In Indiana, I: Drove amidst silos, barns, cows and farmland and visited the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.
In Illinois, I: Visited my sister at her new home in Murphysboro and explored local eateries in Carbondale. Drove to the Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest on a springlike day, and took a walk amidst whimsically-shaped rocks. Felt inspired by my sister’s artwork and her various collections, including artistic cigarette cards and early editions of classic books. Got caught up watching Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Got hooked on the TV series Happy Valley. Drove in icy rain from Murphysboro to Louisville, where I had to keep getting out of the car and scraping ice off the windshield.
In Kentucky, I: Took a tour of Churchill Downs Racetrack and felt inspired to attend the Kentucky Derby sometime in the future. Learned about bourbon and the Lewis and Clark expedition at the Frazier History Museum. Felt grateful for the controversial boxer’s fight against racism at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. Marveled over stained glass and amazing mosaics at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington. Learned more than I ever wanted to know about the breeding of stallions at Claiborne Farm in Lexington. Tasted bourbon several times, both at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville and again at Town Branch in Lexington.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, I: Enjoyed mural arts and a blast from the past at Cincinnati’s American Sign Museum. Learned all about the history of slavery and enslaved people all over the world at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Took a long walk through downtown Cincinnati, along and across the Ohio River on the Roebling Suspension Bridge, to Covington, KY. Tried to stay warm at Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati Art Museum, and Findley Market in cold, rainy weather. Ate decadent foods like Cincinnati chili, biscuits & gravy, and chicken & dumplings too many times to count.
I have often imagined American cities and especially the American Midwest as being boring and even a bit backwards. I have generally thought of these states as drive-through states, states you drive through to get to more interesting places. Most of the states I visited, with the exception of Illinois, are red states, meaning they’re conservative and voted for Trump in 2016. Before I embarked on the road trip, I read Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. The book is a memoir of growing up in an economically depressed town, Middletown, in Ohio, and gives some insights as to why people are so desperate that they resort to falling for the promises of a charlatan.
My general impressions were that Indiana and southern Illinois would never be places I’d like to live as there was not much of interest going on there. Louisville, Kentucky seemed down on its luck and a bit derelict, with its main draw being the Kentucky Derby, a one day event in May. It did have the Frazier History Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center, which were fascinating museums. Covington, Kentucky benefited from its proximity to Cincinnati (it’s just across the Ohio River) and was a delight. I loved the rolling hills and horse farms outside of Lexington, but I never developed a taste for bourbon and probably never will.
On the other hand, I found Cincinnati to be a charming town with its ArtWorks Cincinnati program — transforming city walls one at a time. It also was home to a good market, Findlay Market, a creative food scene, some fine museums (most notably the American Sign Museum and the Cincinnati Art Museum) and Krohn Conservatory, and a general feel-good vibe. I enjoyed it and hope I can return one day in better weather to explore further.
Visiting some of the more depressed areas, especially Louisville, parts of Ohio outside of Cincinnati, and areas in Indiana, I could see why people might vote for someone who promised jobs and economic renewal, despite enacting many policies that actually hurt them, such as limited access to healthcare. Kentucky was also part of the Confederacy in the Civil War and wanted to keep the institution of slavery. Mitch McConnell is Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator and the Senate Majority Leader, a staunch Trump supporter and someone I loathe. I knew all of this going in, and it may have colored my view of Kentucky. It wasn’t of my favorite states, and I don’t think I’ll be visiting again except possibly to attend the Kentucky Derby one of these days.
As you can see from the polarsteps map below, my trip turned out to be more of a Midwestern triangle Δ and rectangle than just a Δ.
As a follow-up to my trip, I wrote a number of posts based on intentions I set before embarking:
- on journey: indiana to illinois
- cincinnati street art
- southern illinois on the song of birds
- poetic journeys: lives moving as fast as possible
- on journey: seeking optimism from illinois to louisville, kentucky
- louisville, kentucky: of bourbon, bridles and boxers
- american signs in cincinnati, ohio
- cincinnati neighborhoods
- bridges, parks & three cities around the ohio river
- cincinnati’s krohn conservatory
- man vs. man in cincinnati & louisville
- a cold walk around covington, kentucky
- exploring horse and bourbon country around lexington, kentucky
- poetic journeys: let it all, all, all
- art discoveries in louisville & cincinnati
- imbibing in a bit of the bourbon trail in louisville
- art discoveries in louisville & cincinnati
- sniffing our way through cincinnati’s findlay market
I still have several poems to write: 1) a found poem from any book I read about Cincinnati or Ohio; 2) and two headline poems for Louisville and Lexington.
I was also supposed to do a sketch each day. I didn’t do one every day, but I did a couple, most very elementary and one simply awful (I’m too embarrassed to show it here)! I really need to remember to do sketches in pencil before committing them to ink.
I’m still not good at capturing a place using all five senses in my writing. It is still my goal to improve on that count.
*Sunday, February 24 to Wednesday, March 6, 2019*
“ON RETURNING HOME” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about returning home from one particular destination or, alternately, from a long journey encompassing many stops. How do you linger over your wanderings and create something from them? How have you changed? Did the place live up to its hype, or was it disappointing? Feel free to address any aspect of your journey and how it influences you upon your return. If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments.
For some ideas on this, you can check out the original post about this subject: on returning home.
Include the link in the comments below by Sunday, October 6 at 1:00 p.m. EST. When I write my post in response to this challenge on Monday, October 7, I’ll include your links in that post.
This will be an ongoing invitation on the first Monday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
Even though you would never choose to live in some of these places, it’s interesting to visit and learn more about them. You managed to fit in lots of amazing sights. I really enjoyed the series Happy Valley too.
It was interesting and it’s always wonderful to have a real experience of American cities, towns, and states instead of just wondering what they’re like. I never thought I’d think much one way or the other about Cincinnati, for example, but I’m back in the city now and I feel more at home here than I could have imagined.
As always, an interesting post and I was especially interested in your remarks re how the voting went in the USA. I understand that, but what about the rest of the world that seem to be following along the same path, sensible, enlightened Europe once again falling for the lies of demagogues, South America and Eastern Europe ditto. Do you think that once again America led the way, and one liar getting away with it convinced the others to have a go?
Your pictures, as always, are amazing. Loved the horse in the snowy field.
I’m not sure if America led the way, Mari, because I think these forces have been brewing under the surface for a long time. Anger seething about lost opportunities and the typical scapegoating that takes place because of feeling left behind. The refugee crisis in Europe fueled some of the scapegoating there; here we have the South American immigrants who seek refuge or just better opportunities. I think Trump’s campaign and election emboldened these disgruntled people and gave them a voice. But what do I know? I pretty much have stood on the sidelines on politics, as I’ve never had the stomach for all the infighting and nastiness. Now I’m unable to ignore it because I find what’s happening so reprehensible!
I’m glad you liked my pictures. Thanks so much!
It’s an impressive list of places and posts! I suppose it’s also good to gain insight into why people behave the way they do politically, even if you still find it completely abhorrent.
I guess it’s good to try to understand them but it’s still hard; I really don’t care about people who can hate so vehemently those who are different in race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. These are things that either people can’t change (race or sex) or have been culturally ingrained (religion). As for political views, people can educate themselves and have total control over those!
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I like your thoughts after returning from a trip. It’s good to read how you felt about what you saw and the affects on you. I’m afraid once I return home it always feels like I’ve never been away!
Thanks Jude. It helps me to write and think about the things I experienced; otherwise I’d feel the same as you – like I’d never been away. It solidifies the experience for me. 😊
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And is very enjoyable for us too 🙂
Thanks Jude! That’s so nice of you!
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