We did a lot of exploring around Elkhart including two trips to Shipshewana, the famous Amish community that has figured out how to keep their local economy thriving. We did our part by eating our “linner” there and taking a long buggy ride. The Blue Gate Restaurant is a huge complex staffed by Amish or Amish impersonators (dressed similarly but without head covers) and I kid you not, the hype is working and their business is booming. On our buggy ride we learned that the county is 80% Amish and this tiny town has so many buggies and wagons on the road that as we drove around (in the car and on the buggy ride) they quickly became typical. Until then, I had covertly tried to take pictures of every buggy I saw! Our driver/guide was a very friendly, elderly man who kept up a non-stop (and incredibly honest) narration about the Amish people as we rolled along and he waved and spoke to every buggy driver we passed. He answered every one of my questions without hesitation. Mr. Miller is a retired farmer who eight years ago decided he would start driving buggies for tourists for something to do. He said the money is nice too because since then he hasn’t had to dip into his savings even though he doesn’t really need it. We paid $18 each for at least an hour tour that was supposed to be only 45 minutes. We loved it!
Phil ordered broasted chicken with two sides and I had a “Manhattan”, the Ohio version of a hot turkey (and hot beef) sandwich … no sides. At the risk of upsetting all the Amish groupies, I must say the food was less than wonderful. I asked for all white meat (no can do, even if I paid extra) and I should have asked for a small sample of the gravy. It was NOT great, not even good; the mashed potatoes were runny (they claim they are “real” … I wonder?) and the meat was tasteless and a bit slimy. Phil said his chicken was okay but the smaller pieces were too dry and he didn’t like their thousand island dressing (too much vinegar). However, the service was exceptional and they did start us off with a nice warm mini-loaf of whole wheat bread that was very good. We did buy some wonderful cinnamon rolls in the bakery on the way out. So, they can really bake but they need help in the rest of their cooking skills in spite of the claim on their website that they are “award winning” in the food department. Sorry to say but that is my humble opinion. Our second try, the next day at the Essenhaus down the road was also disappointing. This complex is also huge but very efficiently run until we ordered. It took a long time for our food to arrive and my half turkey san was served with hot meat, cold style. That is okay but they should put that on the menu. My cup of chicken noodle soup was just mediocre … nothing special (actually Denny’s has a much better recipe for same). Okay, enough review or as I prefer to call it, an honest critique for the benefit of my fellow travelers.
The Shipshewana Flea Market was such a disappointment even though we had been warned by our fellow fulltime RVer, Nick Russell, not too long ago when he visited the area. Over 1000 vendors and even though we only visited the tip of that iceberg, we saw not much that was new. The size of it was a bit overwhelming (no one could see it all in one day) and the aisles were not covered so when the sun came out from behind a cloud, it got really hot, really quickly with no shade. Most of the merchandise was typical flea market fare (made in China, etc.) with only a few true artisans showing their wares. We did take advantage of the produce stands and picked up some very reasonable vegetables on our way out. I am glad we went but it is a “one time is enough” experience for us. There are two new RV parks on the property (north and south) for the die-hard flea market shopper who must see it all.
We delayed leaving Elkhart for one day (a whopping extra $30) due to a nasty weather forecast for our proposed route and had an uneventful travel day on Thursday to Huron, Ohio. That is one of the benefits of this wonderful lifestyle … stay or go on a moments notice. You gotta love it!
Just a quick reminder that you can enlarge all my pictures by clicking on them and please leave your comments … whether you agree or disagree. We love hearing from you!
Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time …