pool out back.  And the fact that these people actually watch our show!

Music In the Van--Bob Dylan's Starbucks "Artist Choice", Herbie Hancock "Rivers (The Joni Sessions") And no, Don didn't find near as much change today... details tomorrow.


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