The Hapless Tourists (part two)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tell monument in Tell City – Photograph copyright © 2015 Mignon Naegeli
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 …