September 22, 2018–First Day of Fall
Between running out of time, construction in the museum, and not being able to find a parking spot at the ferry terminal, I skipped going to the Seaport Museum in Manhattan. I wish I could have made it there. As the setting of the Captain Garrison story moves seaward, I begin to feel a bit lost about spinning the details of maritime life accurately.
“Have you ever been to Mennohof?” Marnell asked. “They have a ship in their history display.”
No, in fact, although I’ve lived in northern Indiana for 12 years, I had never been to this iconic place.
“What are their hours?” Marnell asked.
Now, we are both working today so Marnell took most of the day off yesterday and we were home together. I wasn’t sure that such a lovely day at home should be spoiled by diving headfirst into Friday afternoon traffic on the Elkhart-Shipshewana migraine highway. Also, I’m not very good at last minute ideas. My mom warned me that I should be more flexible, but I still thrive on plans and schedules.
However, we also had a gift card to the Blue Gate restaurant in Shipshewana and I thought, sometimes it’s best to just do it. How do we know we will have another similar chance?
So off we went on a spontaneous date, to study history.
Marnell was right. The ship was a perfect place to get helpful details about ships from Captain Garrison’s era, and much closer and less complicated than Manhattan. (Of course, Marnell recognized at least one of the tour guides.)
Then, we went to tourist attraction number two, the Blue Gate Restaurant, where the waitresses wear navy dresses, black hose and white aprons.
After a delightful mini loaf of bread with apple butter and Amish peanut butter right on our table, we ate chicken and meatloaf and determined to split a piece of pie. Then we got the dessert menu and changed strategies. We would each get our own piece, since clearly we needed to try both kinds of pecan pie. But we maintained a little discipline by resolving to keep part of our pie for our lunches the next day. (About this time, Marnell recognized the elderly couple sitting behind us as the owners of the restaurant.)
When we walked out of the restaurant… ah, it was the most lovely fall day. A cool evening breeze. The sun dropping. Mums and pumpkins and a team of cornstalk horses.
“It’s such a lovely evening! Maybe we should do that corn maze,” I said, having seen it on a sign.
Neither of us having done a corn maze before, and both of us needing to work off calories, we headed down a back street to the corn maze.
“This is like a tourist town!” I exclaimed to Marnell. “Dips ice cream shop… Punpkinvine Cafe…”
Cute little cottages and houses turned into shops and bakeries, just like one would expect at a destination hundreds of miles from home.
“Uh… yes,” said Marnell. “It is a tourist town.”
We paid our entrance fee and got our green paper bracelets. (The man who runs the corn maze was a long-time friend of Marnell’s.) Then we walked into the maze, the breeze rustling and rattling the drying stalks which had been GPS-planted in the shape of a 5th wheel and the word Jayco and 50th, since Jayco sponsored the maze on this their 50th anniversary year. No corn had to be cut, since the planter skipped the maze paths, so we walked on nice paths instead of over corn stalk stubble.
At the end, after getting 50% right on the checkpoint trivia questions (the first Jayco RV was red, not orange), we climbed the bridge that looks over the maze, and could see people moving below us. The wind was cold, and the sunset beginning with hints of brilliant orange. We went down, where I picked out a large pumpkin-shaped Hubbard squash the color of the sunset. Marnell paid for it at the booth which also sold hot chocooate and hot apple cider and pumpkin whoopie pies, which I managed to talk myself out of. I kind of wanted to carry the squash myself, just to be reminded of how ridiculously unhandy they are, so I staggered out to our vehicle with the squash, almost as if I was still working on the produce farm at home.
The sunset grew more and more brilliant coral as we drove west to Elkhart, and I thought of Captain Garrison on the water with only the sea and sky.
“There’s never been a sunset like this before,” Marnell said.
Nor will there ever be one again! I’ve posted a photo below, but it is drab in comparison to the brilliance of that sunset, as many of you may know.
And so, I recommend spontaneous dates. I recommend the historical displays at the Mennohof. I recommend the pecan pie at Blue Gate, especially if you can do the corn maze next to work off your calories. (Don’t tell them I told you the trivia answer about the red RV.)
And I recommend going with someone who knows everyone.
And I recommend a great sunset!