A New Chapter...for awhile travel blog

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus

The ceiling of the basilica

Part of the altar

The Main Building and it's famous Golden Dome

Well, we found someplace to live for the night – North Utica, Illinois – after a just over 4 hour drive from Fremont, Wisconsin...with just about half of that in a cold, steady rain.

And, after hours and hours online and the phone, my in-house travel coordinator has now booked us places to live all the way up through June 19th...which is highly unusual for us. After tonight’s stop, we are on our way to near Elkhart, Indiana to tour 2 other motorhome manufacturers, just to compare them to Tiffin’s construction methods.

And no, we are not in the immediate market for another fast house. You can take my word for it.

I got up a little after 7:00 Saturday morning and took a gander at the weather radar and a rainbow of colors were headed our way – quickly – so I rousted the little woman and in a shocking 45 minutes we were gone from North Utica just as the rain started. It continued to just west of Joliet, Illinois then, by some miracle, didn’t start again till we were parking at our new home in Granger, Indiana. MB did get a little damp as she walked back from paying for the site and I got pretty wet hooking up the electric, but we waited till it stopped before I hooked up everything else.

Seems we have been dodging bad weather a lot for the last week or so but it could have been worse...I saw a picture from southern Indiana of a fleet of semi trucks sitting in water up to the middle of their cabs and trailers and it wasn’t pretty.

Sunday found us heading about 45 minutes south to the town of Nappanee to spend the afternoon at Amish Acres. Amish Acres http://www.amishacres.com/is the site of a farm that was homesteaded in 1873 and turned into a hotel, restaurant and theater back in 1970, and is the only Amish farm listed in The National Register of Historic Places.

Michele had booked us for lunch and a play at the Round Barn Theater. Lunch was a buffet of Amish type foods, all very edible I might add, with broasted chicken, roast beef, ham, noodles, mashed taters, sage dressing, green beans, cole slaw and dessert. Dutch apple pie for her, and chocolate pie for me in case you were wondering.

We wandered through the shops for about an hour as we waited for the 2:00 showtime but didn’t find anything worth buying. The play, a comedy/musical called “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” was not what Michele had expected, but it was pretty funny in spots and the four actors were surprisingly good. That let out about 4:15 and after the drive north – we will be heading back to Nappanee on Tuesday to tour the Newmar motor home factory – and some grocery shopping back in Granger, we were in for the night by about 6:00.

Our Monday adventure was some drivin’ and some walkin’. We headed about an hour southeast of the campground to Middlebury where we started a little driving tour of the Northern Indiana Amish communities, dodging slow-moving horse and buggies, then on into the town of La Grange, then back to Middlebury for the walkin’ part.

We had booked a tour at Entegra Motorhomes at 2:00 and pulled into the parking lot a bit early and met our tour mates – Tiffin owners who are looking at a larger Entegra – and after a short wait, we were on our way.

Our tour guide was Brian, the National Sales Manager for the brand and he was very knowledgeable and thorough. Also, since the factory had shut down for the day (the receptionist said all of their computers were down so they let everyone go early) the factory was quiet and we got to see coaches in all different stages of construction without having to stay out of the worker’s way.

As the sales manager, he did his best to sell us a coach – but he was unsuccessful – but he did point out quite a few things that are different than Tiffin’s, some that we were pretty impressed with. While some of these things, new features and the thought of a newer coach are “interesting”, we are not buying a new one...despite what your gut may be telling you.

Tuesday was our last day in this part of northern Indiana and was only supposed to be a trip to tour the Newmar factory, but it turned into that and then some.

We got back down to Nappanee in plenty of time to take our 10:00 tour of their factory. Our tour guide Ashley was very knowledgeable about the construction of all of their models and she did a good job explaining what was going on. Nothing that Newmar does is all that different than Tiffin, that’s why their coaches are similar in features and price and now we have seen why first hand.

We left there and after a short 30 minute drive, stopped in Elkhart to mail out a package at the post office and then drove around the corner to McCarthy’s for a quick lunch.

After a quick drive west on I-90 we got to our surprise for the day...we did a walking tour of Notre Dame University. It was very, very interesting and I’m glad we did it. The campus is beautiful and it has a ton of history having been founded in 1842. Our tour guide was not great at being a tour guide, but he knew a lot about the campus and it’s history and despite his less than stellar communication skills he did a good job. And he graduated Sunday so he was in a really good mood...but I wonder if his major was communications?

Our walking tour took us into the Basilica of the Sacred Heart which is the church on campus and the Main Building, topped with the famous Golden Dome, in addition to one of the technology buildings and past the football stadium. One interesting thing he told us is that the seal on every graduate's diploma contains some of the gold leaf that is removed from the dome during regular refinishing, that way each graduate gets to take home a special part of the campus. I wish my memory – and writing skills – were better and I could relay more of the stories that he told during the tour; most were very interesting and made for a really good day.

We pulled away from the campground in Granger at the stroke of 10:00 and pulled into the Lake Haven Retreat on the south side of Indianapolis right at 1:30 despite a rainy last hour of the trip. We got all set up and I hit the road to go pick up our race and concert tickets at the track for the weekend’s events that start – for us anyway – on Friday. We’re hoping the weather cooperates and as of Wednesday night, the fearless prognosticators are calling for a 50% chance of rain for race day. That’s what I like...a firm commitment to “it could go either way”.

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