and that's what we did.
After some debate including Michigan and Tennessee, we decided on Indiana. A friend of Sean's who went to school in Bloomington gave us some great recommendations and we drove out to Brown County state park and stayed in a tiny cabin down the hill from the Abe Martin lodge. The park is really beautiful and is right outside of Nashville, Indiana, which it turns out is this cute artists colony. There are blocks and blocks of stores and restaurants and fudge shops that have a million knick-knacks and handmade goods hanging everywhere. There were all sorts of artisans, some with chainsaws carving giant stumps into various animal forms, leather smiths, painters, you name it. At one leather shop I was able to rummage through the old scraps and took home a beautiful teal jewel-toned piece. I don't know yet what it will become, but I will add it to my resources.
While visiting a used bookstore we learned of a famous artist of the past whose homestead was preserved nearby from the shop owner there.
Turns out he was a retired pastor of 20 years and gave us a nice lecture on marriage when he found out we were newlyweds. Anyhow, he told us about T.C. Steele, who, with his wife Selma, built quite a remarkable property not 10 miles from there. It had been given to the state and now people can go through there on tours. We checked it out on our way into Bloomington that evening--where by the by we had the best Thai food ever--and went back
the following day. Turns out T.C. Steele was pretty much the man in the early 1900's. You can see Sean standing outside of the Steele's large studio in the dad sweatshirt we bought him at Indiana U. That was only one of the many buildings they had built in the middle of nowhere in Indiana, because it was beautiful there and T.C. wanted to paint landscapes. After they camped there, though, artists started following them out there, and thus the artists colony in Nashville was born. Their house was pretty sweet. They had friends and fellow artists come visit them often, one of whom was Gustav Baumann who did these fantastic nature woodblock prints. He also engraved the phrase"Every morning I take off my hat to the beauty of the world" into the granite of the fireplace of the House of the Singing Winds, which is the name T.C. and Selma gave their home.It was just all very beautiful to Sean and I. We had about a quarter bottle of wine in the trunk of our car and did a little toast to these pioneer artists as we sat in the parking lot there. We also got to stop by the Limestone Symposium before we left town, which made Sean all giddy like a schoolboy. A tall, weathered stone carver from New Mexico by the name of Sharon was very kind to us. She had a long blonde-grey braid that trailed down her back and took off her weight lifters gloves to lend to Sean as she taught him to use the pneumatic tools. We are going to save our money and hopefully go back next year so Sean can actually take official lessons with them. He is out in the back yard as I write this sanding down some panels he built a few weeks ago. He's becoming quite the hardworking artist, that one.
Our second honeymoon could not have been more the opposite from our first. We went to this all-inclusive resort in Mexico, a little south of Cancun. Here you can see Sean sleeping on the outdoor bed on our balcony and yes, that is the actual view with the ocean there being that unreal shade of blue. At the resort we had lots of time to read by the ocean and eat. Man, did we eat! There were all sorts of different restaurants in the resort including an Asian place, Caribbean and Italian fare, but by far the best was the Mexican food (duh) that you could order off a separate menu at most places. My one big complaint about the resort was that because of the all-inclusive thing, it seemed like many of the other guests were there to mainly drink 24/7. By 11am usually the stools at the pool bar near us were full, and when we came back from the beach around 4 or 5, the same folks were still there drinking, maybe joined by a few other couples. It must have seemed very strange to them that we only wanted to actually swim in the pool.
But enough of that. It was still really enjoyable. We did an excursion one day to Chichen-Itza and saw the ancient Mayan ruins. Our guide, Victor, was extremely knowledgeable and told us the history of the place by drawing in the sand with his walking stick. We stopped at an ancient Yucatan sink hole on the way there called the Ik-Kil cenote and we actually got to swim in it! I have never experienced anything quite like it. There were all these little black catfish swimming in the strange, cool, blue water that you could just reach out and touch. Vines hung in from the top and little streams trickled down and we felt like we were on the set of The Goonies or something. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.
And now we are home, safe and sound in Oxford, just setting up shop. Our house is really starting to take shape. Sean unpacked a lot of things and cleaned like a banshee yesterday and now our living room really looks like a living room. We spent last night watching Fiddler on the Roof and reveling in the clean. Pictures to come soon!