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Our family of six is on a family sabbatical traveling by motorhome around the United States. Keith’s job as a coach/scout with the Chicago Blackhawks combined with our kids competitive travel sports schedules has ruled our lives. We decided to stop the madness for the next seven months and experience all that our country has to offer together… We are currently with family in LINCOLN, RHODE ISLAND.
My good friend, Judy, had spoken of her Amish friend many times to me. She knew her when she used to live in northern Ohio before moving to Arizona. When our family was planning this trip around the US, Judy said we really should stop and meet her. She wrote Ella a letter (since they don’t believe in cell phones or computers) and asked if we could stop by on our way through. We decided why not? It was only a little off our path from Mackinaw, Michigan to Erie, Pennsylvania. On the backroads we went to Burton, Ohio and we are so happy we took the time to do so!
I tried to be respectful of Ella and her family members, as the Amish do not believe in taking photos of people! But, this was so cute I couldn’t help myself! She was walking us back to see her brother and all the local men and boys working on the farm. We happened to be visiting on the one day a year called Threshing Day. During threshing, neighbors gather together to help each other bring the harvested grain from the fields and mechanically separate the edible kernels from the stems and husks. Threshing oats is important, because horses provide the power for farm work all year long and they eat the oats. Straw, separated from the oats, is used as bedding for the horses, cows and other farm animals. It was really interesting, not to mention quite dirty, to watch the boys and men at work.
The Amish communities are such a part of our American culture. I feel so blessed that Ella opened up her home to us and answered all of our questions, while we snacked on lemonade, coffee and homemade chocolate chip cookies! Travel ultimately is an avenue to open your mind and broaden your horizons. On the way here the kids were nervous about what we were about to embark on. I have to admit that Keith and I were a little too. In her own words, the Amish “freaked out” our youngest. I think any unknown group of people can feel intimidating, especially to children. It is awesome that through travel, we can learn and grow to respect a culture of people different than ourselves!
What we learned:
- This is the neighborhood telephone that everyone uses.
- Homes have no electricity, so the Amish rely on wood stoves for heat and gas lamps for lighting.
- Children do not go to formal school after the 8th grade.
- They do not ride bicycles, but children have scooters that look similar to bikes!
-All personal transportation is done by a horse drawn buggy.
-The Amish are allowed to ride along with anyone driving them though. They hire drivers as well as depend on their English/Yankee friends (as they call us) to get to further away destinations. They can travel for vacation by train but no airplanes!
-Church services are held in rotating homes every other week. The service and Bible are both in German.
-Their clothing is all handmade and of very simple style and colors. There are no zippers, only buttons and pins allowed!
-The women wear caps (I originally called them bonnets) all of the time.
-A black cap is worn when venturing out in public. Otherwise the Amish women wear a white one.
These signs along the way made me smile. I guess sharing with a big motorhome is a rarity along their country roads! This man got run off the road when his horses freaked out at the sight of our big rig heading toward them. Our family had some good laughs at this poor guys expense. What a great day we had!
One of the top places on my list that I wanted to visit along this trip was Mackinac Island in Michigan. I’d always seen beautiful pictures and heard great things about northern Michigan so I wanted to check it out for myself!
We enjoyed our stay at the KOA in Mackinaw City and took the ferry over to Mackinac Island for the day. Who knew that the two places were spelled differently but pronounced the same? Not I.
It was a gorgeous summer Saturday on the island, so it was packed with people everywhere. After eating lots of fudge, we rented bikes and headed off the 8 plus miles all the way around. Any time I can jump on my bike and ride amidst beautiful scenery I am in my happy place! The sun shining, a little quiet time and a little exercise equals a win-win! I loved riding behind Keith and Morgan riding tandem. They made me smile too.
Back on the mainland, we had the chance to go to the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show! We were really excited to go as we have never seen competing lumberjacks in a live show before and we had not run across any other opportunities to do so along our travels yet. Always love an opportunity to learn something new combined with competition and laughter!
Owner Dan McDonough is a nine-time world champion Logroller himself and has traveled around with the sport since he was 18 years old! Not only will he take your ticket as you enter and play DJ throughout the show, but he does a fantastic job of engaging the crowd with his witty humor as well. Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows is in it’s 7th season in this beautiful spot in Mackinaw and entertains anywhere from 50-250 guests nightly during it’s season of May through September.
The hour(ish) long show is a Medieval Times type of a competition where the audience is divided up into two rival logging camps where you are assigned a lumberjack to cheer on. The two competing lumberjacks demonstrate turn of the century skills of chopping, sawing, axe throwing, pole climbing, logrolling and more! Tough stuff!
Admission to the outdoor show is only $13 for adults (15 and over) and $9 for seniors and children, making this an affordable family night out in Mackinaw! Thanks Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows for having our family! Dan said there are a few other permanent show sites in Wisconsin, Gatlinburg, Alaska and Maine. Have you ever been to a Lumberjack show?
I feel so blessed to have made it to Baltimore to be with Mary and her family for Maryellen’s service. Everyone who spoke of Maryellen spoke of her gentle love and how she lived her life giving and surrounding herself with love. Ironically, the next post I was about to write before she passed was about loved ones.
We have spent the past few weeks in the midwest visiting with close family in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. Living in the west, like we do, isn’t conducive to a lot of time visiting family. In Louisville we had a ball visiting Louisville Slugger, Churchill Downs and Mammoth Cave. But the real highlight was my cousin Zach and his family driving over from Lexington to have dinner with us at the campground!
Next on the route was Indianapolis. We see my parents in Arizona more than we are able to make it to them, so it’s always a treat to go home to Indy and feel the love! Thanks to their neighbors for letting us park our home on the street for a couple of days without any hassle!
Next up was Sister Kerry and her family in Cincinnati. We had a packed three days making up for lost time with these guys. My parents followed us over to Ohio and spent half of the time with us. We enjoyed a childhood staple of mine at Kings Island all together and then Kerry took me for a much needed highlight and haircut before we headed to the Cincinnati Reds vs. Boston Red Sox game!
I can’t express how much we loved our time in the midwest with our family. It’s been the biggest blessing of buying this RV and doing this crazy trip! We have reconnected with so many friends that we haven’t seen in years, along our route as well. Love you all!!