Hanging Out in the Land of RVs and Buggies – August 30 to September 3, 2015

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After having a wonderful time exploring upper Michigan, we headed south into Indiana. We had an appointment to spend a few days at the Newmar factory to get the RV serviced. We only had a couple minor things that needed to be looked at such as loose shades. Frankly, we were just curious to see how their customer service was. We were not disappointed – everyone was courteous and bent over backwards to make sure we were satisfied.  Newmar builds it’s motor homes in Nappanee which is right in the middle of Indiana’s Amish country. I’ve heard it said that 80% of recreational vehicles in the United States are built in the towns around this locality and a large proportion of the labor is done by Amish workers. While we were there, we took a tour of the Newmar factory. No one was allowed to take any photos, but I wish I could have documented how hard the workers seemed to hustle. It was ironic to see Amish men doing electrical wiring, etc. It was also amazing how they used “air pallets” under the wheels so that the chassis just “floated” while the men moved it from station to station.

Also interesting is how the company handles the service end of their operation. We had a few issues that needed to be addressed such as overhead lights burning out . We found that an appointment must be made at least a couple of months beforehand and each item to be looked at has to be listed in advance.  Then, they allot a certain amount of days for your vehicle. They stick as closely as they can to the plan, because right after one RV leaves, another one is scheduled right behind it. They have a little “village” of RV spaces so people can spend the night in their own motor homes during their servicing. Each morning at 6:00 am, a service representative knocks on the door, gets the keys, and drives off with the RV. He returns it to the spot at 2:00 pm and goes over what was fixed that day.

During the three days we were there, we were glad to find there was plenty to do since we were without our home on wheels for several hours each day. We ended up really enjoying ourselves. This little ending part to our trip to Michigan actually began before we even got to the factory, when we stayed at Pokagon State Park. which is located just south of the Michigan-Indiana border in Angola.

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In Indiana, Pokagon is known mostly for its huge toboggan slide that is open all winter long. We found it had wonderful hiking through reclaimed wetlands and meadows filled with wild flowers. Indiana state parks always seem to have very well marked and maintained trails, and we weren’t disappointed here.

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From 1934 to 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps built several structures including the Spring Shelter shown in the upper left of this photo collage.  The all but deserted campground was heavily wooded. Our RV is only a 38 footer, but I think that’s about as big as this campground can accommodate. The site that was initially assigned to us ended up being impossible to back into because of the trees and the fact that it wasn’t deep enough. We found another one that suited our situation and we went through a bit of red tape, even though the place was empty. My advice would be to go scope out the sites before driving a motor home back into the camping area. However, this is a great park and it’s worth staying here.

From Pokagon we drove to the Newmar Corporation Factory in Nappanee. After being in overflow parking for a few hours, we were able to snag a full hook up site in the service “village” after one was vacated by someone leaving for home. The first full day we were there to drove to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum  in Elkhart. We actually drove right past it at first because it is in the back of the Northern Indiana Event Center.

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It took us about two hours to go through the museum, but if someone was a serious lover of old RVs, it might take them three. My two favorite vehicles were Mae West’s navy blue house car and the Tennessee Traveler that was found forgotten in a barn.  They also had newer RVs on display and I was enchanted by the Winnebago retro models.

The next day we ventured out to Shipshewana Flea Market .

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It’s only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May through September, but it also has an antique mall that is open Monday through Saturday all year round.

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As the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and it’s all here in Shipshewana. There was booth after booth selling things like perfume, socks, kitchen articles, and every thing imaginable. Notice Vanilla in the photo above, trying to take it all in! I ended up buying a rubber chicken that squeaks. I know it will be useful sometime in the near future…

On our last day we went to Amish Acres which is actually right next door to the Newmar property.

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There is a bit of shopping, restaurants, and a film on the history of the Amish people, but the best part for me was touring the farm house and grounds of an original Amish farm that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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After finishing our tour, we high tailed it back to our RV site. Everything was skillfully fixed and with the (huge $) estimate in hand for the damage to the back end, we hopped in and drove for home. We were excited to leave because the next day, Allison arrived home after spending a year teaching in Spain and traveling around Europe. However, we couldn’t resist talking about what our next trip would be. We decided on a fall tour of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia Civil War sites…

Just for fun, here are some links to some other Yates social media sites:

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