The Hapless Tourists (part two)

Color photograph of a large church with a big dome and two less prominent towers on top of a hill. In the foreground, several trees and shrubs enrich the wide, sloping lawn and contribute to the pleasant landscape. The big blue sky is alive with a filigree of cirrus clouds.
Monastery of Immaculate Conception – Photograph copyright © 2015 Mignon Naegeli


After the tumultuous adventure at Lake Rudolph campground in Santa Claus everybody longed for some serenity. Moi, a grouchy old dodger, had probably a harder time digesting the odd activities than anybody else. The cat stared at an artificial black thing resembling her slightly, hanging from a tree. Made me shudder!

The next day, after not too much in activities during the night, we were some of the first to depart. Having nothing to clean up and no tons of plastic decorations to pack away helped.

After a short drive north-east, we found the Monastery Immaculate Conception in the town of Ferdinand, IN. The name Ferdinand was already cemented in my Human’s brains since the Wolfman’s niece gave birth to her first child named Ferdinand. Nice name, especially pronounced in French.

Color photograph of a woman in a blue shirt huging a newborn whose right arm and head are resting on her left shoulder. His left ear and dark brown hair are pressed against her left cheek.
Ferdinand and the Female – Photograph copyright © 2015 Philippe Lorino

Ferdinand was born just a few days before his great grandmother passed. Maybe that was the reason he came four weeks early. He made it to the memorial, and also into the arms of his utterly thrilled great aunt, my Female. When I look at the (slightly retouched) photograph I’m reminded of my own youth, when I was much lighter and my wooden legs wouldn’t be in the way of a loving embrace. Not that she doesn’t hug me any more—it’s just that my stiff limbs and a few extra pounds are a bit too much for her older, weaker self.

The Monastery and the Abbey

Founded in 1867 by Benedictine sisters, mostly of German and Austrian descent, the convent is now considered one of the largest Benedictine communities of women in the United States. The main building, called the Monastery Immaculate Conception, sits high above the town of Ferdinand in southern Indiana. Also known as The Castle on the Hill and The Dome by locals and supporters, it features an 87-foot high dome and many other unique architectural features. The sisters give tours Tuesday-Sunday at various times, or you can take a self-guided tour.

A further short hop toward the south, we found another wonderful place, also in southern Indiana: the Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Spencer County.
Coat of arms of Saint Meinrad showing two stylized black falcon silhouettes on yellow background in the top third and a stylized sailboat crossing wavy waters on blue background in the lower two thirds of the shield.
Indeed, Santa Claus, Ferdinand, and St. Meinrad are almost equidistant from each other, forming sort of a Christian triangle. Moreover St. Meinrad is another Swiss connection. It was founded by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey (Switzerland) on March 21, 1854, and is home to approximately 98 Benedictine monks.

Color photograph of the Saint Meinrad Archabbey church at the center with the two main towers, big apse between them at the east end, and the small crossing tower visible in the back. To the left is St. Anselm Hall of the Seminary & School of Theology with the long canopy of the Health Services entrance and some cars in the foreground. At right, detached from the church, is the south-west corner of the Monastery.
Saint Meinrad Archabbey – Photograph copyright © 2015 Mignon Naegeli

From St. Meinrad it was a 20-minute drive further south to Tell City on the Ohio River. This is when our Swiss Miss lost it. Her Internet research had turned up a page on the city’s website, bragging about the innovative way of how they manage progress. When members of the Swiss Colonization Society founded Tell City in 1858, the community was built with the intent to engage in very active business and trade with the rest of the world. Considering the appearance of its Main Street, that sounds as real as Willi’s and Walti’s saga.

Neither Schiller nor Rossini would use a creative minute to describe such a sorry place. Therefore I, the writing dog, refrain from doing so either. Not that I consider myself a peers on their high level of achievement, but it is my believe that one has to join the hood, no matter one’s size or weight. The ultimate letdown was the crude, diminutive knock-off Tell monument that sits on an empty dilapidated fountain.

Color photograph of a bronze statue depicting a walking man, holding in his right hand a crossbow that rests on his shoulders. He is guiding a young boy whose left shoulder he holds with his left hand. The boy has placed his own left hand over the man's, and he is leaning his right shoulder against the man's hip. The man's left leg and the boy's right one are stretched straight in mid-stride, while their other legs are angled behind them. One cans see the boy's left toes just about to be lifted off the ground for the next step. The statue stands on a crude platform of irregular sized and shaped rectangular limestone blocks held together by a shoddy looking mortar job.The chestnut colored bronze is weathered irregularly, with greenish streaks and spots.
Tell monument in Tell City – Photograph copyright © 2015 Mignon Naegeli

You can find the real one—well-loved and maintained—in Altdorf, the capital of the Canton of Uri. Compare the details in the statue above with this one on Panoramio!

Color photograph of the Wilhelm Tell monument in Altdorf, Switzerland. The bronze statue is displayed in front of a painting of a
Tell Monument in Altdorf, Switzerland – Photograph 2006 by Ralph Pätzold

We soon left the city that has no namesake in Switzerland. A few miles down the road we passed a Walmart “Super Center” about the size of a Big Lots. Then we crossed the gray-green river into Kentucky, driving over an old, rusty steel bridge in dire need of repair. For once, Annebäbi and I appreciated the strong harnesses that tied us to the vehicle. Not only the sight of those overly worn arches mad me tremble; the surface was so bumpy that I was afraid my harness would not bear my (over)weight!

Instead of quarreling over funds necessary to fix unsafe bridges and crumbling roads, Washington really needs to repair its heads and prioritize. Not their egos. The wellbeing of the people, who depend on the roads for daily use! The loss of decent public transportation systems is another consequence of a certain Monsieur Chevrolet‘s (from La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland), Mr. Ford‘s, and other’s catering to the freedom of the roads. Little did they know what a chaotic mess their ingenious inventions would leave to future generations.

We turned towards home earlier than planned, worried after a note from an angry sounding departing neighbor and a weather forecast that indeed devastated so many people’s lives in the South later in the week.

There where good and bad experiences on this trip. I think, my Wolfman recovered somewhat from the traumatic loss of his mother. A bad motorcycle accident between Fort Knox and Louisville shaded my folks’ mood. A biker coming around a curve had hit the rear of a car that was just turning into a driveway. A minute or two later, we were the first car approaching the accident site from the opposite direction.

Many young people stationed at this and other military training camps didn’t return home or were severely injured because of their call to serve our country. Often, thrill seeking men and women who disregard the perils of the road, hurt not only themselves, but also the innocents. The Female will never forget the young woman in tears who probably had driven the car to visit family or friends.

When we returned, the cat—out of her crate—sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and we, the canines ran  around in the yard, happily ever after—until the next time …

Oktober, 2015


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