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Our next stop was to the town of Muskegon, MI. For years, Larry had always wanted to tour a WW2 Submarine, but always passed on the opportunity when we were near one. Not this time. Muskegon is home to the USS SILVERSIDES Submarine Museum. The museum was great and included access to freely explore the WW2 Submarine. The USS SILVERSIDES is the most famous surviving submarine of WW2. She sunk more ships (30 Japanese vessels and damaged 14) and took down more tonnage than any other surviving WW2 submarine. Most of the systems onboard SILVERSIDES are still operational. Her 4 huge diesel engines are started up and exercised every month.
We were surprised that it wasn't as crowded inside as we expected. However, there were only about 6 of us and not the 80 sailors normally operating the sub. Still, I don't think I'd enjoy being in these cramped spaces, underwater most of the time, for 2 months at a time. The USS SILVERSIDES is 312 feet long, commissioned in 1941 and decommissioned in 1946. Luckily, she was saved from becoming scrap metal and was declared a national landmark in 1986. Connie and I both greatly enjoyed the museum and the time to explore the submarine.
We only spent the day at the submarine museum, then moved on to the Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, MI. This was a nice and friendly casino, allowing us to spend a couple nights in their parking lot. Of course, we ended up paying for our visit in lost gambling and the wonderful dining. Our reason for coming here was to visit the small Dutch community in Holland, MI. We visited a small tourist Dutch town and their shoppes and enjoyed a delicious dutch lunch of Saucijzenbroodjes (delicious pigs in a blanket) served with split pea soup and dutch apple pie, yumm. But the highlight of visiting Holland, MI was to visit the Holland Bowl Mill. We saw how they made handmade wooden bowls, cutting them straight out of logs. It was interesting to see how they made these pretty bowls from a variety of wood.
Next stop, Elkhart County, Indiana. We had never been to Indiana, so we now get to mark this state off our "States We've Stayed In" list! That only leaves three states we've never stayed in (yet). We stayed at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, IN for a week. While it was convenient to stay at the fairgrounds with full hook-ups, we were near a couple very busy and very noisy train tracks.
Elkhart County has been identified as the "RV Capital of the World". More than 80 percent of global RV production is based throughout the region. It's also home of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum. We visited the RV Museum, but were disappointed. They did have some interesting old RV's to view, but not much else. There's more emphasis on the "Hall of Fame" and industry praise. We also visited a couple RV parts suppliers and obtained some replacement items for the motorhome. I bought a new replacement propane heater for more than 50% off MSRP. This is the heater I've repaired three times over the past 5 years. We also went to the nearby town of Nappanee to attend their "Apple Festival". Lots of booths selling crafts and commercial items, but only one booth with lots of baked apple products and a few apples for purchase. Last Monday we had a quick visit with John and Vicki Blake, our son in law's parents. They were in our area visiting relatives and worked us into their route. Yesterday, Connie and I took a tour of the Newmar Motorhome factory. We've done a few motorhome factory tours and have never seen the production methods used at Newmar. I'm not saying they are better or worse, but many methods were different than what's used at National RV, Winnebago, or Tiffin.
This area of Indiana is well populated with Amish and Mennonite communities. We especially enjoyed visiting Shipshewana, which is home to the third largest Amish community in the US. We made a couple trips to this quaint town for great meals, unique shops, and a large outdoor flea market. After traveling with Bob and Joyce Childre for the past 6 weeks, we parted ways. At least for now, as we may still meet up with them again soon.