How I love this area! We’ve been here several times but despite our frequent visits I’m still enchanted with the scenic countryside, rolling hills and picturesque farms, the neatly manicured homes, the Amish people walking, pedaling their bikes and driving their buggies on the side of the road, the klipety klop sounds of the horses hooves on the pavement, seeing the Amish children playing in the yards of small Amish school houses and this time of year, the autumn leaves bursting with color. The timing of our arrival here in the area was perfect – the foliage was at its peak so the colors were quite vibrant, not quite as spectacular as the foliage in New England but still glorious nonetheless.
After leaving Spartan Chassis on Thursday, October 15th, we headed south to Shipshewana RV Park where we would get caught up on laundry, do some cleaning, prep for our service appointment at Entegra and get a chance to do some socializing with friends, Betsy and Nancy (RV-A-GoGo) when they arrived at our park on the 16th. They had scheduled their service on their 2015 Anthem the same week as ours. We would drive our coaches over to Camp Entegra (50 amp only) on Sunday, the 18th, in time for our appointment on the 19th.
It was an easy decision this year for us to stay at the Candlewood Suites in Elkhart again (about a half hour drive from Entegra) while they worked on our coach. That makes it so much easier on the kitties but especially on us. Having to be ready (slides in and ready to drive) at 6:00 a.m. each morning gets old pretty fast. At $72/night plus a one-time $75 pet charge, not cheap but definitely much less hectic – and we got to sleep late! What sacrifices we make for the furry members of our family.
We had a short stay at Spartan but not so lucky at Entegra. We ended up being in service a total of ten days. We had what we thought were a few minor paint issues but upon inspection by Entegra, they turned out to be more extensive requiring a few areas on the rear cap to be re-fiberglassed, then painted. But more about that later.
Besides driving back and forth from Elkhart to Entegra to discuss the status of our service with Owen, our Service Coordinator, what else did we do to pass the time? Lots! Kept busy every day rediscovering some familiar places and discovering new ones.
First there was socializing….
Although having to go in for service can be very tedious, the monotony was minimized this year because we could spend time with our friends, Betsy and Nancy (RV-A-GO-GO), Clayton and Gail (from Maine who own a site at Riverbend) and Tom Roberts (not there for service but staying in his Anthem nearby) and with the new people we met, Wayne and Eidela, Andrei and Sandy and several others. Such fun sharing experiences and stories about everyone’s RV and life adventures!
Plus it’s always fun seeing the Entegra family. Such great people work for this company – always friendly, always professional and always helpful. This week happened to be Customer Appreciation Week so each day the Customer Service teams would don costumes appropriate for that particular theme of the day. Some pretty creative outfits for sure!
Then there was a touch of weirdness….
Did you ever wonder what most dentists do with the teeth they extract? All those molars, canines and incisors, some with roots, some without, some with gold, some without. Never really thought about it? Well maybe you should!
Imagine your dentist extracting a tooth then preserving it in a barrel of chemicals in his basement along with hundreds of other extracted teeth. Eeew, who wants to imagine that! But that’s exactly what a local dentist, Dr. Joseph Stamp in Elkhart did during his 60 year long practice according to this article.
Heartbroken when his German Shepherd, Prince, died instead of a plaque or monument, he decided to memorialize his pooch by creating a concrete slab filled with human teeth taken from his collection. Not sure how teeth stuck in cement honors a dog, perhaps it is the canine teeth that ties the two together. Not only did he make the initial creation but periodically he expanded the slab adding more cement and more teeth as they became available. Sure hope he didn’t extract teeth unnecessarily just to expand his memorial!
Known as the Elkhart Tooth Stone and located at the corner of Lexington Ave and South Riverside in Elkhart in someone’s yard, it looks like a scrap block of cement from a distance (we almost drove right by it) but once you get up close to it, well, that’s a different story. Sure ‘nuf you can see all the teeth! Totally creepy! How’s that for weirdness? Bet it will get you thinking next time you’re in the chair!
BTW, we didn’t know about this “attraction” until Betsy and Nancy mentioned that they had found it on the Roadtrippers website where you can find hotels, attractions, natural wonders and weird stuff along your route or at a particular destination. Trust me, we’ll be checking this site often as we travel.
Then there was our search for popcorn
Last year Rob was fascinated by the many varieties and colors of popcorn found in this area, but we never bought any and it has never ‘popped up’ in our travels elsewhere. So this year we were on a mission to score some for future use. Bags of 8 or 10 different varieties (in up to 50 pound sacks) can be found most places in the Shipshewana area, but we didn’t want to buy a large quantity without trying it first, so microwave packaging was what we needed to do our sampling. Much harder to find but finally success at Yoders Meat & Cheese in Shipshewana where we bought a microwave bag of hulless Ladyfinger popcorn. This particular variety was described as delicate kernels that are the smallest, most tender and flavorful blooms when popped. Yummy! Yes, very tender tiny kernels and totally delicious! Love popcorn but hate having all those hulls stuck in your teeth afterwards. Not a problem with the hulless variety!
But that was just a test to see if we liked it – we weren’t done with our quest yet! Next we found Yoder Popcorn….ah, yes, there is a heaven, an entire store dedicated to the white, fluffy snack stuff. Located in the middle of almost nowhere surrounded by cows and corn fields in Topeka, IN. According to their website, the owners farm 1700 acres of land which includes acreage around the store.
Popcorn, popcorn and more popcorn….red, blue, yellow, white, with hulls and without hulls, small kernels, big kernels and even monster kernels, in big bags, little bags, jars and microwave bags. And all sorts of paraphernalia to go with it…oils, salts and seasonings, butters, bowls, buckets, stove top poppers, campfire poppers, whirley poppers, electric poppers, hot air poppers, microwave poppers, gift baskets, you name it, they had it. When we entered, an Amish sales girl offered us a sample bag of their tiny, tender white popcorn and answered all of our questions. Yum, yum!
Q: Which is the best?
A. Depends on your taste but she likes the tiny, tender white which just so happened was in the sample bag she gave us.
Q. What is the difference between the white, yellow, red and blue?
A. Yellow has more of a corn flavor than the white, tends to be more chewy and contains a significant amount of hull – its what is eaten in movie theaters. Red has medium sized kernels, is white with a dark center delicious and has a nutty flavor with a crispy and crunchy texture. Blue is another tiny kernel that pops white with a dark center and is sweet, crunchy and has very little hull.
Q. A sign showed that it was best to keep unpopped kernels in the refrigerator or freezer. How long can it be stored?
A. It shouldn’t be frozen in a frostfree freezer unless it is vacuum sealed because it tends to deplete the moisture and when used it won’t pop. If you do freeze it, no need to defrost it before popping. It can be stored indefinitely this way.
OK class, that’s the end of popcorn lesson for the day! Who knew there were so many varieties of popcorn! Trust me, we didn’t walk out of there empty handed. So long Orville Redenbacher! You’re forever banished from our cupboards! At least until we run out of Ladyfinger and Tiny Tender White.
Then there was more shopping (and more slightly weird stuff)….
As you know if you’ve followed our blog or have met me I hate shopping, but in the cute little Amish town of Shipshewana, it was hard to resist visiting a few of our favorite stores. So resist, we didn’t. At Our Front Porch, I bought a denim Shipshe casual shirt. At the Rise ‘N Roll, we bought some of their disgustingly sweet cinnamon caramel doughnuts (aka “Amish crack”), some cheese and summer sausage.
Out in the Rise ‘N Roll parking lot there was an Amish gentleman selling soap and body lotion made from camel’s milk, explaining that it was actually made from the milk of the camels that his brother owns (about 25 of them) on a nearby farm. I guess to prove that it actually was a legit camel product and to attract the attention of tourists like us, two camels were in a pen next to his display – Connie, 8 years old and her baby, 4 month old, Coconut. Fascinating beasts. Weird to find camels amidst the corn fields and cow pastures of Indiana especially in front of a bakery/restaurant!
And of course, no visit here would be complete with a visit to Guggisberg Cheese, another one of our favorites. Here you get to sample all of their cheeses – great place to go for lunch! 😀 Yes, we did buy a wheel (or two) of our favorite cheese.
Did you hear about the recent study stating that cheese is as addictive as opium? Ah, now I know why it is my favorite food group!
And then there was a RiverWalk…
We didn’t just sit around all day in wait mode…we did manage a walk or two (good thing after all the eating out we did). Just as an FYI to those people who might visit this area, there is a bike/walking trail in Middlebury – the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. Unfortunately we never had a chance to walk it, but Betsy and Nancy did with their dog, Spirit. They said it was quite nice (at least parts of it) so that will remain on our bucket list for our next trip to this area.
Instead, a little closer to our hotel in Elkhart, there is a 3 mile RiverWalk which winds its way along the Elkhart and St. Joseph Rivers near the downtown area and circling around the older area near Island Park. It is pet friendly, lined with several parks and dotted with terraces and numerous footbridges. Due to the weather and timetables, we did this walk on two different days – one day in the Island Park section, then several days later the downtown section.
Thanks to the informational displays posted along the way (note the ones along the Island Park section are barely readable but the ones near downtown were new and easy to read), we learned a lot about the history of Elkhart during its early industrial age with the use of hydraulic power in the 1800’s and the many factories that utilized this power around the Island Park area. By the late 19th century and early 20th century, the economy was strong here with the advent of musical instrument factories, the Miles Medical Company and numerous mills.
Different events are held along the RiverWalk throughout the year. The Nibco Water and Ice Park looks like it might be a great place to either cool off in the summer in a splash pad or to skate on ice-paved paths in winter.
Part II of Passing the Time While At Entegra covers more of the educational things we did during our stay. Stay tuned!