Vacation Part I

Ya know…I am really getting tired of stupid people saying stupid things on the internet…there’s a petition currently online that has 850,000 people demanding that Justice Thomas be removed from the court…which is nuts because you don’t get to boot off judges just because you don’t like his opinions…he has to have committed…like it says in the constitution…high crimes and misdemeanors and neither Mrs. Pelosi in the House or Senator Schumer in the Senate has enough votes for impeachment to happen or be upheld so like the smart politicians they are (I don’t like their ideas but being dumb politicians didn’t get them to the positions they now hold) they’re just not going there. And even people that you think should know better…for instance Justice Kagan…says that the court has now appointed itself to be in charge of climate policy and has taken the responsibility away from the other two branches…when in actuality all the court did in the EPA case was to state that the EPA had extended it’s jurisdiction beyond that in the legislation passed by Congress. And some nutso who writes for the Ventura County Star says that the PRC (otherwise known as CA) should establish an Independence Clock just like the Doomsday Clock of the Cold War days…and that if it gets to midnight the state should secede from the United States…obviously he hasn’t studied his history as I think we already established that secession from the USA both will not be allowed to happen and has been declared unconstitutional by the court unless it has been approved by both houses of Congress and three quarters of the states.

All of that got me thinking a bit more about the recent court decisions and I decided that the guy that wrote the article in the Wall Street Journal today has it just about right in his statement.

For at least the past 50 years and maybe going back to the 1930s or so…the various functions of government in our country have really gotten out of whack. For those of you who didn’t have Civics in high school…we have 3 branches of government…the legislative branch which creates laws, the executive branch which carries them out, and the judicial branch which rules on the legality of the actions of the other two branches…and the constitution specifically states that the courts shall make their judgements under the constitution as well as other constitutional laws passed by the legislative branch.

Unfortunately…over however many years one chooses in the last paragraph…none of the branches have really done their jobs very well. Congress has failed over and over to pass legislation on many issues…including weapons, privacy, climate policy, abortion, and ad finitum. I realize that compromise has gotten increasingly unlikely but none of these issues has been solved by legislation. The executive branch has allowed its bureaucracy to expand on or contract the guidance provided to them by Congress to change regulations without a basis in law. The judicial branch has tended to operate based on social opinions and what a particular court wants the constitution to mean and has rightly been accused of legislating from the bench by both sides.

I think what has really happened with the decisions this term by the court is that they’re just simply saying that enough is enough…each branch needs to do their job. Abortion…not addressed in the constitution so it is deferred to either Congress or the states. The Democratic Party has had numerous opportunities over the last 50 years to enact legislation that could not be filibustered or vetoed to codify the right to abortion…but they failed to do so…and a cynic would probably say that they didn’t want to give up the election issue over it. Likewise…the executive branch has invented regulations that the underlying legislation does not provide for…which is why the EPA lost the case…it isn’t because the court appointed themselves the climate policy arbiter…it is because the court said “not our job” and sent it back to it’s proper branch to be taken care of. The court has done a lot of hair splitting and wishful thinking in constitutional interpretation over the same period and has had numerous decisions both ways that are simply head scratchers and not based in the constitution or established law. In addition…pundits, politicians, and media have allowed a whole bunch of terms to come into general use that have no legal meaning…stare decisis does not mean that precedents can’t be overturned, there is no such thing as a super precedent or settled law by the court, that the executive should not rule by executive order which may not be legal and can be cancelled by the next President anyway…and so on.

It’s time for each branch to shut up, sit down, and do their jobs. Compromise if necessary to achieve part of your goals but give the other side some of theirs as well. Execute the laws as written and not as how you wish they were written. Rule on the constitutionality of laws based on what the constitution says. That doesn’t mean that abortion should be legal or illegal…as I said before it’s both a religious question and a legal question…and finding a middle ground that Congress can approve doesn’t seem that hard. Same thing with guns and voting rights, and climate policy and on and on.

Now I realize that neither the far left or far right will agree with this…the left is unhappy because they didn’t get their way and the right is unhappy for the same reasons as there are still gun and pro abortion laws in the country. Back when the court was controlled by the liberals…there was the same unhappiness but while I wasn’t around back then I haven’t read about any attempts to impeach justices who disagreed with conservatives or pack the court to get rid of their ‘bias’. In fact…under the Warren court which went from 1933 to 1963…the court was essentially run by two liberals…one was Justice Hugo Black who was always a lefty and the other was a Republican liberal originalist named Earl Warren. That court gave us many decisions favorable to the liberal side…but the reason it gave us those decisions was because they made rulings based on the constitution and not this week’s socially popular topic.

OK…enough of that…let’s move onto vacation.

As I said before…we had an almost two week long trip recently and I was gonna put up a post on the Fun Stuff© we partook of with photos of our various destinations…but that slacker Neil has only finished processing the photos for 2 of the destinations. I told him he was a slacker but he said that I couldn’t put 200 images in a single post anyway. I have to agree with that so today I’ll give you a brief overview of the trip and the photos he’s finished up along with details on those destinations and the rest will follow in some more posts later.

We headed out on Friday for a 3 day transit to Indianapolis IN with our first stop in Valdosta GA and had dinner at Outback. Saturday we continued on to Nashville TN…and it turned out that the human kids were also in the Nashville area for one of Jen’s cousin’s wedding…despite us telling them that we couldn’t really get there, didn’t know the bride, and didn’t have a gift for them either the kids (or more likely Jen’s mom Neil thinks) got us invited to the wedding anyway. We talked about it and decided that after a 480 mile driving day while we could have…maybe…gotten there early enough to go to the hotel, shower and change and drive the 75 miles to the wedding we would have another 75 mile drive back to the hotel in the late evening and we needed to get an early start on Sunday. We decided we aren’t spring chickens anymore and that this was just a bridge too far so we explained to the kids we just couldn’t get there…they said all was well with that. Instead we ate near our hotel at a sushi/hibachi place named Kabuto and met Mack the bartender who was highly recommended on Yelp. He did us right both drinks wise and food recommendation wise. Sunday morning we went to Mass in Nashville then headed off to Indianapolis IN for our first scheduled Fun Stuff© of the trip.

The rest of the itinerary will come later…but long story short we went from Indy to Vincennes IN, then back to Lexington KY, then to Cumberland Falls KY and then a 2 day transit back home…details in followup posts to come.

Our visit to Indy was to see 2 different places. First up was the Benjamin Harrison Presidential site…he was born in Ohio but most of his political career was in IN and he lived in Indy both before his presidency and afterwards until his death. He was the 23rd President and the grandson of the 9th President William Henry Harrison who died quickly after his inauguration due to catching pneumonia during his long speech in the cold and rain to demonstrate his rigorous health despite being an old guy and then drinking typhus contaminated water in the White House. Benjamin had two wives…his first wife Caroline died while he was President and he married Mary after his return to IN post presidency. 

We were up early Monday morning and after breakfast headed off to the Presidential Site. We missed somehow getting any shots of the outside of the house but it is pretty typical construction of the late 1800s. Coming into the front door you see the front parlor where guests of lesser importance were entertained. All of these inside shots were taken sans flash since they’re not allowed…that resulted in some high ISOs (sensor sensitivity, we used to call it ASA back in the film days) of 6000 to 8,000 but Neil’s DxO PureRAW 2 software did a superlative job of AI to eliminate the noise.


With a close up of the knick knacks on the far wall.

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Next up is the smaller more intimate family parlor with a piano and family portraits.

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And a Reginaphone which was an early record player usually owned only by upper class folk as it cost about $17 new and that was a month or so salary for most working people. You wind it up and lower the needle and it plays…this one was original to the house and still works as we heard once our tour guide wound it up.


Moving on into Benjamin’s office…we see our tour guide Pete (at least I think it was Pete) on the left and his beloved law books on the far wall.


On the desk to the left is this cane which has carved heads of the first 12 Presidents.


Around the back of the house we see their dining room.


Along with his White House china and some that his second wife Mary hand painted and fired.

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Upstairs we saw this feather fan which I don’t remember the significance of other than it belonged to Mary.

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As well as the master bedroom with most of its original furniture.


We headed back to the hotel and after a rest and a shower we ate dinner at Fort Ben Pub as we were still full from lunch.

Tuesday we headed northeast from our hotel rather than the southwest route we took Monday to the Presidential site and arrived at Connor Prairie…this is a living history museum located on the grounds formerly owned by William Connor. You might recall that back when we were traveling in the RV we visited the area up in MI where Neil’s 4th great grand uncle Henry who was the translator for the original treaty between the government and the Ojibwa Indian tribe (also known as Chippawa in some writings). Connor Prairie was owned by Henry’s brother William so that’s 2 4th great grand uncles we’ve investigated. After serving as a translator for another treaty with the Delaware (or Lenape) Indian tribe in 1818…William was deeded…along with his Delaware wife Mekinges Anderson (Indians didn’t generally have maiden names but she was given this one by her white father and her clan custom was that lineage remained with the female) 640 acres (1 section or 1 square mile) along the White River.


Following a subsequent treaty the Delaware/Lenape were relocated across the river into the Illinois territory…and although Mekinges could have remained with her husband she would have been isolated from her people so she and their six children departed for the west and he never saw any of them again. It’s not clear (or at least not discussed by the staff there) whether he was legally married to her under US law or whether they divorced or whether he was a bigamist but then he married his second wife Elizabeth who he lived with until his death and had 10 more children.

Neil doing the Vanna White thing at the entrance to the site.

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Barn and sheep just inside the grounds…we didn’t find out whether it is actually a working farm or they just keep a few animals as part of the living history site thing.


Portrait of William and signage stating that his house was a popular stopping place for travelers for lodging.


The back of the house which is what you see when you walk up to the location…why the back faces this way will be clear in a minute. And yes…I realize that all of the vertical lines and horizontal lines of the house don’t line up…but Neil used the perspective correction tools in Lightroom to fix them as well as possible. The problem is that the house is over 200 years old and has bolts going through to hold it together and it’s sorta sagged a bit in some places.


Walking around the left side above you get to the front of the house. Sorry about the li’l munchkins in the shot but they got there before he could get a shot without them…and while he tried the magic people removal software it didn’t look right as the cloned portions of the brick weren’t properly laid out so he left the munchkins in. 


And the reason that the front of the house is on this side is because when you do a 180 degree turn from the above shot and look northwest towards the river you get to see this.


That meadow is about 40 feet below the house level and most of their 640 acres are down there and out to the left and right. Back in the day it completely flooded each spring from the White River which is located just beyond the trees in the distance which are on the top of the levee put up to stop the annual flood and render the property usable for farming. Pretty nice view I think.

Heading into the house…in the lower level we find the kitchen.

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And a couple of lower parlor type rooms filled with an assortment of historical items and displays.

This is what is called a lentricular painting. Rather than being a single flat canvas it is a series of 90 degree angles and the artist paints two different paintings on the same piece of canvas. Looking from the left side we see a view of the property after the house was built…this painting is made up of a series of tall narrow sections of canvas visible from the left.


Moving around to the right side of the painting…you see a depiction of what the exact same view looked like when William and Mekinges first arrived there.


We’ve never seen a painting like this before…and it’s pretty darned cool we think.

A chart of the William Connor family tree…Mekinges to the left and Elizabeth to the right.


Heading upstairs…we see the only existing portrait of Elizabeth as an 45 or so year old which was getting to be elderly in those days.

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As noted on the above…a digital recreation of a younger Elizabeth was created and a portrait of her painted as a young woman.


The master bedroom and one of her dresses…she was a really tiny woman probably not more than 5’1 or 5’2 tall. There was also a mannequin with her undergarments, corset and what not next to the dress.


With all of those undergarments and the linen/muslin/cotton dress on top…she must have been really hot in the summertime there…we were in shorts and t-shirts and it was still hot for us.


Leaving the house we wandered around the rest of the estate for awhile…spotting this likely a mated pair of Red Tailed Hawks as we wandered towards the mid 1800s town recreation (albeit it with some moved or rebuilt buildings). You can see how the bird got its name in the second shot.


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A house in the town section.

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Panorama of the downtown section.

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The tavern.

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The local woodsmith at work…he’s just starting to make another of the little table/stools you see on the table behind him.

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And some of his tools…most of these were either period or made locally on the site.

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Connie in the town blacksmith shop…she’s just inside the door to the right.


And the blacksmith hard at work.


Closeup of the Conestoga wagon you see in the pano several shots back.

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And one of the local denizens/reenactors coming out of another barn…nice hat.

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And to end up our tour…they have their own balloon…back in the day some barnstormer used a hot air model to carry some mail headed to NYC.


And with that our Fun Stuff© in Indy was done. We headed back to the hotel and…as was our custom this trip…had a nap, shower, and headed out for dinner…which was an excellent meal at Amore Italian Kitchen. Per our usual…we sat at the bar and had a cocktail, a couple glasses of wine and excellent veal piccata for Neil and mushroom ravioli for Connie…we were too full for dessert so had some cookies later in the evening. We had excellent lunches there as well…Sun King brewery one day where we drank or sampled about 6 or 7 beers in total and leftovers from Amore the other day. We also had dinner at the Fort Ben pub the other night we were there…but neither of them can remember what we ate there except that it was just appetizers because we had had a big late lunch at Sun King earlier in the day.

Early on Wednesday morning we headed out about 180 miles or so west to Vincennes…but that will be the next blog post. You’ll also read in that post about one of the DLETC’s few and far between failures in the Entertainment realm.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

How hot is it?


You had to be around in the 70s for this one to make sense.





About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
This entry was posted in Photography, Reality Based Blogging, Travel, Ya Can't Fix Stupid. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Vacation Part I

  1. Momcat says:

    LOL. Loved the writing and the pictures. Given that we had 7 earthquakes last week we are considering changing the motto, “Another great day in South Carolina.” to “Did you just feel that?” They were all just little intraplate quakes, but two were enough to rattle the glasses in a cabinet.

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      We’ve concluded that every place has some sort of weather or other natural disaster possibility…hurricane, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes covers just about everywhere…so you just pick what you want to live with. Me…I grew up in Mobile AL so hurricanes were just something you dealt with…so settling down in FL they didn’t bother me as we really did it for the no snow or ice. We made sure to buy a concrete block house in a gated development with all underground utilities and not in any of the flood plains…and keep 5 gallons of water, the portable genny from the RV, and 5 gallons of gas in the garage along with extra propane for the grill and camp stove. So…we can keep the beer cold and the ice cream frozen and cook…and we have storm shutters for the windows. With eye 3 storms that have been here or nearby since 2017 or whatever it was…the neighborhood never lost power or internet. We had 1 quake in VA back before we left in 2012 and probably a half dozen or more little ones while we were in Vallejo and San Diego in 7 years or so there…don’t like those at all.


      The three kinds of stress…nuclear, cooking and a&&hole. Jello is the key to the relationship.


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