This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Were they lost?

I observed this bus passing through downtown Rensselaer Thursday morning. I was so surprised it took me a few seconds to realize that I should take out my camera and take a picture. If I had been a little faster, I would have gotten a better shot.
Why was the C-SPAN Campaign-2012 bus in Rensselaer? Where was it coming from and where was it going to?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where were we (part 2)? (Updated)

Where were we? This was taken this past weekend, so you might be able to identify exactly where these pictures were taken.
Anonymous had the right answer. We were at Prophetstown State Park near Lafayette. After our group finished with the Feast of the Hunter's Moon, we headed over to the campground at Prophetstown and set up camp. We all ate supper in the light rain, but only half the group stayed over night. The other half, which included me, came back to Rensselaer.
Only the older child shown below camped. She slept well. The younger one came to Rensselaer, and did not sleep as well.
The dark skies shown below had rain. We encountered much heavier rain on I-65 driving back to Rensselaer. By the way, I think the campground regulations say that tents are supposed to be placed on the gravel.
This was my second time in the campground and I still have not camped there. The first time was on Halloween several years ago. My daughter-in-law judged Halloween decorations. The campground was full, and some of the campers went to elaborate lengths decorating. If I had been blogging at the time, I would have taken a lot of pictures because it was impressive. Halloween decorations are common in many campgrounds.

If you follow the Wabash River upstream a bit, you find Delphi. I was indirectly given a link to an Indiana bicycle site a couple days ago, and that site had a nice article on the Delphi trail system.

Update 2: November 5-7 will mark the bicentennial of the Battle of Tippecanoe. Programs are planned for both Prophetstown State Park and the Battlefield Memorial. Detail can be found here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Where was I? (Updated)

I had an interesting weekend. Here are some pictures from part of it. Where was I? (This one is easy--not like some of the ones the Little Indiana has on her Facebook page.)

Update--all text from here is part of the update.)

Wow--what an amazing amount of reader reaction. One comment in twelve hours!

Yes, it was the Feast of the Hunter's Moon near Lafayette. Past posts on this event are here and here.

I took this picture because I liked the dress of the lady in red. It stood out.
One of the most popular food booths was the apple dumpling booth. All the cooking is done on site in these ovens. I found out after getting home that it is a fund-raiser for Central Catholic High School in Lafayette. We will be hearing a lot more about CC in the paper because the school has joined the athletic conference that RCHS belongs to.
I thought the plastic tubs were a bit out of place. The lines for this booth were amazingly long, probably the longest for any of the food booths. I wonder if any Rensselaer organizations have ever considered using the Feast for fund raising. It would require some costuming and an appropriate activity, but there sure are big crowds. I bought a large pork chop from a booth that was run by some organization from Rossville. People ate them without knives or forks--probably the way they would have been eaten when Fort Ouiatenon was active.

These guys could be Little Cousin Jasper after he grew up.
I did not get to hear as much music as I wanted to hear. I have a granddaughter who thinks I am great, and as a sign of her affection she wanted me and only me to carry her. She got heavier and heavier as the day went on. And she complained when I sat down.
I included this picture because I thought the blue boxes in the background added a nice touch.
Watching the many people in costumes is one of the highlights of the Feast.
My granny, what big gourds you have.
These are the fabulous Budabi Brothers, who are excellent jugglers and very funny comedians. Their act is pretty much the same from year to year, but they do it so well that most people who see it one year want to see it the next year.
Sitting a few feet from me watching this performance was an Amish family. I was struck how well they fit in. I wonder how many people realized that they were dressed in their everyday clothing.

I neglected to get a picture of the GFS trucks in the parking lot, so I will settle for this one. Actually, there were a lot of similar scenes in the food booths.
Many craftsmen have exhibits and sell wares at the Feast. This yarn is colored with dyes that come from plants rather than petrochemical refineries. The colors are more muted, but that is what people in the 18th century would have had available.
For people who want to buy junk, there are silly wooden carvings of toy guns and mass produced bows and arrows. There are no NASCAR items, however. Booths are restricted to things that seem period appropriate.

The Feast is a lot of fun even though it has gotten a bit too big. We parked in the Purdue football stadium parking lot and took the shuttle. The lot was almost full and we had to wait about fifteen minutes for the bus. It could have been a lot worse. If you have never been to this event, you really should go some year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Church repair

Every congregation that has a church faces the problems of maintenance and repair. St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Rensselaer is in the process of repairing crumbling plaster caused by water leakage. The picture below is a week old. After the plaster is repaired, the painting will begin.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Strange vehicles

This morning I saw what looked like a camper coming down the railroad tracks west of Rensselaer. It was a truck that was checking the rails for faults. You can see the testing equipment hanging off the back. I thought it was interesting that it was not a CSX vehicle. Big as CSX is, they find it cheaper to hire out that service or else they do not have the expertise to provide it themselves. Here is the website of the company doing the testing.
Following this vehicle was a CSX truck that pulled up its rail wheels when it got to this crossing on Mattheson, and drove away on Mattheson.

In the afternoon I noticed the interesting vehicle below on Drexel Drive. It was a machine that made by Ditch Witch that trenches and installs cable.
The men who worked it seemed to be further west on Drexel Drive, working a small backhoe digging holes to get cables under the driveways. They were from a company with the interesting name of Berry It Inc. Underground Utility Services. I did not find out exactly what they were burying--it was an optical cable, but I do not know if it was for phone, television, Internet, or some combination of those.
Update: Stopping by a few days after these pictures were taken, I asked one of the workers who the cable was for. He said it was a Verizon cable.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Men at work

I read a bit about the need for repairs to the north city water tank several months ago and have been looking for some sign of that work ever since. Today I finally found some. It looks like whatever repairs that the water tower needs are finally going to be done.
And I even found men at heights!
And after months of going by the school construction site and seeing very little going on, the site is now as busy as a beehive, with lots of workers out in the field.
Cement block walls are being built, and in a few weeks maybe it will start looking like a building.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A leisurely ride

The Renssselaer Republican had an article this week on the Harvest Garden at SJC. This past summer a couple of faculty members with the aid of some students planted a garden to the south of the campus with a variety of vegetables. They are now harvesting these and using them to prepare meals for the freshman. One of the goals of the program is to teach students about where food comes from and how to prepare it. People who live in the city often do not know much about the food they eat other than it comes from the store. Here is the SJC press release on the program.

My interest in the program is largely because one of the organizers told me that they had some extra land and asked if I wanted to use it. I accepted, and planned to plant squash. Things did not go quite as well as planned. First, I wanted to plant butternut squash because they are less susceptible vine borers. I planted seeds I had saved from last year, but forgot that I had saved some seeds from my acorn squash as well as the butternut squash. Most of what came up was acorn or acorn hybrids. Acorn squash will cross with summer squash or pumpkins because they are all the same species. And then there were the squash bugs, the second major squash pest. There was a plague of them and they killed the plants. I still have a some stuff left. The nice tall plants--over five feet tall now--are okra. There are also tomatoes that I transplanted from my home garden. I expected most would be the tiny cherry tomatoes because I was transplanting the volunteers, and unfortunately I was right. I got some things out of it and did not spend money or much time on it, so it was a success, just not as big as success as I wanted.
After picking a a few dozen tiny tomatoes, I decided to take a leisurely bike ride west of town. One of my first stops was to take a picture of this preying mantis that was on the road. (Maybe I should have captured it and taken it back to the garden so it could eat squash bugs.) I suspect there are actually quite a few mantises around, but they are only easily visible when they are out of place, like on the road.
I was surprised to see workers doing something to the tower at the intersection of 700S and 900W. Unfortunately the worker on the tower was pretty close to the ground, not near the top. I think this is more than a cell-phone tower. I think it is part of the microwave network to relay telephone calls. If you know more about this tower, please tell us what you know in the comments.
There has been construction on I-65 for quite some time, but I almost never travel the section of the highway between the SR 114 exit and the US 231 exit. There is work on the shoulders, and in the picture below there is a small white vehicle in the median strip that was uprooting the sod. I tried to find an explanation of the work on the Internet, but could not. This project has been ongoing for at least several weeks. What is going on with it?
I noticed a cornfield that had been harvested, the first one I have seen around here. Some of the soybeans look ready to harvest, while others are still completely green.

Often the fall equinox falls on the 21st, but this year it does not occur until the 23rd. Hope you enjoy the final couple days of summer.

Update: Speaking of cell phone towers, about a month ago the Goodland facebook page said that Verizon was building a new 4G tower in Goodland. If progress is on schedule, it should be done in another month.

Monday, September 19, 2011

November will be here soon

Reminders that November will be here soon were popping up all over town last week.
I thought it funny that these two signs were in the same lawn. Maybe one was "his" and the other "hers." I also thought it funny that they are using the same colors, which makes the signs all over town look pretty similar.

I do not mind the electioneering for a few weeks before elections. On the other hand, the electioneering that is going on now in preparation for November 2012 is way too early.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

School construction

There is now structure visible at the construction site of the new school that will replace Monnett. What is there is far from the road so it is hard to see exactly what part of the building they are building first. It is probably a core for the utilities--heating, cooling, etc.
 There are plenty of construction supplies waiting to be used.
I hope a picture is worth a thousand words because I cannot think of anything interesting to say about this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

RCHS Homecoming parade 2011

Today is homecoming at RCHS. Last night the school had their homecoming parade--our second parade in less than a week! I got there a bit early so went over to see the line up. The football team and the cheerleaders had gotten into place on five firetrucks and the parade was ready to get started.

 There were no horses, but there were four tractors.
 I am not sure which class had the "Trash the Indians" float. The cross country team was on bikes behind this float. I tried to take pictures of the other class floats, but the light was fading and my pictures did not turn out.
Each of the Homecoming Queen candidates was in a convertible. I was busy watching the kids scramble for candy, so I did not see where the missing queen candidate was in this shot. For the kids parades are mostly about the candy. Forget the parade, find the candy.
I hope the kids enjoy the homecoming festivities. High school goes by very quickly.

(The state resurfaced the highway from Monnett school to the stoplight. I missed the activity on Monday, but the Rensselaer Republican got a good picture of it. It looks like the stretch of highway in the picture above will need some work in the not-so-distant future.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shopping at Superior Sales and Service

I mentioned a few posts ago that Superior Sales and Service on Vine Street had new owners. Several days ago I stopped by to pick up a bike wheel that I had left there to be repaired and I took the time to find out more.
The new owners are Blake Carter and Mike White. The business will remain as it has been, with bike sales and service an important part of the mix. They had a large selection of bikes on display and more waiting to be unpacked. (It is probably not the best time of the year for bike sales. Most people do not have my attitude about riding bikes--every day is a good day to ride a bike unless there are six inches of snow on the roads.)
The store sells also sells paint, paint supplies, and Toro lawn equipment.
A final part of the business mix is tool rental. Behind the shop is a row of small building with a variety of construction equipment for rent. About half the renters are contractors who find it cheaper to rent equipment that they use infrequently rather than buy it. The other half is do-it-yourself homeowners. 
When I came to Rensselaer, this store was Brusnahans. Back then the only brand of bike it sold was Schwinn. At the time most bicycles sold in the U.S were made in the U.S. and Schwinn was recognized as the top brand of consumer bikes. I think Schwinn was one of those family-owned businesses in which the sons did not have the talent of the father, and they were not able to keep the company on top of the bike world.

In its early days Brusnahan big business was selling coal. There was a time in which coal was the heating source for most homes, and that coal was delivered by the railroad, which explains why the business is where it is, next to the CSX tracks. In older homes you can sometimes still see reminders of that era--a few still have coal chute doors, and in basements you can find traces of the coal bins. The buildings shown above were built on the foundation of the coal storage structure.

Below is a peek inside one of the buildings. You can see a machine for smoothing concrete and tanks of oxygen used for welding as well as other things that I cannot identify.
I had to ask if they had two-man augers, and they said that they did. My son recently rented one in Indianapolis, and I got to be the second man. Digging post holes was much more work than I expected it to be.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LCJF entertainment

One of the draws of the Little Cousin Jasper Festival is the array of entertainment acts that the organizers schedule. I caught parts of a number of them. On Saturday there was a group of cloggers. Until recently there was a local clogging group, but I heard that they disbanded. Some of the former members joined with a group from Chesterton, and I think it was this group that performed. They were the Sunshine Cloggers.
The Rensselaer's Got Talent competition had a big audience. The group of dancers from the First Assembly of God shown below won the competition.
The number of acts has declined since the Rensselaer's Got Talent show started several years ago, and now most of the acts are kids.

The headliner for the event was Amanda Overmyer, who was a finalist on American Idol a few years back. She sang for about an hour on Saturday evening to a large crowd. People seemed to enjoy the event. Many listened to her sing, while others visited with friends and kids were throwing some kind of lighted toy into the air.
After her performance, Ms Overmyer signed autographs and sold CDs. She seemed very comfortable in the routine.
The festival was much smaller on Sunday, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of a Sheltered Reality, a percussion group from Frankfort. In one of their numbers the kids bounced balls on the drums as part of the act.
The group also got a lot of audience participation, as when they did the YMCA song.
The last group to perform on Sunday was the Commmity Band, which played a number of marches and patriotic songs. They deserved a larger audience than they got, but by the time they were on stage most of the vendors were taking down their tents and packing up.
The organizers again did an excellent job of having almost continuous entertainment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Moving day

This morning the parking spaces in front of the Jasper County Microfilm Department were blocked off, so I suspected that the office might finally be moving. I was too late--the office had almost been cleaned out.
I went over to the Court House to see what the move looked like at that end. It was a scene of some confusion. It appeared that the file cabinets had been moved (probably on Monday), but the placement of furniture and the rest of the office furnishings was incomplete. I would like to have gone inside and taken some pictures, but I doubt if the people there would have welcomed me. They looked pretty busy trying to figure out how they wanted the furnishings to be placed.

Jasper County Fall Festival

Rensselaer had two festivals last weekend. While the Little Cousin Jasper Festival was going on around the Court House, the Jasper County Fall Festival was taking place at the Jasper County Fairgrounds. This festival was started a few years ago when the Little Cousin Jasper Festival ceased. Then the LCJF was revived, and we ended with two on the same weekend.

New this year to the JCFF were carnival rides. When I visited on Saturday afternoon, only a few of the rides were going, and those had one rider. Perhaps things picked up a bit later. The ride operator was not the same one that provides rides for the Jasper County Fair. It was Anderson Amusements from Asonia, Ohio. I like the geometry of this ride shown below.
I think there were more exhibitors at the JCFF than at the LCJF. The main exhibit hall was full, as was the roofed commercial shelter to its south. This machine, part of an exhibit for geothermal heating and cooling, was to the south of all of them. Although there were more exhibitors, I think there were fewer people, though it is hard to compare because the spaces are so different.
The Rensselaer quilters had a striking display in the east wing of the main exhibit hall. The quilters were also doing demonstrations throughout the day.
The LCJF had much more scheduled entertainment in the form of singing and dancing groups than the JCFF, but the JCFF had a lot of events for people to participate in. Both festivals had kiddie tractor pulls. This one was in the Retired Iron building.
While I was there, a corn hole tournament was underway in the show arena. The people throwing the bags were a lot better than my family members when we play the game. The most intriguing competition was a women's skillet toss on Sunday. I did not get to that one.

I never did see the shuttle bus that was supposed to take people between the festivals on Saturday. I thought it unfortunate that both festivals scheduled their prime attractions at the same time, on Saturday evening. I do not know what the future holds for these two festivals, but I do not think that what they are doing now is working. I hope they can either reschedule one so they do not conflict, or if they keep them scheduled on the same weekend, they can harmonize the schedules better.