By Cassidy Grom | Contributor
When everyone left Taylor last May, I stuck around. On the recommendations of locals, I went on several (cheap) mini-adventures around the county. Here are my top five activities that will make you feel like a Grant County local.
Minutes from Taylor: 17
Address: 117 E 4th St., Jonesboro, IN
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays)
Pros: When the brick road starts to make your car bounce, you're on the right track. Kammy's in Jonesboro is quaint; on a recent afternoon, the red carnations and baby's breath on the tables made the already red and black themed restaurant look Valentines-date ready. But the sizable tables and barstool seating could comfortably fit your whole wing or floor. Coffee is one dollar, and the burgers taste fresh and filling. It's the sort of place where older men wearing hats gather to exchange tales, and high school sweethearts sit side-by-side.
Cons: The wifi is excellent, but there are few outlets. The overall vibe isn't a sit-and-study one.
Minutes from Taylor: 13
Address: 243 E Main St., Gas City, IN
Hours: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, closed Sundays & Mondays
Pros: As a relatively new addition to the town we all know and love for its Comic Sans-branded water tower, Nutcracker Sweets offers low-cost candy from a variety of countries. If you don't have a craving for candy, the large selection of cane-sugar - as opposed to the typical corn-syrup - sodas in glass bottles may be a better buy. Their build-your-own-stuffed-animal area is fun for those who reminisce about days at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Co-owner Elizabeth Adams thoroughly understands her community and is always happy to chat.
Cons: The limited hours means no evening candy runs.
Gardens of Matter Park
Minutes from Taylor: 29
Address: N River Road & Quarry Road, Marion, IN
Pros: Matter Park on the north side of Marion is the closest you'll get to a manicured British lawn. The flower gardens are suitable for long, slow and contemplative walks, and when you look closely, you'll probably spot Monarch butterflies or hand-painted rocks. Feel free to take the stones, but to play the county-wide game correctly, rehide them somewhere else for the next person to find. According to Evelyn Dunham, a Marion resident, barbeque pits are available outside the Gardens for celebratory spring-is-here cookouts.
Cons: If you go after March, wedding parties may occupy the must-see garden.
James Dean Gallery
Minutes from Taylor: 15
Address: 425 N Main St., Fairmount, IN
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Pros: The late James Dean has achieved saint status among die-hard fans in Fairmount. Remembered as an icon of teenage angst and disillusionment, Dean was born in Marion and raised in Fairmount. After he died tragically at the age of 24, Fairmount has become an annual pilgrimage site for over 20,000 "Deaners." The huge James Dean festival isn't until September, but the gallery gives a thorough - if comparatively subdued - overview of the legacy Dean left.
Cons: If you only know Dean's name from Taylor Swift's song, "Style," you might not find the gallery interesting. Try watching "Rebel Without a Cause" before making your free visit.
Minutes from Taylor: 14
Trailhead address: N Water Street, Jonesboro, IN (Pass R.J. Baskett Middle School. The trailhead is on the left.)
Pros: When completed, the Cardinal Greenway will go from Richmond through Muncie and past Marion, but let's be honest: most of us can't bike that far anyway. For a short 4.5-mile bike ride, hop on the trailhead at Water Street in Jonesboro and ride north to Miller Avenue in Marion - there is an easy-to-follow bike path the whole way.
Cons: Upland and nearby towns are working to finish the path and connect Gaston to Jonesboro, but right now it's incomplete. For those hesitant to bike on gravel paths or state roads to get to the trailhead, it's best to load your bikes in the car and park at the trailhead's parking lot.