Editor’s Note, October 2015: Scenic Indiana Backroads
The first time I set eyes on downtown Greenfield was not my finest moment. I’m a bit of a control freak, and power had been wrested out of my hands by traffic. Less than 30 minutes into a 12-hour road trip to Pennsylvania—a long journey I already dreaded—a wreck on I-70 completely blocked the interstate. I realize how selfish a meltdown over this inconvenience sounds. Someone could have been hurt in the crash, and I should have counted myself lucky not to be involved. But maybe you’ll allow me to blame my poor behavior on the early hour and lack of coffee.
Unluckily for my husband, I was (impatiently) relying on him to navigate. Can’t you pull up a Google Maps detour any faster? How hard could it be? Finally, the app showed we could ride parallel to the interstate on Highway 40. We veered onto exit 104 toward Greenfield, and soon, my ire began to dissipate.
Crawling south on leafy State Street, my shoulders relaxed. My tight jaw softened. Being forced to slow down meant I had time to take in the charm of a burg just 25 miles from my house. The Red Banana gift shop. The stained glass of the Creative Arts & Event Center, built as a Masonic Lodge in the late 1800s. The gorgeous Hancock County courthouse, a building that, with its turrets and towers, could double as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.
As we turned east, and the historic route led us out to the country, I laughed as I thought about the fantastic Backroads travel feature executive editor Evan West was putting together for this issue. Of course! This experience was exactly what the story conveyed—taking the long way to anywhere can be more fulfilling than getting there quickly. Even the gravel flying from a repaving project couldn’t mar our Zen as we cruised past farms, cornfields waving green in the morning light, neatly painted blue and red barns. I only wish I had been driving the gleaming red ’57 Chevy I spied in a showroom window in Knightstown instead of my Honda.
It says a lot about the healing power of scenic Indiana backroads that by the time we reached Spiceland to pull back onto the interstate, I was sad to have to speed up again. Our adventure reminded me that the best discoveries are found when life moves a little slower than 70 miles per hour.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.
This article appeared in the October 2015 issue.