Heartbeat of the HeartLand – Goshen Indiana
The RV Delivery Room –
I can feel our camper wagging its tail as we cross the state line into Indiana. There is just something so special about going back to the place where you were born. On March 11th, 2015 “O”ur “H”appy “P”lace (we call her OhP) was delivered into this world up here in Northern Indiana, where there must be a giant delivery room for RV’s. (90% of America’s RV’s are all built here) We couldn’t watch the birthing then since we were down in Florida in our 19ft “Our Happy, but ya must walk sideways, Place”, but got the email from Heartland RV the day OhP hit the assembly line. Within 24 hours we got another call, someone had slapped her on the butt, put down the last seam of caulk, she was breathing from her batteries and we passed out cigars.
With Indianapolis behind us, we leave the interstate and hit the state highways north that cut through the heart of this Hoosier state. Within a few miles the landscape evolves to swaying, young, spring green, twelve inch tall corn fields and rolling farms as far as the eye can see. It may have just been the road we were on, but the homesteads we passed were all so beautiful, clean and seemed to somehow invite us to pull in and have Sunday dinner. If I wasn’t going 55 MPH and had this 35′ Happy Place stuck to my butt, we may have tried it. The road slowly degrades a bit as we chugged on. I was dodging potholes the size of my tires and the few that I couldn’t avoid caused us to look at each other in pain. I’m sure we had similar pictures in our minds of the coffee pot, and my old guitar flying across OhP and smashing to the floor. As we inched north we also noticed that just about every 5th truck coming in the southbound direction was pulling a freshly painted, young, still crying for milk, baby camper on it’s way to it’s new parents. There were snazzy popups stacked on top of themselves on trailers and countless tag-along campers with that new RV smell just wafting through the air. 5th wheels and class A’s just kept coming like a river flowing past us heading to somewhere in America.
Elkhart County – The RV Capital of America
As we enter the final stretch into the RV delivery room, two more things fill my senses. We slow our rig down for the stoplight and up beside us comes a beautiful brown horse and buggy, a mustache-less bearded man and his blue eyed wife in a bonnet. We do a quick google search on “Amish” to rekindle our memory and as we pull forward we fall into the rabbit hole of thought …”Could we ever be Amish? I think I could. What if the world lost electricity would we all be knocking on an humble Amish family door, begging to let us in and teach us to be simple again?” We drove through mile upon mile of beautiful farms all connected with something that we couldn’t see. No electric poles, no telephone wires. No cars in the driveways. It was only faith and the blue, brown, and muted solid colored clothing blowing on laundry lines that joined this farming community.
We roll into the historic 1831 town of Goshen, passing another dozen or so newborn campers on their way to their new homes, wait at another stoplight with a horse and black buggy beside us and then we come to a railroad crossing where the gates come down. It felt like fifteen minutes, but was probably just three to five, as car upon endless railroad car came roaring past us. Oil, Walmart, China, Home Depot, countless nameless containers going to somewhere else, coming from somewhere else and here we all sit still, glancing at each other, waiting for the train to pass.
The Amish couple beside us in their simple, no-frills horse drawn buggy, share a laugh at something unknown, there’s OhP behind me still wagging her tail so happy to be back home and another fresh born camper on the other side of the tracks is shaking it’s booty too, thinking about all the great places in America that it will one day travel to. The crossing arms finally rise, the train rolls on, we watch in the side mirror as the horse beside us breaks into a trot, we pass the freshly born camper crossing over it’s first set of railroad tracks. It was there in that brief second of a train, RV, horse, and trail crossing that I felt the heartbeat … of the Heartland.
Thinking about Visiting the Goshen Area?
Make sure you batten down everything in the camper good as the roads really do need some love up here. Winters are tough. Goshen is the capital of Elkhart county and one of four RV manufacturing towns in the area. Elkhart, Middlebury, Nappanee and Wakarusa are the other towns in the area that are all popping out RV’s and slapping them on the butt day by day.
Goshen – Dutchman, Keystone RV, Forest River
Elkhart – Thor Motor Coach, Heartland RV (Where our OhP was born) , Nexus
Middlebury – Grand Design RV, Jayco, Winnebago
Nappanee – Newmar
All the RV Delivery Rooms offer free tours on select days each week.
There are many camping options in the area. We decided to stay at the Elkhart County 4H Fairgrounds due to it’s great location and the fact that some of our plans need to be flexible and they didn’t require reservations. It is first come, first serve and we enjoyed their 50 amp full hookup amenities, plus got to watch horse barrel racing, a goat show, sneak into a Lippert Employee Picnic and strolled every evening around the beautiful property. They also provide a great welcome packet with all the details on the RV tours, restaurants and area activities. The railroad does roll right behind the campground, which might turn some folks away but for us…. if you twist it just right in your mind, it can sound like a roaring river 🙂
We seemed to time it perfectly too for Goshen’s First Friday’s event on the square. We joined in on a 5K run on the Maple City Greenway (speaking of booty, butt, tail, and all the other great hiney words… it kicked our ASPEN… but we finished) , sipped some delicious brew at the Goshen brewing company, and danced a bit on the square to a band playing.
As we strolled away, we sucked in one last inhale of that sweet smell of a community get together. Yum there’s the cotton candy, there’s the kids running down the street, the old timer sitting on a bench in warn-out overalls watching me watch him, my nose is tickled again with bratwurst on a grill somewhere, a horse and buggy trots by and then we catch a few last grins, along with eye to eye “hello’s” that somehow reflected pride, family, history, and the heart that fills this RV Capital of America.
We are headed that way but not until the 2nd week of November. The roads will be the same but the weather could be vastly different!
That last photo is THE BEST. Even though our rig was hatched in Oregon (Arctic Fox) we still want to visit Goshen to experience Amish country. Sounds like you had a great time—love what you said about transforming the sound of the train into a roaring river. You know how to travel well and happily. 🙂
My favorite photo too Laurel.
Our sticks and bricks was about 90 minutes north of there, so Elkhart was an occasional weekend destination. Glad you enjoyed your time there, David and Sharon! You stayed at the site of our RV-Dreams rally! :)))
I forgot that RV-Dreams held a rally there Jim. There was a big one going on for Open Range RV’s while we were there.
Thanks for the tour. We’re originally from northern IL yet have never been to this part of Indiana. Fun post!
Thanks for tagging along Ingrid.
Never been to Elkhart County, but have spent a good bit of time in the PA & OH Amish Country. We both love those communities. It is like time stood still and we loved it. Something special about hard working, family centered people. Of course, you can’t beat the great Amish Food!!!! Glad all went well and you are moving on. Safe Travels and Happy Trails………….
Happy to see you both on the road again too Bill and Nancy.
LOVE the giant statue. How did we miss that the last time we were there ???
It is located right in the middle of town along the river Tracy. It was fun finding all their sculptured and painted Elk throughout the town too.
I never saw the big statue either!!! Can’t wait to hear about the employee picnic. You guys are so good at sneaking in places!!