MUNCIE, Ind. — Don Lindley, 70, walked into the Delaware County government building Wednesday with one goal in mind: finish the journey he had worked on since the beginning of August.
Clasped tightly in his hand was a booklet his daughter Michelle Davis made him, and inside the booklet was a list of all 92 Indiana counties and a map of the state. At the time of entering the Delaware County clerk’s office, 91 of the counties were marked off in pink highlighter.
Delaware County was Lindley’s last stop in his month-long, solo adventure across the state.
“Hello, I’m Don Lindley, and for the bicentennial, I decided to visit all 92 courthouses and all 92 counties in Indiana. I’d like to speak with the county clerk here.”
It’s the speech Lindley recited to every clerk office’s secretary, and it became routine by the time he reached his final destination.
The journey began as a way for Lindley to celebrate Indiana’s 200 years, and also to take advantage of his retirement. The process was simple at first: map out the route, find the county clerk’s office and ask the clerk to sign or stamp their designated county’s page in the booklet. Then, repeat it 91 more times.
Delaware County is where Lindley has lived all 70 years of his life. He was a 1963 graduate of Central High School who witnessed the Bearcats’ boys basketball team win its fifth state title. He then joined the Navy and later spent 30 years with Ball State University as a carpenter. Muncie is significant to him, so he wanted to save it for his last visit to show the journey had come full circle.
Delaware County Clerk Mike King said he’d never seen anyone celebrate the state of Indiana this way.
“It’s exciting that it’s the Indiana bicentennial, and he celebrated it by doing this,” King said. “We’re kind of proud that he chose (Delaware County) last, being that he lives here.”
Lindley ventured to 84 counties by himself in nine different trips. His 10th trip encompassed the remaining eight counties — Wayne, Fayette, Union, Franklin, Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland and Delaware counties.
The one-month trek was a gamble. Lindley had no navigation assistance from car satellite devices or a cell phone. Instead, he used a built-in compass on the dashboard of his Honda CRV to make sure he was going in the right direction and a big, crinkly map with routes marked in the same pink highlighter.
There were some challenging moments on the Indiana roads, like in Crawford County when Lindley couldn’t find the courthouse and spent an hour and a half getting back on his route.
But Lindley was used to traveling, and he was used to gambling.
He had been to 46 of the 50 states, and 120 different casinos, before making the trip through the Hoosier state. A 12-row shelf in his room displays poker chips he’s collected through the years, the top two rows holding chips from Indiana casinos, and the others from various locations such as Arizona, Canada and even England.
With his gamble across Indiana, he knew he eventually would end up where he needed to be.
“When you come into a town, especially ones with the old courthouses, you see the old courthouse sticking up, so you know that’s where you have to head,” he said.
Lindley’s journey to various Hoosier government buildings brought forth a few pleasant visual surprises along the way. He recalls the multitude of windmills northwest in Benton County, and the sunlight peeking through the trees in Brown County. He particularly enjoyed the structure of the courthouse in DuBois County. As a retired carpenter, he appreciated the building’s architecture, ranging from its old, hand-carved woodwork to the stained glass windows of the domed roof.
Regarding the scenic view, he said he didn’t know “how you could enjoy something better than that.”
In Posey County, the southernmost point Lindley traveled, he drove to the end of I-69 before turning off on a county road, where he said there was “nothing but cornfields” on either side of him. He kept driving down the path, which had become rocky gravel, until he approached a view of the Ohio River.
A large swarm of mayflies near the site prevented him from exiting his car and snapping a photograph, but he still was able to capture the moment in a mental picture.
Lindley has plenty of mental pictures in his head from his journey, though arguably the most important one will be the big smile from his daughter when she sees his booklet all completed.
Now, Lindley encourages those who haven’t driven around Indiana to take advantage of the scenery available. That is, when they have a month to spare.
He’s glad he gambled.
“To me, it’s a shame that there’s so much for people to see in Indiana that they don’t,” Lindley said. “Indiana’s got a lot of stuff in this state to see.”
Source: The (Muncie) Star Press, http://tspne.ws/2cwY0L0
Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com
This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The (Muncie) Star Press.