Day 3: April 20, 2013
A Dollop of Dixie
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As I headed out of Nashville, I snapped a drive by shot of the not so tiny dancers about a half-mile from where I stayed.

It was expressway to and through Louisville before picking up the route of the old Dixie Highway at Elm and State in New Albany, Indiana. Although some of the old route is now divided 4-lane, there would be no more real expressway today.

The long retired drive-in screen sits literally at the edge of Paoli, Indiana. The first two pictures were taken from essentially the same spot. The buildings in the third and fourth pictures face each other. The Orange County courthouse sits in the middle of the Paoli town square with the Mineral Springs Hotel on the south side of the square. There is a great article about the hotel's 1896 opening here. There is an active restaurant in the hotel which I semi-targeted for lunch if the timing was right. I arrived at near perfect lunch time to find that it's closed on Saturdays and Mondays.

Just south of Mitchell, the Holiday Drive-In is going strong. Note that the screen faces the road so that passersby can get previews of current attractions.

I didn't know that Mitchell was the home of astronaut Gus Grissom. Grissom was the second American in space, the commander of the first manned Gemini, flight and was scheduled for the first Apollo mission. On January 27, 1967, a fire during testing killed Grissom and fellow crew members Ed White and Roger Chaffee. I had been married a month and a day at that point and we lived in a small apartment with almost no furniture. Our "home entertainment system" was a 12 inch black and white TV my wife had before our marriage. I recall laying on the floor of our all but empty living room and watching the news of the fire on that tiny and fuzzy screen. There is also a Grissom Museum nearby but I only learned of that later.

North of Mitchell, some of the old Dixie Highway alignment, known now as Old State Road 37, is available for driving.

North of Oolitic the old alignment is inaccessible or unpassable so driving on the current IN-37 is required. While on the newer road, I'd seen a sign advertising a brewery and was considering a side trip but that turned out to be unnecessary. The first picture shows what greeted me as I returned to Old SR 37/Dixie Highway. The Salt Creek Brewery has been open for a bit less than a year. They seemed to be doing quite well and their new Vienna Style Amber Ale (the only brew I tasted) was very good. I think I could be happy here for awhile.

North from the brewery, there is some nice old road to, and even through, Bloomington. In fact, some of the prettiest is in Bloomington's Cascade park (second picture). There are undoubtedly many abandoned and dead end segments of the old road around here but I only drove one. The road in the last two pictures is now named Hacker Creek Road although I've no idea where Hacker Creek is. The collapsed bridge and stop sign are at Jordan Creek. Maybe creeks get renamed, too.

This picture looks a little bit ahead to where I'll connect with some already driven Dixie Highway at Washington Street. Washington is just a couple of short blocks south of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

The Slippery Noodle is one of the midwest's premier blues clubs and I'd never been inside it. Since the planned part of my drive was ending in Indianapolis, I decided to spend the night there and check the place out. The portion of the Dixie Highway I'd just driven passes right by the Noodle's front door which made the timing even more appropriate. Being a Saturday night was both good and bad. The good part was that the quality of the music was high. There were, in fact, two bands playing and both were quite good. Big Daddy Caddy is kind of local and kind of rock 'n' roll. I was more interested in the solidly blues Peter Novelli Band from Louisiana. The bad part, from my point of view, was that it was really packed. It was packed mostly with twenty and thirty somethings more interested in partying than in music. Of course, that's hardly a bad thing if you're the owner, a bartender, a band member, or a twenty or thirty something. I fit none of those categories. Novelli was great and I definitely enjoyed myself but I probably won't pick a Saturday for my next visit.

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