A Grey Day, But Still Interesting…Amish Wagon Near Topeka

This morning it was still very grey, and I was still under the weather.  I think mother nature was paying us back for all of the beautiful weather we’ve enjoyed for the past  two months.  It was cold, but not raining.  We hit the road around 7:45 AM headed to our first planned stop, Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana.  We were denied, however, because none of the shops there were open despite the hours listed on the internet.  Abandoning that plan, we headed on over to the park where we planned to stay the night.  When we made the final turn on the road where the park entrance is located, we were stopped by a downed tree across the road.  Thankfully it wasn’t a huge one, so we grabbed our gloves and hand saw, and got to work.  A young man who lives down the road stopped to help, and the three of us made quick work of the removal.  We chatted for a minute, and he wished us well before heading on his way.  The news is full of people behaving badly (in fact, some people are only famous for that reason), but it is comforting to know that the vast majority of folks we meet along the road of life are just plain nice.

Chain O’ Lakes Campground

Chain O’ Lakes State Park is very large.  We’ve noticed that the park signage in Indiana doesn’t seem to be as good as other areas, and this park was a good example.  There were signs to the campground and the park office, but no instructions for check-in.  Since there was no one at a gate on the way into the park, we headed to the park office, which is typically the procedure.  It is a good thing we have a small rig, because there would be no place to turn a large one around!  Don’t let that discourage you, though.  This is an awesome campground.  I imagine in the summer time it is covered up, so plan to make reservations.  There are around 300 electric sites and another hundred or so non-electric and primitive.  The sites were level and nice, although the ones we saw were a little short.  The restrooms were very clean, and the showers had good hot water.  (That is definitely hit or miss this time of year!)  The best part for us was that, except for an empty trailer at the other end of the campground, we were alone.  It was amazing!  The park also has playgrounds, a lake, swimming area, boat rentals, and hiking trails.  It would be easy to spend several days or a week exploring here.  

Grand Design RV

We dropped Penelope off and headed towards Shipshewana to find lunch.  We ate at The 5 and 20 Cafe, where MW had the salad bar and I had chicken (both good).  We continued up through Shipshe (as the locals say) towards Middlebury, stopping at the Next Door Neighbor Bakery to pick up some deliciousness.  

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Final Inspection Bays

Next it was on to the highlight of the day…Grand Design RV where we were scheduled to have a factory tour.  We met Justin TerVeen at the corporate office, and he took us down to the assembly facility for the Reflection 150 line that we have been looking at.  Grand Design has been in business for almost six years, and they already have nine different facilities on their compound.  Their primary focus is two-fold…a quality product and stellar customer service.  Having done a lot of research over the past few months, I notice that they make the top ten on most of the “best” lists.  That is what first caught our eye.  Justin’s tour started at the bare frame and walked us through the entire process.  We saw the underflowing, wiring, tanks, and vents that went in before the flooring was added.  We saw the construction layering of the flooring, walls (including the slides), and roof, including insulation used.  We walked through the furniture and slide assembly areas to see how it is all put together.  We saw, first-hand, the continuous inspection process during assembly with color-coded tape and chalk markings for areas that needed attention.  In an effort to create the perfect RV, these inspections begin very early in the process and continue until the unit reaches the final inspection stations. Once there, everything is reviewed again by another inspection team before sending the unit out the door…to another inspection station with different inspectors where it is reviewed again in five stages.  I have to say, a tour like this is very helpful when contemplating a purchase, and we felt very confident about our choice when we were done.  It was a really great experience, and Justin answered all of our questions and gave us a thorough description of the systems and installations as we walked through.  (One thing discussed was that some manufacturers only inspect ten percent of the RVs that they sell.  I find that appalling!)

After the tour, we headed back to Shipshe to look around at a few shops.  MW finally found the shirts he has been looking for, and he also found some other goodies at Yoder’s Meat and Cheese.  Done with the shopping, we headed back to Penelope and watched a little TV before turning in.


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Neil Armstrong’s Boyhood Home

This morning MW let me sleep in, so we didn’t get on the road until about 8 AM.  I still didn’t feel well, but thankfully, the “hit by a truck” phase seemed to be done.  The weather was beautiful, but it was really cold and a little windy.  It was a great day for a drive.  We headed southeast, going around Fort Wayne and through Saint Mary’s, which was a very pretty town.  In Wapakoneta, Ohio we drove by Neil Armstrong’s boyhood home, which is still a private residence.  Then we headed headed over to his museum.

Armstrong’s Apollo 11 Backup Suit

The Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum was pretty neat.  They had lots of Apollo 11 and Armstrong memorabilia.  There was a neat interview with his father talking about him as a boy and his early fascination with flying.  (He had his pilot’s license by the time most boys are getting their driver’s license.)  MW and I were born at the time of the great space race.  We were in elementary school as the Apollo missions were happening, and the fascination holds to this day.  In 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped off of that ladder and onto the moon, the world was entranced.  This man was standing on another heavenly body where the temperatures can be 230 degrees in the daytime and drop to -300 at night!  A place where night goes on for 345 hours!  How cool is that?!  MW’s original plan was to be an astronaut, but less than perfect eyes held him back.  He has always maintained, though, that if they ever decide they need an old fart for a space mission, he is out the door.  NASA is currently looking to Mars, so it would be a LONG trip.  He’d be okay with that.

After spending a while checking it all out, we continued southeast, stopping at a rest area past Marysville to fix sandwiches.  The rest of the drive was just southeast to get to the campground.  We stopped in Circleville to use the wifi at McDonald’s and pick up some dinner to take with us.  The terrain changed from the Ohio farmland to rolling hills quickly, and we stopped at Hocking Hills State Park.

The Old Man’s Cave Campground at Hocking Hills is nice, too.  The campsites are closer together than we like, but it is laid out well and is in the trees.  We chose an electric-only site and were the only people in the section, though there were quite a few in the full-hookup area.  This is another place where you could easily spend more time.  There is a lake, lots of hiking, and several caves to explore. 

We settled in for a cold night and watched a movie and some Dark Shadows.