Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life


Giant Amish Donuts
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom

I did a double take over this booth at the Indiana State Fair last month. Wait…what? Amish donuts?

Historic architecture in Shelbyville on the Michigan Road

1876 map, Michigan Road highlighted in magenta

1876 map, Michigan Road highlighted in magenta, Shelbyville in the center

Driving the Michigan Road, Shelbyville is the first town you encounter southeast of Indianapolis. Even though the town wasn’t incorporated until 1850, it existed before the Michigan Road was built.

If the road had run straight, it would have bypassed Shelbyville. But Shelbyville would not be denied. The road was curved to enter Shelbyville, and then curved again as it exited to resume its original trajectory.

Shelbyville has some interesting architecture, and that’s what I plan to share here. Right after crossing the Big Blue River heading south into town, this great building is on the right. It’s currently home to the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and the Shelby County Tourism and Visitor’s Bureau. Known now as the Porter Center, it was built as the Porter Pool Bath House. I guess the pool is still in there!

The Porter Center

The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. stands next door. I love the neon sign over the door. One day I might even get to see it lit at night.

Coca-Cola plant

The Cow Palace is across the street. I’d bet a dollar that this used to be a Red Barn restaurant. Red Barn was a fast-food chain in the 1960s and 1970s. The stores all looked like barns, with roofs of this shape.

Cow Palace

As the Michigan Road enters Shelbyville from the north, it’s Harrison St. and State Road 9. Just before the road reaches Shelbyville’s Public Square, it passes this building with its great old sign advertising both cigars and drugs. I’m glad the current occupant has kept the old sign.


Here’s a rarity in Indiana: a county seat’s square without a courthouse on it. Instead, there’s parking, and this statue that commemorates the book The Bears of Blue River, written in 1901 by Charles Major. The story is set in 19th-century rural Indiana — specifically, this part of Indiana. It’s hard to imagine bears anywhere in Indiana today.

The Bears of Blue River

Around the Public Square itself, I like several of the buildings. This narrow, ornate building is my favorite.

Sheldon Building

This is the Methodist Building. I guess it’s been in redevelopment but the project has stalled.

The Methodist Building

I read somewhere that this building was once an opera house. What I know for sure about it is that trees planted in front of it make it very difficult to get a clear shot. Hence, this wacky angle.

Former opera house

When I surveyed the Michigan Road in 2008, the block just south of the Public Square was in pretty sad shape. But things have improved some on this block, notably the building right next to Linnes Pastries, the new Linnes Bakery and Cafe. This photo shows what this looked like before.

Linnes Pastries

The Michigan Road turns left at Broadway St., which is also State Road 44, and heads east briefly. A slight right turn, leaving State Road 44, keeps you on the Michigan Road. Almost immediately, this little Dairy Queen is on the left. Dig its great old neon sign.

Shelbyville Dairy Queen

I can hardly pass a Dairy Queen when I’m on a road trip. Margaret and I had hot-fudge sundaes.

At Juan Solomon Park

At Juan Solomon Park
Nikon F2, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Arista 100 EDU (expired)

This is the nearest park to my home, and is a frequent, convenient subject.

What I did on my summer vacation


It feels like summer break is ending today. It’s because when I was a kid, school started the day after Labor Day (as God intended). Even though I haven’t been in school in decades, today still feels like the end of summer break to me!

But this year, I really did get a summer break, thanks to my employer realizing the first of June that it couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. I was cut loose, and suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands. It turned out to be wonderful! Here’s what I did with my time:

  • Networked, networked, networked. I knew networking would get me back to work fastest, so I had coffee, lunch, or drinks with someone every weekday — sometimes 2, 3, or 4 meetings a day. Several people I know introduced me to people in my industry whom I didn’t know. One of those introductions led to the job I started the first of August.Schwinn Collegiate
  • Worked a consulting gig. One of those networking meetings also led to a short-term, part-time job advising a software startup. I worked alongside them, evaluating their processes and learning what their pain points were. And then I gave them a lot of advice from my experience about how to ease that pain and execute more strongly.
  • Slept in. Whenever I didn’t have an early networking appointment, I snoozed until 8 or 9.
  • Rode my bike and took long walks. My work- and stress-load had been affecting my health. I’d gained weight and my digestion was seriously out of whack. I felt bloated, sluggish, and tired all the time. So I got out my bike and put on my walking shoes to shake the cobwebs out of my muscles.
  • Took a lot of photographs. I slung a camera over my shoulder on most of my walks and clicked away. I even got to try the color-film processing at Roberts Camera, a longtime Indianapolis photo store. They recently moved to a Downtown location that’s easy for me to reach. It was great to have scans back in a day or two, rather than in a week or two by mail!

I am so relaxed! I can’t remember any other time in my adult life when I’ve felt so little stress. Money wasn’t even a major worry thanks to landing that consulting job.

And the company where I landed has such a laid-back atmosphere. People work hard, but are trusted and encouraged. This is so refreshing after the pressure cookers my last two jobs were! I feel like I’ve stepped into a brighter, healthier future.

But my summer experience planted an idea seed. Advising the startup was great fun. And through my networking, I heard it over and over again: you could stay pretty busy and make good money advising software startups all over town. What if? It’s fun to dream and scheme.

But I’m born of working-class roots — working for the man is my norm, my default. And I’m mighty introverted — I can sell myself in occasional short bursts, but marketing myself all the time is not natural to me. So I will keep networking to build my contact universe and become known in the software startup community. If I can’t manage that, I’d never make it as an independent consultant.

And even if I can manage it, I might just chicken out. And if so, then I’ve landed a job that looks to be really, really good for me. I am astonished by my good fortune this summer.

Recommended reading


Here’s my usual Saturday roundup of the blog posts I enjoyed most all week.

When I look around my church, the group that’s missing are the twentysomethings. Dr. Nick Gerlich says it’s because religion doesn’t resonate with that crowd. I think he’s right — but I also think that faith in all its mystery does resonate. Read Church, Yo

Classic overachievers like me need to take Michael Lopp’s at-work advice to heart: figure out who you trust, and delegate work to them, even if you know you can do it better. Read 4am Panic

K. Rex Butts says that repentance is more than turning away from a life of debauchery — it is no less than aligning yourself with God’s cause. That’s why it’s so life-changing. Read Moving with the Holy Spirit

Summer flowers


For my birthday this year my mom bought me a bunch of new flowering plants for my front garden. She did most of the work planting them, too. What a nice gift!


I so enjoy walking through my garden for a minute before I get in the car to go to work. I pull off a few dead flowers, take in the scents of the flowers that have them, and generally enjoy a peaceful moment before getting busy.

More pink phlox

Shortly after all the new plants were in the ground and had gotten happy in their new surroundings, I loaded some E100G slide film into my Yashica-D and shot the whole roll in ten minutes. These, by the way, are the same lilies I featured on Monday.

Yellow and purple lilies

These aren’t the finest photographs I’ve ever taken, but I had so much fun shooting them. I love my Yashica-D. It just feels so good and right in my hands. Everything about the camera feels solid, precise, and elegant.


Mom and I — well, mostly Mom — moved a bunch of my existing plants to better locations. These coneflowers and yellow daisies came from Mom’s garden in South Bend before she moved here. They grew too tall where I had them before, so into the main front bed they went where they can be as tall as they want to be.

Coneflowers and yellow daisies

I bought these hosta at Wal-Mart a couple years ago. My next-door neighbor would probably be miffed if he knew, as he’s a master hosta grower and keeps offering me plants from his prodigious growings, which I usually decline. His timing is always terrible — when he offers, it never fails that I’m up to my armpits in alligators and don’t have time to plant anything.


Most years I buy a flowering plant in a pot for my front stoop. This year, it was purple petunias. Purple is my favorite color. Kudos to Kodak E100G for rendering the color right. So many films miss the boat on purple.

Potted petunias

Here’s my favorite shot from the roll. It’s not square because I flubbed up the winding a little bit at the beginning of the roll, and it resulted in the last frame being cut off. I cropped it to the usable part of the image.

Yellow and purple lilies, redux


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