Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27, 2013

Elkhart Area Heritage Trail


First – Happy Birthday Ken!

Elkhart, Indiana and several surrounding communities have put together a tour guide designed to get people to visit the area.  Pretty cool. There is a map of the tour with blow up maps of each town/village.  the map shows places of interest, local merchants (more in a bit), artisans, historical spots, etc.  The really cool part is that the entire trail is guided on a two disk audio guide that is given free to all who are interested.  The trail is about 90 miles long.  The audio gives multiple instructions for every turn and is timed so that if one goes the speed limit the instructions are right on time.  Between route instructions is a running informational narrative about sites seen, culture (more in a bit), and history.  The narrative is also perfectly timed to location.  Instructions are also given to where to pause for side trips. 

The Trail travels on many small county roads through the largest area of Amish communities in Indiana.  Sharing the road with buggies and bicycles is the norm. 

going down the Highway

Parking lots include hitching rails and bike racks.  Amish people everywhere.  In stores as merchants, employees, and customers.  Dressed alike in typical Amish garb.  Women and girls in simple, long dresses in various muted colors.  Hair in a bun and covered by white cap thing.  Men and boys in dark pants and long sleeved shirts, usually white.  Heads covered by hats or, in the case of many boys, gray stocking caps.  All are very friendly and easy to speak with.  Amish work in stores side by side with “Englanders” and often an Amish farm may be next to that of a contemporary ‘modern’ farm.  Sue says it is easy to tell an Amish farm.  They are neat and clean.  There are no old farm implements, travel trailers, deserted barns, weathered farm houses, etc.

Amish Farms

Farming is done by hand and horse.  We saw hay being mowed by horse drawn mower.  Unlike Newcastle and Granite Bay,  when you see horses here in pastures and corrals you know that every one of them is a working horse.  They just have a feel and look.  They are also all very fit and well cared for. 

Sharing roads with buggies can be interesting.  Unlike Disneyland there is cleaning up after horses so droppings are a part of road navigation.  The buggies try to stay as far right as possible but often one has to patiently follow a buggy for a while until it is safe to pass.  We had a unique (for us) experience of driving up to an intersection just as a funeral procession was turning on to the road.  One buggy is not difficult to pass.  Twenty in a row is a different matter. Smile  We followed a while and eventually the road widened to where they all could move over for cars to pass.  Roads in Amish country have a unique characteristic.  The horses are all shod with metal shoes and the constant buggy travel creates an interesting wear pattern.  The right hand third of each lane is worn rough.

P1030817 road

The Heritage Trail has a number of quilt gardens and murals along the way.  Viewing these was the  original primary thing that drew us to this area.  (Anything quilt has to be checked out)  A quilt garden is flowers of different colors planted in a way to resemble a quilt block.  A quilt mural is a quilt block painted on a wall. 


Log Cabin Quilt Garden


While finding a quilt garden located a block off the main road behind an old brick building we stumbled across a very unique and tasty shop located in a corner of a building that looks like it has seen much better days. (Probably very cheap rent.  The Amish are known for their thrift.)  An ice cream shop unlike any we had ever seen or any of you may ever see.  Your ice cream is made to order right in front of your eyes and in less time than it takes to get a hamburger at McDonalds.  Their standard menu has over thirty types/blends but you can design your own.  The ice cream mix and other ingredients (berries, choc. chips, bananas, cookie dough, …, and flavors) are put in a stainless steel bowl.  Everything is mixed together and then quick frozen with liquid nitrogen.  The result is smooth, fresh, creamy, and void of any preservative/stabilizer items.   Really good!.  Do a web search on ‘Rocket Science Ice Cream’.

Ice Cream

July 25, 2013

The Henry Ford

A couple of days ago we met a man at a campground we stayed at on Lake Huron.  He was from Detroit and when we said we were headed that way he said if we did nothing else we had to go to Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum.  Excellent advice.

On our way south we stopped briefly in Grand Rapids to visit the Gerald Ford Museum and grave site. 


Hard to read with the shadow.  Inscription is on a semicircular wall.  Not sure where actual burial sites are.



Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum are part of a complex of attractions that also includes an Imax theater and a factory tour of Fords main factory.  You can do attractions individually or more than one.

The museum is HUGE.  Primary aim is innovation and development in things mechanical but also contains a number of items of historical interest.  Actual historical items (not recreations) include: progression of Presidential Limos including car Kennedy was riding in when he was shot, chair Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot (it is a rocking chair), Rosa Parks bus (we sat in same seat she was in),original Wienermobile.  Large automobile section with cars of every type and age.  Large railroad section with progression of trains from small to very large.  Airplanes displays from Wright Brothers to Lindberg to DC3 hanging from ceiling.  Big area showing development of steam power and early electricity generation.  Large area of farm implements.  Area on early United States (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Washington (actual camp cot used by him in war among other things), etc.  It goes on and on.  When you think you have covered just one area you turn a corner and there is a whole different set of displays.  There are many very informative docents in every area with lots of knowledge to impart.  To properly gain all the education available in the museum would take several days.  Alas we only had several hours so we had to settle for a little education and a lot of amazement.


Center entrance to museum.  Museum extends 400-500 feet to each side of center and at least that deep.


Edison and Ford were good friends.  Edison signed this concrete slap probably on occasion of opening of first museum.




Kennedy Limo.  Reagan and F.D.R. limos are off screen to right and left.







Classic ‘56 Chevy


Early Studebaker


They even preserved the mud!


No auto museum should be without one of these.  Duesenberg.


Actual chair Lincoln was sitting in when shot.


Rosa Parks bus. (Actual)


Exploded Model T


Original Wienermobile.


On the left is one of the first televisions.  Middle several years later.  Right more modern.  I remember watching on one like the left.


Greenfield Village is difficult to describe.  The brochure puts it this way: “Step into the sights, sounds, and sensations of 300 years of American life.  Spend a day in the place where yesterday feels like right now ….”  Ford collected and moved or recreated a variety of buildings and homes of historic interest.  Fords actual birth home and school.  Actual Wright brothers home and bicycle shop (with machine shop in rear where first plane was created).  Edison's invention complex.  Actual slave homes and simple farm homes.  Homes used by notable inventers and literary icons.  All facets of American life and living.  Again many very informative docents but also many people dressed in period attire interacting with guests.  Model T rides and horse drawn wagon rides.  Maintenance and delivery vehicles are period trucks.  There is no sign of modern anything and like Disney no sign of behind the scenes buildings.  The village has its own railroad with a fleet of three or four different working steam engines to pull sightseeing cars.  Actual engines restored to full function and operation in period machine shops in the village using period tools and power sources. Round house to service engines and place in service. On and on and on.  Again, it would take several days to gain the knowledge available in the Village.  We had to rush through but were still impressed and amazed.


One of the last Model T’s made.  Models changed soon after.


Wright Brothers bicycle repair shop. Note back room to right.


Machine shot where Wright Brothers built their airplane.



Small informative skit presented on porch of Wright Brothers house.


Edison’s workshop/machine shop.  Note power drive train on ceiling.  Typical of pre-electric motor industry of all types.



Scroll saw in Edison woodshop.



Robert Frost lived here for a while.


Luther Burbank birth place.

The above pictures are just a taste.  There are dozens of buildings in the Village, each with a wealth of historical information.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013

Soo Locks

Two hours east from last nights stop to Sault Ste Marie.  Another border city.  Also located at the junction of two Great Lakes.  Natural water flow is out of Lake Superior down a rapids with a 21 foot drop into Lake Huron.  Easy to portage if you are in a canoe.  Not so much if you are in anything larger and larger can be MUCH larger.  Hence the succession of locks built at this point.  There are now four Soo Locks.  Two of them can handle freighters over 1000’ long.  We watched one of those 1000 footers be raised up to move into Lake Superior. 


This ship is 1000’ long and there is still room in the lock.

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Note rising position of ship name located below blue bridge tower

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Into Lake Superior

We also watched a tour boat and a large sail boat be lifted up. 

tour boat tied up in locktour boat moving out



Moving out


Spent two hours at the locks and visitor center and then headed south to the shore of Lake Huron.  Our camp spot is 200’ from the shore.


Wet feet in Lake Huron.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21, 2013

Michigan UP (Upper Peninsula)

Two nights ago we slept under just a sheet.  When we got up at 6:45 in the morning the outside temperature was 80 degrees.  Last night we used our electric blanket.  This morning the temperature was 40 degrees.  There are a number of families sleeping in tents in this campground.  Been there, done that.

Today we drove along the north coast of the upper peninsula, much of it through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Much of the road is along or near the shore but even when not it is pretty, basically winding through caverns of dense forest.  Very green and probably VERY colorful in the fall.


Formation called The Minors Castle.  Note the clarity of the water.


We walked about two miles one way to see this restored lighthouse.  Nicely restored and a good tour.


View from top of lighthouse.


Top of an area called The Log Slide.  From the spot at the edge of the sand in the center of the picture the dune drops about 400 feet @ 75-80% grade.  Some people (chiefly adolescent and early twenty males) get a thrill jumping/rolling down it.  There was an actual log chute in this location years ago.  Blue dot in center of picture is man about halfway down slide.


Feet in Lake Superior again.  South shore this time.