Sunday, March 15, 2009

459. Topper Trip

This morning's call to the local weather report - 585-1212 - didn't promise the best of days according to the recording. Gloomy, gray, gusty. There were no promises of warm southern winds or sunny blue skies to welcome the ides of March.

The readings at Mass made a similar offering. As we are in Lent, the lessons are sometimes foreboding, a part of the waiting we are doing in preparation for Jesus' reentry into Jerusalem where a few short weeks from now we will endure the Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ. Today's Dick Cheney-like reading from Exodus was "I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquities of their parents to the third and fourth generation." He, God, then went on to cite which iniquities were punishable - The Ten Commandments - the set of "Thou Shalt Nots" familiar to older people from having learned them as a child and to younger ones from their being in the news now and then (especially in Kentucky) after being placed upon the grounds of a local court house or park. Today's second reading from Saint Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians was typical Paulian criticism of we the body of sinners. In an "Inquirers Class" this morning, our lecturer spoke of the christianity of Paul versus the christianity of James. I need to learn exactly what he was talking about as the christianity of Paul is sometimes a little too many verbal commands and not enough works of grace than I can handle. The Gospel reading, from the usually high-in-the-sky writer Saint John was the familiar story (given that it is in all four gospels) of Jesus driving the money changers and others from the Temple. This was the irritated side of Jesus which we rarely see. The priest compared Jesus' irritated state to last week's Saturday Night Live skit of the so-far smooth and suave Barack Obama being emotionally transformed by some recalcitrant Republican senators and turning into a hulkish and bothersome TheRock Obama, played cleverly by the handsome and hulking Dwight "The Rock" Johnson. There is probably some danger in drawing analogies between Jesus and Obama, as some people who do not like the president think that some of us who do already think of him in a messianic way. But, I digress.

After the gloomy weather forecast and the dour, damning, and doomish readings at church I was ready for a breakaway of some sorts, although I had nothing planned. Then the phone rang with a request from a friend to go with him as he was buying a topper for his truck and needed some help lifting it from its storage berth to his truck bed. I volunteered. The catch? The purchase was being made from a used topper sales-family (as it turned out) in Orleans, Indiana, a small farmimg community about 55 miles northeast of Louisville.

We left Louisville venturing across the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial Bridge along I-65 leaving the Republic's South and entering the Republic's Midwest. There are several ways to get to Orleans and my friend asked me which I cared to take. He was driving. I suggested we follow the US 150 route out of Floyd County, which meant first of all having to get from I-65 over to I-64, easily done along the Lee Hamilton Expressway, known to everyone else as I-265. We took the I-64 West exit up the hill to the US 150 West exit at the top of the hill and our journey was underway.

It has been a long time since I ventured out this way and I am not sure I've ever been entirely to Orleans. The last time I recall making at least part of the trip was with my friend Rob, which meant it was at least eighteen years ago since he died in 1991. In that trip, Rob and I went to an area outside of Palmyra to liberate my brother's car from a farm in Washington County. Where Rob and I turned off that day was about a third of the way to where we were headed today. US 150, from a few miles after departing I-64, is a fairly straight, but none-too-level, well-built two lane federal highway. The original US 150 out of New Albany climbs up the Floyds Knob on a road known as State Street.

After passing the turnoff to the Starlight area and Navilleton (home of Hubers and Stumlers orchards), the road passes successively through the towns of Galena and Greenville before exiting Floyd County and entering the Morgan Township of Harrison County. US 150 cuts across the northeast corner of Harrison County and therein is the aforementioned community of Palmyra. On the northwest corner of the main intersection in downtown Palmyra is a Marathon Oil/Foodmart which sells Broaster chicken and fried chicken livers, to which I can attest they are delicious. We, however, didn't stop, something I would have done. We continued out of Harrison County and into Washington County, traversing the towns of Fredericksburg (and crossing the Blue River) and Hardinsburg before passing into Orange County. I then realized I had been this way before on some other occasion than when I was with Rob. I point out to my friend the tiny Fredericksburg Town Hall along the left side of the highway in what looks to be an old gas station. Still flying a Stars and Stripes as it was the last time I passed this way, whenever that was, the town hall is demonstrably representative of the towns and villages through which one passes when one gets out of the original Thirteen States and Territories and into the New West which became the United States of America. Further up US 150, the Orange County communities of Rego and Chambersburg are but wide places in the road which eventually leads to Paoli, the seat of government for Orange County.

Our trip takes us down the hill and back up again into the Court House square where US 150, IN56, and IN37 meet. We're entering Paoli from the east; the court house, shown here, faces south. We circle around the north and east corners and head north to Orleans on SR37, our destination within six miles of reach, over on a side road numbered as SR337. I had earlier said we visited a sales-family, as opposed to a sales-man or -woman. My friend had communicated online with a gentleman. It was his wife who met us in the yard and refused to haggle over a price. She stated what they went for (somewhat high in my opinion, but it wasn't my money). I noticed that two of the toppers rose in price by $100.00 while we standing there and she was talking. After some friendly talk, my friend paid the price he was originally quoted and we proceded to move the topper from its storage berth to the bed of the truck. Since two other toppers were in the way, the lady asked us to move those first. She didn't ask us to move them out of the way, but rather out of the way and over to the storage rack about 30 feet off to the side, which, without complaint, we did. With money exchanged and topper firmly affixed to the truck, we left for our return trip. Incidentally, the proprietess let us know the entire operation of about sixty-six toppers was up for sale for $5500.00, including the racks and storage building, should we know anyone who is interested.

As my six faithful readers know, I have an aversion to coming and going to a place along the same route. My friend driving today is of a like mind. Thus it was that upon driving south back into Paoli and this time around the west side of the square, we ventured south toward the towns of English, which is to further say we left Orange County and entered Crawford County. I say the towns of English because there are two, the old abandoned one down in the bottom, and the relocated one up on top, relocated after 1990 due to the repeated flooding of the Blue River, Bird Dog Creek, and Brownstown Creek, the three bodies of waters which met where the town used to be. It is now about one mile to the east and several hundred feet up the hill. This relocation is said to be the second largest relocation of an entire town anywhere in the Republic. But, we never got to English. At a fork in the road, a sign appeared on the left which said "Short Cut to Marengo Cave."

We immediately decided to take the short cut and visit Marengo Cave. The short cut said the cave was twelve miles ahead. The road was narrow and winding, through woods and meadow, and the town of Valeene, and eventually arriving at IN64 and the bigger town of Marengo. Somehow though, like English, we never got to the cave. I've been all through Marengo before but admittedly had never arrived along the Valeene-Marengo Road as we did today. Wherever the turnoff was, we missed it. We ended up trekking southbound on "Westbound" SR 66, at least according to the sign. As it was getting late in the day and we both were in need of nourishment, the time had come to head back toward the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Near the village of Carefree, SR66 intersects with I-64 and we took the ramp onto the east bound interstate and travelled the thirty-seven miles back to Louisville.

It ended up being a pretty good day. Thanks Be To God.

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.