Hard to imagine, but we are nearing the end of our road trip. This last leg was also one of the shortest and on our journey from Fort Wayne to Chicago, there was time to visit the Amish Country of Northern Indiana.
We headed for Shipshewana, where I’d marked Menno Hof as a good starting point. Thing is, we arrived there at a quiet time and no sooner had we stepped inside, we were sucked into the system and found ourselves in the “visitor experience”. An hour later, we could have passed any exam with questions about the Mennonites, the Amish and the Huttites (though we’d have probably failed the same exam two hours later).
There were a couple of beautiful quilts there, however. The first, above, was made by the women of the community whilst the men raised the barn for this centre.
Whilst it didn’t seem to me to be a traditional Amish design, it was beautifully made and the handprints of the men were quilted into the border, making it a marvellous commemoration of the event.
The other quilt, hanging nearby depicted a traditional mennonite design. Dreadful photographs really, but they were hanging so high on the wall, it was difficult to get more than a simple impression – and yes, they were hanging above the doors to the loos!
Actually, though we were interested in the background information, what we’d really come in here for was further information on another quilt trail. There wasn’t going to be enough time to do the whole thing, but perhaps we could see something of the Indiana version of the Ohio Clothesline?
The first part was a little further along the road. This was a series of quilted flowerbeds.
Altogether more organised, more commercial and losing some of the spirit and sense of authenticity along the way, viewing these quilt gardens was also pretty difficult. A good idea, for sure, but perhaps a step ladder would have helped?!
Thankfully, there were also a few lovely barn quilts too.
Not that we were searching for them, you know.
Some were simply hard to miss!
By this time, we’d reached the conclusion that this particular Amish country was way too commercial for our liking. Of course, we were interested in the community and their lifestyle and beliefs; I was actually keen to see some “real” Amish quilts too. But it wasn’t to be here, because everywhere we stopped in the area seemed to be “amish style” and far from authentic and the whole area was buzzing with tourists. Perhaps I didn’t research well enough to identify the right places to visit, to shop and to look at quilts. Anyway, for whatever reason, it was time to move on.
We hit our favourite road, the US20, again and made our way across the border into Michigan.
We stopped for some lunch in a great deli in Three Oaks having stopped for a “kerching” photograph in Edwardsburg. State #38 for me.
As we sat munching on enormous wraps and sandwiches, the heavens opened and we had to run to the car to avoid getting soaked.
Thankfully, by the time we reached the Interstate 94, it seemed to have stopped and we headed to Chicago, expecting to be there late afternoon. Travelling into Illinois, we’d gain an hour!
First, there was a section of Indiana to be crossed. This was a busy road with many trucks and a few stretches of road works too. We watched those clouds gathering overhead and soon afterwards, watched the first large drops of rain on the windscreen.
In no time at all, it became scary. Very scary. My Hero tucked in behind the tanker in front because it had clear lights and was travelling at a reasonable speed. Other large trucks were zooming past us and some of the cars were passing through such huge puddles of water, there were large fountains being thrown up over the outer carriageways. We were well out of it behind our tanker, believe me.
Except suddenly, we seemed to be in a washing machine. The rain was so heavy, the traffic so dense and the visibility virtually nil. Huge trucks were on either side of us, most of them painted white and almost invisible in the spray. To say I was frightened would be unfair because I trusted my Hero’s driving skills and ability to get us through – but yes, I was thrilled to get out of that situation.
Ok, it was still raining heavily but thankfully, not quite in the same league.
Passing signs for Indianapolis, I realised we weren’t going to see a great deal of the city!
In fact, we “surfaced” in Gary, into rather a different landscape than we’d been travelling through previously.
We might have surfaced, but sad to say, much of Gary was submerged.
Just when we were getting used to Mittal steelworks and BP refineries, there was a little blue sky on the horizon.
Hmmm. Might that be a lake? Lake Michigan, perhaps?
No! Those people aren’t really sitting on the beach are they? Sure enough, here we were on Lakeshore Drive South, Chicago and life was looking pretty sunny.
Our route took us in past some familiar places: Grant Park, the “bean”, the fountains and over the bridge.
A short drive along Madison Avenue and we were there at our hotel and very pleased to be there, too.
The welcome news of upgraded rooms and the sweet views from the 27th floor were a perfect end to what had been quite a day.
And though the weather appeared to be coming in rather quickly, we managed to scoot out for some supper at our favourite Giordanos before the rain began to fall.
For once, we managed to get our order just about right, too. One medium deep dish between the three of us!
We still couldn’t finish and one slice remained when all three of us were “comfortably stuffed”, but that was fine. The rain had stopped and we returned to our hotel in the dry.
Chicago is grand!