Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Walking in Nashville


Indiana’s Nashville is as famous, at least among us Hoosiers, as that town down in Tennessee. It’s a popular day-trip destination. In recent years it has billed itself as an artist’s colony, and is filled with shops where you can buy things made by hand.

It’s cliche to say “nestled,” as in, “Nashville is nestled in hilly Brown County.” But indeed, Nashville lies on a rare flat spot in a part of Indiana that the ice age’s glaciers somehow missed. A town doesn’t get more nestled than that. Most of Brown County looks like the photo below.

Unglaciated view

My sons and I visit Nashville and the nearby state park for the day about once a year. This year, I even booked us a cottage in town so we could stay overnight. It was a relaxing couple of days for us. We visited the shops and galleries in town on our first day, and hiked through the state park on our second. I had my Nikon F2AS along the whole time, shooting Kodak Ektar 100 using my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens.

Sadly, a photographic slump befell me on this trip. I shot the whole roll in Nashville, but felt uninspired and forced it the whole time. The results show it.

State Bank

But I’m sharing the photos anyway because (1) Nashville’s a fun visit, and I hope these photos entice you to go, (2) I decided long ago that this blog is about the journey, and this slump was definitely part of my journey, and (3) if I only ever posted perfection I’d write six posts a year, not six a week.

Carmel Corn Cottage

But at least these photos give you a flavor of what Nashville is like. I took the shots above and below at about 6 p.m., after most visitors had cleared out for the day.


Like so many Indiana small towns, most of Nashville’s buildings were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Unlike many Indiana small towns, every single one of them is in use thanks to the tourist trade.


The Methodist church is very, very white.

Nashville UMC

This bench’s inscription is attributed to Abe Martin, but old Abe is a fictional character. Created by cartoonist Ken Hubbard in 1904, Abe Martin cartoon panels were The Far Side of the day, widely read and clipped. Many of the panels were captioned with cynically wise sayings like the one on this bench.


I like pottery, and I’m always on the lookout for the perfect pottery coffee mug since breaking my favorite one a few years ago. You’ll find pottery in several of Nashville’s shops. I did buy a mug and have been using it lately, but it’s not quite as perfect as my old one. I didn’t, however, buy any of the wooden wonders that were for sale.

Wooden wonders

It was a relaxing trip for my sons and me, despite the lackluster photography. Maybe I should have just left my camera in its bag.

Front yard flowers

Front yard flowers
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Ektar 100

On taking life as it comes


This is the street in front of my house after it rains a lot in a very short time.


The storm sewers can’t keep up. I think they’re partially collapsed. I’ve complained to the city, but have gotten nowhere.

This is one of my two cars. It will become my son’s if he ever gets his license.


It’s beat up, leaks a little oil, and has a ton of miles on it. It breaks down sometimes as twelve-year-old cars do.

Recently, this car was having trouble starting. Symptoms pointed to a failing starter. My other car was running fine, so I figured I’d deal with the problem later. I moved it from its usual driveway spot (pictured above) out onto the street in case it wouldn’t start at all the next time and I’d have to have it towed.

Can you guess what happened next? Of course you can. Two nights later we got three inches of rain in an hour. I ran out to my car to move it out of the flood zone as the waters continued to rise. But of course it wouldn’t start. So I called my son out and, in driving rain and foot-deep water, we pushed it a half block to where the storm sewers were working and the street was clear.

I decided I might as well just have it towed to my mechanic right away. AAA told me there would be a modest charge, so I got out my debit card to pay the difference.

I didn’t realize that my debit card didn’t make it into my pocket until after I had been back inside my home for a few minutes. I quickly sloshed back out to catch the tow driver before he got away. He and I spent 15 minutes in the dark and rain with a flashlight looking for the card to no avail. At the point my clothes were so wet they were plastered onto me, I decided that enough was enough. I told the tow-truck driver that we were giving up and that I’d just call my bank to cancel the card and issue me a new one.

Which I did that night, at about 11 pm. It was one of the rare times I was thankful for an automated telephone system, which works when humans don’t. But the next morning when I tried to log on to my bank’s Web site to make sure I had funds to cover my obligations, my password wouldn’t work. I called the bank again, but this time talked to a live human being who explained that when you cancel a debit card, it locks you out of all banking until the new card arrives and is validated. Thank goodness I have a credit card with a different bank, so I can buy groceries and put gas in my running car.

Sometimes you find yourself on a roller coaster. All you can do is strap in and enjoy the ride until it ends.

I’m a veteran rider of roller coasters like these. Here’s another such story.

Recommended reading


Here are the blog posts I enjoyed most this week.

Thought-leading urbanist Aaron Renn writes about how it’s no longer downtowns that struggle the most with decay — it’s the first ring of suburbs around downtowns. I live in that first ring in Indianapolis and see the decay every day. Read The New Donut

I’m not a morning person (despite getting up at 5 am weekdays to write this blog), but Eric Swanger is. He reflects on the dawn and its great photographic potential. Read The Most Memorable Season of the Day

Michael Lopp, b/k/a Rands, writes a strong piece about the experience of introversion. To an introvert, you are a threat and you represent chaos, but you are also interesting and compelling. It’s a conundrum. Read The Song of the Introvert

Life at 135mm


I had planned to spend 2014 shooting almost nothing but my Pentax ME. In preparation, I had been quietly buying K-mount lenses in various focal lengths, including one at 135mm. I’d made only a few photographs with a prime telephoto lens before, just fiddling around. I decided it was time to get serious.

Nikon F2ASBut then a Nikon F2AS walked into my life, followed quickly by a few Nikkor lenses. I immediately abandoned my K-mount plans and set about Nikoning. Most of my efforts this year have involved my 50mm f/2 and 55mm f/2.8 macro lenses, because they’re just great fun to use. Meanwhile, a 135mm f/3.5 lens patiently waited its turn. At last, late this summer I clipped it to the F2AS and loaded some Fujicolor 200.

But then I realized I had no idea what to do with this lens. I wasn’t used to seeing the world at 135mm! I aimed it at a bunch of stuff, including my new grill, and pressed the shutter button to see what happened.

My new grill

I’ve taken the F2AS on a lot of walks this year. I live pretty close to Indianapolis’s great Broad Ripple neighborhood, where I photographed this detail of a larger sculpture mural. One of my Flickr followers thinks he sees the 1970s advertising character from Quisp cereal in here; do you?


The Indiana Central Canal cuts through Broad Ripple. I stood on a pedestrian bridge next to College Avenue to photograph the canal and the 1906 concrete-arch bridge at Guilford Ave.


Margaret and I took an evening walk along Main St. in Zionsville and stopped for ice cream. I focused on the sign, but missed somehow. A few other shots on this roll suffered the same way — the in-focus area fell right behind what I thought I focused on. I had this and a few other photos printed to give to Margaret, and interestingly the sign lettering is as crisp as can be on the print.

You can't buy happiness

Dark clouds gathered while we walked, and shortly we were caught in a downpour. We waited it out on a bench under an awning. But I got this photo first.

Threatening sky

It appears to be conventional wisdom that 135mm is the focal length for portrait photography, and so naturally I gave it a try. It worked out fine.


I took this photo of Margaret at about the same time I schlepped my sons to the Target portrait studio for our annual sitting. I know the mass-market portrait mills are a roll of the dice, but we’ve had good luck at Target for years. But this year, even after making the photographer take us back into the studio four times to get it right, we still got wooden poses and plastic smiles. But now that I know I can do work like this, I think I’ll just photograph my sons at home from now on.

Travel companion

Sleepy old dog
Kodak Z730 Zoom


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