Road trips are great. Am I right? I’ve been planning this road trip a long time. Preparing in every way I could think of. Packing up the night before, I checked the list: cooler, chips, brat, chairs, seat cushions, binoculars, warm cloths, needle nose pliers, and other even more important items. The only thing I was nervous about, was the parking, but you just gotta go with the flow. Ya know I’d never been to Purdue. I was looking forward to traipsing around a new place. I was just going to follow my nose and let the good times waft out of the city of Purdue.
Did I ever mention I love talk radio, I listen to it all the time. In fact I installed a — recommended by Audiophile weekly, one thousand watt, noise compensating, kick butt — sound system in my car; just to hear every word, vowel, breath, and whiny vocal fry. I always listen to it, and never through the bluetooth. Never! That would be a blasphemous decline in quality I could not live with.
Well I cranked up the A.M. Radio, and very clearly said, “George Washington (that’s the name of my phone), directions to Purdue” and zing zang zoink it opened the map, and I was informed that thirty minutes later I would arrive at my destination.
Heading north on Forty Five she chimed in, alerting me to turn right, and then over the interstate make a left, right, left. After a bit I heard, “Your destination is seven miles ahead on your right” I was both relieved I was almost there, and bit confused. I had envisioned Purdue as a much bigger town, and I was still bumping along on a small blacktop road, but whatever… Right? Indiana is a bit rustic, I just chalked it up to that Hoosier charm. It was funny I didn’t remember crossing the state line, passing any prisons or fireworks stores, or a big river. Maybe my phone knew a better way?
The countdown started. First three, then one, then bla, bla, bla feet, then I was there and nothing. I drove by a couple of houses, an old windmill, turned around at the next intersection and drove back. There was a grassy rocked in path over the ditch, and a sign on either side. One said “Purdueville Pheasant Habitat area” then in smaller letters “Il. Dept. of Natural Resources”. The other sign had an official sounding diktat and info, but I didn’t bring my lawyer so my understanding was limited. Even so, it was plain that I was not in Indiana, or anywhere close to Purdue, but I was somewhere called Purdueville, and in Illinois, because what would the Illinois Dept. of Resources be doing in Indiana.
I parking in the grass covered gravel area. Got out, and was immediately bossed around by the wind, stumbling while zipping up my coat. An access path lead away from where I parked, so I set out for a leisurely walk, trying to make the best of it.
There was an unleisurely lack of tree cover, made worse by a little clump of thorny looking trees hiding from the wind in the crotch of a hill side. Thats right, I said “hill side” I was treading upon a distinctly un-East-Central Illinois terrain. It’s all relative, and I believe someone from the mountainous environs of Iowa would call that nearly vertical inclined moraine I was on, “flat”, but what do they know.
Up on the moraine I
could see to the south west for miles, and I could see that there was no big game anywhere around. No tailgate, no engineered turf, just a bunch of Brome grass and mud. Farther down the path there was a stand of Indian grass that was dang pretty; an old dried out pond, and not so dried out pond, that looked like it could be a wetland; a stand of trees that had gotten the ax for being invasive bad tempered things; and finally I crested the peak of the place, to find one mowed section, and one that was covered in golden rod, in the distance there was a grain elevator. I literally was at a dead end. A plan be must be enacted.
I found a nice patch of ground to sit on, and ran over my options.
First: I really needed to find out where exactly I was, That was as easy as asking George Washington — I was south west of Paxton.
Second: where the hell was Purdue? Embarrassingly enough, it’s located in West Lafayette Indiana. What the hell?
Third: it was about hour and forty minutes away, the game had already started, I wasn’t going to make it for any meaningful amount of tailgating.
Sure I could go for the after game tailgate, but that’s kind of like watching the last ten minutes of the movie.
“George Washington what is the score, Purdue Vs. Illinois”
“21 Purdue 23 Illinois”
Well at least I was missing a good game.
I usually don’t get too much back-talk from George Washington, but the mocking tone in which she announce the score got my attention. I glanced down to the info on the screen and instantly understood why. It was an Illinois Home game.
The walk back to the car didn’t take as long as it I thought it would, the drive back to town was a little longer, I went up to Paxton for ice cream. I listen to the game on the way back, it was exciting to say the least, but Illinois lost. Most of all I wondered about the word “Purdue”. Evidently it’s the last name of the guy who donated the cash and land to start that college, and the etymology I believe is rooted in Old French, as spoken by the Anglo Saxons in England, and is a corruption of the expression “pour Dieu” or “for God”, so I was literally in for God town. I’m looking forward to its development as a pilgrimage mecca/hunting destination.
If you go there I would check when hunting season is on, and wear day-glo colors no matter what. My overnight stay recommendations are not to. If you’re flying, you could look out the window and try and spot it. I would also wear a good pair of hiking boots, and park in a way as not to get stuck. If you want to tailgate, at the very minimum I would take a camper (with satellite-TV), a portable outdoor kitchen, forty pounds of assorted sausage, turkey fryer, party lights, sound system, beverages, basting brush, and a pair of heavy duty wire cutters. Then make sure you going to the right place.