Friday, May 22, 2009

Hello from North Platte, NE

Hello from North Platte, NE

Friday evening May 22, 2009 (Fifth travelogue of this trip)

We are at the Wal Mart in North Platte (map). We have stayed here several times. The parking lot is very large and we do not have any conflict with parking for the customers.

We arrived in Prescott last Sunday. As always, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Monday we went to visit Pat's aunt Jaris. On Tuesday we went to the Methodist Grove Cemetery south of Brooks where several of Pat's dad's relatives are buried. We put flowers for Pat's dad as well as for us on several sites.

Wednesday Pat and Jeanne went to Des Moines to do some shopping for food that will be served at a Memorial Day meal at the Birt's church. Bill started planting soybeans, trying to beat the predicted rain storms. It was very late for planting, and the fields were marginally muddy, but he was able to work most of the day. I helped by loading the seed beans in the truck and taking them to the planter. We repeated the exercise yesterday while the girls placed flowers at the other cemeteries. Bill should be able to finish planting today.

I am attaching several photos. One shows what the Amish call “bank barns”. They are constructed on a hill so that there is a bank trail into the second story of the barn. We saw many of these in Europe. Another photo shows Cody (Bill and Jeanne's grandson) feeding a calf with a bottle. The calf is only a few days old. They are going to work with it in hopes that the kids can enter it in 4H competition.

I have also included several photos from our tour at Amish Acres in Nappanee, IN.

We will be home tomorrow.

That is all for this trip.

The Round Barn Theater at Amish Acres

Our Tour of the Amish home in Amish Acres

School House at Amish Acres

Bank Barn at Amish Acres

Pat and Jeanne at Methodist Grove Cemetery

Cody and "Cow Cow"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hello from Eureka, IL

Hello from Eureka, IL

Saturday evening May 16, 2009 (Fourth travelogue of this trip)

We are parked in a vacant lot in the little town of Eureka, IL (map). This morning I made my last trip to Elkhart to exchange a rear view camera that I had purchased earlier this week at one of the salvage stores.

We have had almost non-stop rain for the past few days. Indeed, it rained most of the days we were in Goshen. As I had mentioned, we were parked next to a small river. It was at least 15 feet below our level when we pulled in, but this morning it was up at least 5 feet over the original level we experienced. On our way here, we saw many fields that were severely flooded. Some spots on highway US 24 had several inches of water in the low spots.

It had also rained a great deal in Iowa on our way out and then on the way to Goshen. When I went to drive the truck, it ran terribly. It took several minutes for the engine to get hot enough to dry out the ignition.

It rained most of the way today as well. We are ready to get back to the dry Colorado weather!

On Mothers' day we went to Amish Acres in Nappanee. This is a preserved Amish farm as well as a theater and large restaurant. We had made reservations for the play (Nunsense II: The Second Coming) and then dinner. The theater has been converted from a huge round barn. It seats about 400 people. The play was about 5 nuns and their lives. It was a very fun and enjoyable play, We took the walking tour which also included a wagon ride pulled by an old Farmall tractor. Dinner was another great Amish-style dinner. Pat got her play ticket free, since it was Mothers' day.

Monday we spent the morning setting up our booth for the Monaco America rally. In the afternoon we did some tourist type things in Shipshewana and then went to Elkhart to the salvage store (again).

The rally was Tuesday through Thursday. We had signed up for the meals which included 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners. The breakfasts and two of the dinners were catered by the Essenhaus which is the restaurant we mentioned in our last post. Great food!

The Wednesday dinner was really a great experience. The group split up and went to various Amish homes for dinner. About 70 of us went to the Yoder Home. Another great Amish meal. The Amish were typically farmers, but their population has grown so much in recent years that many have started cottage industries, since there is not enough farm land available to support all of the families. These group dinners are one of those industries. They build buildings separate from the house. Electricity is not allowed in the house, but the dinner hall can have electricity. We are not sure if our building had electricity. The lights were gas fired and we did not see anything in the kitchen powered by electricity. We did see a small generator working outside the building, but it was not big enough to run any kitchen appliance.

The people at this rally were very welcoming and friendly. Several of the ladies made sure that Pat knew that she was welcome to attend their Tea. When she won a small door prize there were quite happy. Often times, the vendors are considered outside folks and virtually excluded from any of the activities. As has been the trend over the last year, our sales not that good. That was true of almost all of the vendors. The economy has really affected people's spending habits.

I am posting a few photos. The first one is from the RV Museum mentioned in our last post. The picture of the “wild” male turkey was taken at Amish Acres. Another photo shows the ruts in one of the roads around Shipshewana. The horses seem to travel in the same path on the road and their steel shoes wear a distinctive pattern in the pavement. We found many of the roads in the area had these wear patterns. Another photo shows our group dinner at the Yoder house. If you look closely, you will see the gas light in the ceiling.

Probably our favorite photo is the buggies in front of the Wells Fargo Bank in Shipshewana. As I mentioned in our last post, I went into the bank and there were several Amish folks doing their banking. At that time there were six to eight buggies at the same hitching rail as that shown in the photo.

Pat and I don't know exactly why, but we are very fascinated by the Amish lifestyle. It is not possible to put into words how their very basic lifestyle is somehow comforting to us. When we left today is was kind of sad.

We will probably be back in Prescott, IA tomorrow for another visit with our relatives and then back to Evergreen.

That is all for now.

RV Museum in Elkhart

"Wild" turkey at Amish Acres

Ruts in the road from the Amish horses pulling the buggies

Diner at the Yoder Home

Amish buggies outside the Wells Fargo Bank in Shipshewana

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hello from Goshen, IN and a happy Mothers' day!

Hello from Goshen, IN and a happy Mothers' day!

Sunday morning May 10, 2009 (Third travelogue of this trip)

We are at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds (map). If you zoom in on the satellite version of the map, you will see that we are parked next to a small stream (Rock Run Creek). Just on the other side of the creek are the main railroad tracks for trains running from the east coast to Chicago. They are less than 30 yards from our bus. At least 20 trains a day pass by. We are used to almost no noise at the house, so this is quite a change! However, both Pat and I love the sounds of trains, and even though I am quite a light sleeper, it has not bothered us at all. Maybe it reminds us of the great train sounds in Europe.

We arrived at the fairgrounds on Thursday (4/30). Our set-up day for the rally was Friday. The actual rally (for the vendor area) was Saturday through Thursday. That is a long show. This rally was for Holiday Rambler Motorhomes. Those are up-scale motorhomes and we had hoped to do well. There were over 120 motorhomes, but the owners were not ready to open their billfolds very wide. We were not skunked (many vendors were).

We spent Friday and Saturday doing tourist type things in this area. Goshen is the hub for touring Amish country and it is rich in places to visit.

Friday we went to Elkhart which is considered to be the RV manufacturing “capitol” of the US. It has been the focus of lots of political visits, because it is so hard hit by the drastic downturn in RV manufacturing. Several of the manufacturers have filed for bankruptcy or gone out of business. It is really sad to see all of the empty buildings. Our first stop was a very famous RV surplus store. They have tons of what some folks would call junk. Almost all of it is from overruns of suppliers to the industry. One would think that there would be lots of new stuff from all of the manufactures who have gone bankrupt, but those products are tied up in the courts.

While in Elkhart we toured the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum and library. It is housed in a fantastic new building and has a great collection of historic RVs. Some of the motorhomes date back to 1915!!!

From there we drove to Middleburg, IN and had dinner in an absolutely fantastic Amish restaurant. It is a huge facility that serves their meals family style. The food was so good that we went back yesterday for breakfast and again for dinner!

Yesterday we went to White Pigeon, MI to another famous surplus store. We then spent the day driving the back roads and shopping in Shipshewana, IN. As we drove, we saw at least 50 Amish horse drawn carriages on the road. On the narrow roads, where they can not travel on the shoulder, the horses shoes have actually warn distinct grooves in the pavement. In Shipshewana (and many of the towns we toured), there are hitching railings where they tie up their horses. As we drove we saw several 4 horse teams pulling plows in the fields. The farms are very well maintained. The landscaping and buildings are a sight to behold.

I went to the a Wells Fargo bank and it was great fun. There were about 6 carriage parked outside and several Amish people inside. One lady had her three small girls with her and they were dressed in traditional Amish fashion.

Today we will tour the Nappanee Amish acres where we will attend a play (Nunsense II: the second coming) and eat some more great Amish food.

Monday we will set up for the Monaco rally here at the same fairgrounds.

That is all for now.