Mounting our bicycles,my husband, Mike, and I headed toward the Pumpkin Vine Trail. We were drawn to Shipshewana by the Quilt Festival being held. Well, I guess I was actually the one that was drawn by the quilt show. Mike had just agreed to go in an attempt to appease me. I had been complaining that we didn’t ever do anything I wanted to do. So this was my weekend. I got to choose where we went. The perk for Mike – there was a bicycle trail to be explored!
I like to ride bicycles, too, but not like he normally does. He rides great distances – anywhere from 25 to 50 miles at speeds averaging from 17 to 18 mph. This is way to extreme for me. The tires on his road bike are skinny, and the seat is too small for even one butt cheek and hard as a rock. Not my idea of a good time. So he purchased a cruising bike – a Cannondale Adventure II. Mine is a Trek 7300. These bikes have bigger, more comfy seats and fatter tires. They are meant to cruise around – not go great distances quickly.
We weren’t sure of the exact entrance to the trail, but followed the maps that we had seen on-line, and headed down the highway, taking advantage of the Amish buggy lane. They were very convenient, except for the horse droppings that we had to swerve around. It made me happy for the fenders that Mike had insisted we have installed on our bikes!
Luckily, there were little signs that pointed us in the direction of the trail. It was a well-traveled trail. Lots of other cyclists. Nature surrounded us, and our noses were met with the fresh smells that cattle and horses fill the air with. Above us were very picturesque tree canopies that seemed to have been planted there intentionally.
We passed by several Amish farms with garden displays of perfectly planted and weeded rows of flowers and vegetables. Their white houses and barns were pristine and the lawns well manicured.
At first, the unusually cool weather left me wishing I had been better prepared and brought a jacket. Goosebumps took up residence on my arms, and I wondered if Iwas going to end up sick. As my body temperature rose from the physical activity, my arms remained cool, but I did stop shivering.
As we glided along, we came upon a poster board sign that said, “World’s Smallest Truck Stop Ahead.” Then on the left we spied a young Amish girl with a table set up. She was selling homemade cookies and breads. Who could resist? Much better than a lemonade stand with sour lemon flavored Kool-Aid! We stopped and Mike bought peanut butter cookies with M & M’s; I chose the black and white cookies. Each bag held three cookies and cost $2. We sat on our bikes in front of her and tasted them – she had told us in her Swiss dialect that she had baked them herself. I am sure she could tell by our faces that we were impressed, but we told her they were wonderful, then headed on our way.
Luckily, the trail was blocked off at the 6-mile mark, so we turned around and headed back. I was happy for the forced return, as it was so seductive, I would have been tempted to go much further and may not have made it back to the car.
By the time we made it back, the sun had come out, and we were warming up considerably.
Mike put the bikes on the bike rack on the hitch of our SUV. We locked them up and I put on my sandals and a ball cap, then headed into the town to find some lunch. The first place we spotted was the Blue Gate Theater and Restaurant. We split a burger, fries and a glass of milk. After that we checked out the Shipshewana Furniture Store, which housed the most beautiful furniture I have ever seen in my life. It will surely be the place I head when I am rich enough to buy good furniture.
Although I would have liked to explore the other shops, I decided that coffee was the next most important thing, and with that boost in energy, I thought we should head to the quilt show.
Admittedly, I had some reservations about attending a quilt show with my husband. I knew that my mother or my fellow quilter friend, Linda, might have been a better choice. You know, people who could really appreciate the exhibit. But Mike had said he would go, so I decided to let him step up.
The work was impeccable, unbelievable, breathtaking and amazing! It was inspiring and humbling. This is truly where one might say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but seriously – even pictures do not do justice to exhibit the detail and the intricacy that most of the pieces held.
In a connecting room, there was a car show going on, so I gave Mike permission to go check it out while I perused the rest of the quilt show. He was happy to be released from this obligation that he had committed to, and I was happy to let him go and be free of his obligatory responses to my comments. As well, I knew that this would release me from the obligation of looking at the cars!
It was a good day and a fun time. I had actually thought of cancelling and just staying home and working on my own quilt and getting things done around here. I am glad I didn’t go with that urge. I was touched by natured, inspired by the Amish culture, and moved by the creativity and devotion to their craft that the quilters’ work displayed.
Our bike ride time and distance may not be impressive to the local bicycle club, but just like those quilts that had to have taken years to complete, we didn’t miss a stitch on our ride. We connected with nature and the world around us. Racing through – quality can be lost
This was the winner of the quilt show. The photo doesn’t do it justice.