If I have to be honest about what state so far is the prettiest. The answer would be a state that I have never really visited. I have driven through part of it once, and even stopped and had dinner there, but didn’t really see the state. The states we have been through so far are (in order of travel): Arizona, New Mexico, Texas. Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan
The winner is . . . drum roll please . . . Pennsylvania! I would have never guessed that would be the state I thought the prettiest, but the rolling hills and fields of wheat and corn, old stone houses, and farms as far as the eye can see — all of that rolled up into one, just blew me away.
After Pennsylvania was our two day adventure in Ohio, and when we left Ohio, we drove straight to Fort Wayne, Indiana. I must say that Indiana was a really pleasant surprise for me.
After getting lost finding our campground, and then realizing it was the wrong one anyway, we ended up directly in town at the Johnny Appleseed Campground, which is part of the city parks of Fort Wayne. It wasn’t a fancy park, but it suited our needs. Of course, as we usually we do, we met the neighbors who were in town for their son’s baseball games (which were rained out). We love meeting new people, and sharing our experiences on the road. Speaking of rain, it poured all day Friday. We cleaned up and went to my nephew and wife’s home for dinner and the evening. We had planned to spend time together Saturday at our RV park (which wasn’t our RV park). There is a lake there and fishing. Afterward, we were to go to their daughter and husband’s home for dinner. Well, not only were we not at that RV park with the lake, but this young couple’s six year old got sick the day we arrived
Quickly putting on my thinking cap, I decided it would be fun to have Tom and Cami (nephew and wife) to our RV for dinner. I have a kitchen that I can make a full meal. Cami offered to bring salad, and that would work with the pasta dinner I was going to make. Saturday was a beautiful day. We got up and went to the store just a mile away and picked up the ingredients for our dinner.
As I was preparing dinner, Dennis, the optimist he is, put the tablecloth on the outdoor table—we could eat dinner outdoors. Although, this campground was smack dab in the middle of town, it is surround by huge trees, and you feel like you are out in the country. About 1/2 hour before our guests were to arrive, a big fat rain cloud moved its way over us, and just started dumping loads of rain. So much for outdoor dining! Although, the rain finally stopped, we had a lovely dinner indoors, played some cards, and visited. Around 9:30 p.m., we all left to watch fireworks downtown. Fort Wayne is a town of many festivals, and they end these celebrations with a big fireworks display downtown. Tom and Cami were prepared. They had lawn chairs in their car, and we found a place to sit just a couple blocks from where they shoot them off. Just before the fireworks started, a gentle rain fell, but did not hamper our enjoyment.
The following day we went to find Johnny Appleseed’s grave, which we were told was within the park grounds. Of course, he was buried in what was probably an apple orchard, although now there are just a few apple trees around. Johnny Appleseed (last name really Chapman) was born in Massachusetts. His adult years he owned acres of land, mainly in Ohio, and planted orchards of apples. He traveled around selling his young trees. He died in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The local baseball team renamed their team the Tincaps, in tribute to Johnny Appleseed and the pot he wore on his head as a hat.
We met up with Tom and Cami downtown, and did a visual scavenger hunt. What a cute Downton area with so many murals painted on the buildings. What I was really struck by was they painted the buildings in the alleyways, and cleaned up the alleyways for walking and sitting. We went to the youngster’s for dinner that evening. The little one was now feeling well. They live in the outskirts of Fort Wayne in the town of Huntington. That ended our great weekend visit with family. I love the fact I have family members all over the country. Visiting friends and family throughout our journey makes this adventure much more enjoyable.
Monday, we drove about 60 miles north to Shipshewana, Indiana. We stayed there for two days. We were, once again, in Amish country. One of the most interesting places we visited was the Menno-Hof Museum. It is a beautiful home/barn that the Amish and Mennonites constructed in just five days. This museum gives the history of the Anabaptists (Mennonite and Amish) starting back in 16th century Europe, where they were persecuted, tortured and killed because they refused to join a religion that was run by the government. Many of them fled in the 1800’s to the United States for the ability to practice their beliefs without government interference. The museum explains the similarities and differences between the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites. It gives one a new perspective and respect for these believers.
In Shipshewana, we saw more horse and buggies than in Lancaster. The shoulders on the roads are wide so they drive there. It is also interesting to note, that these buggies vary in style, just like our cars do — they just don’t get paint choices!
We spent the 2nd day at the Shipshewana Flea Market. I am not a flea market person, but a day there was fun. The flea market is next to our RV campground. We walked around and looked at things that struck our fancy. I actually found a couple little things I had wished I added to the RV, so it was a productive day. It was a good, relaxing day to enjoy area. After dinner our last night, we drove around the area to see the farms. It was a great way to end our visit in Indiana.
Our trip moved on the Michigan from Shipshewana, and a few big mishaps were in our future. We are alive, and well, and unharmed, but it was quite a day. Hang on tight, that chapter will be coming up soon!
Your descriptions of Pennsylvania and Indiana remind me of the movie “The Friendly Persuasion,” with Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire. It’s a lovely, gentle movie about a family of Quakers dealing with the Civil War. I highly recommend it if you ever get a chance to see it.
My experience with Indiana comprises a number of trips to Michigan City (across the lake from Chicago), which we took after my aunt and uncle moved from Spokane. I have to say that the scenery through Illinois and a bit of Indiana did not compare favorably with the glorious sights in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Ahhhh!