Sometimes life sends a lemon or two your way. Best thing to do, of course, is to make lemonade!
We started our trip south on Tuesday. Our destination was not too far; my aunt’s place in Donaldson, Indiana. If you recall our post from last year, Paradise in a Corn Field, my 91 year old aunt is a nun who lives at one of the most unique places you would ever expect to find in the middle of northern Indiana’s farmland. Her brother, (my 89 year old uncle), lives in their independent living facility. We hadn’t seen them in awhile, so we thought it would be wise to check in with them before we headed south. The sisters allowed us to park our rig at their transportation facility.
Pretty nice campsite, if I don’t say so myself! Water and electric included. Plenty of room for Diana’s Escape, also! 🙂
So not long after I took this photo, we headed out. Diana left ahead of me, and my plan was to stop and get fuel at the Pilot station on US-30, just east of US-31 at Plymouth, Indiana. As I pulled up to the pump, I hit the brakes and heard the low rumble and grind of metal-to-metal coming from the front brakes. I fueled up, pulled around back to the truck parking area, grabbed my flashlight and started inspecting the calipers. Sure enough, the inside pad on the left front brake was bad. I had just had these brakes done in Florida a little over a year ago, so this should not have happened. On top of that, I had just had The Works done at my longtime Ford dealer on Thursday in Grand Rapids…a service that includes a brake inspection. I was not told there was an issue. Needless to say, after voicing my displeasure to them, I have a refund coming for that work. :). Anyway, there I was in Plymouth, trying to find someone to work on the truck. No one was able to get me in, so I called the good folks at NAPA Pilgrim Auto Parts and located a set of brake pads. I limped over there by downshifting and using the trailer brakes only (Diana was already 1/2 hour south and sitting tight by the time I had realized what was going on) and the woman at the parts counter had my pads waiting for me. I bought a heavy duty set of jack stands and a bottle jack, and she directed me to an empty former Kmart parking lot. I put my high school auto shop skills to use, installed the new brake pads and was back on the road within two hours! Fortunately I had all the tools I needed, short of the jack and the stands.
With a fresh batch of lemonade in the fridge (so to speak), we were rolling. Previous to our departure, I had been emailing the destination we had planned to stop at that night; Singing Hills RV Park and Campground in Cave City, Kentucky. The owner, Eldon, came across in his emails as being a very nice gentleman. I really wanted to push hard and make it there, so we both navigated around Indianapolis and Louisville and made it to Singing Hills at dusk. We were not disappointed. Eldon was a very kind man, and he was very proud of his small campground. It was quiet and peaceful, except for the rooster that woke us at sunrise. :). We decided to stay for two nights, so Diana could work on thank you notes for her mom’s funeral….and so we could catch our breath.
Eldon and his wife had decorated the campground for Christmas, which was a nice touch after a long day. 🙂
Thursday revealed the inviting rural setting. Later in the morning, we tried to make arrangements to meet up with Kelly and Bill from bkamericanodyssey, after she saw a post I had made on Facebook about being in the area. They are working over at Amazon in Campbellsville, about an hour from where we were. We also wanted to see Peg and Michele, who we had met at the RV-Dreams rally last year. Scheduling didn’t work out, so we opted to make the effort to meet up in Florida.
After Diana had finished up what she wanted to do for the day on the thank you notes, we did a little exploring in the area. Singing Hills is a couple of miles from the entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park. We had been in the cave in the early 1980’s. Quite frankly, caves aren’t exactly my thing, so I wasn’t in a hurry to go back down there. Diana had scoped out a couple of places for us to visit. The first was Chaser’s Kentucky Chocolates, which specializes in bourbon balls and other liquor-infused delights. We had an interesting conversation with the owner about how they got their start in South Bend, Indiana, selling bootleg bourbon chocolate to Notre Dame students. :). Indiana liquor laws ended up forcing them out, and they decided to move their business to Kentucky. We both came away with some fudge. Next up was an Amish store that was on the opposite side of the park, so we drove through to get there. Along the way, we were surprised at the beauty of the Mammoth Cave NP above the ground! The hills and the trees were amazing….even without leaves on the trees. We also noticed that they have a crushed limestone bike path throughout the park. We will keep that in mind for the future.
Along the route, we came to the Green River ferry.
This free of charge gem takes vehicles back and forth across the river in less than five minutes. The vessel rides along cables that are strung high above to keep the boat from floating down the river.
In the image above, you can see the cable system. The low winter sun on the trees was something to see. Now knowing how beautiful this area is in the winter, we will be sure to stop again in warmer weather.
We arrived at Detweiler’s Country Store and spent 1/2 hour checking the place out. I kept my camera stowed, out of respect for the Amish not wanting their photos taken. We enjoy perusing the multitude of goods available in these types of stores. Living off the grid, they are usually lit by gas lights, and this establishment was no different. But I did notice that they also were using LED lights, which are powered by a diesel generator. We find it fascinating to see the Amish and Mennonite communities in action, as they are so self sufficient. We also notice that their interpretation of which modern convinces are acceptable varies between communities. Some allow indoor plumbing and some don’t. A few will use cell phones, and others will use a landline telephone mounted on a pole by the road. Horses and buggies are the mode of transportation…unless a non-Amish neighbor is driving them somewhere in a 15 passenger Ford Econoline van. Whatever the case, it all seems to work well for them. And while I am grateful for the modern convinces that make our lives what they are, the Amish always cause me to reflect on how technology can tend to overtake us. In leading their lives the way they do, they provide a reality check for those of us who prefer to embrace modern ways.
Friday morning, we woke up to snow flurries. Our plan was to only drive 200 miles to northern Alabama, but we ended up going 300 miles to Birmingham, so as to try to find some warmer temperatures. That last 50 miles is turning out to be too much for us, so we are going to try to put our upper limit at 250 miles per day in the future. On the subject of driving in two separate vehicles, it is working well for us. Diana is able to drive ahead and scout accessibility for the rig. Once at the campgrounds, we are able to keep the truck and trailer hooked up and run our errands in the Escape. That is a huge deal. The walkie talkies work well when we are within a mile of each other, but a quick phone call seems to work better overall.
That’s it for the first part of our journey to Florida. We will reveal our winter destination, once we reach it. While we have been to the Sunshine State countless times, this will be the first time we will have spent an extended period there. Stay tuned and safe travels! 🙂
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