Here’s to Little-e Exploring in Indiana and Kentucky

Here’s a habit to which I’d like to become more accustomed: little-e exploring, wherever I find it.

The Professor and I got back to our hotel late last night from Indiana (we’re in Kentucky on the Leadership Idaho Agriculture’s Bourbon, Horse Racing, and Tobacco Farming tour that some of us call The Three Vices Tour).

Searching for something to do the night before the tour started, I found a Farm to Table fundraiser for Let Us Learn (say it fast three times and it sounds like food) and signed us up.

Our Uber driver, Mohammed (a pre-med student, he said) drove us the 15 miles from Loo-ah-vul over the Ohio River and back. Good thing we asked him to come back for us because when I checked for other drivers just in case he didn’t show, there were none.

The event was great. The food was fabulous, the company welcoming, and the cause – feeding hungry people good-tasting, nutritious foods – was laudable. The town we went to, New Albany, was quaint, at least the few blocks we saw of it were. There were lots of restored brick buildings.

The community hall where the dinner was held was beautiful. At the top of steep, creaky stairs was a large room with linen covered tables. There was a large crystal chandelier, old narrow-plank golden wood floors (like an old basketball court, I’d imagine), and there was a wall of double casement windows that went up to near the ceiling and down almost to the floor. The organizer and our table mates were gracious and welcoming. Fabulous describes last night to a “t”.

As incredible as it all was though, as I sat at that table in that magnificent room listening to stories about an inspirational organization, I was thinking about the pleasure I take in exploring, exploring with a little “e”.

It bears little resemblance to that of some friends who Explore the Titanic, Explore and film elephant/villager conflicts in India, who climb Mt. Kilamanjaro, convene with lost tribes, and Explore rough seas in Antartica. Nevertheless, I like to think I feel some measure of the same excitement and exhilaration they do.

My exultation springs from finding spots where no one I know has ever been or will ever be. Last night’s excursion to that beautiful little hall in New Albany, Indiana qualified. Perhaps I got the little-e gene or maybe it’s my age, but this will have to do for now.

I first met my little-e side on a trip to Brazil in Niterói, a long bridge ride across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. I was traveling with a small group of Americans, the leaders of which stayed in a high rise hotel on Copacabana Beach. I elected to stay in a private home, the less expensive option. I had no idea how far away it would be, experientially and geographically. Delightfully so.

My hosts picked me up and took me to a kid’s birthday party in an underground parking garage (I have no idea why, but it may have been because mid-summer there, it was much cooler than outside). I sat with them, none of whom I knew and none of whom spoke English, listening to them chatter in Portugese.

Suddenly the thought swelled up in me that I was utterly alone with these people in a place where no one I knew had ever been. The realization felt, I imagine, like the initial rush of insight and well-being that come from an intoxicating intavenous drug. And just like that, I was hooked on my first taste of little-e.

It brought back other memories too. Like the time I interviewed a rancher in the mountains east of Santa Barbara where condors had been reintroduced. We were blasting through the New Cuyama Valley in his old truck. As the hot wind ruffled through my hair, I had this glorious epiphany that no one I knew had ever done this: felt this wind in his truck, stayed in a beautiful guest house on his ranch, and searched for condors on his allotment in the mountains.

So while my real explorer friends might privately snicker and the Explorer Club wouldn’t send me forth with a flag to plant, I like to think I understand at least one of the reasons they do it. It’s a noble addiction.

Driving back across the bridge last night I thought about these and the week of touring ahead. Last night was our independent fling, but even on the interesting and highly-choreographed Three Vices Tour, I’ll look to feed my little-e addiction all week long. Because it feels so good.

Here’s to little-e exploring. I’m on the hunt for more. Today the Professor and I visit the Hot Brown Showdown in Louisville. What’s that? Tell you later. When I’m satiated with more little-e.

4 comments

  1. I love hearing about your wanderings…

    It’s great to go new places, huh? We need to do more of that! Have fun, Teri and professor.

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  2. Hi Teri! I just arrived in Nashville, TN for NASCA so we’re kinda close! Wish you could be here for Mike’s retirement send off! I’m driving up to Evansville, IN afterwards, to see my family. Enjoy my southern Indiana/Kentucky home!

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