We stayed the night at the Merry Lea Environmental Center, a Goshen College owned center for undergraduates and graduate students to learn experimentally on the land. Covering over 1000 acres of land, the center is a site for sustainable living and sanctuary for the plants and animals who have made it their home. In addition to the semester undergraduates can spend on the center, the Merry Lea Environmental Center offers an eleven month graduate degree in Environmental Education.
We started the morning off with a delicious breakfast of eggs, bagels, and a scramble of leftover wild-rice and veggies made by Daniel and Taylor. The day was originally scheduled to be a rest day but we had a slight change of schedule and had a short day of 18 miles from the center to the Quaker Haven Camp. The ride itself consisted of many small rolling hills and provided a great rest day that kept our muscles active. During the ride I spent time reflecting upon why I bike and why I decided to participate on this biking tour of Northern Indiana. For me biking has always been a source of great enjoyment, not only providing the freedom of the physical ability to transport myself but also the inward reflection being on a bike is able to give. In high school, biking was my primary mode of transportation to and from school. It was a great way to start the day with a centering of myself to start the day. Likewise, it also provided a nice opportunity to decompress at the end of a long day. At Earlham the distance from my home and my classes is so close that I am not able to get that same level of inward reflection and personal time. This trip has brought a great sense of relief and a centering of myself that I did not expect to experience.
Upon arriving at the Quaker Haven Camp, we set up camp and then visited Mandisa’s grandparents home in Goshen. They provided a delicious home-cooked meal of mashed potatoes, corn, asparagus, and apple sauce. In addition to Mandisa’s grandparents, we had the pleasure of meeting he uncle Doug and her younger cousin, Carter. Mandisa’s grandparents talked to us about the history of Mennonites as well as the Amish in the area. As her grandfather, Larry, described, “the attitude of the Amish is that of forgiveness”. Later in the day we repacked the trailer and van to consolidate space. The end of the day brought a wonderful night of baked potatoes and discussions of the private prison industrial complex. A perfect end to a day for a great start the next day.