Vincennes, a small Indiana city on the banks of the Wabash, is a town filled with history. Rooster and I have never visited this small community. We decided to take a mid-week jaunt to rectify the situation. The Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy, the Indiana Military Museum, and Grouseland is the attractions drawing us there. Unfortunately, the road to Vincennes held a lot of potholes for Rooster and me.
A short history of Vincennes
Vincennes is located on the lower Wabash River. French fur traders founded it in 1732, making it the oldest European settlement in Indiana. The French conceded this trading post to the British after what became known in the Americas as the French and Indian War, and this new British settlement became known as Fort Sackville in 1777. A revolutionary War battle occurred on this piece of ground when General George Rogers Clark fought to capture the French Fort occupied by the British. Vincennes served as the capital of Indiana Territory until 1804 when it moved to Corydon.
William Henry Harrison, who became the 9th President of the United States, spent time as territorial governor in Vincennes. He built a large plantation-style house he called Grouseland. This 13 room house is currently closed for renovations. The Tecumseh and his 400 warriors met with Harrison to argue over the legality of the Fort Wayne Treaty on this site. The outcome of this argument led to the battle at Prophet’s Town near Lafayette and the ultimate Indian removal from Indiana.
A near miss on the road to Vincennes
We are currently in the middle of road construction season in Indiana. That means travel can come to an unexpected standstill for several reasons. We had passed one of those construction slowdowns and approached an intersection when we saw a police vehicle with flashing lights attempting to cross the highway. Traffic stopped to allow him through except for the person in the vehicle behind us. The driver managed to navigate around us but ran into the car that attempted to make a left turn, knocking it into a second vehicle.
Rooster and I, shaken up after the near-miss, managed to travel onward toward our destination. The close call became the first odd event of our day.
Bad weather on the road to Vincennes
A series of thunderstorms moved across the state of Indiana, and we must have driven through every one of the storm cells. We noticed the darkening skies as soon as we rounded the city of Indianapolis and began our journey down I 70. These periods of heavy rain and lightning made travel treacherous. In fact, the stormy and humid weather became a part of our trip.
The adventure became complicated
Rooster didn’t book a room ahead of time. This omission left us with the task of finding a hotel. We drove across the state line into Illinois to find cheaper accommodations. The small motel where we found a room was rundown. A group of teenagers sat in lawn chairs outside waiting, for the sun to go down to party. A fast-moving storm knocked out the television. An executive decision made by me sent us scurrying back across the state line into Indiana to find better accommodations. I found a piece of a kitchen tool used to apply whipped cream in my glass when we went out to eat that evening. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over.
Beep, beep, beep echoed through our hotel room. I pulled back the curtains and discovered we were staying behind one of those big chain hardware stores. Those guys get to work early in the morning. It wasn’t road construction, but even when we get out of town, we still have to endure the sound of heavy machinery. Rooster and I rolled out of bed, determined to put the previous day behind us. We searched with our phone and found Gracie’s restaurant.
We pulled to the curb and noticed the restaurant housed inside an old movie theatre. It was our opportunity to explore a unique dining establishment in the Vincennes area. We stepped through the door and saw a junktique shop at the back of the building. Rooster and I both ordered an omelet. The anxiety drained out of the atmosphere while we ate our breakfast. I could tell our streak of bad luck is about to change.
Atmosphere shift on the road to Vincennes
Rooster finished his omelet before me and decided to wander into the junk shop section of the establishment. He came back before I finish, a little disappointed about the merchandise in the junk shop. I decided not to bother looking at the stuff. It was time to hit the road. The Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy is the next stop on our Vincennes road trip schedule.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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