Our original plan after Spearfish is to quickly hop across several states arriving in Shipshewana, IN just in time for our refrigerator upgrade at JC Refrigeration. I brace myself for some hard days riding as Storm attacks the miles ahead like Patton marching the 3rd army toward Berlin. As Storm’s chief intelligence officer, I am expected to stay abreast of navigation requirements, fuel locations and upcoming delays. A blistering pace results in snafus like my decision to buck the GPS and Google on Highway 20. Storm reluctantly follows my advice instead of the GPS which results in an unplanned and unwanted excursion into South Bend.
A Chance to Catch our Breath
Somehow we get our dates twisted up and wind up with an extra day of time before we need to be at JC’s. I am guessing the multiple time zone crossings messed with our minds (as good an excuse as any). Our last leg is planned to skirt barely below Chicago and involves a loss of an hour to the eastward time zone changes. With an extra day we can split this up and Storm can relax a little as he battles his way through tolls and tunnels of big rigs across 4 lanes of I-80.
Our revamped itinerary allows us to dry camp at two untried places. In Davenport, IA we snake our way through closed roads and a secret backroad entrance to the Rhythm City Casino. Nestled in a curve snuggled against I-80, it beckons to us with neon beacons. But inexplicably we cannot exit the interstate and pull into the Casino. For once booth Google and our GPS agree on a convoluted route through the corn fields.
Once parked, we quiz the lovely folks at the front desk to get approval for our overnight there. With typical mid-western warmth, they assure us that we are welcome. They apologize almost guiltily that they do not have hookups for us. How sweet, but all we need is a safe place to park.
The hostess at the Sports Bar lures us in for dinner with her mouth watering descriptions of their entrees. What a deal, dinner for two with drinks for less than $25. If we can find this place again, we will be back!
Don't Mess with Hammond, IN
My RVParky App reveals a Cabela’s option for an overnight in Hammond, IN. Storm texts Monte our route and when he discovers how close we will be to Gary, IN he warns us of the high crime rate here. Having survived I-80 south of Chicago we feel invincible so in spite of Monte’s warnings we pull in the huge Cabela’s lot in Hammond.
A quick chat with the Cabela’s greeter soothes our fears that the “NO OVERNIGHT PARKING – Violators will be towed” signs festooning the RV parking might apply to us. We learn that RVs are welcome, but not overnight trucks. A vigilant policeman patrols the parking lot all night. Before a truck can coast to a stop, he instantly sends the driver out of this lot. We feel extremely safe as we watch the blue and red flashing lights of his vehicle weave a cordon of safety around our rig.
Settling in at Shipshewana
Having entered a highly congested part of the US, our expectations of the roads and scenery in this part of the country are pretty low. When we arrive in Shipshewana I am blown away by the rolling Amish Farm country we find there.
Like so many roads we want to take on this trip, the street leading directly to the shop is closed. We detour through the tiny, tourist covered downtown streets. Storm finagles his way through some narrow spaces and tight turns. Dodging parked SUVs, prancing horse and carriage rigs, Amish bike riders and tractors we finally reach the repair shop.
Parked on a deceptively rural looking major highway we settle in for the night. We are shocked to discover that the workday here starts at 4am. At 3:30am the peaceful country road outside our front door experiences a truck/commuter rush hour to rival I-80 in Hammond. One thing is for sure, we are wide awake for our 7am appointment!