Saturday, 14 August 2010

Shipshewana-Shape & Amish Fashion

We woke this morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after the best night’s sleep in a long time. It must have been the huge and insanely comfortable bed in our B&B. Ambling downstairs, we were treated to a delicious breakfast prepared by Terry and, while we were eating it, enjoyed talking with Lance, who is originally from North London, but grew up in the US, and is now a high-flying doctor here. Before we left, we chatted again with the lovely owners, Laurel and Terry. They packed us off with chocolate chip cookies, lashings of ice-cold lemonade, and a wistful tear in our eyes: we were sorry that we had to leave. Kalamazoo, and especially Kalamazoo House B&B …we likey a lot!

After yesterday’s journey, which was more like an 8-hour session of Bikram Yoga than a cycle ride, we were secretly pleased to find that it was overcast today and, as a result, considerably cooler. Following a brilliant route out of town suggested by Laurel and Terry, we tripped along a number of quiet roads and bike paths, before rolling over the state border into Indiana.

There was no grand welcoming sign or indeed any sign at all that we had left Michigan, save for the change from a lovely smooth road surface to one swirled with what we affectionately call “tacky tar”, since our tyres stick in it on hot days. We also realised that we were nearing Amish country when we started to see their eco-friendly, but not very bike-friendly, vehicle emissions splatted on the road! And then we saw our first horse and cart. It was no ordinary pony and trap though. This one had an enclosed cab with windows of blacked-out glass (no joke) and an extremely sleek thoroughbred upfront. After we had exhausted as many jokes as we could think of about Amish hip hop stars, excessively tinted windows and being pulled over by a horse-drawn vehicle where the horse has a flashing blue light on top of its head, we found ourselves at the end of our 52-mile jaunt and at our destination for tonight: the small and touristy, but seriously Amish town of Shipshewana, IN.

There’s something incredibly peaceful about an Amish town. Don’t get us wrong; there are still a few cars on the road, but in general it’s a procession of well-turned out horses and carts clip clopping past, the occupants seemingly incredibly happy and friendly, as we exchanged a lot of waves and nods both on our way into town on the bikes, and also en route to and from dinner.

Dinner was an interesting affair. We ate traditional Amish style, including a sampler plate of succulent slow-roasted beef, squealingly scrumptious ham and the most delicious fried chicken we have tasted (sorry Louisiana), all washed down with… a glass of iced water. Yes, as we expected, the whole town is “dry”. Still, with memories of our behaviour in Escanaba fresh in our minds, we figure that we can happily live without the grape and the grain for a couple of days. A rest day here tomorrow before we head off towards Ohio.

Us x


  1. :) It is good to see you haven't forgotten us. heehee
    Heather and Matt

  2. Ooh--glad the route leaving Kalamazoo worked well for you. We only wish you could have stayed longer in the 'Zoo...Terry and I wish you lovely tailwinds and interesting adventures the rest of your incredible trip. Thanks for the kind words about the inn....we're so glad to have met you both. BTW, it's much cooler here now...sorry you missed it. ;)