Sunday, August 22, 2010


I can already tell that keeping up with reporting our daily activities here is going to be a huge challenge.  There is always someone around to visit with, something going on or somewhere to go.  If none of that applies, there is cooking and cleaning, walking the dogs and all the other regular, routine stuff that we do.   Challenge or not, I’ll try to keep up!

Before I get into a recount of the past couple of days, I should take the time to explain a bit about the events we are here to attend.  I know many of our readers are not RV’ers and may be confused about my references to the Gypsy Journal Rally or the Escapees Escapade.  Feel free to skip this part if you already know all about these events!  Nick Russell is a full-timer and journalist who publishes a newspaper called “The Gypsy Journal” which contains stories about places all over the country and lots of other information about this lifestyle.  He and his wife, Terry, present a rally a couple of times a year.  The rally consists of a wealth of informative seminars on all sorts of subjects related to life on the road.  Fire safety, safe driving, electrical and plumbing systems are a few of the featured topics, as are geocaching and genealogy, two popular road hobbies.  There are also vendors in attendance who sell all sorts of travel and RV related products.  Then there are the social events.  Some are “official” and part of the rally schedule, but many gatherings are impromptu get-togethers.  The Escapees is a large RV Club that provides many services to it’s 100,000+ members.  The Escapade is a gigantic rally, much like the Gypsy Journal Rally only on a bigger scale!  It will be held at the fairgrounds in near-by Goshen, about a week after the Gypsy Journal Rally ends.  Several of us will just stay here for that week and move over to Goshen when the Escapade begins.

Yesterday we were up early, and even though it was raining lightly I got out for a 30 minute walk.  When I got back, I tried out another of my new exercise DVD’s.  After that was completed, it was time to find out what the plan for the day might be. Mark suggested taking a drive on the Heritage Trail.  He and Dortha had already driven the first half, but not the 2nd half.  The Heritage Trail is a CD-guided tour that consists of 2 CD’s that can be obtained free at the Elkhart Visitor’s Center.  It is a narrated, tour of the area that takes you about 45 miles around several small towns.  The narration includes a wealth of information about the history and the current culture of not only the Amish, but the industry, crafts and farming that are part of life here.

Our first stop was at a local market known as The Bag Factory.  At one time it was a factory that made feed bags.  Now it is a market with several shops featuring the work of local artists.  I was fascinated by the quilt shop there and spent quite a bit of time admiring the hand-quilted beauties for sale there.  The owners design the quilts and the work is actually contracted out to quilters all over the country.  The quilt tops are pieced by machine, but all the quilting is all done by hand. The prices certainly reflected the complexity of the amazing work.  Photography was not allowed, however, so no pictures of the quilts, but but this is the shop, “Quilt Designs”:

Ellie 006Speaking of quilts, during the summer, along the Heritage Trail there is a Quilt Garden feature, with flower beds located in many stopping points along the trail that have been planted in quilt patterns.  There was one here at the Bag Factory:

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My second enchantment at this location was a model railroad display.  Two fellows (brothers, perhaps) have put this together, and there are model trains of several different gauges.  I was totally fascinated as I was transported back to my childhood, as my Dad was a model railroad buff and from the time I can remember until not long before he passed away in 1997, he always had a model railroad set up.  He (almost always) only had steam engines, and always worked with the narrow gauge tracks.  He built rail cars, and all the buildings he needed for his towns along the way.  In one of his sets, he built a saloon that he called “Goldie’s Place”, and most evenings after dinner he would announce that he was going to Goldies for the evening.  Even though this particular display included different sizes and types of trains, it really reminded me of my Dad’s work.  I got left behind while I was immersed in memories:

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I finally tore myself away and we continued on the tour.  We stopped in the small town of Nappanee at the Amish Acres, a complex that includes a theater, farm, several little shops, a restaurant and a wine tasting room.  We had a delicious lunch followed by a bit of wine tasting before continuing on the tour, where we stopped in the little town of Wakarusa and found another Quilt Garden:

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The tour brought us back to Elkhart in time to gather at Donna and Keith’s for happy hour.  Donna brought out a big plate of her famous brownies that she’d promised to make for Mark for his birthday.  Well, she also promised Bob she’d make some for him too, so she made a call to Bob and Molly to make sure they would come over in time to actually get a brownie.  They were going fast!  We all sat around for snacks and happy hour visiting for quite a while before our energy gave out and we came in.

Today I got out and walked early and then did some house cleaning.  Jim announced that he was going to grill at home today, so we planned a joint venture meal with Donna and Dortha both contributing parts of the meal.  Arlene & Kevin and Mac & Lynette arrived early in the afternoon.  They got all set up and we continued visiting with everyone wandering back and forth among rigs.  We’re all parked next to each other in the same row. 

After dinner, the women moved over to the shaded area by Dortha & Mark’s coach, and the guys stayed by our Castle.

Here we have Dortha, Donna, Arlene and Lynette:

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And here are Jim, Keith, Mark and Mac:

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Yes, it’s already been a fun, full schedule – and every day we’ll have more going on.

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