Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bloomington, rawlings, oliver winery

This past weekend we took a grand trip down to Bloomington, Indiana. It was our first time there, and as a life-long Illini fan.... well, let's just say I was a little hesitant to venture into such a wayward wilderness of Big Ten foolery. But I actually have to say... it isn't a bad little city.

We really didn't see much of the town at all - and never even went to the University. We were there because perhaps one of my best friends-I've-never-met provided us with complimentary tickets to see The Dave Rawlings Machine. Not only was it our first time in B-town, it was also our first time to see this incredible group of musicians. After one of those weeks where I was ready to quit my job, move away, and say f*ck the world, it ended up being just what we (or at least "I") needed. On the way home we stopped at the Oliver Winery just north of Bloomington, and it was indeed just about as perfect as a weekend could be.


The road from Fort Wayne to Bloomington is fairly smooth. We took the recommended route of I-69 South to Indy, caught I-465 South around to Rt. 37 on the SW side. We followed that another 45 miles, got off at the Walnut St/College Ave exit, and we went straight to our hotel. It should have taken about 3 hrs. 15 min., but there was a bit of construction and it took us almost 4 1/2 hours to get there. Still, it's a nice drive.

We stayed at the lovely Hilton Garden Inn right downtown, and though it's not exactly cheap, it was a really nice hotel. The room was great, the bed was great, they have a great little restaurant and bar, and the service was fantastic. I would highly recommend it. It was also only a block away from the Bluebird, where we were going to see the band.

The Bluebird night club is a decent little place for a bustling college town. It is nothing fancy, but has several bars throughout the many rooms, and holds a pretty good crowd. There are no seats, and the different levels of rooms made seeing the band a tad difficult. The bartenders were also pretty typical of what you would expect at a place like this. But it was okay. Unfortunately (I think) we didn't arrive until just before showtime. The construction delayed us so we didn't get very close to the stage. In fact, we didn't even get in the same room as the stage. We talked to some people who arrived 15 minutes before the doors even opened and they said there was already quite a line and they didn't get a very good spot to watch from either. So, Jane and I just stood in the back for most of the show. We could see now and then, and the sound was still plenty good.


I must admit that I was not overly familiar with Dave Rawlings' music, but I did know OF Dave, and Gillian Welch. On this night they consisted of 5 members, all on some sort of stringed instrument (guitar, banjo, violin/fiddle, bass, etc.). The first half of the show seemed more bluegrass/country style music. While it wasn't bad, it isn't exactly our cup of tea. However, they soon ventured into a folksy, almost bluesy sound later in the evening and.... wow... it was FANTASTIC. When they wound their way into Cortez The Killer I was almost in heaven. I love this kind of music/show/band. They did quite a bit of original music - which most of the crowd seemed familiar with - but they also did a fair number of covers, which I liked. It was a very nice night, and I am so thankful for the internets for connecting me with friends like Jim.

After the show we walked back to our hotel and stopped in the bar. The bartender was actually from Fort Wayne, and she treated us very nice. A couple other couples came in who had been to the show and we chatted with them and had a good ol' time. One couple was from near Cleveland and drove all this way just to see the band. The other couple was from Franklin, IN (where our daughter-in-law is from). We had a really nice visit with them and I wish we'd gotten their contact info. Anyway, we closed the bar down together and headed to our room where we got a good night's sleep.


After sleeping in Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel, drove around Bloomington a little, and headed back north. Jane is a fan of Oliver wine, and we went right by their winery just north of Bloomington. We stopped in, and were not disappointed. It is a beautiful winery with a lake and park surrounding it. They have a main store and another little building where they were holding tastings. The place was packed and we finally managed to get into the smaller tasting room. For $5/each you could try up to 8 different wines apiece. We were also served several different kinds of gourmet cheese. The staff were super nice and friendly. We ended up buying a couple bottles and heading for home.

It took us just as long to get home because I was too stubborn to go around the construction, plus there was a wreck that stopped traffic for a long time. It was another beautiful day weather-wise, though, so we just rolled the windows down and enjoyed the scenic hillsides of southern Indiana.

We arrived back in the Fort late afternoon. I promptly traded my jeans for a pair of shorts and we cooked Delmonico's on the grill. The perfect ending to a really nice couple days. As I said, for some reason last week was just brutal on my psyche, and this little jaunt helped a great deal. Now it's back to the grind... Not sure what the issue is, but there's a restlessness a stirrin' in my soul. We'll see...