Once your lungs get used to the thick, humid air and your ears get used to the buzzing sound of cicadas in trees, you can start to enjoy all that Indiana has to offer the casual traveler.
The Hoosier State’s capital city of Indianapolis
is known as the “Crossroads of America.”
My first day of this trip was spent eating at the places “you must eat at” when in the Mid-West and traveling back through my mother’s memories. There are restaurants and fast-food places that don’t exist on the Western part of the country such as Hardees (think Carls Jr.) , Steak N Shake and Bob Evans. However, the most discussed by everyone who grew up here or, in my case, whose mom grew up in Indiana is a little well-known place called White Castle.
It is a U.S. fast-food chain that was the first to focus on the production of hamburgers. It’s reputation grew larger than the size of its hamburgers, which are smaller than the palm of your hand and can be eaten in two to three bites.
The ingredients are basic:
100% beef patty
Diced, tasty onions
Soft, white bread buns
Dill pickle slice
The menu is basic, using the number system for a meal that comes complete with a side of fries and a drink. An individual hamburger costs less than $0.50. Most of the meals come with either four hamburgers or two, depending on the type, such as beef, chicken or pulled pork.
For the really big fans, they can order the bagged or boxed set of a large quantity of White Castle, and don’t be ashamed if you’re one of them. They are quite the popular food item. My mom actually ordered a box the night she flew back to Arizona and they were still warm off the airplane and scarfed down on the drive home by an eager husband and kids from what I recall some years back. White Castle truly becomes a tradition for families whether it is a weekly visit or at least eaten at once during a trip.
Later that evening, while driving down the one road that goes through downtown Franklin and into farm country, where my mother’s childhood house still stands right off the rugged, bumpy pavement, the sun began setting. Our windows were rolled down to let the chill, sticky air play with our hair during the orchestra of buzzing performed by the cicadas and the trees became silhouettes against a backdrop of bright orange and pink haze.
The Mid-West’s landscape can be more appreciated at night because its industrious appearance is taken back to its earlier days. The roads are empty except for the occasional headlights seen far off down the path before you. Individual lights shine brightly in the front windows of homes barricaded by large trees and fireflies are taken for a ride on the cool, breeze over cornfields.