Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On a slow boat....

Six miles an hour in fact. 48 miles in 8 hours. Compare that with an average of about 520 miles in eight hours on an Interstate highway. To be sure, we've come a long way since the days of canal boats.

We took a short journey (an hour and a half or so) north from Indianapolis the other day to the lovely town of Delphi. An hour and half, that is, by church bus which would have, by my calculation, have taken almost 14 hours by canal boat if there had been a canal directly from Indianapolis to Delphi.

In the mid-1800's the Wabash and Erie Canal was an example of the highest technology of the time. it went from Toledo, Ohio on Lake Erie to the Wabash River and Evansville, Indiana on the Ohio River and involved 468 miles. Until the advent of railroads, the canal, second longest in the western hemisphere, was a major contributor to the growth of the midwest. Delphi has made the canal a focus for tourism in Indiana and they have done a magnificent job in doing it. There are museums, restored buildings from the 19th century, and artisans plying trades of the time. We rode the 'Delphi', a replica canal boat and it was a peaceful experience. But we wondered what it would have been like with a full passenger list for an extended time. And we didn't see any restrooms - and neglected to ask what one did at a 'necessary moment' on the cruise.

In the center of Delphi we found a typical traditional Indiana town - the kind we love to visit. We ate at a hometown restaurant in a building which had once been a thriving bar with a brothel upstairs. And there were a number of folks going up and down stairs - hopefully to a second-floor dining room.

All in all, a really nice day in a nice town. I'd like to think we all would find joy and peace in visiting local communities and learning about their unique contributions to the history of our country. All to often we're in a rush to get from here to there on the Interstates and ignore the treasures we pass by in the process. Take a little time to slow down - and enjoy the moment.

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