High Speed Rural Internet
You know those phone company advertisements with the maps of the United States colored in to show where they provide coverage? We’re currently venturing into the blank spaces in-between, where Verizon has left us to our own, wifi-less devices.
My mom and I were driving through rural Indiana yesterday afternoon, past verdant corn fields and land so flat you could see miles ahead, on the way to our first official destination: the World’s Largest Ball of Paint. One sign caught my eye as we sped by: “High Speed Rural Internet” painted onto the wall of a standalone building that seemed to be keeping watch on the neighboring fields and tire treads.
Mike and Glenda Carmichael are the soft-spoken caretakers of the World’s Largest Ball of Paint, the genesis of which was their then-infant son coating a baseball in pastel blue house paint some 40 years ago. It weighs roughly 2.6 tons, yet there it hangs on a massive, industrial hook in their home, with a small sign outside to alert casual passersby or buses full of excited tourists. On the wall is a list of countries their visitors have hailed from, ranging from Denmark to Ethiopia. During our time in the Carmichael’s home, conversation ranged from the most popular paint color for guests, blue, to his granddaughter, who nearly shares a birthday with me. We confirmed that I’m actually 5 days older, and Mike excitedly confided in us that she shares a birthday with Donald Trump. After a few paint splatters and much exertion, my mom and I added on layer #26,072 in bright red.
50 miles and some excellent DJing (courtesy of yours truly) later, we reached our resting spot for the evening: an original 1920’s Pullman railroad car. Indianapolis’ old train station was converted into a hotel, and these refurbished cars on their original tracks are relics from the old days of iron horses. If the phrase “Pullman car” sounds familiar, it is most likely thanks to the Pullman Strike, which was definitely on my AP US History Exam. Looking at you, Mr. Kenney. Emblazoned across the side of the train in gold lettering are names of celebrities such as silent film star Rudolph Valentino, and on the threshold of each individual unit of the car was another name; ours was claimed by Jean Harlow.
Further reinforcing the historical narrative were the statues placed throughout the hotel depicting travelers as they would have appeared in the days of the Pullman car when the station was at its prime. Since I shared lodgings with these anachronous travelers, there was a sort of kinship, and somehow we seemed to find ourselves in very similar positions.
These are the events of day 1 of this summer’s adventures. It’s an excursion, to say the least, and I echo my mom’s sentiments from her post yesterday: why are we doing this? What’s different from our last trip 3 years ago? Has my music taste improved enough to warrant possession of the aux cord? I can only say that we are off to a magnificent start, and I hope you’ll stay along for the ride. It’s 6 weeks, so buckle up, and stay tuned.