Our goal for today was to drive from Lafayette IN to Millersburg OH with enough time left at the end of the day to explore some of the surrounding Amish country. Our GPS estimated about 6 hours of actual driving but Google Maps suggested closer to 5.5 hours. We figured we could probably do better than either of those but would still need an early start to accommodate stops along the way and sightseeing at the end of the day.
We were up at 7:00 am, showered, ate breakfast, and were on the road shortly after 8:00 am. The GPS route took us south-east on the I-65 to Indianapolis and then east on the I-70 to Columbus before heading north-east to Millersburg. We knew we would need to get fuel before going far and thought to do that at Lebanon before entering the Indianapolis ring road. It was a cooler overcast morning but the sky to the south had a long narrow gap in the clouds through which there was a unusual display of sun rays at differing angles. There was nowhere to stop for a photograph so I did the best I could from a moving car. As we approached Lebanon it occurred to me that the morning peak hour around Indianapolis might be better missed so we decided to get off the I-65 at Lebanon, fill up, and head east then south to avoid the Indianapolis rush.
The main exit to Lebanon from the southbound lanes was cut off by road work so we took the second exit, bought fuel, and headed in what we hoped was the right direction. Our GPS made valiant attempts to turn us back to the I-65 but we ignored those. Eventually I checked the map on the GPS and set Noblesville as a suitable intermediate destination. As we approached it I set again for New Castle. Eventually we were far enough east of Indianapolis that the GPS was prepared to accept Millersburg as our destination and plot a route south to the I-70 and then east as originally intended.
We stopped around 10:00 am at Pendleton to look for coffee and to change drivers. We found coffee in Gathering Grounds Coffee Shop where we were made to feel very welcome and invited to put a pin in the world map they had on the wall to record origins of visitors from out of town. The coffee was good too though they did not offer cappuccino and Majella had to settle for latte with the muffin we shared.
Our preference for lunch was somewhere in the downtown area of a smaller town rather than fast food on the edge of a city or just off the interstate. For that reason we passed by Dayton and Springfield and took the exit that offered access to London, just 5 miles off the highway. As I drove into town we passed a couple of correctional facilities. Once in town I was tempted to stop by a building, probably the courthouse, with an interesting tower but there was traffic behind me and Majella urged me through the next intersection. I pulled into a parking space soon after and found ourselves in front of Ronetti’s Pizza and Subs. They were offering a special and I’d have been happy to eat there but Majella did not like the look of it. We walked up and down the street without finding anywhere else that offered food so we let the GPS take us out of town via another road that eventually passed a collection of fast food outlets. We had changed drivers on schedule inLondon so Majella was at the wheel and, contrary to her protestations about skipping the fast food places, pulled into Wendy’s.
Majella drove on past Columbus and then north-east toward Millersburg. As we passed through Johnstown we spotted a couple of trees that appeared to have changed colour. Those were the first large trees that we had seen with any real colour though we had seen many that had faded from green toward yellow or had small parts showing colour. As we had driven east from Lafayette the landscape had gradually changed from the mostly flat plains of Indiana to rolling hills that were growing larger and made the drive more interesting. As we passed through Utica we had to stop at an intersection and saw a tourist sign to ‘Ye Old Mill’. We thought it might be worth a look if not too far – there was no distance on the sign – so we turned and drove away from the highway. We had gone as far as we were prepared to go without more signage and had actually turned into a space to turn around when we spotted the Velvet Ice Cream factory which was also the site of the old mill. We stopped for ice cream which was very good. There was a reasonable crowd at the site but I expect they might get more if there were signage on the highway and some indication of how close it is.
Shortly after we passed Danville and saw some mention of covered bridges – another of Majella’s favourite sights – we saw a sign indicating the longest covered bridge in Ohio. We turned off and almost immediately were under the bridge which I discovered later is known as the Bridge of Dreams and is on the Mohican trail. Majella thought we might have a better view from the top of the bridge and headed off up a gravel track that began to wind up a wooded hill. I was pretty confident that we were going nowhere near the bridge but it was too narrow there to turn so Majella drove on. Around the next bend our path was blocked by a horse drawn buggy driven by three kids going up the hill in front of us. They pulled over to let us pass, we went up around another bend, found space to turn, headed down and waited for them to pass before driving back to the highway and on to Millersburg.
We found Hotel Millersburg and checked in without difficulty. By that time it was 4:00 pm and the manager advised Majella that the best place to see quilts was at Berlin, about 10 km further on, but that things closed at 5:00 pm. We headed off without stopping to unload our bags. Majella managed to see some quilts, buy some fabric and other bits, and see some other stores before things closed down.
We drove back to Millersburg, parked, brought our bags in, and walked around the downtown area. We had already decided to eat at the hotel restaurant, which was just as well because we saw no other options. Majella had steak salad and I had steak with fries. We both went for small meals and washed them down with a margarita and a beer respectively. The food was good and the portions a reasonable size.
Driving for the day was a touch less than 570 km. we were later getting to Millersburg than we had intended but that was compensated by the fun we had along the way. Tomorrow has a more definite schedule because we are booked for the last tour of Kentuck Knob at 4:00 pm.