Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

92nd of 92   Leave a comment

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, was a French aristocrat and military officer who fought on the side of the colonies in the American Revolutionary War.  In recognition of his accomplishments, there are many cities, towns and counties throughout the United States named Lafayette, LaFayette, La Fayette and Fayette.  Among the most notable of such places are Lafayette, Louisiana, and Lafayette, Indiana.  Among the least notable of such places is Fayette County, Indiana.

 Fayette County has an official population of 24,277, with the county seat of Connersville containing over half the population of the county.  Until yesterday, Fayette County was the only county in Indiana that I had never visited.  Mostly as a result of having lived in six different counties in various parts of the state, I had visited nearly all of Indiana’s 92 counties though the normal course of travel.  The vast majority of counties either contained places or were on the way to/from places I would go as I lived in different parts of the state.  After moving to Jeffersonville in 2006, the number of counties that I hadn’t visited started to shrink very rapidly.  Once the number got below ten, it became a goal of mine to visit the remaining counties so that I could claim to have visited every county in Indiana.  Over the past few years, those handful of counties that weren’t on the way to/from somewhere but not too far out of the way became slight detours from the normal travel routes until only one county remained unvisited:  Fayette County.

 I have nothing against Fayette County.  It just happens to not be on the way to/from wherever I have been going, nor has it even been close to on the way given the places that I have lived.  I figured I’d eventually take a trip from somewhere to somewhere that went close enough to Fayette County that I could detour there and finally cross #92 off my list.  However, when I recently decided to accept a job transfer to the Chicago area, I figured my chances of ever being near Fayette county would diminish significantly.  So, with a day off yesterday and the kids in school, I decided to make a five-hour round trip, just for the purpose of visiting Fayette County and finally being able to claim that I have visited every county in Indiana.

I would love to hear from anybody else who has managed to visit all 92 counties.



Posted August 9, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Geography, Indiana

Storm of the Century: 1993   Leave a comment

As ‘Winter Storm Vulcan’ rages in the upper Midwest and heads for the Northeast, I am reminded of a personal experience with a late winter storm exactly 21 years ago today.  Oh, and by the way, the Weather Channel either needs to come up with better names for storms or just stop naming them altogether.  Vulcan??  Vulcans are good people and would never torture humans like this.  Winter Storm Klingon?  Possibly.  Winter Storm Romulan?  Likely.  Not Vulcan.

March 1993 was my freshman year at Notre Dame, and was the one and only time throughout high school or college that I went to Florida for Spring Break.  A friend of mine from high school had family living in Florida, and thus free lodging for us.  I was very straight-laced and not a partier, so staying with a friend’s relatives was not much of a damper on our plans.  The only specific things I remember about the time in Florida were going to a White Sox Spring Training game in Sarasota, and crossing Alligator Alley with the windows down and “Thunderstruck” blaring.

The most memorable part of the trip turned out to be the trip home.  I don’t remember whether or not we were aware of the forecast.  I do remember getting near Atlanta with it raining very, very hard.  I remember stopping to eat at a McDonald’s at the northern edge of Atlanta.  I remember the rain changing to very heavy snow not long after leaving McDonald’s.  I remember thinking that any snow at all, let along heavy snow in March, was pretty rare for Georgia.

It didn’t take long for things to get worse.  Sometime while we were in or near Chattanooga, the combination of heavy wind and snow snapped off the driver side windshield wiper.  Not just the wiper blade–the entire wiper arm with the blade.  That probably should have been a clue to us to just stop and not try to go any farther.  We stopped at a gas station, hoping to get the wiper replaced.  There was no chance of getting a new wiper arm+blade.  The mechanic did manage to remove the functional arm+blade from the passenger side and install it on the driver side.  That was just enough for us to decide to continue on.

At some point well after returning home, I learned that the police had shut down Interstate 24 and had stopped allowing traffic to leave Chattanooga, probably less than an hour after we did so.  So anybody more than an hour behind us ended up spending several days in Chattanooga.  This turned out to be a massive storm, hitting most of the eastern third of the country, and hitting right as many college students were in the Southeast for Spring Break.  A roommate of mine had to spend several days in a Burger King in Alabama because every road back north was shut down.

If you have ever driven Interstate 24 between Chattanooga and Nashville, you know that it is not anything like, say, Interstate 70 in Kansas.  It can be a tricky road to navigate in daylight and dry conditions, and we were trying it at night–in a blizzard–with one windshield wiper.  Not long after leaving Chattanooga, at a very slow rate of speed, we were passed by an 18-wheeler, clearing nice, wonderful double-wide tracks in the snow.  We planted ourselves right behind that semi and did not let him out of our sights (which was not far, given the near zero visibility).  There was near panic when the semi got off at an exit.  Thankfully, it wasn’t long before another one passed us and we were able to tail it the rest of the way to Nashville.  The rest of the trip after Nashville was decreasingly lighter snow, then rain, then eventually dry.

The storm was eventually dubbed ‘The Storm of the Century’.  It affected an estimated 40 percent of the US population, killed 318 people, and knocked out power for 10 million people.  It also supposedly caused a spike in the birth rate 9 months later.  I survived it, and I didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt.


Posted March 12, 2014 by Andrew Cabiness in Geography

Iona is Nowhere Near Iowa   Leave a comment

Sorry for the long time between posts, but I said I’m only going to post when I’m inspired to and I’m not going to manufacture a post just because it’s been a while.  I was trying to come up with an NCAA Tournament-themed post when a local radio show provided my inspiration.  The host was listing all of the tournament teams that did not include the name of a state and the goofy sidekick tried to guess the state for each school.  Now I’ve watched way too much college basketball and looked at way too many maps for that to be a challenge for me, so I decided to create a similar but harder challenge for myself–for all 64 remaining teams, name the state and city where the school is located.

These are the ground rules I set for determining a score:  Correct answers get a score of zero.  For any answer that is not exactly correct, use Google maps to get driving directions between the incorrect and correct answers, take Google’s #1 suggestion, round to the nearest mile, and that is the score.  Add up all 64 scores for a total score.  The lower the total score, the better.  A perfect score would, of course, be zero.

My goal was to get a score under 1,000.  I figured I would know all but ten of them and could guess the other ten within an average of 100 miles each.  Well, I did get exactly 54 of them right, but New Mexico State, Montana, and South Dakota State killed my average miss (damn you spacious Western states!) so my score was 1,371.

Is anybody else enough of a dork to try this?  If so, good luck and don’t forget to post your score.

Posted March 21, 2013 by Andrew Cabiness in College Basketball, Geography, Sports

Indianapolis is NOT in Missouri   Leave a comment

A new professional acquaintance of mine told me that she read my blog and liked it, even though she knows nothing about sports.  That made me realize that between the almost-successful baseball season of the White Sox and the current remarkable run by Notre Dame football, I have been posting a lot about sports recently.  So, Linda, here’s a post that’s not about sports:

Americans are terrible at geography, and here’s all the proof you need:

The first attempt to solve this puzzle last night on Wheel of Fortune was, “Indianapolis, Missouri.”  No, I’m not making this up.  It’s very true and it made me very sad.  I know that Independence, Missouri, is not a common subject in the news or in sports, but didn’t everybody learn in school that Independence was a key city in the Westward development of America via the Oregon and Santa Fe trails, and later on was the birthplace of Harry Truman?

Even if Independence didn’t ring a bell, how in the world can anybody think that Indianapolis is the right answer.  First of all, despite starting with I-N-D and having the right number of letters (admit it, you counted it too), the other letters visible at the time make it impossible for Indianapolis to be the answer, even if it were somehow in Missouri.  Secondly, the correct state location of Indianapolis is right there in the name!  Also, it’s a state capital and the 12th largest city in the US–it’s not like we’re talking about Oconomowoc here.  Indianapolis is where the most recent Super Bowl was played, and that was one of the most watched TV programs in US history.  The point is that you have to be awfully bad at geography not to know what state Indianapolis is in.

While my interest in geography is certainly not the norm, my education certainly did build a foundation for my knowledge base.  A song I was taught in 5th grade choir is the reason I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order.  I remember studying Central American, South American, and European geography much more than Asian or African, and despite my interest in world events, the Olympics, and World Cup, I still know far fewer Asian and African countries and capitals compared to the rest of the world.  I do, however, know that the largest city in Turkey is Istanbul, not Constantinople.

So please do me a favor–no matter how much you already know, learn something new about geography today–especially if you plan on ever going on Wheel of Fortune.

Posted November 13, 2012 by Andrew Cabiness in Geography, Indiana

Been There . . .   1 comment

As I noted in this post, I am a bit of a geography dork, and aside from a very typical American goal of visiting all fifty states (got Alabama and Louisiana knocked off the list in March), I have some goals related specifically to Indiana:

  • I want to visit every county in Indiana.  I’m down to eleven remaining out of 92.
  • I want to travel every mile of interstate in Indiana.  I’m currently at 95% of the mileage covered.
  • I want to travel every mile of US highway in Indiana.  I’m currently at 60% of the mileage covered.

In the process of working towards these goals, my wife and I took the kids to Evansville, highlighted by the fabulous Children’s Museum of Evansville.  The place entertained a 4-year old and a 2-year old for several hours, all for only $7 each.  If you ever live or travel anywhere near Evansville and have small children, I highly recommend a visit.

While I’ve been keeping track of counties and cities in Indiana, I hadn’t even thought about keeping track of cities.  It had been obvious, as the state’s third-largest city, that Evansville was the largest city in the state I hadn’t visited.  I decided to pull up a list of cities in Indiana to find out what was now the largest city in the state that I have not visited.  It is now New Castle, with a population of 18,114.  So without even having it as a goal, I’ve now visited every city in Indiana with a population greater than 20,000.

Do you keep track of your travels, in Indiana or in some other state?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.

For the record, here is a list of the cities in Indiana with a population greater than 20,000 as of the 2010 Census:

Posted June 7, 2012 by Andrew Cabiness in Geography, Indiana

Sweet Sixteen Stuff   Leave a comment

Indiana Connections:

  • This is the fourth consecutive year with an Indiana school in the Sweet Sixteen.
  • Ten of the Sweet Sixteen schools are located within 200 miles of Indiana.  Seven are within 100 miles, and four are within 30 miles.
  • Ten of the Sweet Sixteen schools have a total of 16 players from Indiana on their rosters, with seven of those players averaging double figures in scoring.

Sweet Sixteen Geography:

  • Baylor (Waco, TX), which is not all that far west, is the farthest west of the Sweet Sixteen.
  • For the regional sites at Atlanta and Saint Louis, none of the teams have to travel more than 900 miles.  For the regional site at Phoenix, none of the teams have to travel less than 1700 miles.
  • The championship game could pit teams as close together as four miles (Cincinnati-Xavier) or as far apart at 1,600 miles (Baylor-Syracuse).

Posted March 19, 2012 by Andrew Cabiness in College Basketball, Geography, Indiana, Sports

I am a Hoosier Geography Dork   1 comment

A lot of Americans have the goal of visiting all 50 states.  I have that same goal, and I’m only nine away from completing it.  However, I have another goal that makes me even more of a geography dork than most–I want to visit all 92 counties in Indiana.  It helps my cause that I’ve lived in seven different counties (Wabash, Wayne, White, Marshall, St. Joseph, Floyd, and Clark) throughout the state and I have family in eight others (Elkhart, Kosciusko, Grant, Delaware, Hamilton, Marion, Hendricks, Johnson).

I’ve been able to knock 73 counties off the list so far, though some visits have been very brief (the Westbound lanes of I-74 enter Rush County for only a few hundred feet), and some have been quite a while ago (I haven’t been to Jay or Randolph counties since I was four years old).  That leaves me 19 to go, and those are:

Blackford, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Fayette, Greene, Gibson, Lawrence, Martin, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Switzerland, Vanderburgh, and Warrick

If you’re familiar with any of these counties and know of fun reasons to visit, please let me know!


November 2012 update: Since this post, I have visited Crawford, Dubois, Gibson, Lawrence, Ohio, Orange, Perry, Spencer, Switzerland, and Vanderburgh counties.  Only eight left to go!!  I’ve also made it to Alabama and Mississippi, so only seven states left as well.

Posted January 10, 2012 by Andrew Cabiness in Geography, Indiana

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