The Cardinal, blowing in the wind, graffiti and whatever that mysterious W stands for

If you are as stunned as I am that we have actually made it 13 days into our Great American Rail Trail Expedition from D.C. to the Mississippi River, you are not alone. The boys in Vegas were not giving us good odds.

Today we left from Richmond, Indiana, a once-prosperous manufacturing town that seems to have gotten lost in time.

Driving through the heart of the city I was struck by row after row of magnificent houses, almost all of them in various states of disrepair. As though the original owners had left long ago, and those who followed simply lacked the resources to keep them up.

The economic life of this city seems to have gravitated out toward the interstate. Which, of course, is the story of autoAmerican sprawl in a nutshell.

That’s my social commentary for today. We shall move on.

Today we are on the Cardinal Trail, which, we are reliably informed (by virtually every sign we passed all day long) is Indiana’s longest trail.

Personally I am inclined to take their word for it.

Fun fact: The original railroad that occupied this path was “one of the most modern and substantial structures of its kind ever created by a railroad company in Indiana.”

Yeah, I Googled that. So sue me.

Either this trail has been brought to you by the letter W or a former president once passed this way. All I can say is that I kept passing these W pillars. I suppose a minimal degree of investigative reporting would unveil their significant.

But like Iris DeMent I prefer to Let The (W) Mystery Be.

We are riding through the heart of Indiana farm country (having already ridden through the heart of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland farm country). So no surprise that we keep coming upon countless examples of nicely kept agrarian enterprises.

Not to mention some agrarian enterprises that are definitely past their, um, sell date.

And now for some trail minutia. The Wit&Wippo wagon, kids toys and bus works. The Wayne Works bus that never quite caught on.

The treaty that (surprise!) cheated the first locals out of pretty much all they had.

The jungle doctor. The 9 foot tall loudspeaker.

The Big Bridge and the piano factory.

And still we rode on.

And on and on and on.

Oh, and it turns out that there is an Indiana answer to what’s Blowin’ In The Wind. We saw a gaggle of windmills today.

Plus, Walt and I had a creepy feeling that we had come full circle.

Two weeks ago we rode through Williamsburg, Virginia.

Today we rode through Williamsburg, Ind.

Coincidence? You decide.

We knew were were getting close to Muncie when we ran across the Great Wall of Graffiti. And Indiana’s most colorful rusted railroad infrastructure.

I’m just glad Casey Jones didn’t live long enough to see this.

Overnighting in Muncie. And we are not done with the Cardinal Trail yet! More tomorrow.

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