This is the second in a two-part piece about Hendricks County, Indiana. Check out all of these great things to do near Indianapolis.
I woke up before dawn to the type of silence you can only experience in a cabin in the woods. I set up a pot of coffee, and it wasn't long before Cindy Ladage of Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl joined me at the kitchen island. We gabbed about our first day in Hendricks County before turning to our respective to-do lists. We needed to check some items off to ensure we were ready to dive into our next day of fun.
Before long, the rest of our group joined us. There was lots of chatter; we'd had such a great time the day before and were excited to see what else these towns had to offer. Just west of Indianapolis, they've retained a charm that's often associated with strictly rural communities.
While I was raring to go, I also kinda wished we could stay ensconced in our lovely cabin. This wasn't some rough-hewn drafty cabin with no amenities and outdoor plumbing. Natural Valley Ranch is a six-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath deluxe accommodation in the woods. It's a 3,100 square foot rural palace, with a chef's kitchen, a whirlpool tub and walk-in shower in the master suite, and a wrap-around porch with oodles of outdoor seating, all situated on a 3-acre lake.
Our group of explorers had taken advantage of that porch the previous evening, enjoying some tasty brews from Brew Link Brewing. We could've walked down the slight incline toward the lake to make 'smores and warm our toes, but the scent of the bonfire, set up just before our arrival, was enough to complete the atmosphere.
Another reason I wish I'd had more time there was because Natural Valley Ranch is first and foremost an equestrian center, and twelve-year-old me wanted to play with the horsies.
Next time. We had some touring to do.
If you're looking for a getaway with a group of family or friends, check out Natural Valley Ranch on VRBO. It can sleep up to 20 people!
Two things: 1) I'm from Indiana. 2) I love road trips. Put those together and they add up to a pre-destined love of the All-American Diner. Naturally, that meant I loved Oasis Diner.
You can't get much more All-American than Oasis. It's on the National Road, for Pete's sake, and it's the only one in Indiana that can claim that distinction. Plus, the diner serves a breaded tenderloin that's bigger than my head and just buried in gravy. Sigh. It was love at the first sight of that lovely neon sign.
If it weren't for the Town of Plainfield, Oasis Diner might have been a lost love. The building had made the 10 Most Endangered Indiana Building list in 2010, but the community rallied, the diner was moved to a better location, and it's been serving handcrafted sodas and all-day breakfast ever since.
Hot Blown Glass
After doing some serious damage to that tenderloin and my arteries, we trundled off to Hot Blown Glass to try our hands at glass blowing with artist Lisa Pelo.
Go ahead - insert "full of hot air" joke here. I can take it. It's not like I've never heard it before...
There's very little actual blowing when you work with glass. We had the opportunity to try it for ourselves, and each of us was individually walked through a process that involved dipping a metal shaft into the furnace to extract the molten glass, then spinning, turning, and molding until we had something we could display on our coffee tables at home. Both Lisa and her assistant and fellow artist, Clayton, were patient - especially when I grabbed so much glass I could barely heave the thing from one piece of equipment to the next.
As we waited our turns, we could browse through her gallery of completed art work. There were gorgeous flowers and pumpkins and vases and much more. Lisa's been doing this for quite some time, and you can see both her skill and her artistry.
If you're interested in trying your hand, Lisa offers classes, and they're amazingly affordable.
Who North America
Our next stop was guaranteed to make Dr. Who fans lose their minds. It was Who North America, the only retail store for Whovians in the U.S.
Before Keith Bradbury and his wife began selling Dr. Who merchandise state-side, the only way you could get it was to cross the ocean. Now you can get your very own Adipose plushie, Assault Dalek, or 11th Doctor figurine. And no collection would be complete without a TARDIS bobblehead. Just keep those weeping angels away from me.
While you can order these items online, visiting Who North America is a must for any true fan. It's impressive to see, in-person, the sheer quantity of items available. There's even a museum so you can get a glimpse of what was available before the Bradburys turned their love of the series into their own Who-dom.
Brew Link Brewing
Our final stop in Hendricks County was the perfect bookend to a delightful day. We started at a diner and finished at a brewery. (It's like they know me...)
Brew Link Brewing takes Midwestern grains, farm fresh hops, and a whole lot of crazy and crafts some darn fine beers. Nuttercup is a chocolate peanut butter porter. Pretty Pretty Awkward Milkshake is, believe it or not, an IPA that's been brewed with oats and lactose and finished with orange and vanilla. The Ivory White Stout is a stout, which everyone knows is a dark beer, and they've made it light. I tried these, and somehow they've made them all delicious.
After tasting my first question was "do you distribute in Chicago?!" Sadly, they don't. Not yet, anyway. Looks like I'll just have to make another trip to Hendricks County!
Want to know more about Hendricks County, Indiana? I'll be sharing more about several of the places we visited, so be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter.