Woonerfitzing around

By Caroline Klapper | Apr 08, 2013
Photo by: Donated photo Willie Nelson on stage in Bloomington, Indiana.

Before I explain the title of this blog, I’d like to tell you about my weekend.

My original plans were to travel up to Bloomington, Indiana with my boyfriend to visit a good friend of mine and go to a Willie Nelson concert with said friend. However, as plans have a way of doing, they changed when my friend called me to tell me she had a terrible stomach flu and wasn’t even sure she’d be able to make the concert.

This was a blow because I wouldn’t get to see my friend or Willie Nelson, and even if I went up anyway, I’d have no place to stay (not being eager to contract this illness).

After talking it over with my boyfriend, we decided to wing it and go anyway. On Friday, we packed up the car and headed northwest through Tennessee and Kentucky and finally, Indiana.

Along the way, we made a reservation at a motel in nearby Bedford, Indiana (the limestone capital of the nation, fyi) because all the hotels in Bloomington were full or too expensive.

All this might put a damper on the whole trip for some people, but for me and my boyfriend, it turned it into a bit of an adventure.

First, we drove through some pretty rural areas of Indiana, which were quite beautiful and much better than the views from the Interstate we would have otherwise stayed on most of the way.

Once we arrived in Bedford, we discovered our motel was across the street from a rather expansive graveyard. Creepy? Yes, but also kind of cool. We were told that aside from fast food places and a few chain restaurants, the only places to eat in town were Mamma’s and Papa’s — owned by the same family, of course. Mamma’s served American, Italian and Mexican cuisine, while Papa’s was purely American but served alcohol as well. We chose Papa’s even though neither of us ended up having an adult beverage. We appreciated the atmosphere and opportunity to people watch as we enjoyed our food.

The next day we had lunch with my friend, who was slightly recovered from her ordeal, and toured the campus of Indiana University, which is in Bloomington. My friend went to take a nap to save her strength for the Willie concert that night, and my boyfriend and I decided to just drive around, eventually ending up back in Bedford by way of Oolitic, some interesting buildings, antique stores and even a garage sale.

For dinner, we stopped at the Jiffy Treet (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) for chilidogs and ice cream, both of which were very good.

Back in Bloomington that evening, my friend was recovered enough to enjoy the concert, and we all clapped, sang along and otherwise got our money’s worth watching a legend perform. (Willie is still putting on a good show, by the way, if you have the opportunity to see him in concert.)

The next day, we left from our motel in Bedford, but we made a few stops along the way when we saw something of interest.

These stops included the Wild Turkey distillery in Kentucky, where they weren’t having tours but the gift shop was still open, of course, and the Keeneland horseracing track in Lexington, which we just drove through, marveling at the fancy stables.

It was a fun trip despite being far from what we’d originally planned, which brings me back to the funny word in the title of this blog.

Woonerfitzing is a word my late grandfather, Carl, would use to describe the act of driving around with no particular purpose to check out places — usually houses, under construction, old, or somehow interesting — for no particular reason.

My granddad was raised in the Pennsylvania Dutch country outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, and he had some funny words in his vocabulary. Woonerfitz was one of them. Although I have no clue how to spell it and despite trying to look it up online, cannot find it anywhere, I still like to apply the word and its meaning to my life on occasion.

He knew the value of a day off, with no plans and no direction, and what kind of fun discoveries such a day can bring.

Note: Since writing this story, I have been informed that the correct spelling is "woonerfitz," according to "The Little Amish School House" book published in 1939. The term means someone who is nosy or gets into things they shouldn't.