Monday, June 30, 2014

Wall Drug...

We arrived in Wall eager to check out Wall Drug...especially after all the signs we saw on along I-90. The original signs were modeled after the Burma shave signs, but the current ones remind me of the South of the Border signs along I-95.

We stayed at Sleepy Hollow RV Park.  Nice enough, level sites, cable TV, cheap laundromat, and walking distance to town...but then it seems everything is walking distance to town!  Wall is very tiny and I'm not sure it would survive without Wall Drug.  I even saw a telephone booth!    

Wall Drug is a tourist trap, though bigger than I envisioned, but I like tourist traps!  We got a free bumper sticker, I bought a Wall Drug beer huggy and Jack bought a T-shirt, though it doesn't say Wall Drug.  We had the hot beef sandwich at the Cafe, which was good, and tried the donuts which were okay, but not as awesome as I'd been led to believe.  It was a fun place to wander around for an afternoon.   Everyone should see it once if you're driving through South Dakota.

Speaking of driving through South's awesome.  Not sure I had a mental image of what South Dakota would look like, but it's more beautiful than I could have imagined.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Indiana to Iowa to South Dakota...

We had one mishap during our travels.  My debit card was compromised.  :(  Not sure where it occurred, though I think it was at a truck stop in NC, but I didn't discover it until we reached Shipshewana.  The reason being that it wasn't used until then...I found two charges, dated May 29th, for $75 each in the Raleigh area...we left NC May 19th.  I immediately had the card canceled.  Then my worry was how to get my new card while we are on the road. Surprisingly, there is a Wells Fargo branch in the small town of Shipshewana and a very nice banker there was able to get a rush replacement over-nighted to me at our campground on a Saturday. Thank you, Wells Fargo.

Despite the debit card drama, we left Shipshewana, having had a thoroughly good time, and headed west.  Our first stop was Geneseo, Illinois.  It was just supposed to be a one day stop for a rest and to replenish groceries as there were no convenient grocery stores in Shipshewana.  We checked in at Geneseo Campground late Saturday afternoon and mentioned needing some groceries, only to be told the only grocery store in town was closing in a few minutes and wouldn't open again until Monday!  I can't remember the last time I was anywhere where grocery stores were closed on Sunday.  Geneseo looked like a nice campground, level sites, grass and trees and just a peaceful feeling, so we decided to stay an extra day and relax while we waited for the grocery store to open.  

Geneseo Campground
We had a restful time and headed to the store Monday.  Fareway Grocery was small by my standards, but adequate.  Got what we needed and were pleasantly surprised to find they take your groceries out to your car, load them and return the cart.  There are no cart returns in the parking lot.  It was, however, a bit pricey compared to the larger grocery stores to which I'm accustomed. 


Tuesday we traveled just a hundred miles or so to Amana, Iowa to visit the Amana Colonies...a grouping of seven small colonies settled in the nineteenth century by the Inspirationists, a religious group from Germany, fleeing persecution in Europe.  The colonies are Amana, Middle Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana,High Amana and Homestead.  There are historical homes, shops, museums, German restaurants, breweries and wineries, and bakeries to visit.  While we didn't see them all, we did see a good sampling.  We enjoyed some German food at Ronnenburg Restaurant, named after a castle in Germany, and at the Ox Yoke Inn, where I enjoyed potato pancakes and applesauce, a favorite of mine.  We also bought a bottle of Red Raspberry wine at Ackerman Winery, as well as some jams and jellies.   

We stayed at the Amana Colonies RV Park. Big, level sites, lots of grass, almost no trees and lots of's a Passport America park, which helped the budget.  There was a rally of deaf people camping near us and it was interesting to watch them having silent, animated conversations.  I felt a bit of a kinship towards them due to my impaired hearing, but we did not get to meet any of them.

View from our door - Lewis & Clark State Park
After several days it was time to move on and finish crossing Iowa. We went to Lewis and Clark State Park in Onawa, Iowa, about five miles from the Nebraska border.  Lewis and Clark is a beautiful park, right on a large lake, with some full hook-ups. Unfortunately, after a rough storm the first day, the temps stayed up in the nineties, so we spent much of our time indoors. Onawa is a very small town, population about 3000.  One McDonalds, a Subway, a Burger King, a pub  and a very small, expensive grocery store, Fiesta Foods, no carry-out service there.

As we traveled I-80 through Iowa, I noticed fields of windmills along the Interstate and in the distance.  I think they are awesome and wish we would see them all over. Such a beautiful, clean source of energy, I don't know why so many fight against them. Iowa really has some beautiful countryside...and it's not all corn!

Iowa countryside

The severe storm that hit the area when we first arrived caused flooding that closed Interstate 29 N.  When we left, four days later, it was still closed, which we didn't find out until we got to to the closed exit...about twenty miles out. We had to double back about ten miles and take a detour into Nebraska. We lost about an hour of drive time but still made our next stop before 5 PM, the R & R Campground, a very comfortable campground with level sites, a pool, a laundry and Passport America rates, located in Mitchell, SD.  After we checked in, the host handed us each a bottle of ice water...very nice!  Mitchell is the home of the famed Corn Palace. We had considered going to see it, but when we arrived we discovered that the hanging rod in the closet had pulled lose and my clothes were falling to the floor. Jack was able to fix it, but after that we decided we were too tired to see the Corn Palace...maybe next time.

The next morning we got on the road again headed to Wall, SD, home to the famous Wall Drug.

Amish Country...Indiana

We visited the Amish Country in Pennsylvania last October and I really enjoyed it so, when I learned there was a large Amish population in Indiana, I had to visit.

The Amish, and Mennonites are predominantly in Shipshewana and Middlebury, Indiana.  I planned for a week there, to take advantage of the lower weekly campsite rates but, we were enjoying the area so much, we added another three days!

The countryside is beautiful and the food is good.  The whole feeling of the area was friendlier than in Pennsylvania.  Horse and buggies clip clop on the streets and the people waved at us, children smiled at me in stores and workers engaged in conversation.

Quilt Garden in front of Menno-Hof

We visited Menno-Hof and learned much about their history and the differences among the Amish, Beachy Amish, Amish-Mennonite, Conservative Mennonites, and Mennonites. They are all Christians and strive to model their lives after Christ and to bring no harm to others.

The Amish are the most conservative with the others being less conservative up to the Mennonites who are least conservative.  I can't begin to write about all I learned...or even remember all the details...but can give some examples. The Amish eschew technology, use no electricity, do not drive cars (but will ride in them), dress in a proscribed way so as not to draw attention to themselves, and do not educate their children beyond eighth grade.   The Mennonites have embraced technology, including computers and cell phones, wear modern clothes and can pursue higher education up to and including doctoral degrees.  Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I was very surprised to learn of the horrible persecution directed at such gentle people over the centuries.  I was even more shocked to learn it still exists today...that some people will try to run their buggies off the road...just because they are different.  Modern society could do well to learn from them.

We did some local shopping and found two wonderful stores.  Yoder's Meat and Cheese, where we bought steaks and hamburgers that are hormone, steroid and antibiotic the same prices I usually pay in a grocery store.  We also discovered E & S Sales, somewhat jokingly described to us as an Amish Costco.  It's not nearly as large and doesn't sell tires, furniture, clothes etc. but the food prices are terrific.  Too bad we don't have the room in the RV for bulk buying.

Naturally, we enjoyed the food.  The two most popular restaurants in the area are The Blue Gate and Das Effenhaus.  Blue Gate has a menu or you can order family style, the downside is that one person can't order family style, everyone at the table must order family style.  Das Effenhaus has three different sections, one for menu, one for family style and one for buffet so, again, everyone must want the same eating style.  We ordered from the menu at both places.  They were both good and we ate at each one twice...The Blue Gate is a little more expensive.  The pies were awesome.  Jack favors any kind of apple pie, I fell in love with Red Raspberry Cream pie and Red Raspberry Chocolate Cream pie...yum!

We also frequented a smaller place called the 5 & 20 Country Kitchen...located at the intersection of highways 5 and 20 of course!  The food was similar to the other two and much less expensive, though not as varied.  They also have a small buffet for those who prefer.  We enjoyed all three places, but the highlight was the waitress at the 5 & 20. Her name is Ida and she is Amish, maybe about forty-ish. We made a point of always asking for a table in her area.   Besides being a good waitress, she was pleasant and friendly and nice to talk with.  She told us a good bit about the Amish and I  also learned that she is single and owns her own home, which is rather progressive for an Amish my opinion. We will definitely look for her when we are back in the area...and we will go back.

The RV Museum...

South Side Shop
While in Northern Indiana we visited the RV Museum in Elkhart. Suffice to say it's cool...and worth the trip.  We saw RV's dating back farther than I realized RVs existed!  We enjoyed them all, but two of our favorites were Mae West's lounge car with a back porch...created to lure her from vaudeville to movies...and the 42 foot 1954 Spartan Imperial Mansion.

After seeing the museum, we went to the highly recommended South Side Soda Shop...a Fifties style Diner.

If a picture's worth a thousand words...are ten thousand pictures worth a million words?

Well, I don't have quite that many pictures!


Mae West's Lounge Car

Mae West's Porch
Interior of Mae West's Lounge Car

Interior of 42 ft Mobile Home
Kitchen of 42 ft Mobile Home...with residential refrigerator!
42 ft Mobile Home Bathroom...with tub!

Tow Vehicles