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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The typical day trip

The other day my sister told us about Bonneyville Mill, that it was neat and a good place to hike.  So we packed up our gear (A pepsi and a dew) and away we went.

Actually, that was from last night.  I had another bird in mind, but forgot to turn the camera off of record from the deer movie.  A half second of bird and a second and a half of vertigo was all you missed.

So away we go and a typical trip unfolded.  First of all, the one place on the trip I wasn't sure where to turn- Bristol Street in Middlebury- was the only place WITH NO STREET SIGN.  I don't know why, but this happens on each and every trip we take.  Luckily, I comb google maps the night before a trip, and remembered it connectted to the street we were on at an angle, or we'd have never found the place.  Middlebury- FAIL.

Then we get to the Mill, which is a county park.

The first thing we saw was a neat little herb garden.

The grasshopper was a common theme.

They also had a Dahlia display garden.

So then we amble up to the mill, "a real, working grist mill," the sign said.  Of course the sign also said that interseting things in the mill were numbered (they were) and explanations could be found on the information sheet (which we never found).  There was also a counter where you could buy milled grain (supposedly), if you could find a counter person (which we did not).  We did find one guy working in the mill, but other than a grunt of hello, he offered no wisdom.  Kinda made us scratch our heads about all the signs that read "Open Wednesday-Sunday".  It WAS Wednesday, wasn't it?

We went over to the gift shop next.  Of course, it too was closed- I guess Elkhart County was having a "make the tourists think it's Tuesday" day, which didn't really strike me as a real profitable idea.

So, we grabbed a handy-dandy trail map, and off we went.

Damn anti-social cardinals- always with the back to you!

The bridge to BFE.

To make the experience truly OUR experience, the map was missing trails we found, included one huge trail loop that was in a campground and no longer part of the park, and another trail that was no longer in use (and I'm guessing hadn't been in a while ) because of a bridge out.  If I was running a park I'd put up a sign that said "maps somewhat outdated"... or a few more signs on the trails... or, in the case of the bridge out, put the sign on the side YOU CAN ACTUALLY GET DOWN, instead of all the way of the end of the part of the trail that has been ABANDONED.  But, that's just me.

All in all, that's a resounding pass for Mother Nature, a big bad Fail for the gift shop, map maker (or updater), and mill.  But it was nice in the respect we came for- a nice walk.


  1. looks like fun!! a working mill has got to be cool..guess they are too busy working the mill to work the gift shop!

  2. CWM: THAT is the kind of stuff I think of when I think "Midwest"...
    AN OPERATIONAL grist mill?
    Now that's REALLY cool!
    (haven't bought me any "grist" in a LONG

    Hope that YOU updated YOUR map...for future reference.
    (and perhaps a P/T job in cartography??)

    Looked like a good time.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Stay safe up there.

  3. Since A lady from Elkhart County parks e-mailed me rather than commenting here, I'm posting here the answer she sent about the blog:

    Dear CW –

    Thank you for forwarding your blog.

    On behalf of the Elkhart County Parks I want to deeply apologize for your experience. Our grist mill truly is a working mill and we have many, many school children and tourists who come and see it each year.

    Unfortunately we have been faced with 25% of our total park budget being cut over the past 4 years due to tax cuts. We once had two full time staff and two full-time seasonal working in the mill 7 days a week (along with assisting park staff in maintenance). This also allowed us to keep the gift shop open every day as well back then. Several years ago when the budget cuts began, the decision was made to have only one full-time position, and one part-time position at the mill (who mainly works weekends/school program days) – we also had to close two days per week and have the gift shop open by request or when a volunteer is present.

    In addition to interpretive staff, part-time maintenance budgets have been almost completely wiped out. We realize some of our trails need repairs and apologize for the inconveinance. New trail signage is one of our goals, especially as new ADA requirements come into play.

    I know that our miller had just ground buckwheat yesterday morning. Although he was the only person on staff, he is always willing to hop behind the counter to sell flour and answer any questions anyone has. I will be sure to communicate to him his need to make sure he is inviting those questions. Some folks come into the mill very inquisitive and asking lots of questions, while others prefer to just explore on their own.

    Again, I am sorry that you felt you would have liked more from your experience and hope your next visit to our park system is a better one! If we can answer any questions – please let us know.

    Thank you.

    Ronda J. DeCaire, CPRP

    Superintendent of Operations

    Elkhart County Parks

    211 W. Lincoln Avenue

    Goshen, IN 46526

    1. Thank you for your response. I have posted your e-mail in the comments section of the blog, and appreciate that your district as well as many of ours are under the budget bite. Like I said, though, much of our problems would have been alleviated by a a sign at the parking lot building explaining the “whens” of the gift shop and a couple of signs on the abandoned/washed out trails so we didn’t feel like idiots that couldn’t read a map.
      I might suggest that you have that list of interesting items in the mill at least posted prominently so they can be identified. Your guy at the mill was friendly enough, but we aren’t by nature “askers’ and were working from no knowledge base to know what to ask.

      I will be sure on my next post to direct my readers to your e-mail. In a world where many things like this are shrugged off, it shows real class that you responded. This is why I put it on my blog and not on review sites, because they get a lot more traffic than I do.

  4. The negatives aside, I would have enjoyed seeing the mill and its surroundings.

    Glad you got a response from the SO with an explanation. SO many times when I make an inquiry to whatever company etc, it never gets anything other than an automated response.