While staying in Indiana, I was lucky to find a bike rental shop right across the street from the Pumpkinvine Trail which travels 17.5 miles through the Amish countryside, linking several towns. The time I spent here was one of my favorite biking experiences. This rails to trails was named “Pumpkinvine” during its railroad days because of all the curves and turns. The path travels through a lovely shaded forest with frequent glimpses of open fields.
I rode past many Amish farms and homes and it was a great look at every day life. I felt I had been transported back to a much simpler time and I frequently stopped just to soak it all in. I saw people working in their fields and gardens, for example two young women tilling a small plot with a pony pulling a plow. Buggies and wagons regularly passed by on the country roads. Horses and cows grazed in the fields. Women hung their laundry out on lines and horses were hitched in driveways. An Amish one room school sat quiet for the summer.
I also passed several phone sheds set apart from the homes and used by the community like the one below.
The highlight was when a small cart pulled by a pony with four young children came quickly down a dirt road and drove in a circle around an empty lot near the bike trail. I was a little surprised 😮 when I saw one of these children with an infant loosely perched on her lap. I feared the baby might slip out since the kids seemed to be so young to be “babysitting.” (What, no car seat)? They took off carelessly laughing and headed quickly back up the road. Perhaps children’s freedom is a given here as I also saw a small boy (about three or four) hanging out by himself for awhile at the end of his driveway. There didn’t seem to be any adults around, but perhaps he was being watched.
The trail went past Krider World’s Fair Garden which I mentioned in the last blog. This garden was originally displayed at the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair. It is a shady respite from walking or biking with paths winding by a pond, small waterfalls and many plantings.
Some of the main features exhibited at the World’s Fair can still be seen here like the toadstools and the Dutch windmill.
On another day while doing my quilt trail scavenger hunt that I also wrote about in the last blog, I drove past Riverbend Park in the town of Middlebury. The Little Elkhart River flows through here and it was so pretty that I pulled over to explore. I found a trail that went along the River and through the woods.
By the water I found many beautiful dragon flies. Well, I thought they were dragonflies but when I researched later, I found out it was a damselfly called “Ebony Jewelwing.” Damselflies are thinner than dragonflies and fold their wings up, holding them together across their backs. As a flying adult, they only live about two weeks. I learned something new as I have very little knowledge (if any) about dragonflies and damselflies. The body of the male Ebony Jewelwing is a metallic blue green and a striking color. The female is duller with smoky brown colored wings and white spots on the tips.
It is hard for me to pass up a botanical garden and the city of Elkhart has beautiful Wellfield Botanical Gardens with over 20 individual sections. As a botanical garden Wellfield is unusual -it is built on wells that have provided most of the drinking water for Elkhart since 1885. Much of the Park acreage is devoted to water with fast moving Christiana creek flowing at the edge of the park and a small lake in the center.
I thought the children’s garden was quite delightful with a multi level treehouse to play on as well as an area with raised beds to learn about gardening. When I visited though, there was not a child in sight.
Since opening, Wellfield has been improving their gardens with a current focus on a Japanese themed island garden to open this Fall. I took the photo below of the Asian inspired curved bridge.
Thanks for reading! In the next post I look at two years of full time RV living and our favorite states we visited during that time. Stay tuned!