August 20th - 21st
The bridge we crossed entering South Chicago
We parked outside of gate 20 at the Shipshewana Flea Market
Amish Carriages in their own parking lot
Amish Carriage strolling down the street
Have you ever seen a horse take a dump?
We left no tears behind when departing Rock Creek State Park in Iowa on Tuesday morning. Matter of fact, the only tears we had were those due to getting a late start on the road (1100 - and not worth narrating again). We fueled the truck before driving back onto the interstate (I80) eastbound, and with our destination uncertain, we knew we wanted to get east of Chicago. Everyone (including the truckers) had told us to stay clear of that windy and congested city. That´s also the reason for taking I80 (touches the southern tip of Chicago) versus I90 (slices downtown).
We were successful in traversing the remainder of Iowa, the entire state of Illinois and stopping in Indiana for the next 2 nights. Traffic through Chicago (even though only the southern tip) was congested and slow moving. And, what was an interstate quickly became a toll road in both Illinois and Indiana. We didn´t mind that however, because the toll road was well maintained, had limited access and the scenery was gorgeous without all those commercial businesses and advertisements along the way. Sissy even made a comment about how much corn was being grown up there. Rain was threatening the entire day (a few sprinkles here and there), but we managed to stay just ahead of the eastbound storms.
Arriving in Amish Country, we decided to plant ourselves in the Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana for 2 nights. As you know, Elkhart is the RV Capitol of the World, and we were in the market for a new and larger rig. Sissy wanted to visit some dealers and John wanted to take a tour to see how they were constructed. Sissy also wanted to visit the Shipshewana Flea Market. But, those adventures would have to wait until morning as we were tired. Soon after registering and parking the rig, we met our neighbors Jim and Karen (Spartanburg, South Carolina). They were relaxing outside their 5th wheel, clad in shorts and sandals (it was hot and muggy) tipping a few. Say no more ... we joined them without hesitation ... and talked into the late evening hours skipping dinner.
The Elkhart Visitor´s Center was first on the agenda Wednesday morning to gather local information and a map of the area. Then it was to the Cracker Barrel (see Billy, we really do go out for breakfast on occasion) to fill our bellies for a long day on the bike. John´s wish was next so we headed to the Keystone factory just south of town for a tour of their plant where Tailgator 5th wheels were made. We discovered very quickly however, that without a reservation a tour was impossible. Maybe Tailgator´s will not be on our future purchase list! Oh well.
The small town of Bristol and the Shipshewana countryside (about 50 miles east of Elkhart) were next. The bike ride was beautiful as were rode through the rolling farmland in Amish Country. We arrived at the Shipshewana Flea Market and the downtown shops about midday discovering that place was not a well kept secret! Tourists were everywhere but that was OK (we fit right in). There was plenty of parking (FREE), and we browsed to our hearts content. John even knew Sissy couldn´t buy anything large because we were on the bike and storage was minimal.
It was getting hot and muggy, so after about 2 hours in Shipshewana we headed back to Elkhart taking a different route this time. We ended up following the St. Joseph river most of the way enjoying the scenery and beautiful riverbank homes along the way. We also stopped at a local grocery store in Bristol for a real estate book to check out the local prices. Turned out, real estate in this area was cheap as compared to many other places we´d visited.
Next, it was time to visit some RV dealers in town and check out their prices. Surprise, surprise ... we discovered the same 5th wheel purchased in Elkhart was about $1,000 less expensive than back home, and a generator ($3,000 - $4,000) was already installed. So, bottom line, we were going to travel back to Elkhart in the future when we decided to purchase our new rig. Finally, we made a stop at the local Harley Davidson dealer for a quick look-see before driving back to our campground.
Back at the campground we met Dennis and Vera (Port Sidney, Ontario - Canada) who were in town for a week seeking parts. They´d been married about 5 years and were still on their honeymoon as Vera told it. Both widowed, they were in the process of converting a 3rd bus to a motor home for traveling. Dennis had purchased an MCI bus (former Canadian Military Bus), had put 4 months worth of work into the conversion already and was looking forward to the next 18 months. We were all ears and eyes while they gave us a tour. Then, it was time to head back for dinner and an early night.
Remember those eastbound storms? Well, they were catching up and the weather forecast wasn´t good. Thunderstorms were predicted, so John decided to put the baby inside the trailer for the night. Good thing too, because it began raining about midnight. The next morning was easy packing though because almost everything had been brought inside the night before. Only a few things had to be done outside in the rain, and John accomplished them while wearing his raincoat. Then, it was eastbound again toward Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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