Saturday, June 30, 2018

Binder Park Zoo


  Fewer than 100 of the park’s 405 acres have been developed as a traditional zoo. The rest is mature forest, fields, and wetlands which gives the zoo a natural look and provides plenty of shade. We really enjoyed our visit especially the savanna where zebras, waterbucks, bonteboks, ostriches, addaxes, gazelles, storks, vultures, and giraffes roam over a large grassland. Most of the animals have hideouts in their enclosures – great for the animals but visitors may miss seeing some of them. Feeding the giraffes is a favorite activity and it serves to bring them close to the pathway.

IMG_3025IMG_3019IMG_3038         IMG_3080IMG_3049IMG_3055

  The zoo is accessible but due to hills and rough terrain most wheelchair users will need assistance. The zoo has two sections that are about 1/2 mile apart. The first section has small mammals and a children’s zoo. The second section has the savanna and big cats. An accessible tram runs between the two. There is also a steep uphill path if you chose to walk. The path of the second section goes downhill and then back up to complete a 3/4 mile loop. The paths in the park have every type of surface – paver brick, boardwalk, packed dirt, loose sand, gravel, and asphalt. Most are bumpy.


   The parking lots are large with plenty of room for any RV.  Zoo  42.24516, -85.15535


Battle Creek Linear Park


  Twenty six miles of trail follow along beside the North Branch Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers and loop through the city of Battle Creek. The section that we tried was sandwiched between the river and Jackson Street, not very scenic and kind of noisy. We didn’t get far because we ran into a cloud of very hungry mosquitos. Fall or early spring might be a better time for this trail. 


  The trail is paved and accessible.

   The parking lot near the intersection of Jackson Street and Bedford Road is large enough for any RV.  Trail  42.33738, -85.23023


Friday, June 29, 2018

Kingman Museum & Leila Arboretum


   The private collections of two local men, Edward Morris Brigham and his son Edward Morris Brigham Jr. make of the vast majority of the somewhat outdated displays in this odd little museum. There are also a few updated exhibits and a planetarium (small fee). The museum is open on Saturday and Sunday only.


  To get to the accessible entrance follow the path on the righthand side at the rear of the museum. The museum is accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.

  The museum is located on the eastern edge of Leila Arboretum. A one mile loop road is marked on the map as a path and concrete trails run through the center of the arboretum. A children’s garden, a native flower garden, a frisbee course, and carved tree trunks are the main attractions. 


   Due to steep sections, wheelchair users may need assistance. The carved trees are in a hilly, grassy, and inaccessible field but they can be seen from the road.


  The road from the museum lot of the arboretum trails is very steep so it’s best to drive and park in one of the arboretum lots. Small RVs will fit in any lot. Large RVs can be parked in the children’s garden lot.  Museum  42.33659, -85.21055  Arboretum  42.33623, -85.21319 


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts


   The primary emphasis of the museum’s collection is on 20th-century American art which is shown in rotating exhibitions. 18th- and 19th-century American and European art plus African, Chinese, Japanese, and pre-Columbian and Oceanic works are also on display. We found the art to be fun and refreshing.

IMG_2968IMG_2959IMG_2966  IMG_2954IMG_2963IMG_2956

     The museum is accessible.

     RVs will fit in the on-street parking if two spaces are used.  Museum  42.28958, -85.58801


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Kalamazoo Valley Museum


    Many well known companies got their start in Kalamazoo – Checker Cab, Gibson Guitar, and Upjohn, among others. Factories produced windmills, mandolins, buggies, automobiles, cigars, stoves, and paper. Some of the factories have moved to other cities and some have closed so Kalamazoo is no longer a manufacturing hub. The museum highlights this part of Kalamazoo’s history with many hands-on exhibits. Other exhibits include an interactive science gallery, changing exhibit galleries, and a planetarium.

IMG_2945IMG_2949            IMG_2952

   The museum is accessible.

   Parking where RVs will fit is available on the streets near the museum. The sidewalks and curb cuts are in good condition.  Museum  42.29347, -85.5839


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bontragers RV Surplus


   Every little bit and piece that make up an RV are probably somewhere in the three large warehouses of Bontragers. There are screws, clips, tiny plastic pieces, wood and plastic trim pieces, doors, lights, paneling, cushions, fittings, plastic fenders, sinks, axles, and thousands of other parts They have a website and an ebay store but to really get an idea of the amount of items or to find a specific part you must visit the store. We found a no-longer-manufactured range hood with a monitor panel to replace ours which has some cosmetic damage but had no luck in our search for new switches for our fantastic fan. The prices are good too.


  Some of the aisles are a little narrow but most of the property is accessible.

  RV parking is on the opposite side of US 12. The highway can be busy so you may want to park in the store lot instead.  Bontragers   41.79707, -85.5892


Monday, June 25, 2018

Menno-Hof - Mennonite - Amish Visitor Center

   The visitor center was founded to answer questions that visitors to Shipshewana have about the Mennonite and Amish families who live in the area. It’s a semi guided tour that starts with a film and moves through several rooms with audio and video programs, after which visitors are free to enjoy the museum exhibits at their own pace. There’s also a theater with a simulated tornado and a mock up of the interior of a typical Amish house. The tour guides are Mennonite or Amish and are very happy to answer any questions.
   The Amish are a very noticeable presence in town as they go about their daily chores. They do not want to be considered tourist attractions so do not take photographs of them.
   The visitor center is accessible but one room has a very bumpy and uneven brick floor.

   The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Visitor Center  41.67007, -85.58352

Shipshewana Flea Market


   Since the Shipshewana area is home to a large Amish community we were expecting a good selection of homemade and home baked items but this is a typical new style flea market with lots of imported junk. There are a few booths selling antiques and baked goods. The rest of the town is filled with stores and small shops where the chance of finding something handmade and unique are much higher.  The flea market is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only.


   The grounds of the flea market are surfaced with large loose, gravel making pushing around, even with help, very difficult.

   Parking for RVs is available at the flea market for a small fee. Free RV parking is available at several lots around town. The sidewalks and curb cuts are in good condition but are only on the westside of the main street (Van Buren) and crosswalks are almost nonexistent. There’s a lot of traffic on flea market days so expect traffic jams. Flea Market  41.67234, -85.58051



Sunday, June 24, 2018

Wellfield Botanic Gardens


   This garden is an excellent example of multiple use of a public property. The property has been a source of hydraulic energy and drinking water for the City of Elkhart since the mid-1800s and therefore has a protected status. The idea of the garden was conceived in 2002.  Construction began in 2006 and is ongoing but for a relatively new and small garden it’s very nice.

        IMG_2912IMG_2913 IMG_2892IMG_2899IMG_2906

   The paths are a combination of concrete, porous asphalt, and paver stone and brick. Some of the paver stone is very bumpy but overall the garden is accessible.


  The parking lot is small but RVs will fit if backed up over the grass. Large RVs can be parked in the grass on the right edge of the parking lot.  Garden  41.69663, -85.97685