Northern Indiana

Northern Indiana
Transportation has a rich history in the USA, and a lot of it can be found in northern Indiana museums. So pull out your maps and start planning a trip to the flatlands of northern Indiana. You'll even see a little living history too.

I'm very familiar with northern Indiana, having lived in the South Bend area for 14 years before moving to Cincinnati. So I was pleased to have the opportunity to ride my Honda Shadow Spirit VT1100C back to the 'hood again. The Honda is a very smooth and capable motorcycle, and its sweet spot, 50-60 mph, is absolutely perfect for Indiana's two-lane highways.

The route is triangular, beginning in Kokomo, riding northeast past Fort Wayne, turning west near the Michigan-Indiana state line (a region also known as Michiana) through South Bend to Lake Michigan, and then heading southeast back to Kokomo. The route is about 450 miles round trip, which you can do in one day, if all you want to do is ride. But, take your time, you'll want to stop and see a few of the magnificent planes, trains, automobiles and motorcycles stored in Indiana museums.

A B-47B Stratojet bomber, Griffin Air Museum, north Kokomo.

North of Kokomo, on US 31, is the Grissom Air Museum. The recycled Air Force base provides many uses for local economic development, and it still houses the Indiana Air National Guard. Grissom's most visible tenant, viewed from US 31, is the museum, complete with vintage aircraft from the Second World War, the Korean and Vietnam eras, and modern aircraft types. There is also a restored WWII control tower that visitors climb for a bird's-eye view of the grounds.

Motorcycle & Gear

2004 Honda Shadow Spirit VT1100C

Helmet: HJC CL-15
Jacket: Tourmaster Intake Mesh
Boots: Tourmaster Response SC
Gloves: Tourmaster Summer Elite Vented

Riding north, the route passes through Peru and turns east on Old Route 24. Every time I see a sign that begins with "old route," it invokes visions of hilly, twisty roads which are seldom used now because some road commissioner decided to straighten the general route for speed and safety along a different path. Old Route 24 is one of those, the twisty kind, and it follows the Wabash River to the historic and neatly preserved confines of downtown Wabash.

Another straight shot: SR 120, west of Howe.

Riding north from Wabash on SR 15 is a straight shot to Warsaw and an enchanting stay at the Blue Heron Guest House on magnificent Lake Winona. After I had settled in, my host Tony loads me into the Blue Heron boat and taxis me to supper at the Boathouse Restaurant, where I enjoy a delightful meal and glass of wine without having to worry about riding back to the guest house. Next to the restaurant is a fantastic arts district, the Village at Winona, in several blocks of reconditioned and remodeled homes of the 1930s and '40s. A quick phone call, and the personal water taxi reappears to return me to my overnight accommodations via boat tour of the lake.

Museums, living history, and more museums

A fog has enshrouded northern Indiana, and visibility is down to half a mile. After a hearty breakfast of french toast, fruit, and coffee, I say goodbye to my hosts and head northeast. Traffic is moderate on US 30, and then the ride gets downright lonely when I turn off onto SR 205 toward Auburn, home of the Auburn-Cord-Dusenburg Automobile Museum. On the edge of Auburn, I pass the Kruze Automobile Museum. It's a huge building, housing the Batmobile, but I only have so much time.