Monday, May 29, 2023

Riding the Vine

 The Pumpkinvine Bike Trail, that is.....In the meantime, while staying in Elkhart to await the rig repairs come August 14th, we are taking advantage of the beautiful early summer weather to do different things in the area...Eldy has been learning more about lacrosse, as his grandson is heading for the state lacrosse finals. He has really enjoyed the games, and Trevor's team is doing so well! Trevor is the tall one in the middle. The rest of Eldy's son's family is with him as well. A fine looking family!

Sparky has been riding the Pumpkinvine from Abshire Park in Goshen, all the way to Shipshewanna sometimes, but mostly to Middlebury and back, a distance of about 13 miles total. That section of the trail is about 50% wooded and it has been a real treat watching the emerging wildflowers changing as the weeks go by. 

Not only is it nicely wooded in parts, but there are a couple of challenging hills to climb and then zoom down. 

AND---there's an ice cream shop called Moody's which is about 2/3 of the way to Middlebury and it's right off the trail. They have good cheeseburgers and lots of flavors of ice cream, both soft serve and hard. It's a favorite of the Amish. Once Sparky gets her ice cream fix, she feels like turning around and heading back. Mainly because at the ice cream junction, you have to go out on the county roads for about a mile to get back to trail to pick it up again, heading on into Middlebury. Those county roads are ok, as there are probably more horse and buggies on the county road than trucks, but occasional speedsters and heavy duty construction trucks occasionally, make that portion a little more nerve wracking when they pass by. The spur to get you off the county roads and to stay on the trail is supposed to be completed by the end of this summer.

Dames Rocket
When Sparky first started riding in April, there were few wildflowers. The first to come were the spring trilliums, then the wild geraniums, the purple phlox, then the Dames Rocket flowers. Dames Rocket is confused with phlox sometimes, but phlox has five petals, and Dames Rocket has four. 

Dames Rocket is also considered a noxious weed in some states and is definitely an invasive plant. But it is really pretty!

More Dames Rocket

No wonder it is blooming prolifically for several miles along the trail!

Sparky loves the Pumpkinvine Trail because it's such a good workout, and the different habitats along the trail make it an interesting ride. You pass Amish farms and wide open spaces on the trail for a bit....

pass through shady forests....

and bike through a little bit of small town offerings along the way (Middlebury's Mooey's Ice Cream, for one), where you can stop and grab a bite to eat or get an ice cream cone.
Sometimes you even see chickens who are tired of being cooped up, haha, and need to get out of the house for the day, haha..
They definitely like to cross the road, haha...
Sparky likes to inspect the different flowers up close and personal. This wildflower is called Great Waterleaf, also called woolen breeches, and it had a bee zeroing in on it.
As you come back to Abshire Park (Goshen) from your starting point, you will see one of the flower quilt gardens at the park. They have just planted another series of flower gardens this year all over in the towns of Elkhart, Bristol, Middlebury, Wakarusa, Nappanee, and Goshen, that by midsummer will fill in and make beautiful quilt patterns. It's part of a tour you can take--the Elkhart Quilt Gardens (along the Heritage Trail) and we will probably go visit most of them next month or early July when they will be at their prime. The Heritage Trail is an audio driving tour to see the area's attractions and the Amish lifestyle. You learn a LOT about this beautiful area on the tour. We did it years ago but will revisit it again in the near future to see what's new.
quilt garden at Abshire Park

No other news about the rig, other than the earliest we can get it in to be fixed is Aug. 14th, as we have said, so the wait continues.....Thank you for following along and keeping us company!

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Beast is Ba-a-a-a-ck!

After 31 days in the shop, we got our "Beast" back...our Dodge Ram 3500 dually. Caliber Collision in Elkhart did a fantastic job. The truck looks brand new. They kept us informed by text messages all along the way where they were in the completion of repairs. They even informed us of a recall for something called a drag link, something to do with the steering alignment. We had never received any notification from Chrysler/Dodge about that. Josh, the technician at Caliber, researched more about that as it is a two stage repair that should be covered under warranty, yet Chrysler is not making this recall widely known. We will tackle that hurdle in the near future. We highly recommend Caliber if you ever need body work done on your car or truck. 

The latest on our Pinnacle fifth wheel is that Progressive was not happy with the 51,000.00 estimate from one repair company in the area and went "shopping" for two other possibilities for us. That 51,000.00 estimate was for replacing the entire side wall of the driver side of the RV along with a 12,000.00 cost for replacement decals (included in that cost). Everyone who has looked at the damage directly seems to think that big expense is not necessary, that the damaged fiberglass and frame can be repaired and the wall will still be structurally sound. After reviewing quotes, we have a repair date of August 14th with Allegiant RV Service and Sales. That's the soonest we can get in. We will discuss thoroughly our concerns about the difference in repair costs with both our insurance rep and the repair company about the repairs that are to be done. We want to be sure the rig will be structurally sound and not have cracking issues or other frame issues down the road.

In the meantime, we CANNOT travel. We cannot risk the cracks and broken fiberglass/bent support frames getting worse if we travel somewhere, limping along with our rig. We are so lucky we were able to drive it back to Elkhart to get it fixed,  so here we stay. We will be in Elkhart, IN all summer and well into the fall while we wait for the repairs to get done. Even if the rig should be completed sooner, Sparky is enjoying subbing so much that we have decided to stay till November so she can teach and earn some extra money. One can ALWAYS use some extra money, right? Like for craft supplies, haha. (Just kidding, Eldy!) 

Sparky is subbing a LOT--they really need subs. Sparky only subs K-3, for many reasons. Stay tuned for more on that later. The other day, a kid asked her, "How old are you?" And when she said, "Seventy-two", the kids all gasped and that same kid said, "DANG! That's OLD! How are you still alive?"

early May for trilliums

Sparky has been riding the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail and watching the sequence of wildflowers blooming as the weeks move along and the temperatures warm. This is a wonderful bike trail, and Sparky has written about it many times. It's May and the trillium are waning....This deep rose one was a beauty and even as it fades, it's still gorgeous, a rare color on the trail.

The wild geranium are coming on strong.....
Greater celandine are adding a beautiful yellow POP to the scenery....
If you get on the Pumpkinvine Trail between Abshire Park in Goshen and head towards Middlebury, you pass an Amish ice cream shop called "Mooey's". They have good burgers and great ice cream, and a small farm pen out back where you can see newborn piglets in spring and this awesome turkey strutting his stuff. One of Sparky's dubious skills is she can really gobble like a turkey, so when nobody was around at the moment, she let loose with some gobbledygook, but this one wasn't having any of it and strutted off. (Sparky also clucks and communes regularly with the chickens in the chicken coop right outside our door, explains E.) We get to have fresh eggs, still warm from laying for breakfast! (FOCUS, Sparky! reminds Eldo).
Oh, right. Many local Amish frequent this ice cream shop that opens in late April. In they come on horseback down the country lane, in their buggies or on their bikes, so you can hobnob with the Amish, although very briefly. They are reticent, usually, and photos are a big no-no, but it's great to see the old order Amish and their families enjoying ice cream as much as the next person. 

Eldy is going to take up golf again while we are here. He's got more family in this area, and they are all excited to have him here for awhile to play golf and visit. So he's enjoying picking up the sport again!

So, with that update, we will leave you right there....If we do anything noteworthy or new developments crop up, we will keep you posted! Thanks for reading and following along with us....
                                         Sparky and Eldo