Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday in Amish Country

Well, here we are on our last night, after leaving our $50 and all the dirt and bugs in Nightmare Inn -- I mean Knight's Inn -- down the road. Apparently we overstayed our 15 minute limit while I looked for another motel, and they wouldn't give us a refund. We'll see what a letter might accomplish later. But we weren't going to sleep in that place. Yuck...bugs in the bathtub, dirty sink, no light bulb in the bathroom, ad nauseum.

Now, what can we remember about yesterday? We crammed as much sightseeing as we could into the day. We slept in just a bit and then headed to Middlebury for breakfast at the Essenhaus -- an Amish-ish breakfast buffet. Benjamin, once again, you would have loved it -- all the bacon you could eat, along with biscuits and gravy, eggs, mushrooms (yum), french toast, pancakes, frittery things, ham, cheese sauce, donuts, apple fritters, pineapple, strawberries, melon, muffins, etc., etc.

Amish style restaurant where we ate breakfast.

I quit trying to cook our meals because I had to use up everything or throw it away before we went to Washington, D.C., and we haven't had a microwave since then. Today I packed up the hot plate and dishes in a box to mail home, but found out it would be cheaper to check it on the plane.

After the Essenhaus, Joseph very patiently flopped on the grass under a tree while I wandered through a quilt shop for awhile. The quilt prices were ridiculous, but they had a fun selection of books. I bought one with some baby quilt ideas in it (gotta get this grandma role going), one on quilts in the Shenandoah Valley, and another one that I think you and I, Bev, might have fun with -- a sampler quilt idea.

Quilt shops. Gah...

Thanks to Joseph's excellent map reading skills, we had fun wandering the back roads all day instead of traveling the main highways. Doing that led us through the heart of the Amish areas, past their beautiful houses and farms, around countless horse-drawn buggies, and through the piles of pollution such a mode of transportation leaves behind on the roads. The pace was much more relaxed and quiet, except for the one time a big pickup roared up behind us while we were waiting to get over a hill and past a buggy. He gunned his engine, passed us and the buggy, with another buggy and a car coming from the other way, cutting back in front of the buggy going our way just in time to keep from hitting the oncoming one.

There are special spots marked for "buggy parking."

We went to a pretty little park called Krider's World Fair Garden, a recreation of a garden a local nursery owner had created in Chicago for the World's Fair in the 30's. It was full of all different kinds of trees, little ponds, and many kinds of shade-living flowers. Some Amish mamas and young ladies were picnicking there, and some boys were fishing crawdads out of the stream nearby.

Quilt block flower bed

Part of the Krider Gardens

We also visited the Middlebury Community Historical Museum, a humble little down-homey exhibit of pictures and memorablia that would be more interesting to the locals than it was to us.

We drove through more of the country, and stopped to be typical tourists while we shot some pictures of an Amish man throwing bales of hay onto a wagon while his wife drove the team of horses that was pulling a motorized baler.

An Amish couple baling hay.

From the simple life of the Amish, we ventured into the Shipshewana Flea Market, a huge market that happens three days a week. 40 acres with 1,100 venders of cheap stuff that people will wonder why they buyed after they get home. (Post-vacation: Yikes! I knew I was risking my grammatical reputation writing posts with so little usable brain cells, at such insane hours. Ahem...let's make that "bought.")

The insane flea-market.

It was somewhat amusing to watch people walking around, and to see the strange things that were for sale. We did finally find an antique section and the produce market. We never made it to the livestock section. We bought some homemade ice cream that was being made there, and some blueberries to put on it, some Michigan cherries, and a peach.

Cool ice cream making machine with an old tractor engine (I think...)

We made it through the traffic jam to the other side of the street and Yoder's Department Store, where Joseph looked with amazement at a local real estate paper (1800 sq. ft, 4-BR, 2 bath for $24,900 or how about "foyer entry, formal living room, main level family, formal dining room, galley kitchen with appliances, main level laundry, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, some hardwood floors, finished rec room in lower level with egress window plus in-ground pool, unbelievably priced at $159,000 for quick sale!") while I wandered through Yoder's seamstress heaven-on-earth.

You can't get a chicken coop for $160K in Oregon! (I don't know WHY it wouldn't let me upload this correctly...)

MORE quilt stuff. A sea of it...

All the guys waiting for their wives in the quilt store.

From there we went down the road to Menno-Hof, a center that very impressively presents the history and beliefs of the Amish and Mennonites. We were led through a number of rooms and presentations with narration and pictures, giving the history of the two groups. We were in a dungeon with all different instruments of torture used on the Anabaptist martyrs, a sailing ship with the immigrants that came from Germany to Pennsylvania in search for religious freedom, the printing shop of John F. Funk (who I think we have figured might have been a nephew of Joseph Funk), a tornado shelter complete with wind and lightning, and the inside of an Amish home, along with many displays that helped explain the differences between different types of Amish and Mennonites, the mission and service work of the Mennonite church, the music of the Amish and Mennonites, the Amish rules of living, and an invitation to join them in their service to Christ and others.

Part of the presentation at the Menno-Hof center.

It was very professionally done. Made me want to figure some ways to incorporate some of what they did into some ideas for Reformation Night -- not their information, just their means of communicating it. We spent a couple hours there and came away with a much better understanding of their history, and of our own family history that includes Mennonites who came to Pennsylvania from Germany. The display on Amish and Mennonite hymnody was also very interesting and should be a help to Joseph.

The round barn now used as a theater.

From there we wandered more back roads to Nappanee where we had a "thresher's dinner" at Amish Acres and then watched the musical "Plain and Fancy," which has been performed there for the last 23 years, and was written by the same man who wrote "Fiddler on the Roof." The story centered around an Amish family in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, and a modern couple from New York. It was well-done, and we really enjoyed it. It was performed in a round barn that has been transformed into a theater.

Inside the theater.

The ceiling. Of a barn. Pretty cool.

When we got home from that, we had a bunch of laundry we wanted to do, so we wrote and worked on the blog while our laundry washed and dried. It took awhile...another late night.

Pictures coming before we quit for the night!


  1. "wonder why they *buyed*???"
    Goodness, Mama.

  2. Good grief! This is Mama. I was just rereading this blog and saw that! You're right, Johanna! I'm glad you're homeschooled. Just another proof of how dilerious (or is it delirious? I think it's delirious.) I was when we were writing these posts. Ahem...BTW, "fascinated" is spelled F-A-S-C-I-N-A-T-E-D, not F-A-C-I-N-A-T-E-D as I have recently seen on another blog I will be reading regularly. :-)