If I had to describe myself with one word it would be artist - a visual artist and an artist with words. My artwork is included in Ohio Online Visual Arts Registry. I'm working with various galleries in the Midwest to promote my oil paintings and abstract light photography.

 

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Amish Country

Following the Trails

 © Becky Linhardt 2010

 If you haven’t been to northern Indiana’s Amish Country, late summer/early fall is a great time to travel the quiet country roads.  Exploring is made easier with self-guided driving tours.

 The Elkhart County Visitors Center has printed tour maps for both trails and has an Audio CD for the Heritage Trail.  Tech savvy travelers can download MP3 files of the Heritage Trail audio guide from their web site.  The 90-mile Heritage Trail was selected by the editors of LIFE® as one of the “100 Places to See in Your Lifetime.”  There is another self-guided tour, Quilt Gardens, that follows approximately the same route but the gardens and murals are only open or on display from late May to early October.

 No matter what route you follow, along the way there are many food temptations – rich, buttery Amish pastries and pies, down-home meals created from the bounty of the surrounding farmland.

Middlebury, Wakarusa, Goshen, Elkhart, Shipshewana, Nappanee, Bristol – you can start at any point for your self-guided tour.  Accommodations can be found in any of these towns, from the many small bed and breakfast establishments such as Victorian-style Murphy Guest House just a short walk from the Bristol Opera House to larger Amish-inspired country inns like the Essenhaus cq Inn in Middlebury that has its own Quilt Garden, restaurant and bakery. 

What to see along the way?  Amish and Mennonite traditions are strong throughout the area.  Amish Acres in Nappanee is both a Heritage and Quilt Garden stop.  The 80-acre farmstead, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, includes the huge Restaurant Barn and Round Barn Theatre.  You can ride a farm wagon, tour the historic farmhouse, watch demonstrations of traditional crafts such as quilting and broom-making, and attend musical theater. 

The Shipshewana Flea Market and Auction attracts visitors from throughout the country and it’s not unusual to see a tiny Amish horse and buggy parked next to large trucks.  “For beautiful hand-made quilts and woodcrafts, the Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale, a late September auction event in Goshen, is a great event to visit,” advised Hughes.

 At the nearby Menno-Hof Amish-Mennonite Visitors Center viewing the seasonal Quilt Garden is free.  There is a small fee to visit the museum that has detailed displays that relate the history of religious beliefs and the migrations that brought the various groups to the rich farmlands of northern Indiana.

 Grain from the farms would be processed at a nearby mill and in Bristol the traditional milling practices continue at Bonneyville cq Mill Park.  “This mill has been operating for more than 150 years,” said miller John Jenney.  “Visitors are amazed to learn the water flows through the building’s lowest level.”  Heritage crafts are the focus at the park’s annual Bonneyville Celebration each September.

 Crafts, foods, and fresh produce – the bounty of the Midwest can be found at the HUGE red barn of the American Countryside Farmers Market just outside Elkhart.  The 51,450-square-foot, timber-pegged barn is open year-round with a seasonal outside Farmers Market.  

 Elkhart County Visitors Center: 574-262-8161 or www.amishcountry.org

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        As a travel writer it is my responsibility to select the best places, events, and experiences to present to you. Most travel has been on my own though some has occurred on sponsored press trips. Travel listings here will be more informal than my published articles.

 

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