A wonderful Geocache!

Most of you know, by now, that my wife and I love Geocaching.  We’ve never been “numbers” cachers…we prefer caches that are a little more remote, out of the way, and take us somewhere interesting to see.

We were in St Paul Indiana to do a restaurant review, and spotted some historic cemetery caches  (our very favorite) in the area, and decided to grab a few of them.

This is the Dutch Chapel Schoolhouse cache in Decatur County, Indiana.  The schoolhouse was in service from the mid 1800’s through 1920 or so.  Although the building is long gone, the pump is still there, as well as a few bricks from the original school.

As you can see, this is a pretty remote part of Indiana.

Countryside

Although the schoolhouse is long gone, the adjacent Church still stands, and still hosts a (small) congregation.

Church front

As you can see from the above picture, there’s a VERY well maintained cemetery behind the Church, with graves dating from the early 1800’s to the present.

Church back

It’s a great cache.  For those interested, the cache ID is GC574NV

My 9 best instagram images from 2016

One of the blogs I follow is IndyScan by my friend Andrew Everhart.  He found a utility that shows your 10 “best” instagram images from the previous year.  Actually…they’re not the best images, they’re the ones that have received the most likes….which, to me, can be a huge difference.

Mine is below.  Starting at the top, and going left to right, they are the Wednesday night car show in Fortville, Indiana,  deer at Crown Hill Cemetery, T-28 at Indy Metro Airport.

2nd row,  hawk in our front yard, jamming at a Lions Club cookout with a random stranger (who later became a friend),  The Cosmic Preacher’s my wife’s band, at the Indiana State Fair.

3rd row, my wife, Holly, at Alley’s Alehouse in Fishers, Indiana, the Cosmic Preachers at Grove Haus, and myself doing stand up at the Fayette County fair in Connersville, Indiana.

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Hidden Corners of Indiana: the Mitchell Opera House, Mitchell, Indiana

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As an entertainer, I get to play a lot of very cool places.  (And, honestly, a few where I’ve played behind chicken wire and wondered if I’d escape with my life).  This past weekend, I had a chance to play music and do stand up at the Mitchell Opera House in Mitchell, Indiana.

The Mitchell Opera house is a fully restored, turn of the century opera house, and, let me tell you, it is simply amazing.

Mitchell, Indiana was at the intersection of the Monon and B&O railroads, and, as such, was a thriving community.  Vaudeville was king, and motion pictures were just coming on the scene when the Opera house was constructed in 1906.

Over the years, it’s hosted countless shows, US Presidents, conventions, and much, much more.  After WWII it became a town hall, fire station, and then started falling into disrepair.

To make a long story short, in 2014, Hoosier Uplands acquired the building and started reconstruction/restoration of it.  Let me tell you, it is simply amazing.  I can’t tell you how much I love this building.  Everything about it is perfect.  Not a bad seat in the house, the stage is wonderful, and the sound in that room is simply incredible.  If you find yourself down in Mitchell, I highly recommend a visit!  If you want to read more about them, check out http://www.mitchelloperahouse.com



 

 

 

 

Hidden Corners of Indiana–Camp Chesterfield

Camp Chesterfield, north of Indy about 45 minutes, is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited.

Camp Chesterfield is a Spiritualist Campground/Center, devoted to the art and practice of spiritualism in many different forms.  There are a few full time residents that live here, apparently, as well as a number of seasonal residents during the summer months.

Make no mistake, these are not the carnival fortune tellers that folks my age might remember, these are folks who are serious in their search for spirituality.  There are mediums, metaphysical ministers, faith healers, and more, who reside here on a part or full time basis.

Even though I was raised up only about 30 minutes from here,  I never visited until I was an adult.  Then it was because of Geocaching and I found it a fascinating place to wander around.  Honestly, I also found it a little creepy, because it’s so foreign the the sense of spirituality I was raised with.  They describe themselves as a religion, philoosphy, and science based on natural law.

Camp Chesterfield sets on 40+  beautifully wooded acres, and there is some amazing statuary in the park.  I’m a huge fan of traditional folk art, and much of the art in the camp certainly fits this description.

If you’re interested in learning more about Camp Chesterfield, you can find them at http://www.campchesterfield.net

Below are just a couple of photos of the camp.

camp-chesterfield-trail-of-religion-j-p-hall-indiana-landmarks

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Hidden Corners of Indiana…Ten West Center for the Arts

I’m really enjoying doing these “hidden corners” blogs…I should do more of these!

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Ten West center for the Arts is a theater/teaching facility located in Fortville, Indiana.  It’s located in an old Church, built in the early 1900’s, and after the congregation left, it saw new life as an arts center.

It really is an amazing facility.  I’ve played a LOT of rooms in 40+ years of doing music, comedy, and more, and I can honestly say this is one of my favorites anywhere.  But, I’ve always preferred older building to new ones…they simply have more character, at least in my eyes.

Ten West has a state of the art sound and video system, and since it’s a smaller theater–120 seats, give or take a few–there’s simply not a bad seat in the house.

In addition to stage shows, they also host music, comedy, and a number of classes with an emphasis on youth…painting, crafting, martial arts, music lessons and much, much more.

The best part of Ten West…is started as a dream.  A local family wanted to provide a sanctuary, or sorts, for the arts, and for the youth.  They pooled their own money, purchased the building, and the rest is history.
Let me encourage you to see a show at Ten West.  This weekend, It’s a Wonderful Life–the radio play–is running and both my wife and I are in this production.  It that’s not your cup of tea, you can find their schedule online, and read more about Ten West at http://www.tenwestcenter.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are Churches and Service Groups dying?

welcome

 

In my role as a motivational speaker, it’s a question I have to examine often.

And, I want to be clear from the offset, by all means no ALL Churches, nor Fraternal or Service groups are dying.  However, it is a huge problem nationwide.  Nearly every day, I talk to a member of a church, club, or group that bemoans the fact that membership is dropping, interest is waning, and and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep the doors open and pay the bills.

Some blame it on money being tight  (it is), on the increasing role of social media taking the place of personal interaction (it is, to a point) or that folks don’t have time.  (Sometimes correct, but we DO make time for what is important to us)

I don’t think it’s any of that.  Those groups that survive in spite of the reasons mentioned above, and have found a way to turn those into assets instead of liabilities.

I think it’s because we fail to be warm and welcoming to newcomers, plain and simple.

This past weekend,  my wife and I visited a charity event that was held at a local church.  To be fair, the charity was NOT the Church, but I believe they allow the charity to use their facility.  We went, and the folks from the charity welcomed us warmly and were grateful for our support.

However, there were folks from the church there.  Want to hazard a guess as to how many of them approached, or even acknowledged our presence in any way?

If you guess zero, you guess correctly.  Not a single one.  We came, donated, hung around, and left without a single person from the Church saying as much as hello.  They all clustered in their little groups, while those of us who came out were ignored.

If it sounds like I’m bitter, I’m not.  Not in the least.  I’m a bit angry and frustrated because this is one of the Churches that constantly complains about declining attendance and what their future might be, yet, when given a chance to greet a whole bunch of people and make a good first impression, they didn’t.

It’s certainly not limited to Churches.  I see it all the time…Lions Clubs, Elks, Moose, Optimist Clubs, Bicycling Clubs, Ham Radio Clubs, the list is endless.

So, I’m going to give you folks a free tip.  Do you want to see your group grow?  You can hire a Social Media expert, bring in motivational speakers like myself, run specials, and more.  But NONE of it amounts to a hill of beans unless you’re warm and welcoming to newcomers.

When you see someone you don’t recognize come through the door, don’t wait on someone else.  Shake their hand.  Say hello.  Tell them you’re glad they are here.  Be warm, welcoming, and sincere.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it.  Take the lead.  That is the ONE way to growth.  Everything else is secondary.  Trust me.

 

 

Towns I love to visit…Oldenburg Indiana

I love small towns.  I love unique towns.  Oldenburg, Indiana is certainly both of these.

Oldenburg has a population of less than 700, and, according to wikipedia, has a total area of 0.43 square miles.  That certainly defines it as small!

It’s unique as it’s tied VERY closely to it’s German heritage.  Oldenburg (as much of Southeast Indiana) was heavily settled by Germans.  Oldenburg is known as the “Village of Spires” because it’s dominated by lovely Church steeples.

Oldenburg 1

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Oldenburg is famous for fried chicken, and there are 3 restaurants there:  Pearl Street Pub, Wagner’s Village Inn, and The Brau Haus.  All 3 or outstanding.  Trust me, I know.

There’s also a village market, a service station, and a few specialty shops in town.

If you visit Oldenburg, be sure and take a camera.  It’s a great town for photography, and don’t miss the fire hydrants!

Oldenburg Fireplug