Well, how is your spring wandering coming along? Aren’t the redbuds and dogwoods looking great? Driving along a good ole county road out in the middle of nowhere on a lazy Sunday afternoon is the ticket! 

I headed to Vallonia Nursery in Southern Indiana to pick up my 500 tree saplings a couple of weeks ago (I hope to get those planted soon). While down south, I took the time to visit several places. Did you know that Indiana has the longest historic covered bridge in the US? Travel to Medora and check out this bridge over the White River. Fair warning–you cannot drive on it anymore, and if the River is out of its banks, you probably cannot even drive to the bridge approach. Spring is always iffy for this visit.  

While in the Vallonia area, I had to visit Starve Hollow Lake. This park has been a long-time family destination. It is one of the few places around the state where you can camp on a lake. Pull out your fishing pole when you wake up, cast a line, and just fish all day long from your campsite. The park has great hiking trails and boating on the lake, and they also have some rustic cabins.  

I also had the opportunity to take a few days and travel to St. Louis; what a great place to visit in the spring–the Gateway Arch, Botanical Gardens, Busch Stadium, etc. What I’d like to discuss, though, are roads. It is too bad Route 66 did not go through Indiana, but it has so much history, and it’s fun to travel on and visit the many locations from Chicago to California. We also traveled a portion of US40, and I wanted to make a beeline to Vandalia, IL. Vandalia was the original terminus point of the Cumberland (National) Road, which was authorized by Congress and signed off on by Thomas Jefferson. This small town has a lot of history. 

Abraham Lincoln spent many a day in Vandalia. It was once the Illinois State Capitol and appeared to be a bustling town on the western frontier. I was intrigued by the name of the community. With the Vandalia Trail being constructed through Hendricks County, many are likely unaware of the namesake. Or is the namesake from Vandalia, Ohio? My research says it is associated with the former railroad that traversed Indiana and Illinois. Whatever the namesake might be, there is much history along the Cumberland Road, National Road, Vandalia Road, and Many Main Streets/Washington Streets along its route.  

Go wander, find some great history and scenery, and spend some quality time with family and friends taking in the sites. Give me some ideas! Always looking for great places to visit.  

Thank you, Katy Cummings, for pointing out Casey, Illinois. Also, I plan to hike Burnett Woods in Avon with all the wildflowers in bloom. Where else shall we go? 

~ Jeff Banning