This weekend was about renewal. Renewing the fun. Renewing the intimacy. Renewing our minds. Renewing our marriage.
My husband and I were best friends when we got married, and we want to stay that way throughout these years of child-rearing. In order for that to happen, we have to take the time to focus on us. To have a meal or two that doesn't include cutting up someone else's food. To take a walk without having to worry about a child being run over. To sleep without interruption. To talk without having to listen to a fart joke. To do what we want to do when we want to do it.
So, for 26 hours, Hubby and I went away from the children, the farm, and the responsibilities and to a resort that knows all about renewal.
Fifteen years ago, when I was a 5th grade teacher, a parent of one of my students approached me about a fun field trip. The company she worked for had taken over a huge project of a fascinating place, and she thought the kids would love a behind the scenes look. I took her up on the offer.
In the 1920s, West Baden Resort in French Lick, Indiana, was the place for wealthy people to be and be seen. They came for the hot springs, the horse races, and the hob-nobbing. As the resort was in the middle of nowhere, train lines were built to get folks there. And they flooded in.
When the Great Depression hit, the resort tanked and was sold for $1 to the Catholic Jesuits to be used as a seminary. The Jesuits capped the springs and only used a portion of the building. The rest went into disrepair. It was owned by several people over the years, but it was eventually abandoned except for the wild animals that took up residence.
And fifteen years ago, someone bought the property to make sure it didn't deteriorate any more, hoping it could be restored. That's when we got to take the field trip.
I managed to find two photos from the day we visited. Clearly it was back before I owned a good camera.
Despite the mess, we could very easily imagine the grandeur of better days.
Better days finally came again for this amazing resort. Talk about renewal. Two men bought the property and spent years and a large fortune to get the hotel back to its original awesome state.
Did I mention that this resort is in the actual middle of nowhere? The trains stopped running when the resort closed, so we had to drive there. Basically, we drove two hours south of Indianapolis and turned left, to see a massive red dome, surrounded by four flag-topped towers, a golf course, and a lovely garden, just appear like a mirage out of the cornfield. It really was jaw-dropping.
That fountain from above? This is the same fountain today.
And the atrium? Have mercy.
In 1920, it was the largest freestanding dome in the world. To give you an idea of how big this place is, when the circus came to town, they didn't bother putting up tents. The circus came into this atrium, elephants and all.
I am hesitant to show photos of the place, as my limited photography abilities can't do the place justice.
I had to stop and just "be" every time I walked into this area. There are six doors just like this one, which create the perfect amount of light bouncing around the room to show off all of the special touches.
A weekend of renewal for us usually means hikes, bike rides, horse-back riding, tennis, or other "doing" activities. Not this time. It was 104 degrees this weekend, so our renewal took place while we sat.
Sometimes we sat inside, in the most comfortable furniture my rear end has ever had the privilege to grace, for long, hilarious hours of people watching. Our motto: people are funny. And when they aren't, make up a funny story.
Sometimes we ventured outside, once to sit in the shade by the pool to listen to the steel drum band. An ice cold beverage to sip/gulp makes any temperature comfortable.
Our room didn't disappoint either. We were greeted by a rose, wishing us a Happy Anniversary.
And just look at our view from the three windows!
In the top right, you can see where they were setting up for a wedding reception. I'm telling you, this place is huge!
One funny part about our room. The floor was slanted, and not just a little bit. To walk from the door to the windows across the room, we actually had to climb a hill. This is how much the floor dropped in just the span of a doorway.
Throughout the weekend, I found myself simply standing and gawking at the details, the millions of one-inch tiles covering the floor, the plush, cushiony furniture in every single room, (Even the lounge chairs at the pools were better than my living room furniture) the painting and gold-leafing of the columns and the dome, and be amazed all over again at the amount of work it took to get the resort back to that immaculate, original, grandiose state.
The history of this resort is full of trust, hope, dedication, attention to detail, and loving care.
What better place is there to celebrate and renew our marriage?
Have a lovely day!