Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lancaster County, PA

After four months in one spot, we got back on the road again the day after Labor Day. It was great. And without realizing it, our course was much the same as it had been one year ago when we traveled between the Finger Lakes of New York and Rehoboth Bay, DE.

We didn’t realize it until driving through Tamaqua, PA. We were talking about how similar the town looked, reminding us of that drive. As luck would have it, I had saved the route information and discovered that it was the same. What a coincidence!

Within a few miles of our campground, we started to see signs of the Amish lifestyle. We saw several young boys presumably walking home from school. A few yards behind them was a small group of girls. Not much later, we saw a horse and buggy on the road. It was so interesting.

After driving through lots of farmland, we started back into the hills and soon got to the campground. Driving to our site was like being back in the Poconos: trees everywhere. This is one of the most rustic campgrounds we’ve been to, and VERY pretty.

We headed out Wednesday morning to check out the towns of Intercourse and Bird-In-Hand. We’d picked up pamphlets and found places we wanted to check out. We had sun at the start of the day and took these pics of the farmlands on the way.

It amazed me how close to the road the corn was growing. It made it hard to see around the corners, sometimes.

We started out at the Information center and watched a couple of movies about the Amish and their background. By then, we were ready for lunch and decided to go to Good & Plenty. OMG! Both words were totally descriptive. The food was very good and there was plenty of it. We agreed it was one of the best non-Italian meals we’d had since leaving home in May. Good, old-fashioned home cookin’.

From there we headed to the Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market. We found all kinds of wonderful things there. I saw home-made iced raisin bread which I haven’t seen since I was a kid. We found fried peas which we haven’t found since leaving Florida. We bought all sorts of good stuff.

We had dinner at Plain & Fancy. This proved to be yet another wonderful meal. Everything tasted home made, including the bread. You could taste the butter in that bread, too. Totally delicious foods!

We had desserts that we brought home from lunch, which included them. We were just too full to eat them then, so we got them to go. One was shoo-fly pie, which I don’t think either of us had ever had before. I could feel the pounds increasing with every bite, but – OH – it was good!

The next day we headed back to the same area, hoping to get more photos of the Amish lifestyle. We started out in Intercourse again, and then decided to go up to New Holland where there was a Farmers Market. We went past this school on the way up there. The kids were playing softball and looked like they were having a great time.

This was a common sight wherever we went. There are no clothes driers in Amish homes. So the movable clothesline runs between the house and the barn, or some other post high enough to keep them off the ground. We even saw several houses with the clothes hung out on the front porch.

Once we got to New Holland, we discovered that the Farmers Market only ran on Saturdays. Bummer! So we took a different road back south to Intercourse. Here’s another good look at the farmland.

While stopped to take the farmland photos, this horse and buggy came up the road.

After that we had other opportunities to snap more pictures. This couple was just leaving the shop next to one we’d stopped at.

Aside from the great food, quilting is a big thing in the area. We peeked into this shop after our last dinner and found some truly beautiful work. Made me think very fondly of my mom.

Speaking of that last dinner: we went to Miller’s Smorgasbord in East Ronks. WOW! We picked the “no soup or salad and no dessert” option, and we still waddled out of that place, stuffed and happy. And the best part for me was that they had iced raisin bread on the buffet! I had to have two pieces – one served as dessert!

This visit to Lancaster County turned out to be so wonderful for us. We both enjoyed it a ton. Of course, now we’ll have to diet BIG time once we get home! But, OH, it was worth it!

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Final Month

By the beginning of August and after our friends left, we felt like we'd done most of what northeast PA had to offer - from a tourist's standpoint anyway. We had traveled to most of the State Parks in the area and seen most of the major attractions. So it became a challenge to find stuff to do. We kept busy, though some of it wasn't very interesting. You know, grocery shopping, and so on.

One day in early August we took a drive to the north. We really hadn't gone that direction much. The drive was very pretty and we ended up crossing into New York state. This was yet another small town with not much to offer. We would have had lunch there if we could have found a restaurant that wasn't fast food. No such luck, however. The drive was worth the time and it was beautiful terrain.

The following week, we went to the Wayne County Fair. (I can't remember the last time I had been to a county fair. Butler County?) The weather was its usual overcast, rain-threatening self. But you go when you can in light of working over the weekend days.

We walked up and down the fair grounds, seeing all the ribbon winners in a variety of categories. We had overpriced, mediocre food.

We listened to an entertainer for a bit. She wasn't too bad, either.

We stayed away from the livestock, but otherwise saw most all of it in a couple of hours. We did enjoy it - something very different for us to do.

We discovered a great 18-hole mini-golf course only a few miles from the campground. We played earlier in the season (I won), but when we were waiting to pick up Heidi after a grooming, we went back for a second round. (This time Julian kicked my butt!) It's beautiful, with mountain views from most of the holes.

Our next photo-op trip was to Dingman's Falls, to the south in the Poconos. This area is within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We were lucky enough to get there just about the time that a tour was heading out, narrated by a Nat'l Park Ranger. Our first stop was at Silver Thread Falls. This is a natural falls in spite of the very straight edges on the rocks.

After a little more walking and information about the area, we arrived at Dingman's Falls.

We were told that this was a great time to view the falls. The rains all summer had the water high and the falls to be very full. He said that it is often a mere trickle compared to what we were seeing. So the rains were good for something!

Proof that we were there:

One of our friends here at the park is a 10-year old named Adam. He lives with his grandparents and spent most weekdays here. Julian would play pool with him from time to time and went fishing with him several times. Here's one of Adam's prize catches.

The last state park that we visited was Archbald Pothole, also probably the closest to us. We drove past it several times over the summer, usually when it was rainy. We always said we'd do it on a sunny day for better enjoyment. What we didn't realize was how small it was. There is a 3-sided marker with lots of details about the pothole, how it was discovered, how it was formed. And then there's the pothole itself.

That's it. I think a person into geology would find it more interesting than we did. After perhaps a total of 15 minutes there, we just kind of chuckled and then went to lunch at one of our favorite places in town.

After nearly four months here we finally got out onto the lake. With all the rain, it just never fit in. But last week, we took one of the rowboats out and tried fishing Lake Henry. I had two "for sure" bites and a couple others that could have been moss or grasses (the lake is fairly shallow). I know they were bites because I actually saw the fish, I just couldn't hook them.

This picture is taken from the rowboat, looking back towards Clayton Park. As you can see, we had a terrific weather day.

As any of you know from reading this blog, Julian and I have been playing quite a lot of Wii Sports games. Yeah, just about every night before dinner we have some kind of competition. After both of us achieved one frame short of a perfect game at bowling, we've taken up golf. I finally got a hole-in-one this past week. It's a par 3 hole, but hey - a hole-in-one is a hole-in-one!

So as I write this, we have completed our work commitment and have started preparing for the departure for home. Tomorrow we will take the jacks up and hit the road for the first time in nearly four months. We've done a lot of the prep work today and will be heading to our next destination by 11 or so in the morning. We're ready and very excited to be moving into something new and different. I'll write about it - I promise.