Tuesday, October 11, 2011


We tore ourselves away from one of the best campgrounds of our trip and spent the next three hours struggling over roads that the state of Illinois should be embarrassed to call their own. We jerked and lunged our way southward, shouldering through traffic, hitting every red light in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, until finally we emerged into the cornfields near the Indiana border, and made our camp. We stayed at Emerald trails, which we had visited a year ago for our foray into the windy city. The same wackadoo lady was there, asking weird questions, rolling her eyes, clutching her back, staggering around. She gave us a narrow site between seasonal units in an otherwise wide open campground. We were too tired to argue, and spent a peaceful night, grateful to be out of the sprawl.

The next day we had an easy drive over to Shipshewana, to yet another repeat campground and one of our favorites, Riverside, on the Pigeon River. On the way we stopped in Elkhart to have new tires put on the Whale. Her rubber was in sad shape, very tread-bare - baloneyskins as we say. By the time we got back from lunch the job was finished, and we rolled down the road tired and happy ;)

That night and the next we shared the campground with several other campers who were probably in town to go to the Notre Dame football game. Sunday morning they all packed up and left, leaving us, for the first time ever, having an entire campground all to ourselves. Pretty sweet...

While in town we went to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart.

The museum traces the history of RVs and Motor Homes from the first production units to the present. So, although folks had camped for hundreds of years in covered wagons and the like, production units towed by or powered by combustion engines didn't start selling until 1913. That's when this classy little trailer was made:

The museum is cleverly laid out: all of the specimens are arranged in chronological order, from 1913 through the 70's.

They focus on the older models, which was a good call because they are the most interesting to see. Many of them allowed us to go inside for a closer look, which was fun. This might be the first motor home...

...and its interior:

And here is Gigantor's great-great grandfather, an early example of a 1-ton dually:

One morning we met up with Ken and Jane for a nice paddle on the Elkhart River. I used to work with Ken back at Madrigal Audio Labs, and we've kept in touch. We drove a few miles up river and had a really nice float back to Ken's house, which took a couple of hours. It was such a spectacularly beautiful day, and to be out on the water with friends was perfect.

On Monday I spent most of the day at the Harman facility in Elkhart. A small group there stewards the Mark Levinson brand of high end audio/video products, to which I devoted so much of my career. Mark, Scott and the other team members took me out to lunch, and then we went back and discussed how I might be able to contribute as the brand develops some new products. It was great to see those guys, and I am happy that I might be able to work with them again. Amazing, too, after all of this time on the road, as I near the end of the journey, that opportunity knocks and I may transition seamlessly from nomad back to engineer. Pretty awesome! This cat's been airborne for eighteen months and will still land on his feet!

Amish folk frequently clip-clop past the campground:

Toby cools off in the Pigeon River:

Next post you'll read about when we diverted north to visit a family friend on the shores of Lake Michigan.

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