Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shipshewana; Elkhart; Notre Dame; Change of Plan

Driving across Ohio the landscape flattened out considerably, and as the cornfields got larger and larger, there were still many forested areas to break the monotony. We entered Indiana and drove along I-80 just below the Michigan state line. In the town of Shipshewana we found our campground, also named Riverside. It's a small facility along the Pigeon River - only 30 sites, just two of which were occupied when we pulled in. We backup into a large site next to the river, and were very pleased with the peace and quiet. Occasionally the clip-clop of hooves would break the silence, as an Amish buggy rolled by.

Here are the dogs relaxing with the river view visible through the windows behind them:

The next day we headed into Elkhart to visit the facility formerly known as Crown Audio, now labeled Harman Specialty Group. When I worked for H.S.G., they were headquarted in Bedford, Massachusetts, and we developed a flagship level power amplifier with a team of engineers from Crown. I got to know Mark and Scott during that time, and so now it was great to have the opportunity to see them again. Before heading out for lunch we took a tour of the facility, including the lab spaces where the brands I used to design are now developed, and the sound room which also showcases several pieces that I had a hand in designing.

Later that day we met up with another former co-worker of mine, Ken, who I've know since back when the company was called Madrigal Audio Labs, and located in my hometown of Middletown, Connecticut. Ken took us over to South Bend, home of Notre Dame. It was the evening before a big football game: the fighting Irish of Notre Dame against long time rivals, the Michigan Woverines. The campus was swarming with rabid fans, and a pep rally was just wrapping up as we arrived. The rowdy crowd was adorned in all manner of ND logo apparel and some were wearing body paint or waving flags. The atmosphere was electric; the excitement was palpable and contagious. When we walked into the campus book store/logo merchandise retail store, I almost succombed to the urge to buy overpriced kelly green T-Shirts and the like...almost. Its a big, beautiful, well laid out university, and we walked all over it, admiring the immaculate and stately structures, and the impecable grounds. We ended up at a street where a block party was in full swing. After ducking into the on-campus Five-Guys Burgers & Fries for a meal, we joined the throng, and had an adult beverage, shouting to be heard over the energetic rock band blasting tunes into the crowd. It was an amazing and overwhelming evening, which I'm sure would seem tame compared to the full-blown frenzy that was to come on actual game day. (Michigan scored with 27 seconds left in the game to win over Notre Dame 28-24

Nancy and I in front of the golden dome:

Touchdown Jesus!

Our next day (game day) was cool and rainy. I spent time trying to troubleshoot Gigantor's 12V accessory jacks, which quit on us a few days ago. I had the dashboard and console largely apart, but didn't find the problem. Later we went out to eat at an enormous restaurant (over 1000 seats) called Das Dutchman Essenhaus. The Essenhaus campus has the gargantuan restaurant, a conference center, and Inn, and a complex of gift shops selling country arts & crafts stuff, smelly candles, quilty, etc (kitchy krap). The restaurant specializes in family style dining, where for $15 you are served salad, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, a vegetable, and desert. It was very good comfort food, and we left content, to walk the grounds and walk off some of the untold calories that we'd just consumed.

A covered bridge on the Essenhaus grounds, with a horse-drawn carriage about to enter:

We also got to meet and share stories with Ben and Mary, the only other camper's we've seen who've fashioned fencing to keep their two dogs in camp when off leash! They also, like us, like to cook over a wood fire, and prefer quiet, uncrowded campgrounds. It was nice to connect with people with whom we have so much in common.

Went for a nice paddle on the pigeon river. The dogs got off onto a log:

Found this little silver-dollar sized snapping turtle crossing the road:

Lastly, we've been fortunate so far, but a matter has emerged that will require us to deviate from our travel plan. Nancy will be adding a new engineer to the staff of Network-IT, and doing so will require her to spend several weeks at home, starting a soon as possible. So, we while we're in Chicago, Nancy will catch a plane back home. I'll have an adventure on my own of bringing Gigantor and the Whale back solo, as I head up into Wisconsin, out Michigan's Upper Peninsula, through Ontario, and back home through New York state. Hopefully by mid to late October we'll be able to head out again, but ultimately, we will stay at home until the new employee is up to speed. A trip this long is bound to require some adaptability as life goes on in all of the aspects of our lives. C'est la vie!

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