Many people skip right over the motor coach tour option when planning a vacation, and you’re thinking, “so what, can’t I see the same things on my own?” Which may be partially true, but it’s not nearly the same experience. For the first time, I was able to join a guided bus tour and view the area I thought I was so knowledgeable in, in a completely different view.
The sun made its way over the trees, coffee was in our systems, and we were ready to board the bus eager to see what our step-on-guide, Scott Miller had in store for us. Scott, better known as Scotty, has lived in the Shipshewana area his entire life, which led him to take over the family business, Miller’s Buggy Line. His knowledge on the area certainly shows, and let’s just say you’re never bored when you’re around Scotty.
The bus group from Ontario was kind enough to let me join their trip for the day, and everyone welcomed me onto the bus. Departing from their hotel, we took the “long way” to our first stop, giving us a chance to do a countryside drive, which is 10x better when someone else is doing the driving. We turned down a road that only locals really travel, passing through different Amish communities. Scotty directed us past many homes, farms, a school, all highlighting their lifestyle, and explaining the differences between the communities we passed through. It makes you appreciate and envy simple living.
Through a maze of scenic country roads, we arrived at an Amish noodle market. After many pictures of the beautiful quilt garden out front, we made our way through the store which is full wall to wall with any kind of goodie you could think of. The owner is blessed to have a wife and daughters that make some of the best Amish noodles around. If there’s one thing you NEED to get there, it’s the noodles, they’re unlike anything at your local grocery. Baskets were filling quickly with not only noodles but homemade honey, Amish peanut butter, candies, jams and jellies, salsa, you name it. Let’s just say the bus was a little heavier than when we arrived.
A wooden basket maker was next on our list. We pulled up to their building and sat in our seats for a minute, giving a chance for the owner to hop on board and tell us about himself, his family and their unique business. We followed him into his shop where his son was cutting some of their one-of-a-kind wooden baskets. They’re made very creatively, and precision is key. But of course, the work isn’t complete after that. Moving over to the finishing room, his wife was putting on the stain and finishing touches to really make the craftsmanship pop. Afterward, take the time to walk around their shop full of beautiful woodwork from baskets, puzzles, wall decor, and more, so it’s easy to find something to take back home.
Then, by popular demand, we made an unscheduled stop at a local bakery. Those on the bus who had been to the area before couldn’t get the cinnamon caramel donuts out of their head. No problem at all, Scotty called up the bakery for a heads up and to set plenty of samples out. Of course, they have their famous donuts but don’t pass up the cashew crunch, fresh pickles, cheeseball, and plenty of other baked goods. The hardest part is getting people to leave the store!
Amish Quilt Shop
Back on our planned route, we headed over to an Amish quilt shop, which you don’t have to be a quilter to appreciate. Walk into the store and you won’t know what to look at first, there’s plenty more than just handmade Amish quilts. They also make beautiful clocks, birdhouses, barn quilts, rugs, and plenty more. After wandering the store, take a seat on the covered porch and enjoy the simplicity.
Amish In-Home Dining
The Rise ‘N Roll samples were wearing off, which was good timing as we headed to lunch. The host Amish family had prepared a traditional Thrasher’s meal complete with chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, homemade noodles, fresh veggies, salad, and of course homemade bread with their apple and peanut butters. The food kept coming, and don’t worry, there’s enough for seconds. Plus, to top it all off you had your choice of freshly baked pies. Not to mention the great hospitality and fellowship between everyone on the bus, Scotty, and the welcoming host family.
Sad to see our guided tour come to an end, the bus pulled up to downtown Shipshewana for an afternoon of shopping before heading home. After being my first guided bus tour, I can honestly say that’s the way to go. It’s perfect to have someone else do the driving, and when you have a step-on guide as knowledgeable as Scotty, it truly becomes a memorable experience.
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