17 - 24 May 2015 Goshen, IN - South Bend, IN - Mishawaka, IN - Elkhart, IN

  This past Sunday,17 May, marked our 3rd week as RV-ers; 2 of which were spent in a “controlled environment” among other motor coach owners, most of whom were very seasoned. Now we’ve been launched and are on our own.  We’ve learned so very much but when you know nothing, any sniglet of knowledge is a milestone.

     My apologies for speaking disparagingly of Ohio’s and Indiana’s highways but the only positive thing I can attribute to them is that they’re excellent for the alignment and tire industry.  If they are tooth-rattling on our Michelins, I can’t imagine what brain trauma one would sustain if they are riding on cheap tires.

     Our first week out we attended what is called the “6 Day Maintenance Session” in Goshen, IN.  We couldn’t fathom what so many days would encompass and thought we could probably build one from the Michelins up in that period of time. That was the best thing we could’ve ever done and most especially since we were just beginning this new adventure.  There were vendors there representing any and everything anyone could possibly have on their coach and either for a fee or NO fee, they’d come aboard and check our the system that they support and for which they provide maintenance. Those 6 days proved to be so excellent for us, not only in the information provided but also regarding things needing attention that we didn’t even know were ‘accoutrements’ that necessitated an inspection.

     We’re spending some time in South Bend and surrounding areas learning that South Bend isn’t the metropolis that we thought it was but just a smallish mid-western town.  Who’d have thought  Mishawaka, IN, would be a semi-metropolis——big enough to rate an Apple Store??!!  Since being in this area for several days, we’ve become quite fond of Mishawaka!  Three of those days have found us in their Apple store—-broadening our horizons. 

     Both of us were eager to see Notre Dame’s campus and, by some fluke we arrived just at the end of their graduation ceremony.  We got a thrill out of the pride showing on the faces of parents and the expressions of relief, excitement, and anticipation on the countenance of the cap and gown clad young leaders of our future.  We saw many honor cords.  Entrance requirements for undergrad is stringent.  Last year there were 18,000 applicants and only 2,000 enrolled for their freshman year.  54% of those ranked in the top 2% of their high school graduating class and 98% ranked in the top 10%.  

      The campus is magnificently beautiful and perfectly manicured with a Duke’s mixture of architecture ranging from historically old to nondescript tasteless modern.  There were countless people at the Grotto and the lighted candles cast such a warm and hopeful glow.  Photos don’t portray the real beauty of the gold dome nor the interior of the basilica.

     High on Bill’s Bucket List was to go to the Studebaker Museum in South Bend.  He painstakingly covered all 3 floors and can’t cease his raves about it.

     We spent this past weekend at beautiful Potato Creek State Park, IN.  This was our first camping experience in a real campground.  There  were parents with their young children camping in tents, pop-ups, 5th wheels, and motor coaches. We enjoyed sitting outdoors watching kids running around, riding bikes, playing ball, and just being children doing what kids did 40-50 years ago.       The sounds of their laughter and watching as they reveled in an unused spring day was such a refreshment and a soothing break from all of us being so immersed in our techy age.  Each campsite had a fire ring and everyone around us was using theirs from the time they arose until bedtime—so we didn’t need to be hunters and gatherers to suck in the wonderful aroma of wood smoke.

     This weekend was reminiscent for us when our families were young.  The sights, sounds, and the bouquet of pine needles, meals cooked over charcoal, and laughter around camp fires brought back memories of when we pitched tents with our little children and later graduated to pop-up campers.  Now that our years have increased and we have past experiences with vivid recall of air mattresses springing a leak in the middle of the night landing the sleeper upon the cold ground sprinkled with rocks; an unpredicted wind and rain storm causing the tent to cave in baptizing us with cold rain water and waking crying and frightened children; wild horses snooping around the slumbering campsite, sniffing the posies “arranged” in a jelly jar and adorning the picnic table, tipping over the ‘vase’ so the next morning there was a puddle of ice with the flowers frozen in it; and if you’ve ever camped, you can recite your own similar tales.  Bill once heard me mumble (I had no idea he was within earshot) during one of those “tent experiences”, that “camping sucks!” Our motor coach has indeed elevated our experience of “camping” to a whole new level!  Love it and inhaling others’ campfires without having to build our own, intensifies the joie de vivre and relaxation of it.

     The park is expansive and immersed us in nature with breath-taking spring wildflower displays, wildlife including songbirds, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and turkeys.  We spotted a beaver sitting in the middle of the road having his dinner and I spied my first ever Baltimore Oriole whose color was  dazzling.  The park boasts hardwood forests, wetland marshes, and beaver ponds.  This was a restful break from city life and endless traffic.

     There are approximately 11 miles of hiking trails; 2 bicycle trails—1 of them being solely for mountain bikes.  Cross-country skiing trails are available but thankfully there was none of that white stuff this time of year.  The park’s lake is stocked with bluegill, bass, etc. for fishing enthusiasts. There are horse trails for those who are horsey.  The park employs a full-time naturalist for interpretive programs enjoyed by the summer campers.

     Sunday was coming to close and folks were gathering kids, bikes, skate boards, and all their trappings to return home and prepare to resume another work and school week.  And it’s time for us to leave nature’s solitude and go back to the din of the city.  

     When we departed Potato Creek Sunday, we went to Mishawaka, IN, to the Cummins Diesel Service Center to be ready for them at 7 AM on Monday morning.  Service was great and now our engine has a clean bill of health.  We left there Monday afternoon and drove to Elkhart, IN, to have our washer either repaired or replaced on Tuesday.  While we await the diagnosis, we went to Mishawaka’s Apple Store for an iCloud workshop.  We’ve never been able to get an “understandable” explanation from anyone on what that nebulous Cloud actually is so hopefully this evening we’ll know the washer’s life expectancy AND be able to explain THE CLOUD to inquiring minds.

     Again, we’re loving the RV life, the things we’re seeing and the people we’re meeting.

Till next time….
Bill and Laura Bender
Elkhart, IN



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