A Good Way to Start the Day

Trip Start Jun 03, 2008
Trip End Aug 12, 2008

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Where I stayed
Raomer's Retreat Campground

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Friday, July 18, 2008

Today we woke up to find ourselves right next door to an Amish farm.  We had gotten here in the dark so we weren't sure what the campground looked like at all and much to our surprise we were right smack dab in the middle of Amish country in Kinzers.  It was quiet intriguing and beautiful.  The small farms were tended to with such care and they provided for an awesome sight.  We decided to start our day with Intercourse.  We stopped by the front office for directions on how to proceed and find out what else is available to do while in Lancaster County. 

We headed out down some country roads and almost immediately found ourselves marveling at the horse buggies trotting down the streets, the laundry that was hung out to dry on long pulley systems, and a woman mowing the yard with a manual lawn mower and wearing a simple dress and hat.  It felt as though we had gone back in time to another era, which in a way we had.  There were hand written signs saying "Homemade Root Beer 1/2 mile - Public Welcome" with an arrow pointing to a farm, or "fresh Tomato's or Corn this way".  We then found ourselves in an intersection where 5 roads come together and hence they named the town Intercourse.  We went into the visitor's center where an Amish man of about 75 years greeted us, but wasn't too helpful with information or what there was to do there.  We wanted to be respectful, but wanted to have an Amish experience and learn about them as much as we could.  We decided to walk about town and go into some of the stores where they sell some of the Amish made goods.  We were then sent to a pretzel making factory where the kids got to make their own pretzels.  Clarkism, "Kids did you know that all pretzels made in the US are made within a 100 mile radius of Lancaster County?"  Hum?  We weren't sure if that was true or not, but we decided that we should sample the fare anyway.

We had heard about a place where you can tour a house, go on a bus tour through the region, ride a buggy, etc.  So as "Disney" as it sounded we decided we would give it a go and see if we couldn't at least learn something about these people.  There it was "The Amish Experience" on a great big sign, so we pulled in to see what we could find.  We bought tickets for the interactive movie and the house tour.  We had some time before both started so we decided to go to Bird in Hand, the next town over, and buy some Shoo Fly Pie a traditional dessert for these parts.  It is a molasses based pie similar to pecan pie without the nuts.  We tried a sample, but decided we preferred the Whoopie Pie better.  Nothing better than having Whoopie in Intercourse, especially if you just came from Blue Ball.

We raced back to the theater just in time .  The theater had multiple screens and showed different parts of the movie simultaneously on these various screens.  They also had other effects like smoke and rain, etc. We sat on backless benches so that it was more like what the Amish would experience during a 3 hour church service. Thank goodness the movie was only an half an hour.  Anyway, they tried to make learning about the Amish culture as much fun as they could and overall it was good as it did get the kids attention.  Without going into a complete summary of their beliefs a quick snippet is the Amish and the Mennonites came here for religious freedom as did many.  They are Christian based and believe that you get baptized at around 16 when you decide to do this for yourself.  It is a personal decision to stay within the fold.  And the reason they live without the modern conveniences that we all experience today, is there is less chance of straying away from God if one is not bothered with these things.  We then moved over to the house and had a quick tour of that and learned more about how a modern day Amish family lives with gas washing machines and irons.  We Griswolds left a little perplexed at the notion one can use gas for a washing machine, but not a combine, or to plow the fields.  

Anyway, we set out to find some covered bridges as there were many of them in this area, but many were no longer over an actual road.  We traveled through Paradise, Mountville, Bird In Hand, Virginville, Intercourse and Blue Ball in search of covered bridges.  Someone definitely had a sense of humor when they named these towns.  Once again we breathed in the beauty of the area and the energy of the people as we passed many buggies on the road and watched them tend to their farms and go about their daily business in their simple ways.  We actually watched a husband cutting hay followed by his wife (in a dress & bonnet) raking it into rows...both driving a team of horses!   

We came back to our campsite which we found to be luxurious with all the modern conveniences of today and prepared dinner.  We also got ready for the following day as we had plans to be in Philly for Rusty's B-day.
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