Wednesday, August 9, 2023

August in Elkhart

We are officially moved into our small apartment, a total of 911 square feet. That's a nice uptick from about 400 square feet, which we think we had in the fifth wheel. That 911 square feet would be small and tight for a lot of people if you were coming from a house, but coming from living in a tight RV, it feels a LOT roomier. The apartment has two bedrooms and one bath. Oh, boy, Sparky gets a room to craft in! It is also very light and airy, which is a very welcome change from the dark interior of the fifth wheel.

It was a challenge going from an RV with LOTS of cupboards for putting everything in them, to the apartment with the only shelving and cupboards in the kitchen. We were surprised and just a little disappointed to find that there was NO medicine cabinet in the bathroom. You KNOW old people have lots of meds, right? So we had to get creative with tubs and shoe boxes under the sinks.

Sauder cabinet
Keeping that in mind since there were NO built in cabinets, as we gathered pieces of furniture from yard sales and thrift shops, Sparky insisted just about everything had to have a dual purpose and drawers or doors. Sparky bought a Sauder tall cabinet with shelves to put together. Back in the day, everything Sparky owned as a young single mom was pretty much Sauder put together stuff. Sauder is pretty decent furniture and the how to assemble guide is very thorough. And funny. Further on in the manual it said to pause for a beverage!

But we still have boxes and boxes to unpack and finding spots to put everything away is the biggest problem. Eldo says, "I can't believe we had all this in the RV!" That's because it was all contained behind closed cabinet doors, lol. The main bulk of what's left is Sparky's amazing craft supply collection. (AHA! I knew it wasn't MY stuff! exclaims Eldo.)

The apartment, although small, has lots of natural light coming in. We have a little patio and a storage shed. The complex has a nice laundry, a small pool and a workout room. And if you are so inclined to do yard work, because you miss having a yard, (that would be Sparky) residents can get paid 10.00 an hour rent credit for work done around the complex!

Grey headed coneflower
Sparky is a bit further from the Pumpkinvine bike trail, but that doesn't stop her from getting out there and riding 12-18 miles a couple times a week. The wildflowers are incredible right now....The lavendar bee balm, grey headed coneflowers, purple coneflowers, they are all blooming like crazy along the trail. It's a beautiful ride any time of the year.
Amish farm-corn and zinnias
The butterflies are really enjoying the prolific bloom of flowers...

The cornfields are tasseling....There is nothing better than Indiana sweet corn in August and it's everywhere. The farm fields are beautiful. It's amazing how tightly packed those cornstalks are! The yields must be great for the farmers. They've had ample rain this year and not had to irrigate as much.

Swallowtail on bee balm
It's hot, but not unbearably so, like in the southwest. Temperatures are in the high eighties during the day and low sixties at night. We are really enjoying the area as we settle down for awhile. Sparky will start subbing soon, hopefully, and Eldy is in the height of golf season with the Concord High School girls' golf team. He is VERY busy and that's a great thing for him to have an outside interest that gets him up and moving around. The golf team won their first match and are steadily progressing with their skills. They should have a very respectable season with their new coaches!

Sparky saw the biggest drone she had ever seen while bike riding. It was spray dusting the cornfields. It stopped spraying as it came to the end of the field where she was just outside the edge of the fence. Wonder if she was on camera and the operator stopped spraying because of that? It immediately flew back towards the farm and didn't spray any more after that. Maybe it returned to get more spray?

Along with the many many fields of corn, there are of course, soybeans. Did you know soybeans produce pretty little purple flowers hiding underneath their canopies of fuzzy leaves and stems? 
You may not always see Amish while riding the trail, but they are always out and about either in the fields or in their buggies traveling here and there.  Sparky just missed a buggy today....

The rock snake has gotten a LOT longer! Look at this little dude. In case you missed it, someone started a two rock snake with a little request to post on social media as the snake gets additional rocks. Sparky first saw it with the head and one rock earlier this season and that was it. How fun for people riding along the trail! There are some cool rocks in the snake.
Some more talented rock painters.....
The flower quilts are at the height of their season. Now is the time to go see them if you are in the area...
Quilt garden Abshire Park Goshen

Downtown Goshen
We continue to enjoy the small town of Goshen. They close off the streets the first Friday of every month with usually some sort of theme, for music, food vendors and shopping discounts. We haven't made it over there yet,  but it's on our list of fun things to do when it's not too hot. Sparky loves the downtown vibe there....

We are regular visitors to JoJo's Pretzels on Main Street in Goshen. They have really great warm, freshly made pretzels. Sparky loves her sour cream and onion pretzels, Eldo loves his garlic/parmesan pretzels.

And with that....School starts next week and Sparky already has work lined up with a fourth grade class for half days for two weeks! We shall see you later down the road or in town, haha...Five days till the RV goes in for repairs, the countdown begins in earnest!

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

While We Wait Some More....

Camp Tompkins site
It's hard for Sparky to stay away from writing! However, not much news to report. Camp Tompkins remains our favorite "campground" site...With family right across the driveway, how can you not like where you are?! You can tell we definitely have made ourselves at home.

The guys are exploring BBQ grills and options. Eldy is thinking about purchasing a grill so he can cook a little more when Sparky has her subbing days this fall. As usual, he does his research for WEEKS before deciding to make a purchase. Pellet grill? The Green Egg? Kamado Junior? Pit Boss? Traeger? The choices along with the pros and cons of each are ENDLESS!
 Plus our patio for our upcoming apartment is VERY small and you have to wheel your grill 10 feet away from the apartment each time you want to use it because of the fire hazard so weight and mobility is going to be a factor, too. Sparky would settle for a very small Weber, but Eldy is more inclined towards the bigger, the better, haha.

Because we have to furnish a little 2 bedroom apartment from scratch, (coming from an RV), we are scouring garage sales and have picked up some more bargains. How about a vintage maple dresser for 74.00? Here's the before:

And here's the after: Sparky is a little disappointed in her glazin/antiquing skills, but hey, this was the first try. With more practice, maybe it will more closely resemble the Pottery Barn style, which she really likes. She just has to remember, it's just paint, and she can redo it down the road. She's learning, after all. Eldo is very kind, he does not critique her efforts at all! Sparky is going to chalk this up to a Pinterest fail, haha. But--there are two "matching" nightstands in the works as well, 15.00 each...Hey, there's not a lot of great cost in these pieces, so that's a good thing. (YEP! says a very patient Eldy.)

The " before" end table

Sparky is really into refinishing furniture now, even if she doesn't know what she is doing just some of the bargains are really scuffed up, but they can be saved! The problem is, the humidity has been quite high so painting days are limited right now. Here is another purchase for the living room. We bought this end table for 10.00 and didn't like the orangey/yellow finish. The "before" is nice, if you like that color finish (pine or oak?) but Sparky chose to do this for the after.

The Pumpkinvine continues to be beautiful during the hot summer. Although the spring wildflowers are gone, the jungle of green that awaits you along the Goshen to Shipshewanna portion of the trail in the shady forest is enticing. And so is Moody's Ice Cream Shop along the trail, the farm behind the shop has lots for people to look at....The Amish love it, too. This is one of Sparky's all time favorite photos with her iPhone.

Orange milkweed is in bloom along with coreopsis....
A few black eyed Susans in a field....

Now in July, it's purple coneflowers, tall bellflowers, grey headed coneflowers and lavender bee balm. 

This beautiful horse was eating the fence post!
Always the laundry is out most days on the farms...This is a LOT of laundry! But being just two people, everybody else's laundry is a lot compared to ours....Big house, big family, big laundry load.
The quilt gardens are coming along and soon will be at the height of their bloom. This garden below is on the Das Essenhaus grounds, a great hotel/restaurant in Middlebury, and the pattern is called the "Solar Wheel". These gardens are a part of a tour you can take called the Heritage Trail, spoken of before in the blog, and the tour is from Memorial Day to mid September. Eighteen quilt gardens and 21 hand painted quilt murals make up the tour. It's a fun way to see the area by car. This one is one of Sparky's favorites. It has white begonias, orange marigolds, yellow zinnias, dwarf red salvia, and denim shock wave petunias.
Sparky had a wonderful two day visit with her sister and brother-in-law in Michigan. She took the Amtrak, which had a brand new rail car for passengers on the way there--the ride was terrific, very smooth, and inexpensive. (Thirty-four dollars one way from Niles, MI to Royal Oak, MI, and about a four hour ride). On the way back, an older rail car and the usual, noisy, lurching hang-onto-the nearest-seat walk to the restroom ride.
Sparky fell in love with her sister's golden doodle, who was a VERY well behaved and intelligent bundle of curly fur. Eldo started researching doodles, but they are expensive! And besides, we are not wanting the additional responsibilities and costs of taking care of one right now, too much going on with everything! But boy, he sure was adorable and lovable.

We toured Belle Isle State Park, a beautiful 982 acre state park near downtown Detroit. It's an island! You can see the barges come down the Detroit River and Canada to the south just across the river. 

There is a conservatory, a golf course, a working lighthouse (not open to the public), a Great Lakes Museum and an aquarium there as well. It's a beautiful park and picnicking area for families. 
the lighthouse is way off in the distance!

After we toured the park by car, we stopped for Sparky's birthday dinner at a terrific Mexican restaurant, Los Galanes.
We drove around downtown Detroit for a bit, marveling at the restoration efforts of some of the older mansions mixed in with new apartments. The area called Brush Park had some amazing homes.
All too soon, it was time to return home to Camp Tompkins...Apartment moving date has been postponed by the apartments for another week. More time to go furniture hunting and possible refinishing projects!  (Sigh.....says E.) Or not...

                                      Bye for now......

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

While We Wait.....And Some Big News

We are keeping ourselves busy while we wait for our August 14th date to bring in our damaged RV for repairs.  We had a family graduation, Eldy got hired as assistant golf coach for the Concord High School girls' golf team and will be coaching during a short golf season under the direction of the head coach, his granddaughter (!). So we decided to get an apartment for the remainder of this year and into next summer. We will rent an apartment for a year, recover some of the financial costs of repairs, deductibles and other things and have decided we want to downsize our RV to a class C or small class A if we can sell the big fifth wheel. Campgrounds are getting much more expensive and even with our Thousand trails camping membership, we were starting to have to follow the same travel patterns repeatedly in order to afford to travel full time. We'd really like to branch out and see more of the country with less restrictions on where we can stay. We can do that if we come off the road for awhile, save some money get a smaller rig, and not travel full time. We don't know how long repairs will take and that could be months, so that's another reason we decided to stay put for awhile.

So with some sadness at coming off the road for awhile, but with much gladness at the benefits of having lots of Eldy's family close by and a chance for Sparky and Eldo to both work for a bit, we look forward to the next chapter in our lives of being stationary for awhile. Sparky will still post on the blog, but we certainly understand if readers stop following us since we are not going to be full timing for awhile, or possibly changing over to part timing as snowbirds when we downsize our RV. It seems to be the natural progression of aging with full time RVers to come to the point of traveling less and less due to lots of different reasons. 

So here we are, in Elkhart, IN, our home for the next year...We have an apartment lined up, and we are back to shopping for furniture! Trying to be frugal about furnishing an apartment as we don't have any furniture of our own, we have been visiting thrift shops and garage sales and here is what we have so almost new couch for 85.00....

An old HEAVY entertainment center for 6.00.....Sparky landed that one at a thrift shop on a 50% off day!

Sparky has removed the really heavy slide out trays and heavy fan motor and is going to outfit the interior with shelves for craft supplies. (Of course! says Eldo,) She might lighten up the finish a bit, too.

A floor lamp for 10.00....

A small roll top desk for 60.00...It has a hole in the roller part, but we think we can fix that enough so it won't be too visible....Why somebody would make holes at the top of the roller part of the cover is anybody's guess!

A craftsman style (?) end table. Sparky is going to refinish the top and paint the lower half of it a deep charcoal gray to go with the gray of the couch. Ten dollars....

And how could you not buy lemonade from the cutest kids and the cutest lemonade stand at this garage sale? (Sparky is a sucker for kids' lemonade stands. She bought lemonade the very next day from Amish kids selling it on Father's Day weekend! explains E.)

Sparky is on the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail at least two to three times a week...trying to keep her sugar and weight down. The spring wildflowers have died down but there are a few colorful summer ones now...The beautiful bluish purple spiderwort....
Sweet William perennials on the lane to Moody's Ice Cream Shop off the trail...
Sweet pea blossoming outside of the Winnebago plant near Middlebury...

The scenery is ever changing on the trail....

The Amish are plowing their fields....
A buggy peeking through the trail's vines and trees...
A bit of whimsy on the trail just outside of Abshire Park...
Seen the day after Father's Day on the trail...

You can see two of the Heritage Trail quilt gardens as you ride from Goshen to Middlebury. Kryder Gardens is a beautiful rest stop in Middlebury with picnic areas, gazebos, a little waterfall and even a windmill. There is a quilt garden there.
"Tree of Life" quilt garden at Kryder Gardens

Another quilt garden is right at Abshire Park in Goshen, at the beginning of the Pumpkinvine Trail. It's called the "Crosshatch" pattern. In another month, the flowers will have filled in and the pattern even more beautiful.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday is the Shipshewanna Flea Market. We have been going to it for years and years. It's really changed. There used to be a TON of individuals who crafted beautiful things...lots of handpainted woodwork, doll clothes, etc, but now, most of it is from China or other places. Lots of yard art and home decor can be found. It seems though, that handmade has gone by the wayside, except for a couple of booths. But you can find lots of home decor, faux leather goods, clothing....and bargains if you look hard.

There are multiple auctions going on in a building next to the flea market. That has changed as well. There doesn't seem to be as many furniture finds and vintage stuff as there used to be, at least that was our impression when we visited last week. But it's fun to watch the action and the bidding. Who knows what you might be looking for, it's possible it's here! 

Sparky liked this shot of people watching the bidding and the statue pose.

Some might say the flea market is for the birds, haha, but we don't think so!
Sparky liked this metal sign....
Lots of pet lover merch....
dog breed wooden spoons
We finally visited Biebs & Ash in downtown Goshen, IN for some terrific smash burgers and fries...WOW! Highly recommend...
beautiful fabrics at Lolly's

You know what else is in Shipshewanna? Besides lots of cool little vintage furniture, ice cream, and home decor shops? Handmade pretzels at Jojo's in the Mercantile building, and Lolly's fabric store, filled with LOTS of quilt ideas and the most extensive quality cotton fabric selection you could hope for a small town shop. Sparky hopes to make some home decor small quilts this year. (Uh-oh, worries E, there goes the budget!) Naw...Sparky plans to exercise restraint and not go there very often this summer....(HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That's Eldo rolling on the floor laughing his butt off.) Hey, they do have rockers for you guys to wait on your woman shopping at Lolly's but you might be there awhile.....

With that we will say bye for now.....You may not hear from us for awhile, but if we do something special in the area, we will let you know! It's been a great ride, a total of SIX YEARS full timing, but it's not our last foray out into the great USA...Don't be surprised if we say, HEY, we are going out on the road again, we do love to travel! We will keep you posted as our plans evolve and our lifestyle keeps changing. Thank you for following along and hope you still will.

                                        Sparky and Eldo