Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Adventures in Indiana

In Indiana, we rented a Chrysler 300.  Originally, I had reserved an economy car, but the shock of $3.05 per gallon gasoline, and that the only economy car they had was a New Beetle -- that made this an easy choice:


 It does what Chrysler has long tried to do: be a near-luxury car -- not quite a Cadillac, but not priced like one, either.

Compared to the last Chrysler I drove, the ride was a decent compromise between road feel and ride, perhaps a bit harsher than the traditional "floating on air" Chrysler customer expected.  Because it is front-wheel drive, cornering was strong on understeer.  This was unfortunate, because it has enough power to delude you (until the first serious corner) into thinking you might be driving a sport sedan.

It was very quiet -- even more quiet than my Jaguar, which is a reasonably quiet car.  The navigation system had something weird about it.  It was a Garmin in-dash unit, and usually worked okay -- but there were times that I am convinced that county roads in Indiana confused it horribly.

Gas mileage was better than I expected: 27 MPG on what was almost entirely highway driving.

Indiana Tech is in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which turned out to be a much rougher place than I expected.  Unfortunately, it is too close to Chicago and Detroit, and gangs have been expanding into the area for some years, apparently.  (More about that later.)

Like a lot of Midwestern cities, it has a lot of 1920s buildings, some quite neat in an art deco sort of way, like this hotel:










I guess that it should not surprise me, but there are a surprising number of Catholic churches in this part of Indiana, such as this cathedral and adjoining buildings:







Fort Wayne has a gorgeous county courthouse, but you only get to see the outside:









The inside looked very promising -- but no cameras, cell phones, or other devices capable of making an image are allowed inside.  There are a lot of different rules in different states.  Oregon, for example, allows concealed handgun licenses to carry inside courthouses unless they have metal detectors.  Idaho does not allow it (although we are allowed to carry concealed and openly inside the state capitol).  Why no cameras?

I asked one of our native guides, a law student at Indiana Tech, and the son of a local judge.  It seems that people that testified in criminal trials were being photographed secretly in the courtrooms, and were sometimes dead within a day.  It is a sobering reminder that when you are dealing with gangs, all sorts of horrible things happen.

The trees were turning, but had not been stripped of their leaves yet (as was the case in Connecticut the next week):




1 comment:

Rob K said...

I lived in Ft. Wayne for 2 years, and I was surprised by how much rougher and lower class it felt than Indianapolis or Lafayette. But then I got the same sort of feel from Kokomo. Both Ft. Wayne and Kokomo were primarily factory towns for a long time.

Every Indiana county has a beautiful court house. There are a few brick ones left, but most of them are big limestone affairs with beautiful marble and woodwork interiors, built before the First World War, while Indiana was booming with natural gas and factories. Court houses are about the only place in Indiana that localities are allowed to ban carrying.

The GPS issues were likely from out-of-date map data. The new State Road 25 from Logansport to Delphi had just opened the day before you were here, and the section from Delphi to Lafayette has only been open about a year. Google Maps only recently got their data corrected for an intersection to show that it existed which I've been driving through for most of the year.