July 1, 2016
Independence Day was coming fast, we were not sure what to do, we didn’t have reservations anywhere, the campground we tried to stay at were full!! The vacationers were way ahead of us as they had made their reservations way earlier than us. We were pleasantly surprised that the campground in Shipshewana had an opening for us, we still not sure if the coach would be able to travel anywhere due to the painting that needed to be done. Our coach was hit with a piece of metal that was thrown 20′ in the air by a lawn mower back in Birmingham, Al it hit the coach in 3 different areas thru the paint and jell coat down into the wood. There also was a screw working its way loose thru the paint and jell coat from our bedroom slide, every time we moved the slide it would remove paint off as the screw worked its way out.
The painter, that worked on the coach was going to take a few days off over the 4th holiday and a few days after, his work is excellent, he had finished the area where the metal hit the side, but still needed to do the other slide with the screw, it takes a good two days to finish up a paint job and it was already Wednesday!! yikes!! He and Guy decided that it was way to late to start and finish by Friday, so they made the decision that we would need to come back the next week when the painter returned on Thursday.
It was a good thing I had made reservations, so off we went back to Shipshewana, very glad not to be spending the Independence Holiday in the temporary, dusty and dirty parking lot of the service factory. (The next ween when we arrived back at factory lot we were pleasantly surprised to see that the new RV parking lot was paved and the electrical lines were almost ready to be connected. The facility will be so nice when it is completed, we have heard there will be a new waiting room, internet, laundry, showers with bathrooms and if I heard right there will be a small restaurant.)
There is a great museum in Shipshewana called Menno-Hof which explains the Amish and Mennonite way of life and how they arrived in the states. We found it to be a great source of information, spending 3 hours reading and checking it out. Menno-Hof is a very informative center that was built by Amish and Mennonite carpenters in the shape of a barn. The building uses exhibits, and audiovisual presentations to give an overview of the Amish and Mennonite history and traditions.
It was built due to the many visitors who come to Shipshewana asking many questions about the lives and customs of the Amish. There is also the Heritage trail that will take you throughout the towns of Goshen, Elkhart, Bristol, and Middlebury where you will find Amish shops, inns, bakeries and restaurants.
Touring thru the areas, you will see quilt gardens that bloom during the spring and summer months, they are designed with different versions of traditional quilt blocks. It was hard getting pictures of them, Cori and I even stood on top of the truck trying, but this is the best we got.
Through out the area you will run across barns with quilt blocks hanging either above the door or on the sided of the barn.
Shipshewana and the surrounding area is Amish country, travel by horse and buggy or bike are the prominent modes of transportation for the Amish.
The Amish way of life is largely unchanged since they settled here 200 years ago. Their life is one of humility, modesty, obedience, equality and simplicity. Family is the most important social unit among the Amish, there can be seven to ten children per family. Four out of five choose to become baptized and remain in the church. Several generations live under the same roof, older family members are respected and cared for by the family.
Amish women wear plain, solid colored dresses, with long sleeves, full skirts and an apron. The dress signifies faith, purity and social separation from the world. Women do not cut their hair but wear it in a bun on the back of their head, white or black bonnets are worn over their bun.
Amish men wear solid shirts, suspenders, black socks and shoes, trousers without buttons. Men do not wear mustaches but do wear beards. Years ago a mustache was a thing of vanity for military men, there is not to be any vanity with the Amish. Men also wear either a straw hat or a black felt hat. Boys will sometime wear toboggans.
German is spoken in the home and with each other, English is spoken out with the public. The Amish have a taboo on electricity which prevents secular influences from intruding into the home. They do use pressurized gas and have gas lanterns on their walls, as well as operateing stoves, water heaters and refrigerators.
Children are home schooled, then between the ages of 16 – 21 which is the time before maturity and Baptism, they have the opportunity to diverge from custom which is called, Rumspringa, some participate in rebellious behavior by wearing non-traditional clothing, driving vehicles, not attending home prayer, drinking or using other recreational drugs. Not all youth diverge from their customs. It ends when a youth chooses baptism. Almost 90% of Amish teenage choose to be baptized and join the Amish church.
As we were sitting around one night talking about things we needed to do, JoLinda came up with “The Blue Gate Theatre”. They were presenting a play called “The Home Game”, Guy and JoLinda grabbed their phones got online ordered tickets and we were set to go all in the course of 10 mins.
The story is about an Amish boy with an amazing fastball who must choose between his father’s expectations of an Amish life for him and his own deepest dreams of becoming a baseball player. The play was well worth the time and money. We all totally enjoyed it.
When the Blue Gate Theater and Restaurant opened it had 50 seats and one dining room. Over the years it grew to 105 seats and two dining rooms, but it was never big enough to accommodate the number of people who wanted to eat there or go to the theater. After 20 years the old Blue Gate was torn down and a new state-of-the-art facility was erected. The new Blue Gate Restaurant has 1200 seats, 9 dining rooms, a fully-functioning bakery and the theatre. The theater puts on numerous plays through out the year as well as musicians that perform, Diamond Rio, Oak Ridge Boys.
Elkhart was having a Jazz festival, on Saturday, so off we went to listen and just enjoy the day. We were a bit surprised to find out that it was a high school band performing when we arrived, they really were very good. I think later in the night there were other performers slated to play but the sun wore us out and we left early.
There were two stages at each end of the street, vendors in between selling anything from food to clothes. It day turned out to be very hot and sunny, the chairs were all lined up down the middle of the street with the sun beating down. We snagged a few of the chairs and tried sitting them by a wall that had morning shade but as the day went on the sun of course does what…moves.
These guys and a few more were all over town
Loved some of the buildings in this cute little town.
There were also murals painted on some of the buildings.
The second stage was blocked off with fencing, inside were tables and a bar, you could pay to enter and be waited on or stand outside the fence. While we were there we never saw a band play on this stage.
Guess what else they had in the middle of the street…yup, another car show..This was put on by the Classic Car Club.
What is a classic car? It is defined as a fine or unusual motor car which was built between 1925 thru 1948. They were usually quite expensive when new with relatively low production figures. The custom coach work and luxury accessories, such as power brakes, power clutch automatic lubrication systems help determine a cars qualifications to be considered a Clasic.
The best part of the whole week was the fireworks..there were numerous firework shows all weekend. The first show we did not need to even leave the front seat of our coach as it was right out our coach front window. We laid the chairs
Two sites down from us we met a wonderful couple, Carlos and Linda that watched Guy hand wash the coach. They have a new 5th wheel and were staying just for the weekend. They had not been to the Shipshewana flea market yet and were wanting to go explore, since Guy had found a couple of things he wanted when we were last there we headed off with them. What comes with a hard day of shopping…mexican food…the drive ended up being about a half hour to a little town called Ligonier, where we had a wonderful lunch.
On the 4th, JoLinda and Craig came over for dinner, Carlos and Linda came down to our site and brought their own dinner, the 6 of us just enjoyed the time together. Later everyone moved to Carlos and Linda’s site and sat around their fire telling lots more tall tales.
Craig and JoLinda had been in Shipshewana last year and told us about the fireworks in Topeka, a 10 min drive, we had decided to go but as the night wore on, for the second night, fireworks started just outside our park, so why drive when we can just turn our chairs around, and watch from our own campfire.
That ended our stay in Shipshewana!! We were finally going to be free of the repair shop, as well as any other commitments and able to head out Friday, July 8th for the great state of Michigan!! So come on back and see where The Nomads end up in MI and what fun they have in this wonderful state.
Y’all have a very Blessed time until we meet again.