Old Weinkauf Barn with beans
You Want to Take Forever.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Night. The day's road behind me. And questions, none of them new to any of us. What am I looking for in my passage over these inscrutable two-lane backroads? Why is it so impossible to express the exact nature of experience? What does it take to get it right?
We zipped and darted along 230 miles of highway today, me 'n Godzilla, traversing rural Indiana on a northeasterly path, entering the Hoosier State under hazy sunshine on Indiana 10 about 40 miles south of Chicago, crossing the Kankakee and the Yellow and the Tippecanoe Rivers, speculating on why the number 666 appeared twice on the odometer and another time on the gasoline receipt, and arriving by grace of a merciful Creator some nine hours later under billowy clouds at our lodging on Indiana 9 near Howe, just south of Michigan and not too far from tomorrow's destination of Ohio. Godzilla’s outside on the black asphalt of the Best Western. Here on the inside, my room has cool air, bright lights, running water, and wireless Internet.
Indiana 10 from the Illinois state line to Wheatfield caught me by surprise early this morn. I thought it would be lightly traveled, rustic, lined with green and golden fields of mature corn and beans. Instead I found hordes of weekend ramblers in vans and sedans and pickup trucks and motorcycles, sharing a gray and bumpy road lined with mile after mile of houses, businesses, advertising signs, and the haphazard clutter of ill-planned backcountry development gone wild and overboard.
No problem. At the first available egress I turned north, abandoning the route I had marked on the roadmap. Indiana 49 led to Kouts, which led to Indiana 8 and the quiet village of La Crosse — and just like that, it was noon, and the road was smooth, the traffic sparse, the crops spread like hand-crafted quilts across the hilly, undulating countryside. By the time me 'n Godzilla returned to the planned route some 40 miles later, Indiana 10 had become the magnificent backroad I thought it would be.
We spied a campus with grand red brick buildings, rich swards of green, soldier boys strolling the groomed trails, and a blue lake with white breakers raised by the stout wind. It was Culver Military Academy. There we found Winged Messenger.
The inscribed tablet at the foot of the statue reads:
After a while the road takes over, the passing scene becomes a mysterious and flowing panorama of sights and stories too vast to be grasped. You want to take forever, time enough for sure to stop and study every new wildflower and stream, every country lane leading somewhere you've never been before. In the villages you want to turn off the motor, get out among the abandoned old buildings and hopeful new shops, walk on the sidewalks, linger in the quiet parks with their towering trees and historical statuary, speak to someone in the know about this unusual architectural feature and that intriguing local landmark.
But you can't. Time's arrow soars ahead without mercy. You've got a set number of miles to travel before you can settle wearily into a rented bed in a rectangular room in a roadside inn. You've got somewhere to be on the ceaseless tomorrow.
Full Gospel Revival Center
It was Sunday. The churches were alive with parishioners at worship. Maybe that's why the number of the beast was showing up all around me. 666. Maybe the Christians were claiming too many converts, unleashing a counterforce of demons to attack the newly saved and the freshly revived. I said my prayers for deliverance and pressed ahead. Godzilla roared fearlessly toward the north.
Now at midnight thirty I'm thinking of all I had to leave out of the narrative in the interests, you know, of time. Or the lack of it. One way or the other. You tell me. I will say that Indiana was beautiful today, the scenery succulent, the drivers, most of them, courteous and sane. No matter the perplexing questions. No matter the flight of the arrow. I'm glad me 'n Godzilla have gone lookin'. Tomorrow, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we'll go lookin' some more.
Godzilla relaxes in the shade beside the Kankakee River in Indiana.
To read the previous dispatch in the narrative,
The Journey Ends:
Shy and Wonderful:
An Easy Puzzle:
Sugar Hollow Road: