Elkhart, Indiana 2017

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Saturday, June 10, 2017: We were invited to a wedding in Elkhart, Indiana so we decided to make a weekend of it. Is there anything to do here? Spoiler alert: Yes. So much.
First of all, this town is covered in elk statues. We tried to see them all but it's just not possible to do in one weekend, but with some careful mapping and planning, we got quite a few. Here's the first.
At 11:30, we stopped in to visit the National New York Central Railroad Museum.
From the outside, it is obvious that portions of it are housed in actual railway cars.
Let's go in!
Yep, this narrow room is definitely shaped like a train car.
We had the indoor portion of the museum mostly to ourselves.
Here are some train signal lanterns.
About this point, one of the museum attendants started giving us a personal tour of each of the rooms. The left side of this room was devoted to the 1926 Cardinal's Train - a train completely refurbished and set up to move Catholic clergy from New York to Chicago.
Here's a route map cabinet. Every home needs one.
This gigantic locomotive model was made completely out of toothpicks; 421,250 to be exact. It took seven years to make.
Maersk! Tom wins this round.
This was one of several displays of serving pieces and place settings for different railway lines.
Check out this schmancy silver crumb catcher.
Here's a menu of the New York Central System Dining Service from sometime around 1940. Splurge a little and get Lobster Newburg with Wax Beans Fermiere and Julienne Potatotes for $2.25!

This set of modern dinnerware was created for the New York Central's Mercury Train, which was in service from 1936 to 1959.

Tom took these photos because they reminded him of his youth. He had one of these locomotives.
Who can forget the adorable sleeping kitten logo for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway? Tom's neighbor, Charlie, worked on Chessie systems as an engineer.
Our museum guide disappeared for a minute to turn on the trains in this room, which was filled with a huge model train set.
There were several trains running at the same time, ...
... and it was fun looking at the details in all of the model buildings.
The outdoor part of the museum consists of lots of train cars that you can look into.
Right across the fence is the Elkhart train station.
This trainyard is a little train enthusiast's dream come true.
We had very limited time so we only peeked into a few. Here's an old dining car, ...
... and here's the food serving, storage, and prep area.
We grabbed a very quick bite to eat at KFC then headed to our main destination, ...
... Phil and Courtney's wedding.
Here are the lovely bride and handsome groom.
The reception was held in the church hall with a large table full of tasty desserts.
Let's get a closeup look at these beauties.
We all signed a canvas for the happy couple.
The Butler crowd consisted of three people who worked for Debbie, two who used to, and one who used to work for Tom. Even though we weren't Butler grads, they let us crash their table anyway.
After a while, we helped move tables out of the way so some of the younger guests could play basketball.
After the reception, we headed out for more sightseeing in Elkhart. We started with the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
There's an elk statue up front.
Let's go into the RV Founders Hall, shall we?
The Hall is a wonderland of motorhomes and recreational vehicles, great and small, laid out on a path that resembles a road.
Here's a 1913 "Earl" Travel Trailer and Model T Ford.
Check out the interior.
This is a telescoping apartment on a 1915 Model T Ford. These after-market camping accessories were built in San Francisco and sold for $100.
Here's a 1958 22' Airstream Flying Cloud.
Here is the 1958 Airstream "Der Kleine Prinz." We got a picture of the sign but not of the trailer itself, so this was copied from another website because you need to see how tiny this thing was (6' x 10').
It was the smallest Airstream ever built and only one was ever made.
It was the prototype for the Airstream Bambi. Amazing that all of this fits into such a small space.
This is a 1916 Cozy Camp Tent Trailer, made by Habig Manufacturing in Indianapolis.
This wooden wonder is a 1931 Model AA Ford Housecar.
Here is the Star Streak II, a custom, all-aluminum motorhome built in 1988 on a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado chassis.
This is a 1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar - one of only three housecars built before the crash of 1929 shut down their production.
Here is a 1937 Hayes Motor Home.
The 1954 Spartan Imperial Mansion is an 8' x 42' mobile home. This thing is gigantic. This is the view from the bedroom all the way to the cockpit.
The bathroom features a porcelain toilet, sink, and full bathtub.
Here's the view from the other end. It was built by the Spartan Aircraft Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Here's a 1937 Hunt Housecar.
It's a shame that this photo was blurry because the curvy interior was really cool.
Here's the exterior. It was designated "The Star" because of its hood ornament. It is identical to another vehicle, "The Turtle," in every way except the hood ornament.
Here's a 1974 GMC MotorHome.
Ad copy: The GMC MotorHome. It doesn't ride like a truck. It doesn't look like a box.
In a separate room, this unusual display depicts SkyeRise Terrace, ...
... a metropolitan highrise mobile housing development in Marshfield, Wisconsin. America's Finest "Less Work" Housing Development.
Here's how it was supposed to look. The reality was much less grand.
As far as the Internet can tell us, this three-by-three stack was the only SkyeRise development that was built. It was in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, consisted of just three mobile homes on each of three floors, and only lasted a few years due to problems pumping water to the top level.
After our visit, we headed to the gift shop.
Did you know that Jarts are back on the market? They're a little less stabby now.
After a quick stop at our hotel, we headed toward downtown Elkhart. Here's a pretty statue.
We headed to City Center Park, where this 25' Seward Johnson statue was temporarily located for the summer, along with 56 other, life-size sculptures by the same sculptor.
Of course, there was an elk statue too.
We strolled along Elkhart's beautiful River Walk.
There are art displays along the river, including this marching band sculpture.
We crossed over to the other side of the river, ...
... and stopped on one of these little balconies that hang out over the river.
Here's the view back to City Center Park.
We encountered the first of the regular-sized Seward Johnson statues. Seward Johnson statues are all over our hometown of Carmel, so it was a surprise to see them here.
In the town center, we found another elk statue.
As we headed to our next stop down Main Street, ...
... we passed another Seward Johnson statue. But not just any statue -- this one is an identical twin to one in Carmel.
Elkhart is covered in art. In this case, quite literally.
This statue is similar to one in Carmel. Aside from a difference in wardrobe, the other big difference is that this guy is painting what he sees here.
By 5:30, we were at New Paradigm Brewing Co. Despite the name, this place doesn't brew their own beer, but they do have a nice selection of other breweries' beers.
Tom had a 450 North Barn Yeti ...
... and Debbie had whatever was in this glass.
We started with a basket of bacon, egg, and cheese poutine. So delicious. So fattening.
Our friend Jennie was in Chicago on business only 100 miles or so away from us, so we sent her a photo to toast her. It was almost like actually drinking with her!
Our second round featured Einstok's Arctic Berry and Icelandic Toasted Porter.
Next, we ordered some Scotch eggs. Still tasty, still weird.
When we were done eating, we played a game of pool. Tom, as usual, showed Debbie how it is done.
We continued our statue hunt.
Here's one.
Look at the elk head detail over this entryway to City Hall.
Here's another Seward Johnson statue.
We circled back around to the city center, ...
... where we encountered our first heart statue.
This was on the ground nearby. How can you not love this town?
We returned to our car next to City Center Park, ...
... and went out to pursue more statues. Here's one, ...
... and here's one, ...
... and here's one.
We had to stop to get a photo of this historical marker because it is relevant to both of our careers. Who knew that diagnostic test strips were originally developed in Elkhart?
We passed one last statue ...
... before heading back to our hotel around 8:30 PM.
We had a great view from our hotel room of the International Space Station flyover just before 10:00 PM.

Sunday, June 11, 2017: After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we headed out for more statue hunting.
It helped that Debbie had mapped out most of these prior to our trip.
Our morning destination was Linton's Enchanted Gardens.
It is a garden center with a few added attractions, such as this space ship ...
... with matching alien.
The grounds are covered with decorative buildings. Here's one ...
... and another ...
... and another ...
... and another ...
... and another.
There's a mini-zoo toward the back of the property.
The goats are waiting patiently for someone to buy some goat food for them. How nice that someone brought a stack of quarters to leave behind for future visitors. Only old people like us still carry coins.
Here are some pigs ...
... and some donkeys ...
... and some emus.
The Aviary is home to lots of flamboyant birds, ...
... but none more so than these gentlemen.
The Zorb Ball attraction was closed, extending our streak to 11 straight years of not getting to try it since first missing our chance in New Zealand in 2006.
There's a tiny train ride for the tots.
The big train ride is probably meant for the tots too, but we had already bought tickets to ride it, so ride it we did. Almost no one else had arrived yet, so we were the only people on it.
We rode around the front of the building ...
... past the Linton's topiary, ...
... around the back, ...
... all the way to the far side of the property where the pond is, ...
... and through the tunnel that doubles as a storage shed for the train.
Next, we had tickets to try the water orbs. Tom went first and sat on the dock with the orb deflated around him.
The staff used a leaf blower to fill the orb with air.
When it was fully inflated, they zipped it closed.
It was really hard to stand in but Tom gave it his best.
He's up!
He's tipping!
He's up!
He's down! And he's done. He was ready to come out before his five minutes were up.
Next, it was claustrophobic Debbie's turn. She's fine, she's fine, ...
... she's fine, she's NOT fine. When they zipped up the ball, Debbie panicked.
Fortunately, Tom was able to see that she was in distress and had the staff get her out ASAP.
There was still more to see in Elkhart, but we needed to get home, so we collected a couple more statues on our way out of town.
Another elk, ...
... and another.
A heart this time, ...
... and another elk.
Out of town, we encountered this bison statue. When we got home, we learned that it was part of the 2016 Indiana Association of United Ways' Bison-tennial Art Project, which aims to place a bison statue in each of Indiana's counties.
We passed this pretty round barn in Fulton County on our way home.

** THE END **

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