Friday, April 16, 2010

Vincennes

We put Louisville in our rear view mirror and headed for Vincennes Indiana, we took US 150 NE out of Louisville which is a beautiful drive especially if you're in a CAR. With a motor home pulling a toad it's still a beautiful drive it's just a very winding, twisty, up, down and around type road and you don't get to relax enough to really see the scenery.

We're going to try the city campground which is right in town and on the banks of the Wabash River, it has 10 level large gravel sites ,with water and electric (30-50amp). The electric hook ups are about 6 feet off the ground, in case the Wabash over flows it's banks. It's located next to the city boat ramp so it gets a little traffic during the day and then after work the fishermen show up and fish the shoreline until about dusk. But after dark it was very quiet and peaceful. The bath house is locked (you get a key) so that only campers can use it. We tried the showers which came with both cold and tepid water with hardly any water pressure, the toilet area was clean but the sink area made you want to run for cover. So figure on using your own facilities.

OK now it's time to see the Historical City of Vincennes (pronounced Vin sez), after setting up it's about 3 pm so we thought that we would head down to the visitors center to get the low down on the city. We were met by Loretta Day, who spent about 30 minutes with us telling us where to find everything, loading us up with maps, pamphlets, sample menu's, tips as to where the best restaurants were and the best order to see the sights. She was super helpful and made our stay more organized and enjoyable, thanks Loretta.




When we mentioned that one of the things that brought us here was the new Peter Wolf Toth carving of a Whispering Giant, Chief Tecumseh, she told us that he carved it right behind their office and then the city moved it to it's park location, then she went and got a miniature of the carving that he made for them. She let me take a picture of Cathy holding it in the lobby, as I was lining up the photo I had Cathy move a few inches to the left so that her head would line up with a wreath they had hanging on the wall,which she didn't know about, kind of makes her look like a flower child of the 60's heading to San Francisco.




DAY ONE
Our first stop was at the Vincennes Historical Site, right across from the campus of Vincennes University, There are four historical bldg that have been moved here from their original city location so they could be restored and displayed There is the building were the Territorial Legislation met, a Printing Shop with an extremely rare printing press and the original building of Vincennes University which at that time was named the Jefferson Academy. After our tour here thanks to Loretta we knew to tell them that we wanted to tour the French House, since it's only open by appointment. They had someone meet us their ( two blocks away) and give us the tour, everyone is in period costume and plays a specific role. The French house was built around 1809 by the French fur trader Michel Brouillet, and has been used continuously as a home until bought by the association and restored to its 1809 configuration. It gives you a good look at how the house was built back then.


Old French House & Indian Museum










They have the wall cut away so you can see how it was constructed.

Try a guess what it is on the right.
Answer at the end of the blog.





Our next stop is the Grouseland Mansion, but a small detour on the way there takes us to the Whispering Giant Chief Tecumseh.


I wrote about Peter Wolf Toth in January when we visited his Home/Studio/Work shop, while there Cathy bought Little chief POM-POM so we kind of feel like blood relatives to the carvings. We're glad to see that the city is treating this statue properly by placing it in a small park and it looks like they're going to take care of it, unlike some other cities that have let theirs go to hell and rote away.



After paying our respects to chief Tecumseh we walked over to Grouseland. This is the home built by the Governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, later the ninth President of the United States. At the time he built this house this area was considered to be the western edge of civilization, where the other homes were small log cabins or two room houses such as the French House. So Grouseland (named for all the Grouse in the area and it was Harrison's favorite meal) was just an unbelievable sight back in 1803, it's still an unbelievable sight today. No photos are allowed inside the house so I can't show you how magnificent it is, at $5 a head it's a great bargain. We had a private tour by a lady that knew enough about the house, Harrison and the city that she could have grown up with him. She told us that Harrison wasn't a rich man and he built the house by bartering, for the 400,000 bricks that were used to build the house he bartered 400 acres of land, which the man used to build a small brick factory on. The tour was right around an hour and well worth it, thanks to the DAR for buying this property and restoring the house to its original grander.


Time for lunch, one of the restaurants Loretta told us about is Dot's, Located in the old downtown area, so that's where we're heading. It looks like the building was once a factory and has been divided up, a very nice atmosphere, as we were led to our table I was checking out the other tables to see what they were having and everything look delicious. Cathy ordered the Chicken Salad sandwich and when I asked the waitress what the best sandwich was she told me it's different everyday, but today it was the Crispy Chicken BLT, so I told her I would give that a try, Loretta had told us that they had some of the best Onion Rings, sliced real thin (I think some places refer to them as straw onion rings) so we decided to split an order, she asked us if we wanted the half order or the full order. Since we're slitting them lets go with the full order, this turned out to be our only mistake in the restaurant. They brought the onion rings first and when a saw her bring them out I was speechless, it wasn't a plate of rings it was a platter, one like Grandma used to serve Thanksgiving Day's turkey on. Cathy didn't see her coming and actually let out a little scream when she set them in front of her, now we had to glance around to see if everyone in the restaurant were looking to see who the pigs or new kids were. When the sandwiches came they were on a large plate that was half cover with potato chips, so we're glad that this is our last stop of the day because we're going home to take a nap.
Dot's is at 101 Busseron Street, TX 812-882-1973, We both recommend the restaurant and the HALF order of rings.

Day Two
It starts out with Cathy swearing off onion rings for at least a month.


We're heading to the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, this is the largest National Monument outside of Washington DC, the reason for that is that they wanted the monument to reflect Clark's great contributions and accomplishments to the United States. At the visitors center they show a 30 minute film about Clark and his campaign in this area, it is one of the better films we've seen at a visitors center and really explains what went on around here during the Revolutionary War. Then a Ranger takes you over to the Memorial Building to tour that and learn so more history. What we found out was that if Clark and his brave volunteers hadn't done the things they did we would all be ending our sentence's with, eh!, because we would all be Canadians. The British along with their Indian allies planned on attacking the colonies from the west, splitting them into two section (north and south) then forcing the colonies in both section to fight on four fronts at the same time, the results would have been a British victory and the end of the United States. The thing that amazes me is that Clark won the west from the British, saved the United State, and opened up the west for further exploration and settlement, all at the ripe old age of 26. At 26 I had managed to get myself in debt up to my ears so I could buy a fancy car, times change.



During our visit to we took a little break and walked across the street for lunch, you guessed it another one of Loretta's recommendation. The Offerings Cafe, this is a small cafe that is run by Volunteers from a church, it's located right on Main Street (124 Main St) the prices may have been a little high but the profits go to the church, the food was fantastic and the service was great, Since this will probably be our only trip here we went a little overboard, we both ordered dessert, Cathy saw that they had Pear pie and figured she would try something new, not being as brave as her I went with the Bread pudding with rum sauce, both were great. When you go in you go to the counter and they give you a menu, check off what you want, hand the menu back to them and go find a seat, they will bring your order out to you. When you're finished you take your menu to the register and they total you up. They're open Tuesday through Friday 11am to 2pm a worth the walk we took across the street from the National Park.
We were going to go to the Indiana Military Museum today but they are only open from noon to 4pm and it's already 1:50, we don't want to rush it so I guess there will be a Day Three. Back to camp to read and catch up the blog.



Did I mention that Red Skelton was born here. The story we're told is that when he was 10, he was selling papers on the corner, right across the street from the Pantheon Theater when a man asked him if he was going to the show at the theater, he told him that he didn't have the money to buy a ticket and he had to sell the rest of his paper. The man bought all his papers and gave him a ticket to the show. He ran home to get permission from his mom to go and when he return the generous stranger was gone. He went to the show and found the stranger, on stage, it was Ed Wynn the comedian. During intermission Red went back stage to find Wynn, Wynn asked him if he had ever seen an audience before, when he said no he took him on stage, Red said that did it, he was hooked on show biz from that moment on. The University just opened the Red Skelton Theater and the lobby is a small museum of his stuff.

Day Three
We didn't do any rushing around this morning since we're going to the Indiana Military Museum and it doesn't open until noon. Well this turned out to be another one of those great little hidden gems, at least it was for us, we were met by a gentleman named Jim and a furry little cat, we found out that this museum was started and owned by Judge Jim Osborn. Ever since he was about 5 years old he's been collecting any kind of war item he could get his hands on, and he's gotten his hands on a whole lotta stuff. Right now the display area is small and crowded with artifacts everywhere you look, Jim said that they have tons more that they don't have room to display, so the Judge's solution, he bought 12 acres in town near the visitor center and they are going to expand enough that they can display everything. Right now because of the unique items on display we would rate this museum above a lot of municipal museums that we have been to, we don't judge a museum by it's location,building or size but by what they have to display, and we judge the Judge's top notch, that is if you're a military or history nut. I'll just post some picture of the things we liked and add a description wit them.




1st marker for the 38th Parallel










As we were getting ready to leave the Judge pulled up and we were able to meet him and tell him how much we liked the museum, it turns out he was just down at the new location taking delivery of a missile that had just arrived, always collecting.


Click on pictures to enlarge and read.






There are so many things here that have been donated that is hard to believe.











Two more unique items




I could add another 30-40 pictures of the items on display but then you wouldn't have to go there.





We spent close to two hours enjoying the Indiana Military Museum before giving the cat a last scratch on the head and heading for lunch. We were going to head back to the Offering Cafe for the second day in a row, because it was that good, but then we noticed the time and they were all ready closed. I must have been hungrier then I thought because we went in a Wendy's and I ordered a quarter pounder with cheese, OOPS. Once we got our order straight I told the girl that after lunch I would go across the street to McDonald's and order a large FROSTY.

We got back to camp just as it started to rain a little, started getting things ready, tomorrow is moving day.

We have really enjoyed our stay her in Vincennes and highly recommend spending two or three days here to take in the history of the area.

Answer:

It's a bed for a small adult or 1 or 2 children, since the only heat was from the fireplace in the main room they were able to close the doors and the body heat would keep the compartment warm.

When they found this one it had been converted into a wardrobe so they restored it back to a bed.

3 comments:

Margie said...

I would have never guessed the photo was of a bed - that's really neat.

Great info in your blog. I was also getting hungry reading about the restaurants.

You are mean to Cathy - making her look like a flower child.

franceshunter said...

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your post about Vincennes. I have had the opportunity to visit twice (doing research on George Rogers Clark and on William Henry Harrison). It's very underrated as a scene of American history.

I wasn't aware of the Indiana Military Museum! I will be sure to put this on my list the next time I am in Vincennes.

Vicki Harmon said...

Enjoyed your blog, next time your in town stop by our park and campground we would love to have you.