Heads and Butts in Indiana

After yesterday’s delayed start and brewery detour you'd think I’d be out the door early trying to make up lost ground. Instead, I wake up and my body resists every motion. It’s telling me this inn is cozy and this town is small, why don’t you just rest and catch up on writing?

At breakfast I surprise myself and extend my stay on the spot. Dee the innkeeper lowers my rate to $40. I’m tempted to take up permanent residence.

Entering Corydon
Things were different yesterday. Alice was firm over the phone when I called at 5:00 PM asking for a slight discount for that night. No dice. The Kintner House Inn was my only option, so for $59 I splurged for a bed and breakfast. I’ve paid more to sleep in dodgy parts of Brooklyn on Airbnb, so I’m feeling good about the value here.

The Kintner House fronts the main intersection in Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital. Hospitality began with a tavern after the Kintners moved from Pittsburgh to Corydon in 1819 while this was the state capital. The current building dates from 1873 and was restored in the mid 1980s.

Oh, Alice
Yesterday I checked in with Alice whose painted eyebrows are crooked with frustration. She’s been working an hour later than usual and I can tell she wants out. On a tour of the kitchen she knocks over a cup of change to pay for cans of pop on the honor system. Fifty cents rolls onto the floor. She almost throws a fit.

I pick up the coins and in a calming tone ask if I can buy her a soda. She declines, and instead opens the ice machine to show off its frozen contents. A few cubes tumble out and skate across the floor searching for freedom. I jokingly offer to buy Alice something stronger; a glass of brandy might ease her jitters.

“Oh no, I don’t drink. And I was a secretary for a subsidiary of Guinness for 23 years. I could have had all the booze I wanted.”

Have a good night, Alice, I’m going upstairs for a shower.

Feeling lucky I'm not in Kentucky
The next morning Dee the innkeeper is preparing breakfast while listening to me speak about my journey to a central Indiana couple celebrating their ninth anniversary.

I’m explaining how I never intended to end up here, but ran out of time to get back into Kentucky after a late start from Louisville and a two-hour stop at the New Albanian brewery. Dee, who hasn’t lived in Louisville since the 70s, confirms that Kentucky drivers “are just wicked.”

“Their motto is get behind me,” she croons, before telling me about all the accidents on the Dixie Die-way.

“If there’s a hole this big,” she says pushing her thumb and index finger half an inch apart, “they’ll try to get through it. It really bothers me the way they drive.”

Cross-country cyclist Spencer warned me about Kentucky drivers and so did the owner of Bike Couriers Bike Shop in downtown Louisville. Now Dee is dumping dirt all over the Bluegrass State.

I don’t know what the deal is with Kentucky drivers and cannot comment first-hand. I was only in Covington long enough to use an ATM before crossing the Roebling Suspension Bridge back into Cincinnati. I also spent almost three days in Louisville, but restricted my riding to downtown neighborhoods because my hosts drove me elsewhere.

I’m glad to be back in Indiana and have no desire to risk riding into Kentucky. As a result, I will stay in this state and head to Santa Claus in the morning. But for now, rocking chairs on the porch are a comfortable place for me to settle down with a laptop while small town traffic flows through the intersection of Chestnut and Capitol.

Trimming time
The inn is across the street from a barber and I’m looking shaggy. My first Midwestern haircut is a mixed success. It’s only a dollar cheaper than my go-to Brooklyn Heights barber, but Pete in Corydon is no Serge at Clinton Street Barbershop.

Pete asks me why I’m traveling by bicycle. His Harley Davidson is parked outside. I tell him I couldn’t stand my previous job in corporate event planning and wanted to see America by the same way I commuted to work.

Pete is paunchy, has a salt and pepper goatee, and a chapped rash spreading up his left elbow. He’s 48 and is a grandfather. He has a 26-year-old son, 25-year-old daughter, and another son who’s 16.

“He was the result of a Cancun vacation,” Pete says as he cuts too much off the side.

“Musta been a good vacation?”

“I don’t hell remember. I was too drunk.”

The son apparently throws a mean fastball into the mid-80s. That’s supersonic for a high school athlete. As a result, he’s attracted letters of interest from a bevy of Midwestern schools from the University of Michigan to Ohio State to Indiana University, which would be his first choice.

After the haircut I slide over to Butt Drugs around the corner. This local pharmacy and soda fountain is still running strong since 1952. I have a root beer float at the counter while I snicker at all of the “I Love Butt Drugs” merchandise for sale. I buy two magnets for a future refrigerator. You’ve gotta come to towns like Corydon to find this stuff.

Speaking of Butts, Big D’s Smokin Butt restaurant is across the street. The name sounds all kinds of wrong, but their BBQ makes for a pretty good dinner. I’m surprisingly hungry despite riding a grand total of 30 miles in the past four days (yesterday, from Louisville to here). I cap off the evening with some more writing in my room and rest up for a long ride tomorrow to the Christmas capital of America.