The Hoosier State is one of three in the lower 48 we had never visited. It lies directly between Holland, MI and Campbellsville, KY, and along with the arrival of the summer’s hottest week, we set a course to traverse the state from north to south. Principal cities along the way are South Bend, Kokomo, Indianapolis, and the Indy side of Louisville.
As much as I would have liked to see Touchdown Jesus, we skipped Notre Dame. We also missed the famous BPT sandwich at Plump’s Last Shot in Indianapolis (yes, there was a Bobby Plump who nailed the game’s last shot in real life, just as in Hoosiers.) We caught up with long-time friends Caldwell and Deedy at Langton’s Irish Pub near the ‘Nap, and a fine time was had by all. And as with Iowa and Illinois, we motored past miles upon miles of tall corn. But most people visit Indiana to get somewhere else. It may be a fine place to live, but there’s not so much to see or do.
Kat found a couple of campgrounds with 30 amps and reserveable sites, featuring glorious shade at no extra charge. She signed us up, and away we went through 100 miles of Michigan’s mostly decent roads, to be followed by 300 more of unknown Indiana pavement. We followed the interstate where possible and used Indiana 31 when not possible.
Right before we left Trump announced his VP candidate, who coincidentally is the Governor of Indiana. The only Pence known to me plays outfield for the Giants, but Google quickly got me up to speed. Alas, The Google couldn’t explain how a Republican with a double major in fundamentalist religion and Tea Partying could have an Indiana approval rating of 40% — after only three years in office. We spotted a few lawn signs registering disgust (Pence Must Go!) but none supporting him. There were other signs paid for by the state boasting “Indiana: Lower Taxes and a Balanced Budget Since 2007”. He seems a decent sort, cheerful and reasonable, at least in comparison to his new boss, The Great White Snapping Turtle*. As a writer who now and then drifts into fiction, I feel no compunction about positing an unresearched theory. Governor Pence is unpopular in Indiana because his revenue-gutted budgets are too parsimonious to provide for his state’s basic needs.
My experience in the Hoosier State is limited to four days and 300 miles. I know nothing about the condition of their public services, except for one: Indiana highways. Kat and I have pulled our rig all over this great country; we have been up and down all kinds of highways and back roads. Brace yourself for a shocker: Indiana’s highway system rides worse than Louisiana’s. In three and a half years we have hit bumps or potholes bad enough to shake shoes out of the closets and canned goods from the pantry, but not that often. Over that time we’ve survived some bad railroad crossings, encountered unmarked but paved drainage depressions in Texas, and here and there dodged potholes the size of a 105 mm howitzer crater. Only once in four summers’ travels had anything been bad enough to knock the shower door off its hinges. But in Indiana that happened twice more. Unlike west Texas, these highways carry a high volume of vehicle traffic, and as such should be better maintained.
Dare I say this? Tax cuts can go too far, damaging us all. Separation of church and state, when honored, has served us well. Let us choose our policies carefully.
*The Great White Snapping Turtle is a name coined and owned by Garrison Keillor. I’m using it without asking permission, so please check out this link to his Washington Post essay explaining why it will be pointless to emigrate should Trump be elected. It’s a fine read, unless you’re a yuuge fan of The Donald.