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8/25/05 - Nappanee, Indiana
On Thursday we drove northwest to Nappanee, Indiana (Map) where our coach was built. We spent the night in the Newmar parking lot and took the factory tour the next day. It was Friday and the workers had the day off, which meant that we missed seeing them working on the coaches, but we got a much closer look and it was much quieter than it would have been if the line was busy. The thing that impressed me most about their production line was the pads they put under each wheel of the coach, that they inflate with air so they can easily push the coach sideways down the assembly line.

two completed Newmar Dutch Stars
Two New Newmar Dutch Stars

Every Newmar coach is built to a custom order. Our coach had over 30 special things that we wanted done. It takes about a week for each unit to be fitted with appliances, cabinetry and to get the complete full paint finish. Here are two completed Newmar Dutch Stars, similar to ours, awaiting delivery. Here are some more photos of the Newmar Factory.

The Amish are famous for their fine woodworking and the cabinetry in our coach is a great example. Since the population in the area is growing steadily but the land available for farming is not, many of the amish have turned to coach building and about half the RVs in the US are built here in Northern Indiana.

Amish Farm in Indiana
Amish Farm in Indiana

8/26/05 - Elkhart County 4H Fairgrounds
On Friday we moved the coach to the Elkhart County 4H Fairgrounds in Goshen, where they have a very nice RV Park. We had dinner that night at Das Dutchman Essenhouse which is a very interesting Amish Restaurant, Gift Shop and Playhouse.

8/27/05 - Shipshewana, IL
Today we spent the entire day driving around the county checking out all the Amish farms and little towns including Goshen where we visited Ten Thousand Villages which is a store featuring crafts from all over the world. This motto from India on their wall proclaims Not by charity or sympathy, but through hard work and integrity we shall strive for our dignity. Here are some more photos of Ten Thousand Villages.

Amish Buggy Parking
Amish Buggy Parking

It was obvious from the start of our visit to Elkhart County that we had been transported to another time and place, where the horse and buggy were common and life was slower and simpler.

In Shipshewana I visited Menno Hoff which is a great museum where I learned all about the Amish and their cousins the Mennonites and Hutterites. Apparently they came from all over Europe including Russia and settled mostly in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The Anabaptists movement was persecuted by the church because they believed (among other things) that people should be baptized as adults, when they could make the conscious decision to pursue their faith, rather than being baptized only as children by the church.

Menno Hoff
Menno Hoff, Shipshewana, IN

So, like the pilgrims, they came to America seeking religious freedom. They evolved over the years into three main belief systems, but each community really has their own customs and laws, so what is true for some amish does not apply to many others. Still the common themes of simplicity, devotion, faith and community prevail and about 70% of the children are joining their churches and continuing their traditions.

Amish Buggy pulling wagon
Amish Buggy pulling wagon

Here is one of the few buggies we saw pulling a wagon, but this was a Saturday and many people were out doing their weekly shopping. This amish couple was typically dressed in plain, mostly hand made clothes, and traditional hats. Bicycles are a very common mode of transportation.

 

Amish farm, white picket fences and horses
Amish farm with white picket fences and horses

This Amish farm is typical with its white picket fences and horses. These miniature horses are used for pulling small wagons. Electricity is available but most of the farms we saw were not connected to the grid. Instead, they relied on wind and diesel generators for their electricity. Similarly, there were few phone lines installed, but cell phones were in wide use. They much prefer to live as independently as possible.

Dayadevi was amused at seeing an Amish family eating dinner with two teenage girls, in Amish attire, with cell phones attached to their belts.

 

Amish Garden
Amish Garden

 

 

Almost all the farms had some sort of small garden in front with many colorful flowers and vegetables growing. They typically have very large families, so large houses are required and there are many hands to take care of the chores. During harvest, communities come together or outside help is hired.

The prevalent thinking is that buggies are much safer, both to their occupants and to others on the road, than automobiles. So most of the locals drive their buggy's or ride bicycles around town. If they are traveling to remote places they will hire a cab or go by bus, train or even airplane.

Amish Garden
Amish Garden

Buggies are driven by people of all ages and are required to have lights and license plates. These Belgian American draft horses are used for heavier tasks around the farm. Here are some more beautiful flower and vegetable gardens.

Amish Buggy and Road Equipment
Amish Buggy and Road Equipment

I thought this contrast between the horse and buggy and the road construction equipment parked in this farmers driveway was interesting.

8/28/05 - Amish Country, IL
On Sunday we drove some different roads but mostly did much the same as the day before. However because it was Sunday we saw many farms with between 6 and 20 wagons, presumably religious or family gatherings with lots of kids playing and men and women sitting around enjoying the beautiful afternoon.

Inside an Amish Buggy
Inside an Amish Buggy

Here is a good look inside a buggy. Notice the beautiful material, the fly swatter and the rear view mirror and lights on the outside.

We visited a great store that had everything from lawn decorations to appliances to fine art, hardware and even hats and gloves.

 

8/29/05 - Amish Acres, Nappanee, IL
Monday was wash day and we saw clothes hanging on lines everywhere we went. Here are some more photos of Amish Country.

Girl Handling Horse and Buggy
Girl Handling Horse and Buggy

Here a young lady puts her buggy into reverse as she pulls out of her parking spot at the fabric store that Dayadevi was also shopping at. We had a delicious Amish dinner at the Blue Gate which also has many associated shops including a great bakery. In one of these shops the salesperson commented that she saw us driving down the road her uncle lives on, on Sunday.

 

Blacksmith Shop at Amish Acres
Blacksmith Shop at Amish Acres

We visited the Amish Acres in Nappanee where they have some great exhibits about how the Amish lived 100 years ago, which is not very different then how they live today. Here is a Blacksmith's workshop, which looked like it is used occasionally, an outdoor baking oven with a drying shed and a smokehouse nearby. They had a medium sized vegetable and herb garden and many different animals on the property. Here are some more photos of Amish Acres.

Corn crop being harvested
Corn crop being harvested

This is the first corn we saw being harvested on our trip. As you can see, this farmer is using (or has hired) a modern combine to harvest the crop which will be used for silage.

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