West Baden Springs Indiana

West Baden Springs Indiana
Inside of the AMAZING West Baden Springs Resort in Indiana.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

West Baden Bagel Bistro in Indiana

It was a casual 5 minute walk (I timed it) from the front steps of the West Baden Springs Hotel to the West Baden Bagel Bistro in West Baden Indiana.  We noticed this little place when we drove in to town and knew we should give it a try.

So, we walked over one morning and grabbed a couple of sandwiches!

There was a VERY nice young couple running the place and they were super friendly.  As there are a few Star Wars toys on the shelves, I talked to one of them about the toys I had when I was a kid.  Somehow, that conversation evolved into a discussion of music.

Anyway, it was early, but their hot beef bagel sounded REALLY interesting.  For around $20, we got a coffee, a tea, and two bagel sandwiches.

I really enjoyed my coffee.  They have one of the neatest sugar and cream areas I have ever seen (full jars of sugar and sugar in the raw were nice to see!).

I can honestly say that the roast beef bagel was the BEST roast beef sandwich I have ever had.  It had onions and a horseradish thing going on that was really nice.  We went back the morning before we left town, and I wanted to try something different, but I had to get the roast beef again.

I kept some water handy, but drinking it with a hot coffee kinda created some heat in my head.

The shop is in an old historic building (former hotel) in town and there are some cute shops connected to the Bagel Bistro (including the previously mentioned CJs Boutique).  It looks like there are also some apartments in the same building.

There is a part of me that almost fantasizes about how cool it would be to live at a place like that!  You could get great bagel sandwiches all the time, live in a historic old building, and walk the grounds of West Baden Springs whenever!

WBBB had bookshelves with old board games and books on them.  There was an area with some old video games on a TV, and there was a cool fuss-ball coffee type table.

Even with these touches, the place was uncluttered and clean.You can tell that these guys care about what they are doing!

They asked us a couple of times how the sandwiches were, and they thanked us for coming in again on the second day we went in.

You know, I really love hanging out at the resorts here in town.  I have had some great meals at those places, and I will again- but make sure you stop here when you are in the area.....  In fact, if I were doing a day trip to the area, and I only had time for one meal....  this would be the place I would want to eat at.

They are breakfast and lunch oriented, they open at 8 and close around 2 I think.  They DO open at 8am on Sundays though....  and that might help fill out a nice Sunday day trip to the area.

Anyway, you know West Baden Bagel gets my highest possible recommendation!  I can't wait to stop by here again!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Bear Hollow Carvers in French Lick, Indiana

We stopped by Bear Hollow Carvers in French Lick while we were there.  They have some great carvings.....  It is all so impressive.  Here are some pics!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Swastika at West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana

I will disclose that I am pretty anti-political correctness in general these days.  I would prefer that historic monuments be left alone in general.  I'm not a fan of editing or censoring the past.

BUT, there is still that dilemma of how to handle things when thoughts and perceptions change.

I know a lot of places used swastikas in their decor long before a certain short mustached jerk came along and adapted the symbol for his political party.  I am sure many places made changes in the 30s, 40s and beyond because of that.

Well, West Baden Springs Hotel obviously incorporated the symbol into their iron work around their front porch.  Instead of removing them, they have covered them with small metal coverings.

I noticed one had popped off while we were there.  I think the coverings are appropriate, though they used to have a sign explaining the exposed symbols.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Ballards in the Atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel, Indiana

We did have a pleasant meal in the "Ballards in the Atrium" restaurant area of the hotel.  We enjoyed it a lot.

They did have a young staff working the night we were there and things were a little slow (we had to ask several times for refills) but it was still a nice experience.  Here are some photos!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Grand Colonnade Restaurant- French Lick Resort, Indiana

When we arrived at the French Lick Resort, we had breakfast at the Grand Colonnade Restaurant.  It was around $20 each for their nice breakfast buffet.  They brought a nice container full of fresh coffee to the table for us!  I took that as a challenge!

They had a great omelet area that made great egg and cheese creations!

Since our last visit to French Lick I have wanted to eat at this spot because FDR started his Presidential run here in 1931!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

"So Cold the River"- by Michael Koryta

Before our trip to West Baden Springs, I was googling around for books about the hotel.  There are actually not as many out there as you might think, BUT I did find an interesting looking fiction book that uses the large hotel as a setting.

"So Cold the River" by Michael Koryta came out nearly a decade ago.  It is a horror/supernatural type book, and it occurs almost entirely in the West Baden/French Lick area.

I actually don't read a lot of fiction, but I thought this would be a fun one to read while we stayed at the hotel...  and I really enjoyed it!

It is a whopping 500 plus pages, but it moves fast and has a great pace.  I knocked it out pretty quickly and had a lot of fun with it.

Not to give anything away, but the main character finds himself at the West Baden Springs Hotel on a job to make a documentary.  He has a mysterious bottle of Pluto Water that gives him visions (AND has a VERY strange EXTRA ingredient).  Murders happen (some in flashback visions) and a very scary character is conjured.

The scary character...  again, not to give anything away....  reminds me of some other classic boogeymen.  I felt he was part Freddy Krueger, part Candyman, part Creeper.....  but still very original.  AND, the door is kind of left open for a sequel!

Speaking of classic horror characters....  As I read "So Cold the River" in the lobby of WBSs, a very friendly lady working there came up to me and started talking about the book!  As I was only about a third the way through, she didn't tell me much, BUT she did tell me that a MOVIE is in the works!  Keep your eyes open....  this could be something very special!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Great American Dollhouse Museum in Danville... again

 A family member had never visited the Great American Dollhouse Museum in Danville and wanted to.  We saw it last year, and we thought it would be a nice time to visit it again!

AND, another friend from Danville went with us.  She said she thinks she has been there nearly a dozen times and always loves going back!

I seriously took over a couple hundred photos on this visit....  There are so many amazing miniature things to see.  Also, as a figure painted myself, I really admired super detailed dolls like the ones here!

Check out a few of the photos I took....  and if you haven't been there yet, get on down there!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Playing With Fire (After Frankenstein) performed at the Berea College Jelkyl Theater

 So.... just the other day we were walking around the Berea campus....  showing a friend who did not go there around.  I've mentioned before that my wife and I met while attending Berea College, and we love the place.  We get back there at least once a month just to enjoy the nice area.

Anyway, we saw a promo poster up promoting the upcoming (at the time) play "Playing with Fire (After Frankenstein)" which would be performed at Jelkyl Theater Building on campus.  This sounded like a great way to spend an October evening!

A couple of weeks later we found ourselves driving back to Berea.  It was an attractive night and just a nice time for getting back.

We got our $8 each alumni tickets at the will call.  A half an hour before the 8pm start time the seating area opened and the crowd of mostly students made their way to seats.

It is funny to me when I am around Berea students.  My friend and fellow Berea Grad Eric Hardin always says that its like the students there now just found our old clothes at a thrift shop.  Flannels, jeans, basic t-shirts (still, my personal daily uniform when I can wear it) are the norm.  Berea students aren't as concerned about fashion as others.  Scrappers and underdogs.  They are there to make the most of their education and college experience.  They don't care about flashing a designer name brand around.

There was a cool, layered with stairs stage set up.  It was, in ways, basic, but perfect for the play.  A VERY small cast of 6 put on a heck of a show.  There was Victor, and his monster.  Two other actors played the main characters in flashback.  There was a professor and Victor's love interest.

Creation, love, mortality and other themes you might expect are discussed and pondered.  The play got deep, but was still VERY accessible.  The play definitely kept your attention.

The play was very well done and any of the young actors would, in my opinion, be able to pull off the same character on a bigger, more professional stage if they wanted.  They all sold believably.

After the play kids talked and mingled outside of the theater.  My wife and I strolled around campus, remembering our time there....  ending a perfect evening in Berea.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Mysterious New England by the Editors of YANKEE Magazine

I found a used copy of the GREAT 1970s book, Mysterious New England for a few bucks recently.  It was a very well spent few dollars!

The copyright inside shows 1971, and the book was put together by the editors of YANKEE Magazine.  It is a large volume at 300 plus pages.  The stories are interesting and well written though, making this a very easy to read book for it's size.

The book has many short stories about ghosts, strange people, odd places, and just general weird stories relating to New England.

The writers tell the stories clearly, and there are some pretty good sources mentioned.  One writer talked about trying to find the remnants of an old forgotten town.  They were able to talk to some old timers who remembered the place.

I REALLY liked that about the book.  Being that it came out nearly 50 years ago, it is just generally closer to the sources overall.  I have read similar books that have come out more recently, by newer authors...  and their stories don't have the same authenticity.

This book also reminded me of the almost sacred books I might randomly come across in my middle school library.  Access to books was a bit more limited than now.  There might be 10 books on a topic of interest in a local library.  There might be a few at Waldenbooks in the mall....  So you devoured every book you could find on a topic.

But there were some great ones back then that almost seem to have disappeared.  I feel very lucky that I found this one.

Its strange, weird, and real.  Its very authentic, and unlike some of the more modern spooky books concerning New England, this one delivers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"Birdman: The Many Faces of Robert Stroud" by Jolene Babyak

I literally feel like I have read all I need to about Alcatraz.  We visited the place several years ago, and I was a bit obsessed with it for a while.  Still, there's a point where you feel like you have read all you need to on a topic.

I did see Jolene Babyak's "Birdman:  The Many Faces of Robert Stroud" at the bookstore recently, and it pulled me in.

I think most people have heard the name, and know a little about the man who raised birds and is always linked to Alcatraz.

Honestly, I always assumed he was a sweet little old fellow who simply loved birds.  As a bird lover myself (I raised a few over a couple of decades) I thought the story would be interesting.

Babyak obviously researched the heck out of Stroud, and painted a somewhat different picture.

Stroud himself did some writing about bird care and diseases, but much of his writing was....  well...  plagiarized.  A lot of his "cures" were bunk.

He is a complicated man too, with many issues.  He and supporters try to argue that he is a rehabilitated prisoner, deserving of release......  but there is much more to the story.

Of course a book about his life, and a movie (both taking artistic liberties in telling the Stroud story) influence the public opinion about the Birdman.

This was a really nicely researched and well written book.  I felt the author was trying to write a fair and honest story of one of the most interesting prisoners ever.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Warden's Table at Brushy Mountain Prison- Pecos Tennessee

At the Brushy Mountain Prison in Pecos Tennessee, we stuck around to enjoy a meal at their "Warden's Table" restaurant.

The dining area keeps with the jail theme.  Check that out!  You can eat behind bars.

We each had a very nice meal here.  I would honestly stop at the Warden's Table to eat, even if I wasn't going to tour the prison.

I had pulled pork with sides, and my wife had turkey and sides.  Our meal each came with a Cookie, which I don't think was mentioned when we ordered!  Bonus!

I have other friends that have visited the prison, and they mentioned that they also enjoyed the food here.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Historic Brushy Mountain State Penatintiary- Pecos, Tennessee

Getting to Pecos Tennessee to see Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was not even on my radar until very recently.  The facility actually closed down as a functioning prison a short decade ago (it was open from 1896 though 2009!).  It has been set up for visitors now, and it is getting some great reviews!  I will be giving them another one.

We arrived shortly after they opened at 10:30 on a recent Saturday.  We ended up spending several hours here easily.  You could spend an entire day here if you wanted.  It is fascinating.

ALSO, it is pretty much set up as a self guided tour.  That is actually very cool for a huge facility like this.

When we arrived, we parked at the slick visitor center/gift shop.  We bought our tickets and were given a map.  The prion is a very short walk (maybe five minutes) from the visitor center, but you can drive if you want.

I won't get in to all of the specifics of what you can see, or whats going on.  The whole thing is big and overwhelming.

There is a film thats about 20 minutes that we saw first thing.  Some of the old guards and staff are interviewed.  You kind of get a feel of the devastation the local community felt when the prison shut down in 2009.  One guard describes the scene as the last prisoners were bussed out right before it closed.  The guards also talk about some of the crazy events that took place inside of the prison.

There is a museum area where there are lots of photos and relics.  Polaroid ID photos of guards are here, along with badges.  There is a homemade ladder used by the facility's most famous former resident, James Earl Ray, when he escaped.

There are also some wonderful paintings done by inmates displayed.

We learned that prisoners actually worked in coal mines in the area.  There was a laundry too, and local residents could have their clothes laundered there for free.

In the cafeteria, we saw more amazing prisoner artwork on the walls.  Unfortunately, much of the work is peeling.  There is a lot of damage, but hopefully something can be done to preserve what is left.

There was bullet proof glass outside of the cafeteria (stray observation...  it was cracked) where guards could watch prisoners.  There were a couple of holes in the glass so guns could be pointed in and aimed at unruly inmates.

Speaking of inmates, we were told that two were stationed around the prison telling about their time here!  We ended up talking a George, a VERY friendly fellow who was actually hanging out in his old cell!  He told us that he had blown up a safe at a country club, which eventually got him to Brushy Mountain.  George was a VERY optimistic guy who said he loves telling his story, especially to kids in hopes that it will help get them on the right path, if needed.  He said that he actually gave his number to some people, feeling that they might need someone to talk to.  He seemed to sincerely want to help everyone he could.  He said that he kept a journal during his stay, and his daughter has talked about trying to work with him on getting it out there in book form.  I hope this happens.

The cross shaped building is cavernous, and it is just fun exploring it at your own pace.

As we winded down our tour, we stopped by the gift shop.  They have done a great job of keeping cool shirts and other items stocked.  They actually make moonshine here and sell bottles of it!

I personally bought a pin, a patch, and a key chain.  I hope they think about stocking postcards and toy badges in the future.  Oh, I would like to see some books here too.  I'm not sure if there are many (any?) good books that have been written on the facility's history.

There is a GREAT restaurant here too that I will mention in a separate post.

I REALLY like what they are doing here though.  The place still has somewhat of an abandoned old building feel, but dangerous areas are blocked off.  There are lots of interpretive signs and staff around.

They have concerts and other events here too!  I am glad that the current owners are making the most of what they have!

This is simply a cool place to visit and it gets my highest possible recommendation!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Hocus Pocus- Movie in a Cave- Cherokee Caverns- Oak Ridge, Tennessee

 Recently, for the Halloween Season, Cherokee Caverns in the Knoxville/Oak Ridge Tennessee area hosted a VERY fun "Movie in a Cave" night!

This is a great old show cave that has been around for forever!  Unfortunately, it isn't a "open for tours" kind of cave at this point.  The cave only opens for special events...  LUCKILY, they do have frequent special events open to the public!

I did notice that they planned to show the Halloween classic "Hocus Pocus" and I planned a weekend for us to go down and catch the movie!

I did notice on their web site that some of the showings had SOLD OUT!  I quickly pre-ordered tickets (a very affordable $10 a pop) for a showing.....  AND I am glad I did!  A sign was posted when we arrived that all showings were sold out!

There was plenty of parking leading up to the cave....  There were cars, but parking was no problem.  I think they kept the crowds small for the movie showing too, making the whole thing manageable and special.

After passing the main entrance area, we saw several vendors set up.  One young fellow was at a display with various framed bats, and information about bats and the cave!  He was there with cave caretaker Jim Kirby too!  I had a nice chat with both of them about the caves history, keeping the cave up, and bats! 

We grabbed a couple of canned beverages from a vendor.  We showed our computer print out ticket confirmation sheet and we were given two very attractive souvenir tickets for the showing!  They had some very cute posters printed up too promoting the movie in a cave night.  They were free for the asking!  THAT is within my price range!

We made our way into the cave and a friendly usher helped us grab a couple of seats.  Fold out chairs were set out, and there was a screen and projector set up.  We took jackets in.  Some people brought blankets and their own fold out chairs.  I was comfortable wearing a flannel, but, after an hour or so, I did need a jacket.  Usually in caves I start out wearing a t-shirt and flannel.  Moving along on a show cave tour, I usually take off the flannel.  Not moving and watching a film in a show cave didn't help with heat- layers are good for an event like this.

I did enjoy the film....  I am sure I watched it through at some point.... I know I have watched bits and pieces of it here and there though when it has been shown on TV.  PLUS, a lot of it was filmed in one of my favorite cities- Salem Massachusetts!

It was just fun watching a movie in a cave though!  Sure, the seats were fold out and not cushy reclining seats, the acoustics weren't perfect (they were fine though).....  But it was all just a lot of fun!

After the film ended, we were invited to walk through the cave on a self guided tour.

It was dark, though there were some Halloween lighting effects going on.  It was a very fun way to experience the cave!

We walked slowly through the cave, then left, feeling like we had had a VERY unique and fun evening!