Anybody can wander. Here’s how to get started.
Rules of Wandering
- Head off in the general direction of your destination. Wonder what’s down that road? Take it.
- See something interesting? Try to find out what it is and its story.
- Stop and read every historic marker
- Stay off the interstate, venture off the highway, there’s a car wash for gravel roads
- Eat, shop, and stay locally
- Learn to use a map or atlas (cell service is spotty)
- Get out of the car and take pictures
- Experience sunrises and sunsets
- Enjoy the drive, ride, or walk
I got my first real taste of wandering when I served as an Indiana State FFA Officer in 1979-80. During the year, my six fellow officers and I traveled over 100,000 miles visiting local school chapters, media outlets, agribusinesses, and program partners throughout Indiana.
After college, I took an agricultural sales job in southeastern Indiana and learned that roads are not always flat or straight as they were on the prairie where I grew up. I purchased a county-by-county atlas to help me find the back road connections between clients. As I traveled my territory, I drove through small towns, villages, and hamlets. Each had a name and most had an identity. I began collecting books and old maps that told of Indiana’s place names, history, and natural spaces. I started to visit many of the ‘dots’ in my atlas curious as to what was there that might be interesting.
A career change to statewide ag associations expanded my geography and my opportunities. My wife and I also began to travel and stay at B&Bs. With my tattered atlas as my ‘official guide’ and my wife as a frequent navigator, I have mapped and marked towns, created a spreadsheet to track them, and planned trips to reach them all. In the early days I didn’t carry a camera, but I now carry a camera/phone and take pictures at every opportunity.
In my travels, I have passed through many dots that are no longer places, but I mark them nonetheless. I wonder what made them a place and why did it disappear. My journey is 94% complete and I have only 130 towns remaining for me to visit. Indiana will celebrate its Bicentennial in 2016 and as a lifelong Hoosier I will celebrate by wandering ALL of Indiana.