What is on your Bucket List?
Can you imagine the early pioneer hitching up his team of horses to the family’s best wagon as he prepared to start a journey to a new home? A home yet to be carved out of and established in a far-off wilderness.
With that bucket list item to get off his mind, the entire family headed out into an unfamiliar future. The unknown lay ahead as they faced the dangers of wind, rain, storms, stiffling heat and blistering cold along with various vicious enemies.
Wow. What a deal to carry out a dream. Relocating to areas in the West was a powerful movement of our forefathers. They sought to claim fertile farmland, a different job, or perhaps they had gold fever. Their dreams were so important as they hit the trail.
Not to the extreme of facing such difficulties as hardships and death like the pioneers, my brother-in-law, Dave Hamilton, recently completed a nearly 20-year silly quest to satisfy his bucket list hunger.
What was at the top of his list at retirement? To wander Indiana.
Dave and his wife Carol along with several family members achieved the goal of traveling to every every town, city, and small burg listed on an Indiana map. As he was a retired history teacher from Muncie schools, this was a logical task.
Sometimes Lois and I were lucky enough to be invited along on the journeys. Thankfully it was in modern transportation conveniences and not behind a pair of struggling horses.
His travels took Dave to 3,107 places. Sometimes he found that the road ended in a cornfield or barnyard, dodged around a tree in the road, forded a stream, or in the case of traveling Johnson County, came to a grave in the middle of the road near Amity.
I remember one time we came upon a town known for it’s fame to cook pots and pots of beans. These delicious annual bean offerings were so eagerly sought by persons from far and wide that customers lined up with pans, pails, buckets, and pots to carry home the bounty of the day.
Some places Dave and his family traveled to include: Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown Memorial in Nyersville, Brazil Fountain and Stonehenge in Clay County, Iron Eyes Studio, Windfall, Jerkwater Road in Hamilton County, Lickskillet in Randolph County, Orangeville Road in Orange County, Indiana’s Highest Point near Bethel in Wayne County, Sculpture Park in Mahalasville in Morgan County, Flood Wall Murals, Tell City, Perry County, Pivot Point, Pine Valley, Owen County, Trestle Bridge, Tulip, Greene County, The Azalea Path, Hazelton, Gibson County, Wadesville, and our own Johnson County Hurricane Road which winds by the Legends.
It was almost impossible to record the actual miles traveled because many were duplicated on double-backs. Each spot on the map was reached and recorded on some trips which were business or pleasure. As there were good and bad days of weather on the road, many miles were covered like the pioneers of old in rain, sleet, snow, slick roads and on hot highways.
But a guy has to do what a guy has to do to complete a dream.
When thinking about my bucket list — hey, buddy, I’m nearing the end of the road but not my dreams — I have several wonderful miles to travel just like you. May our miles be happy ones with those we love.
To pick my top priority, I might like visiting each living relative to catch a glimpse of their lives, see where they live, and listen to the tales.
Thanks, Dave, for including all of us in your fascinating travels and as you say: “Those who wander are not necessarily lost.”
Johnson County Historian Max Fitzpatrick, a former educator, is a longtime community volunteer.