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Friday, September 29, 2018: It was Audrey's birthday weekend, so we decked out the ceiling of Septimus, our faithful minivan, in peacock colors and picked up Audrey and Dean at 9:00 AM.
We were headed to Fort Wayne for the day of adventure.
.We passed the Nestle Quick bunny outside of Anderson, but Audrey and Dean received a call that something had tripped their security system, ...
... so we turned around at the Anderson exit, ...
... and saw the Nestle bunny again.
Passing the BorgWarner building set off a lively conversation about the color blue, what kind of blue that was, whether cornflower blue was the sort of blue that guys should be able to recognize, and what about cornflowers that aren't blue?
It was shortly after 10:00 AM when we checked out the security system and declared it secure once again.
Passing the BorgWarner building again retriggered our discussion of all things blue, ...
... so we roared with laughter when we noticed this billboard for Indiana State University.
An hour after we passed it the first time, we passed the Nestle Quik bunny one more time.
This time, we made it past the Anderson exit and that giant inflatable fox.
We stopped for snacks and then it was time for Audrey to open her package of peacock-themed birthday presents.
It was noon when we passed the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly facility.
Fifteen minutes later, we were in downtown Fort Wayne.
This huge Sunbeam Bread sign showed slices of bread falling out of the bag onto the place. To be clear, the slices of bread appeared to be actually moving.
We were starving by now, so we headed to Ft. Wayne's Famous Coney Island.
It's a small establishment bustling with activity and we were lucky to find a table.
Eight minutes after walking in, lunch was served. We all ordered different combinations of coney dogs with chips and drinks.
Fifteen minutes later, we were back in the van because we had places to go.
We were pleasantly surprised to find all kinds of interesting things to see all around Fort Wayne. Here's a cool sculpture.
Here's a cool mural. Actually, it's a sign for an army surplus store, but close enough.
This is the Roller Dome. We haven't been on roller skates in decades but who wouldn't want to go here?
Oooh! Dog 'n' Suds! If only our bellies weren't full!
Tim Horton's stores have been slowly marching their way south from Canada. If they're in Fort Wayne, can Indianapolis be far behind?
Our next destination was Fort Wayne Pinball/Wizard's World, a magical place filled with rows and rows of pinball machines.
We loaded up on quarters and started playing. Debbie's favorite machines were everywhere, but she started with White Water.
Why does Debbie love it? Because it has a canyon river rafting theme ...
... and a Schilling in the credits on the machine.
Here's The Who's Tommy.
Debbie was thrilled to find Bally's Captain Fantastic, but it turned out to be remarkably boring to play. We didn't get a single photo of it so here's one from Fort Wayne Pinball's Facebook page instead.
Debbie loves Road Show, featuring Carlene Carter as one of the characters.
Here's KISS pinball machine #1, ...
... and here's KISS pinball machine #2. Do you want to rock and roll all night? They do.
Here's Audrey playing Lord of the Rings.
Debbie loved playing Monster Bash. It was a favorite from the days when Block Party was still open.
So many monsters to activate. Great multi-ball fun. Excellent game play. Highly recommended!
Here's Dean playing Jurassic Park.
Look at what Audrey spotted on this Arabian Nights machine!
Tom took his turn with Game of Thrones.
Welcome to the Twilight Zone.
Of course, Audrey played one of two Star Wars pins.
Here's the other.
There were some really old machines in excellent shape as well, like this Doodle Bug, ...
... Gottlieb's 300, ...
... and Bally's Wizard.
Audrey and Debbie played this cool two-person pinball machine called Joust. We didn't get a photo of it so here's one from Fort Wayne Pinball's Facebook page to show you.
Debbie played a trio of Pinbot machines: Pinbot, ...
... The Machine, Bride of Pinbot, ...
... and Jackbot, A Pinbot Adventure.
Even though Audrey's favorite machine, Riverboat Gambler, had recently been swapped out, she enjoyed our visit very much.
We played for nearly 90 minutes before heading out for our next destination.
We took a quick detour to get a closer look at this small RV. Debbie's been researching them for months trying to figure out a way to travel with our daughter.
Audrey had it identified and up on her phone in less than a minute: Fleetwood IROK Cruiser. $90,000+ to buy one? No, thanks.
What's this? A statue? Debbie was thrilled to add it to her collection and asked everyone to be on the alert for another one just in case it was a series. Later research revealed that this was one of the Mastodons on Parade, created in 2004 to celebrate Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne's 40th anniversary.
Here's the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. That's an F-84F Thunderstreak fighter jet and the anchor of the Battleship Indiana on the veteran's plaza out front.
We were on our way to Johnny Appleseed Park ...
... to see the resting place of John Chapman, AKA Johnny Appleseed. It was up a hill so we unanimously voted to see it from the parking lot instead.
Here's a sign for Dean!
Here's a dolphin sculpture.
Next stop: Sweets So Geek, ...
... a bakery where everything has a geek theme to it, ...
... like this Star Wars/Goonies/Princess Bride/Clue sample cake ...
... and this display of nerd candy.
Debbie had sworn to look for a TARDIS baked good. There were none to be found, but this chocolate TARDIS is a good substitute.
Granddaughter Kelly has recently been obsessed with dirt cup desserts and here was one just waiting to be purchased.
We placed our orders ...
... and Debbie went to the restroom, which was so filled with geek references that it had to be photographed.
While we waited for our orders, we admired the blue walls of the place, since blue had become the official Color of the Day. Tom got a photo of the wall, ...
... and Debbie got a photo of Tom and the wall, ...
... and Dean got a photo of Debbie and Tom and the wall, ...
... and Audrey got a photo of Dean and Debbie and Tom and the wall.
We ordered two each of the donuts of the day: Maple Bacon and Pumpkin Cinnamon. They were very delicious.
Here's more public art ...
... and here's some more.
We crossed the Maumee River back into central Fort Wayne.
On the drive up, we had a conversation about the difference between Barry and Berry, so when we passed the intersection of Barr and Berry Streets, we laughed loudly. We didn't get a photo of it, though, so here's a Google Streetview screenshot to preserve the memory.
We got a glimpse of the Swinney Homestead and the Swinney House out of the side of the van. We had no time to stop but we were already figuring out that we'd have to make additional trips to see all that this city had to offer.
We passed Lindenwood Cemetery for the second time on our way to our next destination, ...
... Hanson Quarry Observation Deck.
Hmmm, let's go up these stairs and see what they have here.
Whoa! There is an observation platform up there that overlooks ...
... a gigantic working quarry. It's a surprisingly beautiful place.
Here's the view continuing to the left.
We were there!
Before leaving, we had a little photo session on the huge boulders in the parking lot.
Look how adorable we are!
There were some very, very large trucks parked just inside the fence. Audrey looks like she just might be as tall as one of the tires on those trucks, ...
... but then Dean demonstrated that they are taller than the tallest member of our party.
We're guessing that Elmhurst High School has seen better days.
Score! Another mastodon statue! Tom spotted it and stopped the car right in the middle of the empty street in front of the Citilink office so Debbie could get a photo.
We drove past the lovely University of St. Francis.
Our next destination was the National Veteran's Memorial Shrine. Construction forced us to have to drive several miles out of way to get here, but we thought it would be worth it to visit ...
... Indiana's Merci Train box car. Sadly, it was locked up, presumably in this large building. We'll just have to come back someday when we finally figure out when it will be open. (We did exactly one year later!)
Next, we passed by Sweetwater Sound, one of the only other businesses in the state that uses 4D as their development platform. According to an article we read after finding the first mastodon statue, there was a mastodon here at some point, but we didn't find it.
It was after 5:00 PM when we passed a sign for a magical place called the Fundome, so that's going on the list of places to visit in the future.
Audrey consulted her Roadside America app as we drove, making sure we saw such gems as the Big Rooster in Warren, Indiana, ....
... and the oil derrick street signs in Gas City, our next destination.
We drove through the countryside near Gas City, passing places from Dean's past.
He told us stories of his life here, ...
... and how he used to live in this house, ...
... visible here from across a field.
We headed to Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana.
James Dean's grave is located here and there was a small crowd in front of the gravesite.
His father and stepmother's graves are nearby.
We noticed that the Audrey's birthday theme of Peacock was sticking with us when we spotted this gravestone, ...
... and then this set of three a little further away.
In Fairmount, we realized why the cemetery was filled with James Dean fans: ...
... this weekend was the James Dean Festival. It was just a coincidence that we were visiting here at the same time. The roads were crawling with cars, many of them restored classic cars.
It was almost 6:30 PM by now and we were hungry, so we went to the Pizza King in Fairmount. It was really smoky, so we immediately left.
To avoid the traffic in town, we ended up finding our way out by driving down this country road. We expected children of the corn to appear at any moment.
Yay! Windmills!

We finally got to the Pizza King in Elwood where we had a delicious dinner. It was dark out when we were finished, so we played travel games in the car as we drove home. Great trip? Absolutely!

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