Rising Sun, Indiana

Day 1761

     We are staying at Rising Star Casino Resort which is a riverboat casino and hotel perched on the Ohio River in Rising Sun, Indiana. Originally called the Grand Victoria Casino when it opened in October 1996. 

     Hyatt Hotels, the owner, decided in 2006 to sell the Grand Victoria. Full House Resorts purchased the property on Aug 19, 2011 and renamed it the Rising Star Casino Resort. An RV park with 50 full hook up sites was added in 2017.

     The city of Rising Sun is another of those small towns that sprang up along the Ohio River.

     Settlers prior to 1798 are difficult to document because of the “Indian menace.” Until the Northwest Ordinance was official, there were no troops to protect settlers in the area.

    Col. Benjamin Chambers was commissioned under the John Adams administration in 1799 to survey the lands west of the Great Miami River, a tributary of the Ohio River approximately 160 miles long, named for the Indian Tribe that lived in the area. 

     John Fulton, relative of Robert Fulton the inventor of the steamboat, moved here from Lancaster Co., PA. in 1798. The story goes the party was headed downriver, apparently without a destination, and a pregnant woman was among them. For her comfort, they anchored along the bank for the night. Daybreak was so beautiful, the site was named Rising Sun and the group decided to make the place its home.

     John James, originally of Frederick County, Maryland, arrived in 1814 and purchased 776 acres of land. John platted the town of Rising Sun. The town was registered in 1816. While he wasn’t the first settler, James is known as the city’s founder.

     In walking the town we came across a number of old buildings, such as Heritage Hall. Built in 1832, it is the oldest standing building on Main St. 

     This building, built in 1902, housed a number of business over the years, including a dance hall on the second floor, which was also used by the KKK as their meeting place. 

     We stopped at the Ohio County Historical Society. Mostly a collection of old junk, they did have 2 interesting pieces: This instrument of Death, a new and improved electric chair, made in March, 1928 by the local blacksmith.

And this two headed calf born in 1989:


Technical Stuff:

Bowling Green, Kentucky to Rising Sun, Indiana: 203.7 miles

4 hours 36 minutes

11.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Columbus, Indiana

Day 1333

     We are leaving Amish Country and heading for Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

     As we are leaving the campground, we pass the pasture with the Amish Belgium Work horses. You can tell they are Belgium by their accent.

     We stopped here in Columbus for one night without unhooking the Sphinx from the Truck.

And, therefore, did not explore the town or the area. Sometimes you just want to stop for the night and lay around and do nothing. Since I am laying around doing nothing, I decided to do some calculations. We have now been on the road for 4 years. Including campsite fees, food, diesel, propane, restaurants, admission to museums and events, and hotspot coverage for communications and internet, our costs are $90.34 a day. At home our costs were about $120.00 a day. 


Technical Stuff:

Shipshewana, Indiana to Columbus, Indiana: 227.9 miles

4 hours 28 minutes

9.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.16

Fidler Pond, Goshen Indiana

Day 1328

     When Lewis Fidler returned to Goshen Indiana after serving in the Navy during World War II, he opened up a filling station. He made a decent living, but the nearby land proved to be more valuable. He purchased the land intending to sell it to developers, but used it to start a sand and gravel business.

     Then in 1955, Fidler bought a ready-mix concrete company, followed by a concrete block company. Taking the gravel from the ground create a huge pit, which filled with water and today is called Fidler Pond, after being purchased by the city of Goshen for $550,000.  The city turned the land into Fidler Pond Park, opening Labor Day, 2013.

     Today’s hike took us around the pond.

     The pond, at its deepest, is 69 feet.

     This is the same turtle we saw at Goshen Millrace. He must have followed us here.

Amish Dinner, Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 1327

     When we met with Orvan Fry to have the Sphinx inspected by him for repairs and possible updates, he suggest we have the vehicles weighed. We do this once a year or so. There are limits as to what the Sphinx can carry. It is rated for 16,000 pounds. From that we subtract the weight of all the contents, bed, sofa, chairs, etc. All those weights are given us when we purchased the RV. We are also informed of the cargo capacity after those weights are subtracted, which is 3,175 lbs. That would be all the stuff we put in the RV, clothes, food in the fridge, lawn chairs, etc. Don’t forget we also add water and poop (Barbara more than I). Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. We have three 40 gallon waste tanks, and a 60 gallon fresh water tank.

     We took the truck and Sphinx to a granary where they had a scale for large vehicles. We weighed the truck first, then we weighed the truck hooked up to the Sphinx, but only the truck wheels on the scale. We subtract the stand alone truck weight from this weight which tells us the amount of weight the Sphinx hitch is placing in the bed of the truck. We then weigh the truck and Sphinx together. Subtracting the truck and hitch weight from the total weight of the 2 vehicles tells us the weight on the axles of the Sphinx. Listed on the truck (just like your car) and the Sphinx are the actual weights each vehicle can carry. As it turns out, we are 80 lbs below our maximum weight.

     Barbara now realizes she can buy 80 more pounds of stuff. So off we go to the little shops run by the Amish in Shipshewana.

     Unfortunately, we walk by a candy store where I stocked up on my favorites, now she can only buy 70 lbs. of stuff.

     While Barbara was shopping, I was talking to an Amish guy making fresh caramel popcorn. It turns out he and his wife offer a home cooked Amish dinner for us tourists. So I signed us up.

     John and Elaine have a small farm just outside Shipshewana. We arrived early and walked around. 

     They plant a garden and grow a lot of their own food. Being Amish, they are not hooked up to the electric grid. However, they do have solar panels to supplement their diesel and propane generators. 

     We were joined by 2 other couples for dinner.

     After dinner we sat around and talked. Thereafter Elaine played on a keyboard

and we sang non denominational songs, like Amazing Grace. Then more leisure conversation to wrap up the evening.

All this, an Amish tradition. 


Goshen Millrace Canal, Indiana

Day 1325

     The Goshen Hydraulic Canal (The Millrace) was put into service on April 18, 1868, the same day Goshen, Indiana was incorporated as a city.  It was designed to provide water power to the new industries in the area and was progressively used for steam generation, electrical generation, ice production, recreation and much more.

     A Millrace is a body of water used to turn a water wheel.

     We hiked the canal.

     Along the banks you can hear the croaking of frogs. Once in a while, they would greet us on the trail.

     You never knew what is going to pop up out of the canal, a snake,

 a turtle,

     Wildflowers were abundant.

     When you came to a widening of the canal, ducks and geese would gather.

     We came across this family

     At the beginning of the trail, you could take the path we took along the canal, or another path that took you through the woods. Both were about the same length, 5 miles round trip. This made this sign very amusing. At this point the trials crossed. To take this picture I am standing on the woods trial. The cross traffic that does not stop is us. (As you can see, Barbara did stop.)

     Various bridges crossed the canal

     One of the oldest and unique was this stone bridge. Originally built of wood in the 1880’s by the Hawks Furniture Company, it was rebuilt of stone in 1905 when the wooden bridge was destroyed. Its purpose was to carry people and goods between the company’s two building on either side of the canal.

     We had to pause as Barbara herded a gaggle of geese across the trail.

     Is this the source of the canal?

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

Goshen, Indiana

Day 762

     We are back in Goshen, Indiana (see day 420), for our second Forest River Owner’s Group rally. This is a relaxing week in which we will meet with fellow RV’ers (1600 of them) who own RV’s from the same manufacturer as ours. We will attend seminars on topics related to the Sphinx, and attend numerous events put on by the manufacturer, including 4 ice-cream socials. 

     Since we are in the heart of Amish Country, we decided to venturer out and learn more about their everyday life and how they lived.

     We visited a carriage maker,

     As well as a coffin maker

     Tidbit of Information: The difference between a cemetery and a graveyard: A graveyard is always attached to a church. Since the Amish do not have churches (they meet in each other’s homes), they only have cemeteries. 

     We went and had dinner and saw a show, after which the actors came on the bus and answered questions.

     Of course, you MUST have ice cream every single day, so we went to an ice cream parlor called “Rocket Science Ice Cream”. 

     They take the ingredients of the ice cream and mix it in a metal bowl,

     then they squirt it with liquid nitrogen to flash freeze it,

     and serve it right to you.

     Barbara thinks it is the best ice cream she has ever eaten. 

Technical Stuff:

Elkhart, Indiana to Goshen, Indiana: 28.6 miles

1 hour 1 minute

9.1 MPG

Diesel: $3.00

Parke County, Indiana

Day 432

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     Parke County lies in the western part of Indiana along the Wabash River and was formed in 1821. The County has 31 covered bridges and describes itself as the Covered Bridge Capital of the World. At one time as many as 53 covered bridges existed.

     These are actual covered wooden bridges, not like the bridges of Ashtabula County, Ohio (see day 412).

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     To access some of these bridges, we had to drive through corn fields:

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     In our travels today, looking for the covered bridges, we came across this history on a stick:

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     Having no idea what the 10 O’clock line was, but suspecting it was an Indian line cast by the sun’s shadow on a stick, this is what I found: The Treaty of Fort Wayne, sometimes called the Ten O’clock Line Treaty, is a 1809 treaty that obtained 3,000,000 acres (yes, that’s 3 million acres) of American Indian land for the white settlers of Illinois and Indiana. The Indians did not trust the surveyors’ equipment, so a spear was thrown down at ten o’clock and the shadow became the treaty line.

     I learn something new everyday. 

     Of course, you knew the state’s name means “Indian Land”.

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Rockville, Indiana

Day 431

     Rockville is a town in Parke County, Indiana, and was laid out in 1824, three years after the county was founded, when it became the county seat. We went to this county seat because they had a museum.

     Parke County is known for it’s many covered bridges, and we were looking for information before our trip tomorrow to tour the bridges.

     What we found was a hodgepodge collection of memorabilia of the town. More interesting than the items, was it’s curator, a 75 year old women who lived in this town her entire life. 

    Despite her age, no matter what item you picked up, and you could touch everything, she gave you it’s personal history. I can’t remember where we visited last week, much less events that happened 50 years ago. 

     For example, I picked up some letter, and she told me that those letter were written by her school teacher, who’s son she once dated. No matter what you were looking at, she related it to someone she knew, or an event that happened. She was fascinating. 

Technical Stuff:

Goshen, Indiana to Rockville, Indiana: 222.5 miles

4 hours 54 minutes

11.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.48


South Bend, Indiana

Day 429

     South Bend, Indiana, is a city on the St. Joseph River near its southernmost bend, from which it derives its name. The area was originally settled in the early 19th century by fur traders and was established as a city on May 22, 1865.

     Barbara wanted to go to South Bend to see the campus of Notre Dame, more correctly called The University of Notre Dame du Lac. Notre Dame du Lac means “Our Lady of the Lake” and refers to the university’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary. The main campus covers 1,250 acres, and it seems we walked it all. The school was founded on November 26, 1842, by Father Edward Sorin, who was also it’s first president, as an all-male institution (women started sneaking into the university in 1972).

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     In the main hallway they had a series of paintings of Columbus’ travels to the new world. The first painting was a depiction of his blessing before his departure at 3 1/2 AM Friday, August 5, 1492. I wonder if that was daylight savings time?

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     We saw “Touchdown Jesus”:

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     Tidbit of information: Chaplain William Corby, of Notre Dame, is only one of three non military individuals to have a statute on the Gettysburg Battlefield. The others were President Lincoln, and the only civilian casualty of the battle. I told you about that person on Day 80. You remember, of course.  



Heroes, Goshen, Indiana

Day 422

     Where will you find the only comic book superhero museum in the country? If you said The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., you are wrong.

     It is in Goshen, Indiana. Run by Allen Stewart, whom we met today. Stewart is a 46 year old realtor who began collecting comic books as a youth. His collection became so large, he build a building behind his house to house these treasures.  The museum is designed to look like the Hall of Justice building featured in the 1970s cartoon, “Super Friends.”

     More than 65,000 superhero comic books and thousands of superhero action figures can be found, including the original Batman suit worn by Adam West in the TV series, above, and this original costume from the Greatest American Hero, worn by William Katt.

     Stewart, who graduated from Indiana University at South Bend with degrees in history and teaching, is one of the nation’s foremost historians of comic books.


Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds, Indiana

Day 421

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     Our RV, The Sphinx, is a Cedar Creek 5th Wheel, which is a division of Forest River, one of the largest makers of Recreational Vehicles in the United States. 

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     We are attending the fifth annual rally of the Forest River Owner’s Group, of which we are members, commonly called FROG.

     The Rally is being held in Elkhart, Indiana, at the Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds.

     The city of Elkhart sprung up at the conflux of the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. It was originally part of the Northwest Territory, which, after the Revolutionary War, was territory northwest of the Ohio River. The Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds was formed in 1908 to host the annual 4H fair, which started in Elkhart in 1851. 

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     The fairgrounds hosted 800 RVs this year. We were placed in the infield of the harness racing track, along with 120 other Cedar Creek 5th wheels. There were over 20 different brands of Forest River products at the rally. 

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     This was the view from The Sphinx:

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Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 417

     Shipshewana was named after a local Potawatomi Indian. The Shipshewana post office was established in 1889. Shipshewana has a total area of only 1.18 square miles of land.

     The area became popular because of the Amish flea market.

     Flea market comes from the French marché aux puces, a name originally given to a market in Paris which specialized in shabby second-hand goods of the kind that might contain fleas.

      The Shipshewana Flea Market is in Indiana’s Amish Country with nearly 900 vendor spaces in an open-air market. 

Technical Stuff:

Wauseone, Ohio to Shipshewana, Indiana: 100.5 miles

2 hours 33 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.17


Goshen, Indiana

Day 420

Day 420 Goshen, IN4171_Fotor

     Goshen, Indiana, is home to many Amish families.

     Goshen was platted in 1831. It got it’s name from “The Land of Goshen” (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן) which is named in the Bible as the place in Egypt where the Jewish people lived, and from which they later exited Egypt.

     The Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites come from the Anabaptist movement that began during the Reformation in 16th century Europe. The word “Anabaptist” means “to rebaptize”. This name was attached to a group of believers who called for voluntary, adult baptisms at a time when the state allowed only infant baptism.

     The Anabaptist movement began in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 21, 1525, when a group of believers baptized adults who made a voluntary confession of faith.

     The Hutterites are the oldest of the Anabaptist groups. Named after Jacob Huttler, they organized in Moravia, (Czechoslovakia), in 1528

     The Mennonites got their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who joined the movement in 1536 and became its most influential leader.

     The Amish, led by Jacob Ammann, began in 1693 with a group that split from the Mennonites, believing that the Mennonites were becoming too modern.

     On October 6, 1683 a group of Mennonites and Quakers from Krefeld, Germany, escaping from religious persecution, arrived in Penn Sylvania (Penn’s Woods) at the invitation of William Penn who offered them land and religious freedom. Their settlement was called Germantown. 

     On June 29, 1841, four Amish Families (24 people) arrive in Goshen, Indiana from Pennsylvania, seeking more fertile land, more separation from the world, and a home for their Church. Now, they’re everywhere. 

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Technical Stuff:

Shipshewana, Indiana to Goshen, Indiana: 17 miles

33 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.17