Hiking Through the Amish Countryside, Indiana

Day 1324

     While the Sphinx is being worked on, we toured the Amish towns in the area. We began with a hike on The Little Elkhart River.

     Just off the river were some very nice parks

     Continuing our walk along the river we came upon the Bonneyville Mill.

     Normally we would go through the mill, looking at the millstones and explore the grinding process. Because of the china virus, the mill was closed to visitors. However, the mill master did give us a verbal tour, him inside, and us out.

     We then drove the Heritage Trail which took us through 6 small towns: Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Middlebury, Bristol (is this where the Bristol Stomp came from?), and Wakarusa. This time of year, the main draw of the trail are the six Quilt Gardens.

     Starting last week, and proceeding through September 14, 2020, Gardens are designed and planted in the shape of Quilts.

     We stopped at Enchanted Gardens, where they had a petting zoo

     However, some of the animals were practicing social distancing

     This ostrich wanted to pluck my eye out.

     We talked to Sara who is the chief planter of the Quilt Garden in Wakarusa, Indiana. This bed was planted two weeks ago. 15 volunteers planted 3,000 plants in 4 hours to make this design.

     Well, I see it is time to go:

Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 1319

     Because of the China Virus we spent an extend time in Louisiana, just above New Orleans, where we got caught in the Country Lockdown. Now that the lockdown has been lifted, we find that the reason we would go to our next destination is not available at this time, with all museums and public places still closed. So, we decided, now is a good time to have minor, non-essential maintenance done on the Sphinx.

     The best place to have work done on a Cedar Creek 5th wheel is a small shop in Topeka, Indiana. So off we went (one of the great things of having your house on wheels), through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Indiana, 1008 miles, 8 days, where we set up camp in Shipshewana, a few miles from the repair shop. 

    We have been to Shipshewana before (see Day 417). Indiana is where 70% of all RV’s are manufactured. Forest River, the manufacturer of the Cedar Creek 5th Wheel, is located in Elkhart, Indiana, because of the heavy Amish population whom they employ for their highly skilled craftsmanship. 

     The shop we took the Sphinx today, Amish Family RV, is owned by Orvan Fry, who was employed by Forest River, Cedar Creek Division, for 17 years. When he left there, he opened up his own shop and works strictly on Cedar Creek Recreational Vehicles. He is renowned throughout the Country for his workmanship. We had met him at a Forest River Rally in Goshen Indiana a number of years ago (see Day 420).

     While we were at his shop today to outline what we wanted done, he pointed out other items that, if attended to now, would help us avoid other problems in the future. We also decided to have some upgrades made to the Sphinx, since we are already here. 

Technical Stuff:

Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Shipshewana, Indiana: 332.6 miles

6 hours 48 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $1.94 gallon

Sinking Spring Farm, Kentucky

Day 1318

     I know the suspense is killing you. Where did Thomas Lincoln, his wife, Nancy Hanks, and their 2 year old daughter Sarah Lincoln go when they left Elizabethtown?

     They only moved about 10 miles to a 300 acre farm Thomas bought after being kicked out of his previous farm because of a land title dispute involving the person from whom Lincoln bought the farm and the previous owner. On the new farm, their cabin was a standard dirt floor, one room log cabin, their property was named Sinking Spring Farm because it contained this spring that bubbled from the bottom of a cave. (The water dripping is from the recent rains.)

     On February 12, 1809 Thomas and Nancy had their second child, a son. They named him Abraham. Although Abraham did obtain some modicum of success, his life was cut short on April 15, 1865, when the 56 year old man was shot and killed. 

     The original log cabin of Abraham’s birth has long deteriorated and was dismantled long before anyone knew he would be famous 50 years later. A replica of this log cabin was built and placed in this Memorial Building. 

     Because of the current china virus pandemic, the building was closed, and you could not see inside. 

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Day 1317

     In 1793, one year after Kentucky became the 15th state of the Union, Colonel Andrew Hynes, born February 28, 1750 in Hagerstown, Maryland, who was an officer during the Revolutionary War and an Indian fighter thereafter, purchased 30 acres of land in the Severn’s Valley Settlement of Kentucky. This settlement, 14 years earlier in 1779, was the first permanent settlement in the area and was called Severns Valley after John Severns who came here with 17 pioneers and their families, mostly from Maryland and Virginia.

     Haynes surveyed and laid off the land into lots and streets and formed Elizabethtown, named in honor of his wife, Elizabeth Warford Hynes. The town was established by the Kentucky Legislature on July 4, 1797 as “the town of Elizabeth”.

     The community became an important stop along the railroad and a strategic point during the Civil War.

      In fact, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders arrived in Elizabethtown on December 27, 1862, appearing on the brow of the hill that is now the City Cemetery. The main objective of the Christmas Raid was to burn two Louisville & Nashville Railroad trestles on Muldraugh Hill north of the town. The Confederates placed artillery on the hill and demanded the surrender of the Union garrison. They refused and Morgan’s artillery opened fire. The bombardment lasted twenty minutes. 3,900 Confederates engaged 652 Federals, 107 rounds were fired upon the buildings of the town killing or wounding 7 of the soldiers who had taken refuge there.

     You’ll never guess what we found on Mulberry Street.

     We found this blue building with a big arrow on it.

     During the Confederate barrage one ball hit the bank building located on this corner, lodging in the wall just under a third-story window.

     In 1887 a fire destroyed the entire block and the cannonball fell with the wall. When the building was rebuilt, the cannonball was placed in the same spot, as near as possible, where it had originally landed. 

      From 1871 to 1873, the Seventh Cavalry and a battalion of the Fourth Infantry, led by General George Armstrong Custer, were assigned to Elizabethtown. They were stationed in the community to suppress the Ku Klux Klan and Carpet Baggers and to break up illegal distilleries which began to flourish in the South after the Civil War. Custer died 3 years later on June 26, 1876 of arrow ventilation. 

     Abraham Lincoln did not live here,

but Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks did from the time of their marriage, June 12 1806, until their removal in 1808. Thomas Lincoln was born on January 6, 1778 in Linville Creek, Virginia. He was descendent from Samuel Lincoln, who in 1637 landed and became part of the English settlement of the  Massachusetts Bay Colony.

     After boundary disputes due to defective titles and Kentucky’s chaotic land laws, complicated by the absence of certified land surveys and the use of subjective or arbitrary landmarks to determine land boundaries. Lincoln, his wife and daughter moved 10 miles down the road to another farm he had bought.

Technical Stuff:

Athens, Alabama to Elizabethtown, Kentucky: 229.8 miles

4 hours 22 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $1.56

Athens, Alabama

Day 1314

     Athens, Alabama, named after the city in Greece, was incorporated in 1818, one year before the State was admitted to the Union. 

     We went to Athens, but it was closed. Even the Church was refusing sanctuary.

     We hiked along Swan Creek, a Tributary of the Tennessee River.

     This is the first time in months we have been able to hike. It was a beautiful pleasant day. 

Technical Stuff:

Meridian, Mississippi to Athens, Alabama: 236.6 miles

4 hours 20 minutes

11.1 MPG

Diesel: $1.55

Meridian, Mississippi

Day 1311

     After spending 119 days, 18 hours, 34 minutes, and 11 seconds quarantined, we are again on the road. The only casualty was our frog mascot who lost his head in the violent storm 2 days ago.

     We were one of the last to leave this usually full, 260 site RV park.

     On our way to Indiana, our first stop is Meridian, Mississippi. 

     Previously inhabited by the Choctaw Indians, the area now called Meridian was obtained by the United States in 1830 during the period of Indian removal.

     The Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Southern Railway of Mississippi crossed at what was to become Meridian, Mississippi. The town was chartered in 1860 and built an economy based on the goods supplied by the railroads. Its name was chosen because the townspeople wrongly thought it was synonymous with “junction”.

     Ten years after the town’s founding, Weidmann’s restaurant was opened by Swiss immigrant Felix Weidmann (I wonder if he was documented?). It was first established in the Union Hotel,

now the visitor center, where I got a lot of this information. In 1923 the restaurant was moved to 22nd Avenue where we ate lunch today (excellent, by the way). Weidmann’s is the oldest restaurant in Mississippi.

     We walked the town of Meridian, looking for the Civil War history trail of the city. 

     We came upon the General Supply and Machine Company, still selling windmills.

     The Union Station, still the hub of the town, has a new building.

     We wanted to make a phone call in the station, alas, no phones anymore.

     The sidewalks of the town have embedded plaques  

to mark those famous artists that where born in Mississippi.

     We searched in Rose Hill Cemetery looking for the Confederate Burial Mound, containing the mass burial of unknown confederate soldiers, and the grave of Charles Read, the “John Paul Jones” of the South. 

We found both. 

     Read’s tombstone was toppled, which might have been done by the recent storm. If you look closely, is that his head you see?

     We also found, to our interest, the final resting place of the King and Queen of the Gypsies

    On January 31, 1915, Kelly Mitchell, “Queen of the Gypsies,” died in a gypsy camp in Coatopa, Alabama, trying and failing to give birth to her 15th child at age 47. Her husband, King Emil Mitchell, took her body to Meridian, just across the Mississippi boarder, because it was the nearest place with a refrigerated morgue. The Queen needed refrigeration because it took 12 days before America’s gypsies could assemble for her funeral. It was an elaborate service, attended by over 20,000 gypsies. Emil died 27 years later and was buried next to his wife.

     The graves of the King and Queen are easy to spot in the cemetery, they’re festooned with Mardi Gras bead necklaces, trinkets, flowers, costume jewelry, and offerings of whiskey and loose change. These are not tokens of affection, but are bribes left in the belief that they will entice Kelly or Emil to enter your dreams and solve your problems.

     One of the places recommended in the literature we got from the visitor’s center was F.W. Williams Home, described as

“F.W. Williams Victorian Home, circa 1886, evokes an era of the fashionably rich. Elegant interior decorating details reflect how no expense was spared.”

However, this is what we found:

     It feels great to be on the road again. Keep an eye out for us.

Technical Stuff

Robert, Louisiana to Meridian, Mississippi: 209.0 miles

3 hours 51 minutes

11.0 MPG

Diesel: $2.02/gallon

How I have adapted to a life in self-isolation.

Day 1275

     Here we are, still in Louisiana, as we sit and sit and sit and sit. Louisiana has closed its boarders, we can’t go out, and no one can come in. Currently this is in effect until May 1st.

     Although it’s not the end of the world, it most likely is a tectonic shift.

     Barbara is so excited – it’s time to take out the garbage. She couldn’t decide what to wear?

     I must confess, a couple of weeks ago I went to Walmart and hoarded some essentials: Ice cream, pop-corn, coca-cola, candy and cookies.

     Now, I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.

     My body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately that when I pee it cleans the toilet.

     Most of the people we were playing games left the first of the month before the travel band.

     We even had to give up our wife swapping club.

     It seems a shame to have this blog and nothing to write about. I am open to suggestions. When I was working, (can you believe that has been 4 years ago?), I wrote many articles for the County law bulletin, and some magazines. However, I don’t think you would be interested in law related items. No doubt those articles are no longer relevant, as the law has changed much in those 4 years, and I certainly haven’t kept up to date.

     Well, time to go, I think I will make myself a strawberry milkshake, sit outside in my rocking chair and watch movies on my iPad.