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  • laurellakemcguire

At the pace of a buggy in Amish Country….

late June 2022

Close on now to leaving for our big adventure to Canada’s Atlantic Provinces, we needed a place to land for a week close by Chicago, where we would be attending our niece Emily’s wedding. Jim found a place in Bristol IN called Eby’s Pines RV campground. We pulled up to our back in spot next to an extended family in what looked to be plain style yet with cars…we later figured they might be “Beachy Amish” or conservative Mennonite based on the info at the Moennohof exhibit. All I know is that they were the friendliest neighbors.. several of the men helped guide Jim and offered us pork chops after. The children ran around on bare feet in bright yet somber clothes and they all were neighborly about the dogs.

We spent most of our time here driving around enjoying the bucolic landscape and the startling effect of so many buggies. We had the chance to pick up a pie at what appeared to be the largest and most touristy of the restaurants, Das Essenhaus.. We chose a blackberry, partly because it didn’t have the wall of whipped topping most seemed to have in their 31 varieties. Unfortunately we found we could not like it - it was too like thick jam topped with a hard cardboard crust. Perhaps it suffers from the massive amounts catered to tour buses and the like. We also visited, briefly, the large flea market but found no fleas that interested. We did get ice cream cones from Rocket Ice Cream which flash froze ingredients to make instant cones…a bit of modern science in a 1800 world. The visitor center in Effingham had great exhibits and one on 6 cartoonists from the area that credited one art teacher for inspiring them. As the child of teachers that touched my heart.

We did visit the Mennohof museum. When we first walked in we were a little alarmed to realize the experience meant a guided tour - we are bigger fans of the roam at your own will style. But we paid our fees and were glad we did - it is an interesting window into bothe the history as well as the modern ways and the differences of the Amish, the Mennonites and the Hutterites as well as breakaway groups. Our first guide was a Mennonite and he described it as the group likely to “sneak up on you” as they don’t have the beard and the distinctive clothing. One of the exhibit rooms went into detail on the Mennonite Disaster Relief though (after sitting through a tornado simulation which Jim declined to join me in) that was inspiring. Each room you were led into looked like something from the era being described and then a voiceover with lighted displays would take over.

We also checked out several of the statues and one of the “quilt gardens” that are part of the tour of the area. But my favorite part was probably just driving around the landscape.

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