Day 2 – Stumbled across a Luxurious Hotel in the Middle of NOWHERE!
We met some wonderful people today on the “Travel With Bradley Yellow Brick Road Mystery Tour”.
After a bountiful breakfast at the Drury Plaza in Carmel, IN we ventured down some picturesque rural roads until we arrived at Andersons Orchards, a 200 acre family operation that has been in business for 50 years. A family member proudly welcomed us and explained that they grow over 30 varieties of apples. I arranged for my passengers to enjoy a cup of their hot apple cider and everyone enjoyed mingling with the Anderson family and other locals. Its not everyday that a coach load of Canadians stop in for a visit. Of course they were all were trying to figure out where we were going during our Mystery Day.
Lunch was in the charming community of Vincennes which is located in Knox County. This is Indiana’s First City. Restaurant choices for a group of our size is a challenge when visiting smaller communities but the management of Montana Mikes stepped up to the plate. Ashley, the manager was determined that this would be a successful event. Greeters welcomed us at the door and we took over 1/2 of their restaurant. They brought in SEVEN cooks and a pile of servers to look after us. Within one hour they served us a 3 course luncheon of tremendous portions. We had a choice of tossed, Caesar salad or cottage cheese, then Sirloin Steak, Grilled Shrimp, Fried Shrimp or Chicken Breast – finally a variety of desserts. I selected the grilled shrimp – they were meaty, so tender and delicious. My coach driver, Paul ordered the Steak with Green Beans (his Mom would be proud) and he commented his steak tasted great. We are the largest group this restaurant has ever experienced so they won’t quickly forget us.
As delicious as the lunch was the best memory I will take away is how friendly the locals were to us. The young servers that looked after us were some of the nicest people you could ever meet. Some of them were anxious to see inside the motor coach so Paul gave them a tour. They even came out of the restaurant to wave goodbye to us! Their friendliness was genuine. I could tell they were proud of themselves – they did a fantastic job looking after us and they knew they succeeded – this event was a big success.
Temperatures continued to rise as the day went on.
When we arrived at the impressive Red Skelton Museum and Performing Arts Centre we left our jackets in the Motor coach because we no longer needed them. The cloudless sky was bright blue.
The Red Skelton Museum celebrates the life and legacy of America’s greatest comedians. The museum is very interactive and explores American comedy in the context of Red’s life. As a private group we were also lucky to be able to tour the Red Skelton performing arts theatre – designed to replicate to a circus tent. It holds 800. The local University students were on stage rehearsing for the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” which opens in a few days.
When we left the complex we drove by Red Skelton’s boyhood home which is located a stones throw from the museum.
The windy road route to our Mystery Destination was beautiful. The Amish have settled in this area so we passed many of their stores and restaurants but since its Sunday they were all closed.
When we reached the small town of West Baden I heard chatter on the coach – everyone was trying to figure out what the massive stately circular building was in the distance – could it possibly be our hotel – YES!
The West Baden Hotel is a gem. We are all honored to be staying here for 2 nights. Our luxurious massive suites overlook a stunning circular atrium. My passengers can’t stop telling me that I really outdid myself this time.
We spent time exploring – there is just so much to take in – our beautiful suites, the gardens, the trolly car, the tram car, the horse drawn carriages, the rocker filled front porch, the spa, the gorgeous pool, the shops……
Later we gathered for another scenic 30 minute drive to Patoka Lake home of the Patoka Lake Winery. The owner welcomed us and told us about their many award winning wines. We sampled many of them before enjoying a delicious catered home cooked meal by a young local chef, Jerry. I knew my passengers loved the meal because many of them were asking if he would share his recipes with them.
A fabulous day.