25 -27 May 2015 Shipshawana, IN - Chesterton, IN - Chicago, IL

30 May 2015 Update

     Recently, my worlds of water and land cruising collided!  When it happened, I laughed hysterically and Bill just kinda cut his eyes over at me probably once again, questioning my good sense.  Hopefully this tale will at least elicit a grin from you—-more than I got from my hubby.  Aboard Kindred Spirit, we use our auto pilot while underway making cruising a hands-free venture.  Bill was driving our coach—both hands on the wheel and I asked why he wasn’t using cruise control.  He answered, “I am.”  So then I asked (and as soon as it was out of my mouth, I realized what I’d said and burst out laughing) “So why are your hands on the steering wheel?”  Sometimes I just crack myself up!!

     I’ve satisfied some of my curiosity regarding the interesting habits of the Mennonites and Amish which aren’t the same but similar.  Both are an outgrowth of the Anabaptist movement in Europe from the 16th century.  Anabaptist was the name given to the religious group who don’t believe in infant baptism and believe a person should wait until they could declare their own personal beliefs. They also reject mandatory military service.  Centuries ago, they crossed the Alleghenies by covered wagon and settled in this area of the midwest.  Today their descendants constitute the largest community of Amish in the world.

     There are close to a dozen variations and sects among the Amish and Mennonites ranging in degrees of conservatism.  The most conservative is the Swartzentruber sect who live as did people in the 19th century Europe. They are forbidden to use power tools or hire a driver to go to a job site.  We saw a team of 4 horses pulling a plow with a man walking behind it.  They won’t pose for photos nor are they ‘allowed’ to own a camera. No place for rebels among that group!  They’d have booted me out from the get-go. They won’t ride in vehicles that have rubber tires (can’t count on them to contribute to our Michelin pension!) so they either work at home or near enough to travel by horse.  The largest group, the “Old Order”, travel by buggy and, as a whole, do without modern conveniences and technologies.  The “New Order” don’t drive cars but can have electricity and phones.

     The Amish don’t believe in the value of education beyond the 8th grade and this group is exempt  from the state’s compulsory attendance laws beyond the 8th grade.  Guess you don’t need to know too much to live as in days of yore.

     The set of rules governing all aspects of Amish life is the “Ordnung”. In general, they avoid new technologies that they believe will erode the family structure or create inequalities or divisions in their community.

     Amish clothing is plain and simple, free from adornment; a peasant-type garb reflecting humility and commitment to their Anabaptist heritage.  The men grow beards but without a mustache.  They believe that women should always have their heads covered signifying their acceptance of God’s order of authority in the home.  This is a thin organdy cap with strings either tied or untied.  We never saw any that were tied.  The hard black bonnet worn in public by girls and women is worn over their little organdy cap.  Some women have bare legs and wear flip flops while others wear thick black hose and clunky black shoes.  I’ve not uncovered an answer for that but imagine it has to do with their sect.

     I’m making what seems to be a futile attempt to write this while we travel…have I mentioned how absolutely horrible Ohio and Indiana roads are——even their interstates?  Hopeful this isn't indicative of their public schools.  On the news the other night, a reporter did a piece on the sad state of roads and highways and are planning to convert them all to gravel because they can’t afford to maintain them.  What a despairing state of affairs!

     Ya’ know, when I married a man, 6 years my junior, I thought I could grow him up like I wanted him but that didn’t work out too well for me.  Instead, I’ve had to keep up with his physical stamina.  However, our exploration of Chicago full speed ahead with all the stops out, might’ve resulted in a bit of fatigue for him.  I’ve never heard him complain about anything EVER but the next day he was a bit lacking in his usual liveliness.  Hate it for him but a good thing for me.  Now I can quit fueling with Red Bull intravenously! 

     Chicago was on my bucket list and even though Bill has been there several times, his last time was about 10 years ago and he was amazed at how many changes have been made and how much cleaner the city is than he remembered.  I love that city and would be content to stay there for weeks to see and do everything that peaks my interest—-and those things are legion.

     Indiana Dunes National Seashore was a respite for us for a few days.  It has great bike paths, board walks; is great for bird watching, fishing, kayaking—any outside activity that you had a craving for is available there.  The park has over 15,000 acres of dunes, oak savannas, bogs, swamps, marshes, prairies, rivers, and forests.  There’s also 15 miles of Lake Michigan’s shoreline for water or beach use.  I was psyched to swim in the fresh water but couldn't even get ankle deep.  The water’s a 58 frigid degrees and swim buddy’s in England, Australia and other parts of our planet not blessed with warm tropi-waters find 58 to be quite refreshing.  I guess I’m just a warm water wennie!

     As we topped the hill on our bikes headed now to the beach, Lake Michigan and the dunes just seemed to explode out of nowhere into our line of sight.  I’d never seen this lake before and it was just a breath-taking sight. The undulations of the landscape are the result of the last great continental glacier some 14,000 years ago. The sand dunes rise to almost 200 feet in a series of ridges, blowouts, and valleys. Conservationists are careful in their efforts to preserve this remnant of a once distinctive and unique environment.

Lovin' life and RV-ing!
Bill and Laura


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