Friday, July 13, 2007
12 July 2007
Wednesday, we finally got under way for Amish country of Indiana. We settled on a campground hopefully near most of the points of interest. It is a wide open area with the potential for over 600 campers. We were told by the owner that it is almost never full. After arriving and setting up, we decided to rush to Shipshewana to visit the reportedly very large flea market only held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We made it just in time to see the last of the crowd leaving the grounds. We were to find that this was the first lesson in adapting to a slightly slower pace of life. Indeed, we should have taken note of the slogan of the nearest town to the campground. “Embrace the pace” We arrived just before four PM and figured we would have at least an hour to look at some of the 1100 vendors. To our surprise, we found that it had closed at three PM!
Of course, one of the icons of a visit to Amish country almost anywhere is the slow moving horse and carriage with the big orange triangles on the back; which I suppose are there to prevent the cars approaching them at up to ten times the horse’s rate of speed from causing utter mayhem. It is particularly exciting when the horse takes exception to the other traffic and throws a fit in the middle of the road way. Like the slogan says-Embrace the pace.
We did manage to visit an Amish country store in the last minutes before it closed at five PM. We picked up some organically raised, hormone free pork, chicken and beef. After having to pass up several other interesting stores that closed at or before five PM, we headed back to the motorhome for a BBQ and some relaxing time around the campsite.
Today, we checked out the hours of operation of the two prime locations of interest for the day, before we left the motorhome. First on the list was a factory visit to the Newmar Company which manufactures motorhomes and fifth wheel trailers priced up to a model that exceeds one million dollars. This was of interest to us, as one of the coaches we considered, when looking to buy, was a Newmar product. The million dollar model was never in the running. The company is Amish owned and 65% of the employees are Amish, with 25% Mennonite, and 10% other. It was a very interesting tour and I more readily understand how some of the issues we have had with our coach could come about. They work at a pretty hectic pace to push ten units out the door every day. It truly is an assembly line process with organization and timing the key to prevent chaos. The coaches move around a U shaped assembly line, and as I was wondering how the heck they did that, they demonstrated moving a coach that probably weighted up to 35, 000 lbs by two men pushing and pulling it with no effort. They use an air pressure system to lift the units only about one eight of an inch off the floor on air supported pads and they just push them around like they were children’s big toys.
We then headed to the newly reopened RV museum/Hall of fame and library. While some of the building was still under construction, the exhibits from the old location were ready to go. They have a collection of campers from the early 1900’s thru a few of the current year models to view and read some of their history. While this may not be the place for everyone, if you have any interest in RVing or it history, this is certainly a place to visit. It is literally located right off of Interstate 80 at exit 96 in Indiana. While some of these units were ingenious and intriguing, I am content to be a modern RVer.