New Harmony, Indiana

Road Trip

New Harmony, Indiana is a great place for a weekend getaway. It is an easy two-hour drive from my home base of Louisville, Kentucky (135 miles).

Maureen and I set out about eleven am figuring to get there in time for lunch. Only made one wrong turn but, discovered my mistake quickly enough that it didn’t really result in any loss of time. Yes, I have GPS but I usually only consult it as a last resort. I like the challenge of finding places on my own after an initial consultation with the map. I seldom get lost but sometimes I am surprised by my destination. And Maureen was no help as she would be the first to admit she has no sense of direction and seemed to be proud of it.

Sara’s Harmony Way

So, there I was on my own with no navigator. Well, I always say, Id’ rather have a navigator than an alligator. But lucky for me, Maureen was neither of these things. She was a fine traveling companion and lover as well.  I had prepared a mix tape to listen to on our drive and we sang up every song we both knew and were in New Harmony before we knew it.

New Harmony is a small town, a village really, with a population of 850, situated on a stretch of the Wabash River. It was originally settled by a communal German religious group known as the Harmonists in 1814 wo attempted to create a Utopia. This worked for a while and then their leader, George Rapp, took them back to Pennsylvania, where they originated, in 1824. They sold the land to a socialist visionary named Robert Owen who believed in workers’ rights, an eight-hour work day, and communal living. Owen believed in a secular utopian socialism. He rechristened the community New Harmony in 1825. The Owenite community failed in the late 1820s.

The third utopia can be attributed to Jane Blaffer Owen (1915-2010). During her time in New Harmony she brought modern architecture to the town, such as the Roofless Church, the Atheneum and many public art pieces. She created serenity with Tillich Park, Church Park and the Cathedral Labyrinth and has left behind a legacy all her own.

While this is not a true Utopia, New Harmony truly is a unique experience. The village is very aware of its history and has done a good job in retaining its historical character and charm, and maintaining a state of genuine peace and tranquility. It features, public art and architecture, gardens, shopping, fine dining, a wonderful inn, live music, museums, a brewery, coffee shops, nature places, and an abundance of history.

AC Thomas House

So, like I said, we arrived right at noon, with the time change, just in time for lunch. I parked my car in front of the Bread and Breakfast where we were staying (The AC Thomas House) and we walked into to town. The first place we went was jammed packed so we made our way across the street to Sara’s Place. It is a coffee shop on one side and a pub on the other. We got into the long line to place our food order to the overworked barista and finally made our order. I had a panni and Maureen had a grilled cheese sandwich which is her “go to” choice in such situations. We carried our food out of doors to the patio, that’s when I noticed the pub. Say, I said, would you like something to drink? Sure, I’ll have a Hendrick’s gin and tonic, she said.  So, I marched back inside to place our drink orders only to discover they didn’t serve hard liquor, only beer and wine. So, I, ordered a Stella and beat feet out to Maureen to see if she wanted a wine. She declined. We had a pleasant lunch out there on the patio under the warmth of a golden sun.  A few minutes later her friend shows up with his daughter in tow and we make our acquaintances and exchange pleasantries. We are going to meet up with him and his partner later on that evening at the Red Geranium for dinner. Until then we were on our own.

Maureen

We walked around the town a bit and visited a couple of the unique shops along the way. Maureen bought something to wear for later on that night at dinner. We moseyed on back to the AC Thomas house to unload the car and get unpacked. Her friend was going to pick us up on his golf cart a little later and take us back to his house for drinks before dinner.

One of the many cute little shops in New Harmony. Visitors were masked and anonymous

Dan and John own an art gallery in town with many pieces of lovey art. We would visit their store tomorrow. Meanwhile it was drinks at their stately mansion on Main. Then we all piled onto their golf cart for the short ride to the Red Geranium for dinner. 

Time seemed to stand still in New Harmony

The Red Geranium is known for its fine dining and congenial atmosphere. We ate out on the terrace. Food was delicious and the company was solid. We had a lot of laughs as Maureen caught up with her friends. David and John were from Louisville and thy had just moved to New Harmony a few year ago to open their art gallery and to lead a more tranquil life with their daughter. They had started coming to the village as a weekend getaway and fell in love with the place and decided to move there permanently.

Maureen on the steps of the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed

After dinner we walked around the town a bit more. It was surprising how different everything looked after dark. Things took on a more sinister aspect and even the religious art had a pagan look to it. When we got back to the B&B we were exhausted. We quickly disrobed and climbed between the sheets and fell to sleep listening to the strains the mixtape I had prepared which I was able to play on my cell phone. The last thing I remember was Toni Braxton singing Unbreak My Heart before drifting off to La La Land holding Maureen tightly in my arms.

Art gallery owned by Maureen’s friends

Next morning, we were up bright and early as our hostess prepared our breakfast of coffee and quiche. It wasn’t bad but not as good as expected. Today we would explore the village a little more before heading back to Louisville. We walked out to the labyrinth and wandered around there for a while then we came back to town to visit John in the art gallery. Of course, I took copious amounts of pictures which I will now share with you, dear gentle reader.

Dinner at the Red Geranium

What’ll you have?
Maureen in her new outfit
Mysterious Fountain
Baal, Goddess of Darkness

As seen in the daylight….
Guardians of the Galaxy
Wicker Man
Peace, Tranquility, and Balance in New Harmony
Atheneum – Visitor’s Center
Wabash River
Cathedral Labyrinth
The Orpheus Fountain
the Lyre of Orpheus
Go with the Flow
Maureen at the Fountain of Orpheus
Sweet Little Angel
Angel Heart
On the Way to the Labyrinth
Atheneum – Visitor Center
Harmonist Labyrinth
Walking the Labyrinth
At the Center of the Labyrinth
Wait! Don’t go in there!
Beautiful Landscaping
New Harmony Bank Building
Ribeyre School Gymnasium – Main Street
John on his golf cart
Welcome to Indiana
New Harmony

Anna

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On a recent trip to Mexico I had occasion to visit the sleepy little town of Ajijic located in the state of Jalisco. Ajijic is nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains on one side and Lake Chapala on the other. It is a sad little town that lends itself to cobblestone streets, broken sidewalks, and broken dreams. I was staying at an Airbnb owned by an American ex-pat by the name of Luis. He ran the place with his partner Norma. Norma was a native and spoke only Spanish. I spent three weeks in Ajijic over the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays and got to know Luis and Norma pretty well.

I spent most of my time exploring this colorful little town which was full of shops, bars, and restaurants. One day as I was walking back from the Malecon I stopped in a little bar called La Tia. It had red and white walls on the outside with an American flag hung on one side of the entrance and a Mexican flag hung over the other. Music was pouring out the front entrance from a sound system hidden somewhere in the recess of the tiny bar. It looked rather inviting and I was thirsty, so I stumbled there inside.

There was a gentleman sitting on a bar stool in the middle of the bar. A couple was sitting at a table towards the back. I went in and sat a couple stools down from the guy at the bar.

A cute little Mexican bartender flashed her pearly whites. She had long black hair past her shoulder and was wearing a green plaid shirt with several of the top buttons undone. “What would you like to drink?” She asked in perfect English.

“I’ll have a Corona.”

She got my beer and set it down in front of me and went back to her perch. She was talking to the other guy but he turned to me and included me in the conversation.

“Where are you from,” he asked.

“Kentucky.”

He nodded his head. “I’m from Oregon. Been down here about a week. Waiting for my girlfriend and her daughter to show up. You been here before?”

“No. This is my first time. How about you?”

“Oh, we come down here pretty regular.”

“You must like it.”

“Oh, yeah! We love it! The weather is good, food is great, and the price is right. Most of the locals speak English.”

“Yeah, I heard the natives call it, “Gringo Land.’”

He laughed. He had a bottle of beer sitting in front of him and a shot of tequila. He downed the tequila and chased it with a slug of beer.

We all got acquainted and had a nice conversation. The girl’s name was Anna and I was becoming quite taken with her. I snapped a few surreptitious pictures of her.

“Do you want to play a game, Phil?” she asked.

“Sure. What is it?”

“It’s called 21. You roll the dice. There are three winners. One who calls the shot. One who pays, and one who drinks the shot. Do you want to play?”

“Sure, let’s play.”

So, we each took a turn in rolling six or seven dice out onto the bar from a leather cup. Each time Anna counted the tops of the dice. I won the first roll so I called the shot.

“What shot do you want?” she asked pointing to the bottles of tequila behind the bar.

“What are you drinking?”

She pointed to a bottle.

“OK. That’s the one I want.”

She poured out a shot and set it on the bar in front of us. We rolled some more. First the guy from Oregon, then Anna. At the end of the game the Oregon guy drank and paid for the shot I called. We all laughed and he left. So now I had Anna all to myself.

“So, there this New Year’s Eve Party at Perry’s Pizza I am planning on going to. Do you know it?”

“Si. I have been there before. They have good food.”

“Do you have any plans for New Year’s Eve?”

“No.”

“Would you like to come with me as my guest?”

“Si. I would. That would be nice.”

“Do you like to dance?”

“No, I have two left feet.” She laughed.

Which wasn’t true. We exchanged telephone numbers and became friends on Facebook so we could use messenger to coordinate our rendezvous and sure enough when she showed up at the party and we had a great time and danced all night!

She was a beautiful girl and I went back to bar several more times while I was in Ajijic to see her.

 

 

 

BLUE NIGHTS

Book Blurb

Blue nights

I loved this book. Wish I could write like Joan Didion. Blue Nights strikes a different tone than A Year of Magical Thinking but nonetheless it is a stunning read. It is a memory book and a book of loss. The loss of her child Quintana Roo. The loss of her husband John Gregory Dunne, and her own loss. Her perceived loss of her faculties and physical agency. She laments her frailty and the oncoming shocks that flesh is heir to. Although I must say she is in quite good form here.