In addition to touring the RV plants and hanging out at the really friendly Elkhart Moose Lodge we explored the area. We had picked up a copy of the heritage tour on CDs and followed part of it. There is a Quilt Garden tour which we followed here and there and part of it is incorporated into the heritage tour. The countryside is dotted with old established communities with Amish populations and cottage industries.
We visited Nappanee on the way to the tour of the Newmar plant (see my previous post). Nappanee is also the home of John's Butcher Shop which we stopped in and visited. Joel was fascinated as the butcher carved a quarter section of beef up into steaks and talked about how they make hamburger (no additives or water). There was a large panel where over 50 keys were displayed. The butcher explained the Amish rented lockers for their meat as they don't have electricity for freezers so the keys are to their individual lockers. The flat iron steak we purchased was delicious and the bacon is like I remember as a child. We also visited Amish Acres in Nappanee which is famous for its Threshers Dinner but it was too early to eat.
We also visited Goshen and the Old Bag Factory (above). Throughout the heritage tour there are beautiful murals of quilt designs. and there is one painted on the Old Bag Factory. The Old Bag Factory was originally a soap factory and then was turned into a bag factory. Recently it was turned into small shops featuring local artisans of wood working and pottery. The wood working was stunning but no photographs were allowed.
Some of the bags that were made:
This was one of the quit gardens at the Old Bag Factory in Goshen. It is hard to get a picture of the whole quilt.
This was another quilt garden on the way to Shipshewanna.
There was even this topiary. Look familiar?
The heritage tour takes you through Middlebury on the way to Shipshewana. We stopped at the Guggisberg Deutch Kas House Cheese Factory where all kinds of world class cheese are produced. I was a little disappointed because they don't make cheese on Saturday, but one can sample every cheese they make. Yumm. But, wait I saw this which made my day...
The buggy horses are often retired racing horses. The Amish buy them cheap and the horses love to trot so it is a good fit. These horse drawn buggies travel along at a pretty good clip!
Shipshewana, another little community, has a large population of Amish. I learned there are several orders of Amish and the Amish are self governed and each district is made up of 20-40 families and each Bishop sets the rules of that district. The common thread is that the Amish are self sufficient, family is most important, and any "excess" is a show of vanity which they do not believe in. Thus, in respect I did not take any pictures of them, except for their buggies and farm land. They dress in dark colors so as not to draw attention to themselves as this would be vane, although I notes some of the women had lighter spring color dresses for summer. I had worked with Amish early in my career and have great respect and admiration for them. They work hard and are very honest, friendly and out going, and extremely enterprising.
This another typical Amish farm dotting the countryside.
As we were driving we came upon this site. There was a gathering nearby and all the buggies had been parked in one place.
We spent quite a bit of time in Shipshewana and visited the flea market. It is huge and rivals the Arizona Market in Yuma or the flea markets at Quartzite, Arizona. There is some unique stuff there, but I was expecting more artisans and hand made items. After several hours of wandering through isles and isles of stuff, we still hadn't seen the whole market, and left so we could explore other areas.
Shipshewana is also the home of ES Bulk foods. We found lots of bargains here. The Amish buy huge quantities of food items and repackage them for sale a very reasonable prices....ten pounds of Dove Dark Chocolate for $9.00. Joel was in chocolate heaven!!!
As we explored the countryside we stopped in a several furniture making places. We visited Lambright Comfort Chairs, where they make custom aftermarket RV recliners and gliders. The factory had electricity but the telephone was a way from the building. If you want to place an order by phone you have to leave a message and the sales person will get back to you.
One of the highlights was visiting Lambright Woodworking (no relation to Lambright Comfort Chairs). Cletus Lambright started the business in 1977 and has been going strong since. What was so interesting was that all of the woodworking machinery ran off hydraulic diesel power until recently. There was no electricity on the farm due to their beliefs. However, their Bishop has allowed a dairy farmer to use electricity so Cletis now has some electricity at his factory. They custom make furniture but also display furniture by local craftsmen. Cletis took us through the huge shop located behind the show room and explained the different machines and how he had retro fitted them to use hydraulic power at great expense early on. Although he still manufactures furniture, some of the pieces are jobbed out and then brought back to his factory for assembly and finishing. This seems to be a trend for many of the businesses.
Well, it was time to move on so we started heading for Jackson, Michigan on Wednesday and made it as far as the Coldwater Moose Lodge for a quick over night stop (all of 60 miles). However we did stop at White Pigeon on the way so Joel could comb through Bontrager's Surplus, very large RV surplus warehouse. (He came away empty handed, much to my surprise). We then headed for Jackson the next day to catch up with our WIN friends. We checked out the area for the gathering and decided it would be OK to set up a day early instead of staying at the Moose. The gathering doesn't officially start until Friday, but there were already a WIN there. It will be good see our friends and this will be our official kickoff for The Main To Back (MTB) circuit .