Saturday, July 13, 2013

On the Trail....

There are a lot of different kinds of trails in Elkhart County...There's the Art and Earth Trail...Here's the criteria for the stops on this trail:

Each place had to be authentic and unique to the region, whether it was an Amish farm where you can stop to buy quilts and homemade jam, a luxurious South Bend bed and breakfast once the home of a famous family, or a shop in refurbished Winona Lake where artists’ creations reflect serious thought as well as whimsy. Most important of all, each venue had to be friendly, easily accessible and reflect the values we treasure here in Northern Indiana. You won’t find chains or cookie-cutter businesses listed, just one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, museums and lodgings dedicated to the most important person visiting here…you.

and the Northern Indiana Foodie Trail. Seriously? Oh, yeah, and Sparky will check it out SOON now that she is feeling better!  Then there is the Heritage Trail, a nationally recognized tour route of 90 miles. You can pick up a free audio self-guided tour CD from the Elkhart Visitor's Center, that leads through seven communities with directional cues (whew! Sparky needs that), and fun stories about the places seen along the way.

site plaque with flower and facts information
We were here last year, so today we just decided to go looking at the Quilt Gardens which are along the Heritage Trail without the accompaniment of the CD. There are a total of 19 eye popping gardens, each showcasing a different quilt pattern in the communities of Nappanee, Middlebury, Goshen, Shipshewanna, Wakarusa, Elkhart, Bristol and Goshen. There are also 20 hand painted quilt murals in these communities as well. Each site has a plaque that tells you about the quilt pattern, a little story behind each one, and what flowers make up the flower quilt garden. For example, one of the quilt gardens is a pinwheel. (not pictured). The plaque talks about the Navajo believing that the whirling log represents the four cardinal directions. It tells why each plant variety was chosen, and that the pink sunstorm vinca plant looks like polka dotted fabric from a distance. Then each plaque has a "did you know?" fact. The same pinwheel plaque tells that the petunia originated in Argentina and was first brought to Paris in 1823.

The whole thing is very cool! If you go to, you will get lots more information on what to see and what to do if you are in the Elkhart County area and surrounding Amish countryside....
Here's the interpreted flower garden from the above pattern
We covered 11 out of the 19 gardens today...Eldy patiently drove Sparky all over the county to see the gardens and make a few other stops as well. Before we started on the tour, we stopped at the Davis Mercantile in downtown Shipshewanna, home to many fine stores like Lolly's Fabrics and JoJo's Pretzels, which are Sparky and Eldo's most favorite preferred pretzels for fresh homemade ones. Eldo had a plain one, Sparky had a sour cream and onion pretzel. It was half gone before she remembered to take a picture of it!

That place is ALWAYS busy! The line snakes down through the shop to the back of the room on a Saturday, and many other days as well....Well worth it to see the pretzels made, and have a fresh hot one melt in your mouth!

On to the gardens....Here is a collection of what we saw today...Last year when we were here, we visited the gardens in October, and they were on their last legs. This year, being July, the gardens were in their prime. Beautiful!
It was a beautiful drive today, in the eighties, little bit cloudy. Sparky was SO appreciative of Eldy schlepping her all over the county to get these photos today. Eldo is just happy his Sparky is starting to feel sparky again!

We'll see you a day or two....We're gonna get busy visiting friends and family, but there sure is more to see and do in Elkhart County!


  1. WOW !!!!! Those are beautiful and sooooo colorful !!!!! Good to hear you are feeling better, that will help all the way around with visiting and checking out all the neat stops !!!! HAVE FUN !!!!

  2. So glad you feel better...that pretzel looked yummy!

  3. Jean nice you are getting that Spark back, enjoy your time hanging out with family and friends again in theis awesome summer weather.

  4. Bookmarking this one. . .really great. . .and yes, glad you are feeling better, and back to giving us a tour. . .thanks!

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  5. Now that's the kind of quilting I like. :)

  6. My Mom would LOVE that quilt garden. She really in into the quilts :)

  7. Wow! I never thought of Indanna as a place I wanted to put on my "want to visit" list. These gardens are neat. Thanks for the overview.

  8. The quilt trail was my favorite! Paul not so much.

  9. Goodness those pretzels look totally yummy!