|It's a hootin good summer|
Distance Traveled: 156 miles
Sunday driving is the best. Less traffic usually and it was pretty much a straight route to Goshen Indiana from Blue Lake park. This part of the journey is basically to get a new window blind replaced that was defective. On Monday I drove over to Shipshewana, isn’t that a great name? I arrived at the factory repair department by 8:30. The folks were great at replacing the blind and tightening two of the aircraft steel wires that are used to slide the bedroom slide in and out. Had a chance to talk to the manager and a few other Open Range owners. All enthusiastic about their 5th wheel campers. Some were here the previous week for an owners rally. I may sign up for the next one. The company was started in 2007 and really has taken off since 2009. They’re building campers that the camper community want with all the features that we RV-ers are most interested in. Well built, good design, standard features like the auto-leveling, stabilizer bars, PVC roofing (not rubber), Corian counters, LED lighting and more vinyl flooring in heavy traffic area, reducing wear and tear on carpeted areas.
I took the tour the next day after going to the Shipshewana Flea Market which is open on Tuesdays and Wednesday. Bought a few things and then had lunch at the Antique Market Restaurant which sits right out front of the flea-market. Crowded but worth the wait. What a great home town meal. Then as I mentioned it was off to Open Range’s factory where they make close to 400 5th wheel campers per month. Another one of their factories produces about 350 travel trailers and other models each day. The tour guide wasn’t all that good, but having become quite familiar with the brand, I knew quite a bit about the company already. The Owner of the company had originally worked for KZ and Keystone as an upper management type and eventually felt it was time to show he could make a better camper. Randy Graber started the company in 2007 and it really started to take off in 2009. Now, all the units made through the next four months have already been purchased or ordered by RV dealers. The company is one of the fastest growing RV companies out there. I discovered that my unit is the last one to have the Alder wood cabinets and paneling which is partly what sold me on the unit. Seems a few customers complained that they didn’t like the natural knots in the wood. Something that I particularly love.
It was really great to see where my camper was manufactured and to meet some of the great folks that are making it all happen. As I sat in the lobby waiting for the tour, I heard the HRO person calling up people telling them they’d been hired and to come in the next day for orientation. This and many of the Rv companies in the area are certainly hiring workers. Nice to see an industry back on the mend.
If you look on the map, you’ll see I’m on the Indiana and Michigan border. On local TV they refer to it as “Michiana” when discussing the weather and other events in the local area.
Elkhart, the other town in the area noted for all the RV manufacturers, also has the RV/MH Hall of Fame where they have a great collection of antique campers on display. My favorite being the May West House Car. I’ve been here before but knew they’d have a few new vintage campers. They’d added so many that many of the ones I’d originally seen had been tucked away in the far corners of the large exhibit area. Many of the early campers were one of a kind inventions created by some very creative folks. What fun to walk down memory lane (someone else’s as I’d never seen these) when car camping was in it’s infancy (1910 era). Some were built onto the Ford Model T, others designed to be towed behind a car. There were even the very first designs of pop-up campers. I spent a couple hours viewing all those great old campers and you can view all of them on my Picasa web site. One of the very first Mobile homes is also on display by Shasta which is still in business today.
|the May West Housecar|
|Inside the May West Housecar|
|the Spartan MH|
|1954 Spartan Mobile Home|
Distance Traveled: 125 miles.
As I left the Goshen area, I realized I was traveling on part of the original Route 30, The Lincoln Highway. The first highway to go from the east coast (starts in Times Square NY) all the way to the west coast of California. As I crossed into Ohio I saw mile after mile of windmill generating farms. Except everything was still as there wasn't a breeze to be had the entire way. When I arrived at the campground in Lima Ohio, I was stunned at the modern and easy setup for campers. Self check in, no reservations. Large grassy sites with young trees planted between sites. What a change from constant railroad noise in Goshen to the stillness of a quite little park on the outskirts of town.
The next day I drove down to Wapakoneta Ohio the hometown of Neil Armstrong the first man on the Moon. They’ve created a really nice museum called the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. It’s right off of Interstate 75 so very easy to get to. As one walks through the museum, a timeline of events brings the history buff from the beginnings of space travel with the dreamers. Writers like H.G. Wells and Jules Vern, past the sci-fi writers who inspired a young generation to dream big, recounting the first flight by Wilbur and Orville Wright from Ohio to 60 years later and Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon. Neil also from Ohio. Learning about the Rocket Society. Clubs that were forming around the world to work on building rockets that would one day go into space. Neil had joined one of these societies early. And a reminder that our space race was “born out of war”.
|Portrait of Neil and his Dad|
|moon rock, that's the closest I've come to a piece of the moon|
With more displays of actual space suits and objects including a moon rock and a couple of movies chronicling that first step onto the moon on July 20, 1969, this is the type of history I enjoy.
My final day in the area and I drove down to St Mary’s and New Brennan to see sections of the original Miami & Erie Canal. They started building it in 1825 and it took 20 years of hard labor to complete the 249 miles from Cincinnati to Toledo Ohio. Cost: $8 million dollars. It was used through the 1850’s when the railroads pretty much took all their business away. A flood in 1913 completed the final blow to it’s use. As I was driving south towards St Mary’s I had glimpses of the original canal as it passed through farms and near the county road. New Bremen has a great bike museum as well.
|canal in St Mary's Ohio|
I’m heading east tomorrow and plan a visit with RV friends, Kaye and Rich Murwin. Had no idea I’d end up in Ohio this summer, but here I am. I’ll start my trek south after my visit with Kaye and Rich.
additional photos on Picasa