Tuesday, July 3, 2012

French Lick - There and Back Again

This past weekend my dear husband and I traveled down to French Lick, Indiana for the Indiana Scottish Rite Council of Deliberation.

Now, before you start snickering about the name of the town, understand that it comes from the fact that there are several springs in the area and these springs leave salt deposits, or licks behind.  The animals are attracted to the salt deposits and lick them, thus the name "Lick."  Some of the earliest settlers to move into the area were the French.  And so we have the name French Lick.  
See?  It wasn't what you thought at all.

We left late Thursday afternoon as my husband had to work.
French Lick is about an hour and a half drive south from Bloomington.

Will you look at the temperature?  103 degrees.

It's a hot one.

We arrived in Paoli, the county seat of Orange County.

The courthouse is a lovely Greek Revival structure.

We are getting close now.

We finally arrive in Springs Valley, where West Baden and French Lick are located.

The world famous and recently restored West Baden Springs Hotel.

This hotel has been described as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
It was rescued from despair and demolition by Bill and Gayle Cook of Bloomington. 
More on that story in a later post.

We are not staying here as the rooms run from $269 to $475 a night.

West Baden Springs Carlsbad of America

This is our destination:
French Lick Springs Hotel

The old train depot.

It now serves as a surrey, or bike, rental depot.

More on our stay at French Lick in a later post.
This post is about the travels.

On Sunday morning we departed.

My husband decided to take the scenic route home.

Look!  We can do the zip line!

Or not.

At one point I realized that we had driven over the Lost River and I didn't have my camera ready.
I was not a happy blogger.  Not one bit.  If I were a cartoon character, there would have been storm clouds with lightning bolts coming out of them over my head.

My loving husband dutifully searched for a road that might lead us back to this elusive river so that I could photograph it.

Luckily we found it again - at a point when it was actually above ground.

The Lost River is about 87 miles long, but at least 23 miles of its course run underground at various stages.  There is the belief that there may in fact be hundreds of miles of this river flowing through underground channels that have yet to be explored or charted.  In some areas the river rises or disappears abruptly underground in sinkholes.  In one square mile of the river's course, there are over 1,000 sinkholes.  

This is karst country.
A karst occurs when rainwater or even groundwater wears away at limestone or other softer stones, leaving behind pockets of air or simply weakening the stone.  Over time, that material may give way, collapsing, causing a sinkhole or creating a cavern.

The tranquil view to the east.

The Foodie Husband turned the car around and we were headed back north once again.

The west fork of the White River.

The Overlook in Shoals, Indiana.

Once again the dear, patient husband turned around so I could take a picture.  Would it have been too difficult to put the sign before the point of interest instead of after it?
This is the famous Jug Rock.

It is a large block of sandstone and is the largest free-standing table rock east of the Mississippi.  
Jug Rock stands sixty feet tall and is twenty feet wide.  It stands alone with no adjacent ledge, which means it is termed a "Stand Rock."  This is one of the more unique stone formations in the United States.

Next we drove by the Crane Naval Base southwest of Bloomington.
Why yes, Southern Indiana is home to a Naval Base.
Why, do you ask?

It was opened in here 1941 because of its location.  It was thought to be safe from any enemies, and weapons could be tested, safe from prying eyes.

Signs warned us to turn around, so we did.
We were not about to argue with The Signs.

As it was Sunday, the visitors' center was closed.

Down the road, the controversial I-69 is being built.
I can't wait!  I'm tired of the stoplights and having to worry about cars darting out in front of me like little kids.

The east fork of the White River.

The farmers have been busy and we are nearing home.

Next up: the food.


Anonymous said...

French Lick, Indiana, is Larry Bird's hometown, right?

Love your river pictures.

vera charles

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Interesting post.