Thursday, October 8, 2009

Road Trip!

My sister Kit and I...a la Thelma and Louise (without the bad stuff or the Brad Pitt character)...took a road trip to Vincennes and Terre Haute, Indiana. We even snuck a little bit of Illinois in too. We both attended Vincennes University (V.U.) and Indiana State University (ISU) and we wanted to visit our old collegiate stomping grounds.

The city and university of Vincennes are very historic. Founded in 1732, Vincennes, which sits on the banks of the Wabash River,was once a French fur trading post. In 1779 George Rogers Clark (brother of the Clark of Lewis and Clark) and his little army took the largest land conquest of the revolutionary war from the British who were inside Fort Sackville at that time.

In 1800, the Indiana Territory was formed and Vincennes became its capitol. William Henry Harrison was its first governor and later became the ninth president of the United States. His home, Grouseland, the first brick home in the territory, is still standing and is on the grounds of Vincennes University.

Mr. Harrison was having trouble with the local Indians and one of them tried to kill him by shooting at him through the window. You can see the bullet hole in the shutter in the pictures below.

In 1801 the Jefferson Academy was founded and it eventually became Vincennes University, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States.

The campus of V.U. is very different now than when my sister and I were students. More classroom and dorm buildings are there. The new student union is nice with its bookstore and food court. I recognized some of the campus, but on the whole it had changed greatly.

After walking the campus, Kit and I visited some of the local historical buildings and monuments. Like the George Rogers Clark Memorial below.

And the Francis Vigo (an Italian business man who gave lots of money in support of the American Revolution) statue with the Lincoln Memorial Bridge in the background.

Also the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier. It is part of the oldest parish in Indiana. There are four bishops buried in the basement of the Basilica. When Kit and I entered the Basilica there was a group of roughly 40 men taking a tour. One asked if we were tourists and we said kind of...he said we could join the tour. It turns out they were all priests. Usually we can spot a priest a mile away (8 years of catholic school) but the priests were in civilian garb. It was a bit strange being the only women on the tour.

After the tour we drove over the Lincoln Memorial Bridge into Illinois. It is called the Lincoln Memorial Bridge because when he was young, Abe Lincoln, with his family, crossed the Wabash River here, into Indiana.

Years later university students would cross the river into Illinois to take advantage of its lower drinking age. One of the watering holes was Hank's. My sister and I wanted to see if it was still is.

Some students would visit Hank's and then take their purchases under the bridge on the Illinois side to enjoy them along the river bank.

After visiting Illinois we headed back over to the Hoosier side of the Wabash and decided we were a bit hungry for something sweet. Thank goodness the ice cream shop of our college days was still in business (it has been there since 1957 we were told).

Kit and I agree that Lic's ice cream is possibly THE BEST ice cream in North America. I had some of their vanilla and it was like of the gods.

We then went to our hotel and wanted to swim in the pool, but remembered we had not packed swimsuits. So we got back in the car and headed for Wal-Mart. We found one tiny rack of suits with very little to choose from. Luckily we found suit bottoms in our sizes for 50 cents each, but no tops to go along with them. The bottoms were identical. We ended up having to get $7 shirts from the women's athletic department. The shirts were also identical.

Happy with our inexpensive, piecemeal "swimsuits", we went back to the hotel. We slipped into our recent purchases and headed for the elevator, hoping not to run into anyone along the such luck...a lady who saw us commented on our matching suits...had we been quicker with thinking on our toes, we would have answered her with accents from an eastern block country, saying we were from a synchronized swimming team. (The fact that my legs and underarms probably needed a closer shave at the time may have made the ruse more believable). When we finally got to the pool we had it all to ourselves...thank goodness comrade!

The next morning after a delicious complimentary breakfast at the hotel we headed north to Terre Haute and Indiana State University.

This is where I met The Colonel 25 years ago. The ISU campus was different. The new large fountain and student union were very pretty.

The Colonel lived in this dorm while he was a student at ISU. My dorm was across from it.

We checked to see if a popular student hangout was still around, it was. We could not go in, it was not open yet. Peeking in the windows, we saw it looked exactly as it had when we were students at ISU.

Before we left Terre Haute and our Thelma and Louise road trip behind us, we met up with our niece and her husband for lunch. She had picked up a dozen square donuts (more Ambrosia) for us to take back to our dad, and lunch was a good way for her to give them to us and visit at the same time. As we ate our lunch our nephew, her brother, came into the restaurant with his wife and young son. It was like a small family reunion and it was nice to see them all.

Kit and I had a wonderful time together as we tripped down memory lane, visited college haunts and took in the historical sites.

Thanks for going with me sis!


  1. I am chuckling to myself, imagining you and Kit in your swimsuits! You guys are so funny!

  2. I am laughing so hard, that was such a great trip. I better check my pits for stuble or they will export me back........LOL Kit