I was sorely disappointed that we didn't get the snow that had been forecast on Christmas Day. SORELY disappointed I tell you. The next evening as I sat blowing my nose and cursing my cold Ernie said that the news had reported that Evansville Indiana had gotten something like six inches. "EVANSVILLE" I shouted..."EVANSVILLE got snow? Well, hell we should just GO there." I immediately started googling hotels in Evansville and Ernie shrugged his shoulders and said o.k. I asked Owen if he wanted to go explore Evansville and he said yes so I sent him off to Leo's command post to check with him. By the next morning it was decided and I gotten a cheap rate at a Drury Inn (not just free breakfast, but free dinner and drinks!). Our friend Gail agreed to check in on the cats so we were set. There's no particularly direct highway from here to Evansville which suited me just fine. We headed East to Danville and then straight south on little roads until we cut over to Vincennes and then on down to Evansville.
Pictures from the drive down:
We dumped the boys at the hotel. Leo was somewhat less than enamored with my back roads approach so they were glad to get out of the car for awhile. We installed them with their electronics and we set off to explore. I gotta say....I love river towns! Evansville's historic district by the river is absolutely freaking stunning. GORGEOUS buildings...Second Empires to the left and Second Empires to the right....just incredible....we drove around in awe. I consulted Yelp for Evansville bars and let the iPhone guide us to a top pick. It ended up in a strip mall but was o.k. Then we scurried back to the guys and partook of the Drury Inn's free dinner. We talked about swimming but we all felt delightfully lazy and just read and played and watched tv. At one point we looked out the window and the air was thick with snow. Owen and I hooted and hollered and finally went down and wondered through the parking lot in the snow. We were so happy. We went back in to the two stick-in-the-muds, shook the flakes off our hair and went to sleep.
The next morning we headed out. Ernie and I had spotted a transportation museum on our drive the night before so we headed over there. In the past few months Leo has once again acknowledged that he will always be a train guy. It does my heart good.
After that our next stop was the LST museum. When I had started googling things to do in Evansville I was reminded that the LST Museum is there on the river. I must admit that hit me in the heart a little. My father was on a LST in WWII and I know he would have loved to have gone and seen this. He belonged to an LST society and had followed the story of the group purchasing this LST in Greece where it had ended up and bringing it back to the US to be restored. By the time it was restored my father was too far gone for a trip to Evansville. At least that's what I tell myself but it bothers me a bit. Hindsight always leaves one seeing the things that you wish you had done. Anyway....I thought it VERY important for us to go in honor of my father.
Now I must say a cold snowy day is probably NOT the best time to tour a WWII LST. Much of the tour was on the lower decks but there was enough time outside on cold snowy metal that by the time we were through Owen's shoes were soaked through and we were all a bit shivery. As we piled into the car to blast the heat I said, "WHO would decide to go on this tour on a day like this?" and the whole gang of them shouted "YOU!" Ah...oh well....it was well worth it. Our guide was great and managed to answer even every one of Owen's questions. The pictures I took don't begin to do it justice. The scale of the thing was immense and the thought of my 17 year old father....and all those other young men....living on one of these for so long....and what they experienced there....it's just hard to express. Truly hard to express. Standing in the lower deck where tanks would have been lined up to be sent on shore was one thing....but what got me more was the mess hall where they ate, complete with a little window to pick up mail and paychecks. For some reason that hit me the hardest in thinking of my father. Afterwards I would have given anything to be able to call my parents and tell tham about it. As we got into the car however Leo said, "that was cool" and I almost fell right back out of the car. I was so, so glad that they boys enjoyed it---and associated it with their grandfather. It meant a lot to me.
The next thing planned was a tour of a Victorian house and we took pity on the boys and let them stay at the hotel and warm up. We then proceeded to go on one of the oddest tours I've ever been on. It was given by a high school student who has to do a certain number of hours of volunteerism. He was charming in a geeky way but didn't really give us a whole lot of information on the house. When was the house built? "ahhhhh...let me think...." It was still fascinating. I could never live in such a high Victorian environment but it was wonderful to see. My favorite part was the third floor which was the servents' area and is yet to be restored. Why IS it I like things best before they are restored? Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside. sigh.
At that point my feel were cold and killing me. I did a more thorough search on Yelp and came up with a delightful bar. The Peephole in downtown Evansville is highly recommended. It was warm and friendly (the bartender was kind of cute....reminded me of Grant Badger) and someone bought us a drink. Very nice.
Later, we meandered back to the boys and found Owen sound asleep and Leo enjoying the solitude. I suggested branching out beyond the Drury Inn' free fare and they agreed. Ernie found a dryer in the hotel to finish off Owen's jeans and shoes and once he was back in dry clothing we headed off to traditional Italian-American place. It might have been one of my favorite moments of the trip. The waiter started out pretty unfriendly but we warmed him up. We nibbled on toasted ravioli while we decided what to have and giggled back and forth. Leo chatted, Owen goofed and Ernie smiled. It was lovely. Just lovely. We rarely go out to dinner beyond our Fries and Peanuts excursions and even that is usually lunch. This was a nice treat. I ordered my favorite Eggplant Parmesan. Ernie asked me if it was as good as Dom's and I assured him that it wasn't. For a moment Owen was crushed, thinking I didn't like my food but then we explained Dom's....the place in Champaign where Ernie took me to dinner when we were first dating....I always ordered Eggplant Parmesan and the waitress would show up with a carafe of wine tucked under her arm. Ahhhhh. Of course Owen the romantic understood that kind of memory and relaxed happily.
We trudged back to the car...I suggested going to the park where they had holiday lights and was roundly voted down. I didn't mind. We bought dessert out of the vending machine and happily snuggled into our room. This morning we headed back...more back roads for much of the way. I had planned to go through Olney, Illinois. I thought a picture would be in order and had even read up on their population of white squirrels. Owen was in the front seat though (I'm a pushover) so I missed our turn off. Olney must wait for another trip. The snow covered trees in the south were beyond beautiful. It was stunning. Leo, Owen and I all eventually dozed off in the warm car, only to wake up to bare fields...no snow. Sniff.
I had my snow though....and Evansville was kind enough to even snow MORE for me while we were there. I am happy. There is nothing better than hanging out with my guys. This was a good way to end the year.
Happy New Year!