What Indiana attraction should every Hoosier put on their bucket list?
Brandon: The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I remember going when I was young and thinking how enormous they were and how much fun I had while there. Well, it turns out that 20 years later the dunes are still as much fun, and I appreciate the beauty and serenity of it all a little more.
Ashley: I think every Hoosier should visit French Lick. The West Baden hotel is stunning and has such an interesting history. Not only is the building beautiful, but the grounds are also gorgeous. It’s just such a fascinating little attraction tucked into Central Indiana.
Tell us about your Hoosier hometown and what it means to you.
Brandon: I’m from Warsaw (and spent a good chunk of my life in Atwood, but you’ll have to squint at the map to see that one!), and it’s still one of my favorite cities, because of the lakes. I grew up around water, spent every hour of every warm day I could in the water—swimming, tubing, and kayaking. Warsaw has some of the most beautiful lakes of anywhere I’ve lived, and I try to share them with anyone I take that way for a visit.
Ashley: I am from Highland, Indiana (in the region). There are so many things I love about Highland. First and foremost, it’s where my family lives! I have so many wonderful memories of spending summer days riding my bike around town, cookouts and swimming in my grandma’s backyard, doing summer theatre at the town square, 4th of July parades in our downtown and getting ice cream from Sweet Tooth! Highland was a great place to grow up—so many wonderful people there helped shape the person I am today!
Why should people visit Indiana?
Brandon: Because it really is the Crossroads of America. If you go from one corner of Indiana to the other, you’re going to find influences from all over the country throughout the Hoosier state. From people, to art, to music, to food—Indiana has little hidden pockets of so many of the things that make up America. Besides, where else can you experience three of the four seasons in 1 day?
Ashley: I’ve lived in a lot of places and I always come back to Indiana. The people here are warm and caring and I just like being around them. When I lived in New York City, people would come up to me constantly—subways, on the street, in bathrooms—and ask me for directions and recommendations. It would really get on my nerves. Until one day, a friend said to me. “You’re midwestern…people can smell that Hoosier warmth from a mile away. They trust you. That’s why they choose you to ask, they know you’re going to be nice to them.” I really think that’s the charm of Indiana: genuinely nice people who will go out of their way to make sure you’re having a good time. That’s why everyone should visit here—it’s like getting a big hug from an entire state of people.
Who is your favorite famous Hoosier and why?
Brandon: Red Skelton. I love humor in all of its forms, and he worked in so many different mediums that you can’t help but be impressed by the dedication and talent.
Ashley: I love Jane Pauley. What an amazing woman and journalist! Getting up on Sundays and watching Sunday Morning with my husband is one of my favorite activities.
What stories are you working on for Journey Indiana?
Brandon: It’s more of a side project than a story, but I have spent a lot of my time in Indiana traveling all up and down the state. I always see these odd little things off the side of the road: A human-sized chess board, a giant rocking chair, or a barn with some intricate design in the shingles. I always wanted to stop and ask “what is this, and why is this here?” Well, our producer has that same desire! So maybe it’s time we answer that burning question we all ask ourselves as we motor past.
Ashley: I’ve floated some ideas to our producer, though none have been confirmed yet. I am really interested in the arts scene in Indiana, so many of my story ideas revolve around artists and where they create their art.
What are you most looking forward to on Journey Indiana?
Brandon: The experiences people will take us through. I love getting to meet new people who are passionate about something and then getting to share that passion with them. You may think “Oh, wood carving? Not interested!” but then you meet someone who has a passion for it, and you hear them talk about it. Then, when you try it, you’re going to see it with fresh eyes, influenced by their love and excitement.
Ashley: I can’t wait to travel around the state with my co-host, Brandon—exploring new parts of Indiana that I didn’t previously know about. Brandon and I have known each other for almost 14 years (we went to the same undergraduate program), though we haven’t spent much time around each other for a while now. It will be great to reconnect with him and share this experience together!