Sunday, June 13, 2021

Back Home Again in Howe, IN and the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail

Howe, IN         High: 83   Low: 61        May 2021

Sparky is a little behind on the blog, so she will hurry up and catch up so she can start talking about our fabulous Alaska trip that lasted for two weeks and with her friend, Jeannie Garrett-Kelly who caravanned with us.

We are settled in for two weeks in Howe, IN. We love this area. It's rural, and it's the heart of Amish country. We love seeing the industrial Amish work their farms, ride their buggies, and get dressed up in their Sunday finest to go to church. The women put on starched white bibs over black dresses, the men all wear white shirts, black ties and black coats and then off they ride in their buggies early Sunday morning. LOTS of buggies on the road on Sunday mornings. Here, they are gathering at one of the farms on a Sunday, and they rode their bikes to get there.
We've seen them plowing their fields with big draft horses, pulling the plows behind them. We've seen them riding barefoot on their bikes on the bike trail. Sparky even saw an unusual situation yesterday. An Amish or Mennonite mom was riding her bike on the highway, two daughters were riding foot pedaled scooters behind her, and a third daughter was running barefoot behind all three of them, running as fast as she could to keep up.  She was running barefoot on the shoulder of the highway in her long dress and looked exhausted. Sparky immediately had the thought that maybe the last daughter in the line was being punished for something? It was different, that's for sure!

While we were here, some friends came to visit. Sparky's childhood classmate from elementary school doesn't live too far away, so we were excited to get together after many many years (Sparky won't say how many) of graduating from elementary school. It's always fun to catch up and see how we've all aged. A big thank you to John and Susan Dorrer, who drove to see us. We had a great time catching up on childhood memories and our RV travels. John and Susan travel in a truck camper with a dog! But they are not full timing, just part timing. Eldo and Sparky would never make it in a truck camper, but then again, you usually go a little bigger if you are going to live in a rig full time. It was great to see you, John and Susan! Safe travels...until we meet again!

We've also been visiting Eldy's son and his family. Brian, his son, put in a 30 amp plug for us so we can MOOTCH DOCK while we are in Alaska. Mootch docking is what RVers call being able to hook up and have electric and water at a friends or relatives and be able to stay for FREE! Thank you, so much Brian! And, we are getting ready to fly to Alaska and rent an RV for two weeks. My master researcher, Eldo, says that by renting:  
1) There will be no wear and tear on your own rig
2) You won't have to replace your tires on either truck or RV after several thousand miles of driving there and back, 
3) You won't have to worry about damaging your windshield which is apparently a common thing when RVing in Alaska, (from rocks flying up against your rig on some bad roads). However, we have found the roads not to be bad at all in having rented an RV three times before as long as YOU STAY ON THE DESIGNATED HIGHWAY ROADS FOR RENTAL RVS. Anyone would like more information about renting RVs in Alaska, just ask Eldo. AND we got very reasonable air fares which make it doable this year for us. Since the Canadian borders are closed, it made sense to fly and rent. So the next blog will be about Alaska! Back to this blog.....

Star of Bethlehem
Sparky has been riding the Pumpkinvine quite a few times. The Pumpkinvine in spring is absolutely delightful. The wildflowers are gorgeous. Sparky has been using the "Seek" app to identify some real beauties....That's a really cool app. You just hold your camera phone in front of the plant or flower, and the app tells you the name of it and the species if it can. Sparky has seen all of these on the trail so far: False Solomon's Sea, Amur honeysuckle, White Campion, Nannyberry, Jetbead, Spiderwort, Aniseroot or Sweet Cecily, Trillium, Morrow's Honeysuckle, Greater Celandine
 and Dame's Rocket.
Greater Celandine
Sparky in front of Dames' Rocket

Not only has Sparky seen some amazing wildflowers, but she saw a muskrat leisurely cross the trail today, along with several cats out hunting. This bunny rabbit met his untimely death shortly before Sparky came on the scene and the cat seemed to be quite proud of his catch, walking the trail to mosey along back to wherever he or she came from.
pink trillium

Sparky is still interested in the birds, but having lots of trouble with her Nikon P900 camera and its focus. So, for now, the birds will remain elusive in photos, but seen in Sparky's mind. Sparky has seen beautiful blue indigo buntings every time she has ridden, orioles, a scarlet tanager, a red bellied woodpecker, and tons of robins who strut their stuff on the trail and let you get pretty close before they fly off to the thicket. But hey--how about some beautiful wildflowers along the trail, like these flax?

You can ride Shipshewanna to Goshen and get a lot of miles in. Sparky does the ride from Shipshewanna to the part of the trail that takes a detour near Goshen onto a busy county road, where Sparky doesn't feel comfortable riding. It's 9.5 miles to that detour for a total of 19 miles if you get to that part of the trail, then turn around and come back. They are working on a new part of the Pumpkinvine Trail that will do away with that dangerous detour--terrific! Due to be finished fall, 2022. OH! Almost forgot--there are beautiful lupines blooming at this time on the trail at the Shipshewanna end.
Today, Sparky rode all the way from Abshire Park in Goshen, to Shipshewanna and back, a distance of about 31 miles. That is a new record for Sparky, and boy, do her knees say, "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, WOMAN!?????" But it was a beautiful cooler day today after being in the 90's with a lot of humidity yesterday, and Eldo was off playing golf with his brother, son, and granddaughter, so why not try for a personal best? Whew! The trail from Abshire Park to Shipshewanna and back is about 50% shaded, (Sparky's wild guess--that's what it seems like. Sparky is NO mathematician, (HAHAHAHAHA....Eldo is rolling on the floor with that one.) Sparky is TERRIBLE at math. You know those little algebraic equations they throw up on Facebook now and then? Sparky ALWAYS gets the wrong answer....sigh. (She decided to go into Special Education back in the 70's for her degree because it required less math classes in college, so that was a big influence back then. Sparky never regretted that decision, however. She loved being a teacher. But she digresses.....

Guess what, the cactus that was growing big time last year and marked with a humorous hand lettered "RARE SPECIMEN" sign on the trail, had been mowed down a couple of weeks ago. Oh, no! It was a cool cactus! Low and behold, when Sparky went back out on the trail for her marathon ride today, a little tiny one had sprouted, AND, it had tons of beautiful little yellow blooms on it, almost like it was defying the person who mowed it down. Woo hoo! You grow, girl! She knows plants have no gender, but what the heck! This one is going strong, so a girl it is!

Wanna hear all about Alaska? It's coming, it's coming. Sparky has to go through a bazillion photos and try to pick the best ones. She will also have to break the blog into about two parts, there's gonna be so much to share! Stay tuned, Sparky is excited to share where we went and how we did it. Bye for now!


  1. Beautiful flowers! Can't wait to hear more about the Alaska trip.

  2. Beautiful blue lupines...the state flower of Texas known as bluebonnets! V in North Texas

  3. Great flower pictures Jeannie and 31 miles WOW! How nice for you and especially Eldy to spend time near his family and be able to moochdock. Wish I could do that at Carrie's but she doesn't have a flat space to park other than right up next to her house but Winnona would displace their cars. LOL! Thanks for the app recommendation.