Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Journey Is Half The Fun!

Riverboat Inn and Suites - Madison, Indiana
September 24, 2014

My favorite way to travel solo is to know that someone is meeting me at my destination.  I love being alone and am totally comfortable traveling alone, but I also thoroughly enjoy the gift of friendship and am happy when exploring new places with someone whose company just makes a good experience better!

Bill and I lived in Kentucky for six years during the early 80’s, so I know that state well, but Indiana was a completely different story and I was excited to drive through it on my way to meet Pam (Nomadic Newfies) at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and eager to spend my travel nights in places that would be cool to explore. 

My way of determining how to get where I’m going is to choose my route and then scan the immediate area around the halfway point for somewhere interesting to spend the night.  I prefer not to travel more than 300 miles so I have time after arrival AND the following morning to check out the place I’ve spent the night.  If nothing catches my attention as a viable place to spend the night, I will usually change my route! 

As soon as a tentative overnight stop is determined, I quickly look for lodging options.  I am comfortable and I am not afraid, but I am smart!  If nothing shows up on a local website or, I proceed cautiously.  Truthfully, I’ve never had a bad experience when staying alone in a new place.  I traveled so much during the later part of my career, it just became very comfortable.  I am grateful for that.  The only thing that Bill asks of me to make HIM comfortable is that I know where I am staying and have a confirmed reservation for that night before I leave home!  So far, this system has not let us down! 

As you well know, I don’t do interstates unless absolutely necessary!  One of my other quirks is that I love finding America’s highways and following them from beginning to end.  U.S.Highway 421 is one of those highways.  It runs 941 miles from Fort Fisher, North Carolina to Michigan City, Indiana.  I’ve traveled much of the NC, Tennessee and eastern KY portions, but once I saw that it ended in Indiana just east of where Pam and I were to meet, I built my journey around being able to travel US 421 from Frankfort, KY to its ending point.  Once that idea was settled, it became quickly apparent that Madison, Indiana would be my overnight stop.  Sitting on the banks of the Ohio River with a fabulously restored historic district and quick access to Indiana’s most visited State Park (Clifty Falls), spending a night here was a no-brainer!

 U.S. Highway 421 - Fort Fisher, NC to Michigan City, IN
One look at the lodging section of their tourism website had me settled on The Riverboat Inn and Suites for my destination.  I’d arrive in time to explore the town in the afternoon and evening with time to make a quick hike to Clifty Falls the following morning before heading north on Highway 421 to Michigan City.  It didn’t quite work out that way, but travel requires flexibility and in the end, the town of Madison captured my attention and took all my free time which just simply means a return to Clifty Falls will be in order.

The weather on my travel day could not have been more perfect.  Plans to meet a friend from college in central Kentucky did not work out so I motored my way through the familiar horse country of the Bluegrass state and picked up Highway 421 just north of Frankfort.  It was a gorgeous drive with little traffic that started out winding and curvy, but soon settled into a pleasant easy drive that eventually descended steeply to the banks of the Ohio River where I crossed and spotted my hotel in the distance. 

The Riverboat Inn and Suites is an old hotel which was purchased by a new owner and restored into a comfortable respite with huge porches overlooking the river complete with rocking chairs, firepits, picnic tables, etc.  It isn’t sure whether it’s a motel or an inn, but it made no difference to me!  I loved it!  In fact, I loved it so much, I parked myself on the porch and there I stayed quickly determining that I could forego the hike to Clifty Falls and spend the following morning exploring the historic district.  The city has built a fantastic riverwalk that runs the length of the city and that I could access from the hotel.  After resting and watching the almost constant traffic on the river, I took a long walk on the riverwalk only to return and spend the rest of the evening by one of those firepits watching the river change and the barges roll by.  What a peaceful evening it was.

View from the rocking chair outside my room!

 Sunset stroll along the Riverwalk

Up early the next morning, I made my way to the Visitor Center where I picked up a copy of the historic district walking tour and a walking tour of the Stained Glass Windows in the churches that I’d seen on their website.  I decided to do the Stained Glass Windows tour in its entirety and see what I could see of the historic district at the same time.  I walked for two hours in total fascination. Check out the link to the Stained Glass Windows.  My pictures just didn't do well at all.  

Madison is an amazing little town out in the middle of nowhere with a unique history that has capitalized on it perfectly.  I was enchanted and truly hope I can return another time.  I just didn’t get enough of Madison, Indiana and to my way of thinking, leaving somewhere wanting to return is the way is ought to be!

 Early morning view from my room!
 Cozy covered porches - the open door was to my room!

 Madison, IN
 Downtown Historic District

 Downtown Historic District
But leave I had to as I still had 265 miles of Highway 421 to drive and some fun places to see along the way.   After climbing the hill out of Madison, heading away from the Ohio River, the road flattened out and the driving was easy all the way into Michigan City.  As silly as it seems, I got quite a thrill from seeing the signpost indicating the end of Highway 421 knowing I’d been driving on it for two days!

 After reaching the end of Highway 421, I turned east and drove just a few miles. I was eager to find the cottage Pam and I would call “home” for the next four days  and get settled in. 

NEXT UP:  The Journey Home Can Be Just As Exciting!


  1. I, too love discovering out of the way places. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  2. I love the way you planned this trip. What a great idea, to follow a road from its beginning to its end. Looks like you discovered a real treasure in Madison. Your pictures are just fantastic. I love your room and its view. The early morning picture should be used by their Chamber of Commerce. I'd love to know what roads you have followed from beginning to end. Could I hire you to plan trips for me???

  3. I enjoyed your journey. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Madison seems very cool! I loved the view from your room of the bridge.

  5. So exciting. Perhaps you should have an encore career as a travel agent.

  6. What an awesome trip you had.... We've been to Madison, Indiana before since there is a really neat park there with waterfalls of course, Clifty Falls State Park....

    We just got home today from an awesome trip to Maggie Valley/area.... Climbed both Waterrock Knob and Devils Courthouse this week... Also hiked some in Cataloochee ---this time to the Woody Cabin... Saw lots of ELK (tremendous animals)---and the Fall colors were fantastic in spots... Took the back road (which you would love) --Highway 215 from west of Waynesville all of the way to Rosman... There are waterfalls and the scenic drive is terrific.

    We stayed at the Jonathan Creek Inn (recommend it) --and our two favorite eating places were Joey's for breakfast and the Maggie Valley Restaurant for dinner....

    Glad you had such a wonderful trip.

  7. I like the charming place you stayed with the river view and great porch. You travel in a manner I like, finding unique places and not driving too many miles.

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  9. Can you believe I'm this far behind reading posts?? Great one here, you were right, Madison looks like a great little town. Love that shot of the bridge with the fog.