I consider myself fairly well traveled. I've spent time in every state on the East coast (with the sole exception of Rhode Island) and have even walked from Georgia to Maine. I've taken short visits to the West: Wyoming, Montana, Texas, and California. Traveling abroad, I've been to Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Kenya & Peru. In all my 28 years, however, I have never set foot in the Great American Midwest - until last week. During my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, I developed a great friendship with someone from Indiana ("Gribley" for those who followed my AT blog) and he invited me to come visit. In the cold dregs of February, I made my way out there.
Though I'm familiar with the flat lands of coastal Georgia, it was so cool to see this flat farmland, extending for miles. We drove out to Hovey Lake - he works there and knew of lots of great short hikes around the water. Thousands of ducks migrated there for the winter and as we quietly walked, huge flocks would burst toward the sky, flapping and moving in a harmonious rhythm - it was magical to see. We sat and observed the landscape, and enjoyed Nashville brewed Yazoo Porters, happy to be outside together again. After all, last summer on the AT, this sort of thing was a regular activity.
The next morning, after breakfast (I brought along my French Press & Velo Coffee, brewed in Chattanooga) we drove up to New Harmony, a twice failed German Utopian community, now full of great antique shops. My favorite though, was a visit to the old Workingman's Institute, which housed a wonderful cabinet of curiosities, an amazing library full of first edition informational books and novels, and beautifully commissioned replicas of European paintings.
The whole trip was wonderful and I left with a new affection for the great state of Indiana.