You may have thought that, after several trips to the Hoosier State, I would have run out of things to share with you about the Midwest. Not so! On our latest trip to drop off our youngest son at Valparaiso, I still managed to find three new things to share with you!
Figure Eight Brewing (Valparaiso, IN)
We met our old friends from Chicago at this small craft brewery. The pub is high-ceilinged, with a light and airy feel and plenty of space between the tables. The waiters and waitresses had personality to spare and the beer is brewed on-site. I had the Snake Pro, a double IPA, which was not only hoppy, but had that citrusy finish that I love. Greg got adventurous and ordered the “Lost Saint”, a Belgian-style Saison with coriander, white pepper, and grains of paradise (whatever those are!) Sadly, he didn’t care for the taste; it was a little too different. Neil tried the Solar Collector, with a touch of dry-hopped Amarillo. Another plus for the brewery is that they have growlers. So be sure to check out this spot next time you’re passing through Valpo.
Splendor Boats (Silver Lake, IN)
My husband read about this family owned boat company in one of his boating magazines and was enthralled by the boat’s catamaran hull design. Splendor only makes 40-50 boats a year and I’d never seen a motor boat in the various stages of production so I agreed to tag along. It was really cool to see how a mold and some fiberglass evolve into a sleek, powerful motorboat that you would be proud to call your own. The sales manager, Brandon, was personable and answered every single question we asked (and there were lots!) He also trailered one of the boats we were interested in and took us to a local lake so we could test-drive it on the water and see how it handled. I know what I want in my stocking this year!
Bonus-The lake was located in Warsaw, IN, aka the “orthopedic capital”. Who knew?
The RV/MH Hall of Fame (Elkhart, IN)
I take full credit for this stop. Every time we pass this museum on Rt. 80, I say “I’s really like to go there someday.” This is slightly ironic because I’m a dedicated tent camper and a relentless critic of RV’s. I don’t like the way they hog up the road and the parking lots or the noise their generators make at night. But we stopped and it was well worth it. The ingenuity of the original motor home campers is really something to see. The various RV/MH’s are displayed along a highway, reinforcing the impression of Americans on the move and reminding you of how good it feels to hit the open road in whatever type of vehicle best suits your lifestyle. However, interestingly enough, it was the photo display at the end of the exhibit that made the biggest impression on me. It wasn’t about taking a vacation in a recreational vehicle, it was about the different people who call a mobile home their 24/7 abode. It turns out that people of all ages, races, and income levels choose to live in mobile homes for a variety of reasons.
One man explains that he sold a $300,000 house with a pool to move into his home on wheels. “That place was a task, this is a pleasure,” he says. A young artist claims her mobile home allows her the freedom to express herself in a way that’s both affordable and individualistic. And frequently mobile homes allow families to stay in close proximity to each other. The photos show a retired woman sharing her father’s land, while a young mother and her daughter park their home on her grandparent’s lot.
There are plenty of stories just waiting to be heard in this unusual museum so be sure to stop for an hour or so if you happen to be passing by.