Monday, August 8, 2011

West Baden Springs Hotel == Amazing!

This is how our Sunday morning started...

Cheerios and cars, of course!

"Hey, who's driving this thing!?"

So we skipped church on Sunday and took a day trip with our friends Matt and Laura. 

First up, we went to lunch at the French Lick Winery.  To be perfectly honest, Mommy wasn't really holding out much hope for the "cafe" at a winery in the middle of southern Indiana.  Mommy was so dumb - it was DELICIOUS.  To start, we got hot fresh bread - thick and chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside - and the dipping oil was just right.  Then Daddy and Mommy (and Liam!) shared a pizza with roasted garlic and olive oil (no red sauce), fresh spinach, mushrooms, and grilled chicken. That roasted garlic really made the pizza.  (Dear Roasted Garlic, will you marry me?) 

The meal was followed by a short wine tasting, and Mommy will be the first to admit she doesn't really know the first thing about wine, but she liked every one she tried.  Mommy and Daddy agreed on a bottle of Foch, which is now in our wine cabinet, waiting for a perfect meal.  Or Tuesday night.  You know, whichever comes first.

After we were appropriately wine-ified, it was on to the main attraction... a tour of the magnificent West Baden Springs Hotel

Can you spot the baby big boy?

The current design was originally built in one year, from 1901 to 1902, and featured a 200' diameter dome, with 5 stories of hotel rooms overlooking the breath-taking atrium.  Over the years it changed hands a couple times, once being used by the Jesuits, and once used as a liberal arts school from Michigan.  It was then abandoned, fell into disrepair, was looted, and began to collapse... until the 1990's when Bill Cook from Bloomington bought the hotel, another hotel a mile away, the golf courses, etc.  There are still renovations going on, but so far Bill Cook (and now his estate, probably, since he died this year) has invested $500M.  And WOW.  Seriously.

The renovations are being done according to pictures and postcards of the hotel from the 1920's.

Golly, is that dome high.  Also, this hotel was way too ritzy for us to be lying on the floor in the middle of the atrium.

"HELLO? Hello?  hello?... ECHO!  Echo!  echo!"

We took a tour of the grounds, which are really quite lovely.  The original springs have been covered up - something about people really shouldn't be drinking lithium, and we mustn't disturb the blind fishes!  But it was fun to imagine visiting the hotel to "take the cure."

Liam was way over-tired, having slept only about 10 minutes in the car that morning, so Mommy and Daddy took turns keeping him distracted apart from the group.

The bowling alley (above) is still being renovated.  The building will need to be raised 6 feet since it is in a flood plain.

After the tour we stopped for iced coffee and ice cream, as we deserved a cool-down after walking around outside in the hot.  Then we packed ourselves back in the car and headed for home.

"Oh my goodness, I'm so tired, I don't even know what I'm doing!"

Three seconds later.

We've lived in Indiana for going on 6 years and have often heard people gush about West Baden and French Lick (the other hotel in town).  And now we know why!  Grandma J, Grandpa J, Aunt Bethy... we are SO taking you down there next time you visit.  And maybe you could talk the rest of the Jacobson family into making southern Indiana the next family reunion destination...

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