When you begin the drive from Gettysburg, PA toward Lancaster county (Amish country) and Intercourse, PA do your whole car a favor and fill up with fuel before leaving Gettysburg. Though you will see many cars, primarily tourists and Mennonites, driving around there are a scarce few gas stations and the prices are astronomical. Supply and demand is thriving in Amish country.
Our first stop was to a beautiful quilt store where everything was hand stitched by the Amish. Photos were not allowed and we had to put white gloves on upon entering. I have been to a lot of quilt stores and that was a first, but for good reason. After the quilt store our goal was to catch a buggy tour. Rhodes (middle child age 3) loves horses and all things that go. Therefore, pairing the two became a very important must do mission, despite it’s blatantly touristy ambiance.
The ride was quite comfortable, though packed with people. We toured an Amish dairy farm, had homemade Amish root beer and lemonade before re-boarding the buggy.
The dairy farm was very interesting. Apparently batteries and solar panels are exceptions to Amish rules of no electricity. Every religion has their loop-holes, but the part that was truly interesting was that numerous generations of family lived in separate homes on the farm. The father identifies as Amish, the son that actually owns the dairy portion of the farm is not Amish. The father, who is pictured, actually owns the land and crops that feed the dairy cows. They work together and thrive together. The son’s milk production is purchased every two days by Land O’ Lakes. The co-existence was everywhere. There were Amish and Mennonites working side by side using different techniques and yet honoring each other’s choices and businesses. There were some overwhelmingly tourist trap type areas. In theory, we thought we would love the “square” full of shops, but there were dozens of tour buses, thousands of people, we kept driving. If we are going to shop, I want it to be authentic. I want to see the faces our money is feeding and we were back on the road. . .
From Amish country we traveled to Mount Pocono, PA. Gorgeous! We were blessed with a beautiful lake house to stay in that had perfect water access and all the amenities we could possibly want. We enjoyed a beautiful three days there, relaxing, no t.v., no rushing, just enjoying the company of friends and celebrating the life of a mutual friend. We played so very hard, packed 11 bodies into a 3 bedroom house, cooked together, drank together, laughed and cried together. We will definitely be back.
The boys got some extra, unexpected freedom due to the lack of lake depth off of the dock. You could walk about 20 yards out before it got any deeper than 2 feet so they were able to play and play and play essentially unsupervised and with little risk of drowning. The paddle boat was tied to the dock and they would paddle it out and back in practicing their pirate siege techniques and pretend playing for hours.
Though a good portion of our schooling that weekend came from play I did try to incorporate some more structured learning. We worked on tree identification and forest classifications as the trees and resources for this lesson were in plenty around us. We picked our favorite leaves (red maple and yellow birch mostly) and waxed them together with an iron. They are still adorning my kitchen windows a month later.
Though Amish country left some things to be desired, it was very easy to see the enticement of Pennsylvania. Rolling hills, pristine farms frozen in time, nature in perfection. I feel as if we only saw one facet of a Gem. I suppose we will have to go back.