Lake Haven Retreat in Indianapolis, Indiana was a good place for us to stay while attending Nazarene General Assembly at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown. From the campground to our parking lot was less than 15 minutes! Because we were in the city for the convention all we wanted from the campground was a good place to park the RV and Lake Haven Retreat fit the bill nicely.
It’s urban camping, although the small lake does add at least a bit of a camping feeling to the place. Most of the campsites are pull through “back to back” sites. Our neighbor on the driver’s side, then, was very close. On the other side there’s a strip of grass that is shared with the folks on that side. Again, we were in town for the convention, so having a level site with good utilities (including WiFi) worked for us.
Arriving at the campground might be a bit confusing. Arriving on Hwy 37 one turns onto Edgewood. The very first driveway is for the campground even though it looks as if it’s just a house. That house is the office. Beside the office is the laundry and showers. This makes them pretty much equally unhandy for most everyone. Just past the driveway for the campground is a fire station. We could hear the trucks going out once in a while, but I think they must delay the sirens till they are down the street a ways because they weren’t ever a big issue for us.
The campground has several long term residents, evident by the big propane bottles. However, everything is kept reasonably neat and orderly. We paid a bit more than we usually pay, but again, this campground is all about location.
If you need a spot in Indy, especially on the south side or near downtown, this campground is likely your best bet.
Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana is just south of the South Bend/Elkhart metro areas of northern Indiana. This is agricultural country, filled with corn and soybean fields; farmed by Amish and “English” alike. The campground is a big one with lots of leased sites plus plenty of room for travelers, rallies, etc. Most all the sites are on grass and many are “rally field” types of sites with full hookups. Most of the sites are level. We managed to get a spot in the trees rather than the field and with the big trees came roots and with the roots an un-level, sloping spot. In our case, we didn’t mind that because we had a new leveling system to try out. It worked great. Had we arrived prior to the camper upgrade I would have likely asked for a different spot. Generally, with campers scattered around the place feels roomy. Over this mid-June weekend, though, the place filled up and we had people at close quarters all around us. That was no big deal to us, but we were glad to get a bit of breathing space back on Sunday afternoon when all the poor working people had to go home to reality. The campground has pretty decent WiFi that worked fine for us until the weekend when it was overloaded. Even the local cell tower was impacted and I had a usable but slower data stream. For some reason the slowdown continued on Monday. The shower rooms/bathrooms in our area were usable but very dated. I’m not sure about others. The property has a swimming pond that got lots of use by the kids. A new pool is being built and will be in use by next year or even sooner. The campground has a nice mini-golf and driving range available for an extra charge. Probably the biggest issue we had was that the water tasted metallic and stained our sink and commode.
One reason for the full campground over our weekend here was a Civil War reenactment group. They pitched tents and set up camps reflective of that era. Their biggest draw was a couple of cannons. Everyone enjoyed their demonstrations, especially the night fire on Saturday night.
This is not only Amish country, but is also RV country. The Numar factory and other RV industry related businesses are just a few minutes away in nearby Nappanee.
We liked Pla-Mor and would return for a future visit.
Right off let me say that there’s a lot more to this area than we saw. Also, we enjoyed just driving around the area, looking at the many Amish farms and small school houses. These aren’t intended to be “attractions” but they are, indeed, “attractive” and add to the general ambiance of the area.
We had a fun, if hot, day at Shipshewana, IN. This town, surrounded by Amish farms, caters to tourists and features lots of Amish history, crafts, and food. We started our day at the very popular Flea Market and found hand crafted items along with most anything you can imagine for sale. There were many food booths but there was also an Amish restaurant along with a terrific meat and cheese market. We bought summer sausage, Swiss cheese and bread. The butcher sliced the meat and cheese for us at no extra charge and we had a delicious lunch with left overs to take home and use later. I also enjoyed going to the air conditioned Davis Mercantile building where I saw the restored working Carousel on the 3rd floor. There were many other shops including stores selling things like candy, clothing, furniture, fabric and toys. There was an elevator and plenty of seating for people like Scott who would rather sit than shop!
We enjoyed our visit to Amish Acres in Nappanee,IN. We started our visit with a tour of the original house when it was a typical Amish farm. It was a fascinating tour giving us insight into how the early Amish settlers continued living in their chosen ways even as progress such as electricity and gas engines became common in the area. Through the years they continued doing house and farm work by hand using animals. We took the wagon tour of the farm and saw many buildings including a carriage shed, ice house, and syrup barn. At the school house children learned High German for worship, how to read and write in their daily language of Pennsylvania Dutch, and English so they get along in the world outside of their own. We saw a very interesting video about the history of the Amish and learned about the Amish and Mennonite religious practices. We visited the meat and cheese store, candy store/soda shop and the bakery. There is also a well-known restaurant and theater that has ongoing plays. All in all a very nice afternoon.
I found it interesting to see so many horse and buggies traveling the roads or hitched up at various businesses (like Dairy Queen). Also, as we drove to church on Sunday morning we passed the Amish farm that was hosting their church services that Sunday. There were several parked horse and buggies as well as a lot of bicycles. Apparently, the various farms in the area take turns hosting worship services followed by a big meal.
We really like our Hitchhiker II LS 5th wheel. However, we’re missing a few extras that the newer rigs have. A couple of months ago we decided that for the foreseeable future we’d like to make a few upgrades and keep our current 5th wheel. The biggest upgrade for us was adding a power leveling system. We found that the Bigfoot Leveling System by Quadra was highly regarded by most everyone. This is a powerful hydraulic system. They make a fully automatic system – just push the button and it figures out what is level by itself. We opted to save nearly $900 and install a single pump, manual, four jack system. With this system you have a remote control and using the bubble levels already mounted on the camper you level the camper. The guys at the factory told me our 5th wheel was a bigger project than many and it took a day and a half to do the install. The good folks at Quadra were nothing but helpful and professional. They even let us sleep in the camper while it was parked overnight inside their facility. This is a new system for us, but we found ourselves on a rather un-level site our first night out with it. It took just a minute or so to bring the camper perfectly level. Jackie and I were both all smiles watching it work!
Our stay in Johnny Appleseed Campground in Fort Wayne, Indiana has been a pleasant one. The campground is named in honor of John Chapman who was better known as Johnny Appleseed, the frontiersman, preacher, humanitarian, and nurseryman who introduced apple trees to this region of our nation. He lived his later years out in Fort Wayne and is buried near what is now a park and campground named in his honor. This campground gets high marks from most everyone and that now includes us. The park has lots of shady water/electric sites near the St. Joseph River. The strip of land between the campground and the River boasts a large dog park and playground and the street is busy with joggers, bicyclists, and others who come to enjoy the area. The campground has a very nice and clean shower house and laundry room which has a dump station beside it. For those who are staying longer there’s a “honey wagon service” for a reasonable $10. The sites are a mixed bag – some that will only accommodate smaller rigs. You may want to bring an extra water hose along because many of the sites share a water spigot which is equally unhandy to everyone. Having said that, we could have fit into most of the sites. The one we were given was one of three sites that backs in directly off the city street. Frankly, I think our site is probably the best one in the place! Before I close out my review, I have to tell you the name of that street. No, it isn’t “Johnny Appleseed” street. Rather, it is named for a beloved Fort Wayne mayor of the past who proudly embraced his name and used it to his advantage in political campaigns. His name was Harry Baals and, yes, it’s pronounced with one “a” and two “l’s.”