Friday morning was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. There are a lot of them around our motel and it’s a terrific way to wake up.
Our plans called for taking the free tour the hotel offers around Amish farmlands with stops at several Amish shops. Our mini-bus driver was a woman who was probably about my age. We had made sure Mom (and Dad) would have seats near the front due to her mobility issues. We set off down the back roads, with me tucked securely into a window seat so I could take photos.
Our driver grew up Amish (and obviously left the faith, since she was driving a bus, not weeding a garden) and was able to offer insights into some of the day to day activities of the Amish people. We passed young children pushing/pulling a small wagon (think little red wagon when you were a kid) filled with something that caused it to be heavy. We passed children and young adults on bicycles or the one-foot powered scooters. We saw a wide assortment of farm animals and lots of clean laundry flying on the clotheslines.
What made me smile the most was seeing the farmers (and their children) out in the fields. Mule teams of varying sizes pulled them and the farm equipment through the fields as they plowed, cut or raked alfalfa or set out new plants in the fields. I find this type of farming touches my heart with a peacefulness that I don’t get when I see noisy farm equipment pulled behind a noisy tractor. The Amish work hard, but it is a work that is connected with the earth and in far more harmony with it than the huge farm businesses that use chemicals of all sorts to increase their yield. It’s one of those things that is difficult to put into words. Amish farmers and families touch my soul.
Our first stop (20 min) was Eli’s Roadside Stand. They had quilts, brooms, homemade root beer and preserves and other crafts. They buy from neighboring families to stock their shop. The children ran a shop for ice cream, homemade pretzels (which were excellent – I confess to buying some and eating too many before the day was over) and lemonade. Our purchases were, in addition to the pretzels, a quilted runner for the coffee table and 2 jars of preserves.
Back to the bus and the back roads. Our second stop (20 minutes) was Riehl’s Farm and Quilt Shop. Again, these people sold quilts made by many neighbors as well as ourselves. The quilts here were beautiful and I noticed my husband’s eyes light up when he saw one particular quilt, as we watched them display one quilt after another. We ended up buying it. It’s called Autumn Splendor and ours has shades of greens and browns along the borders as well as brilliantly colored leaves on the main body of the quilt. We were told that quilt takes 30 to 40 different fabrics to make. The price was reasonable for something that can take over 400 sewing hours to make!!
On the bus again. Of course, my husband got teased about caving in to pressure to buy a quilt. It had actually been the reverse, with my husband really wanting to get me a quilt and my “giving in” to his desire to do something for me. Ah well, most people only thing in stereotypes. Our final stop (20 minutes) was Hayloft Candles. I stayed on the bus – my back was starting to complain. Dad walked in and almost immediately walked back out. The candle scents were so strong that they set off his allergies and he was sneezing up a storm. There didn’t seem to be too many purchases here amongst our group.
Back at the motel, we realized that the 2 hour tour had really been a 1 hour tour and a 1 hour shopping trip. We decided to go over to the Bird-in-Hand Farmers’ Market Building near our motel. We’ve been there before and really love it. Not so much the leather shop or the dried flowers, but the crafts and the food, of course. There is a butcher shop with local meats, cheese and eggs, a vegetable/fruit stand with some of the most beautiful produce you could ever want to see. The bake shops got lots of attention, especially the Bird-in-Hand Bakery, which makes the best Red Velvet Whoopie Pies you can imagine. I picked up an apple fritter there and ate it in the evening. It had been made with fresh apples, not apple pie filling from a can.
When we left there, we decided to return to the Roadside Stand, since both we and Mom and Dad wanted to buy whisk brooms. We came out with a whisk broom and a runner to match our new quilt. Mom and Dad came out with a whisk broom and a quilt. Mom had said, “Everyone I know that comes here has come home with one, why shouldn’t I?” I think it was “quilt envy.”
Lunch was at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. We had all eaten here before. The hostess got us a table very near the food stations – very thoughtful, especially since Mom was having a bad day with her arthritis. The food did not disappoint us – as fresh and tasty as ever. Definitely the best buffet we’ve ever sampled.
We got back to the motel by 3:30 PM at the latest. I was so full, I was thinking about never eating again. Mom and Dad wanted to sit outside and watch people and cars go by. My husband and I found some other ways to fight off the boredom of spending 8 hours in the motel room.
I wonder what kind of excitement we’ll have tomorrow.
New day, same lovely weather. I skipped breakfast this morning – I’m still full from yesterday. It’s just as well I stay away from breakfast. It seems that Mom and Dad are often in best bickering form at breakfast. Not bad bickering, just picking at each other a bit. But I hate to start my day that way.
In about 5 minutes, we’ll be leaving to go do some more shopping and take another back road drive. Then it will be back to the motel, supper at the adjoining restaurant and another early night. After all, we have a long drive home tomorrow.
Talk to you later . . . . . . .
Okay, it’s later. We left about 9:15 AM and drove the 4 miles to the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, PA. It’s a group of shops and cafes. We all got out of the car and walked in to the village. Mom was looking for something for my husband’s sister, who has been checking on their house while they’ve been away. It’s a good thing she found something in the first shop she looked in, a small shop that had hand-made purses. The second place we stopped was the Kitchen Kettle store. They demonstrate how they make the items they sell in the large kettles. They also have samples of almost every item they make available. My husband and his parents love this kind of store. Me? They’re okay. Fortunately, my husband found a small shopping cart for his mother to push. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have made it. As it was, when it came to check out, she let Dad stand in line. But, stubborn as she is, she wouldn’t let us open the gate to shorten her exit. Instead, she insisted on pushing that cart through the narrow line to get out. Then she decided to sit on a bench while we looked around some other shops. Fortunately for all of us, there really aren’t that many shops there and most of them didn’t interest the rest of us. By 10:30, we were back in the car. Whose idea had this been? Oh yeah – Mom’s.
It seems that many people have yard sales on this holiday weekend in this part of Lancaster County. I joked about stopping at some. I just wanted to see what the Amish folk might have to sell in their yard sales. We decided to at least drive around a bit. We took back roads through Paradise to show them the Eby Farm Bed & Breakfast we had stayed at before, as well as the covered bridge right near it. We drove through Strasburg. We went back to the Roadside Stand we had visited yesterday (where they bought their quilt). Mom wanted coffee. Of course, they didn’t have coffee – just homemade root beer and lemonade. But there was a yard sale in the parking lot. About a dozen Amish/Mennonite families. One of them was selling coffee. So Mom got her coffee and Dad browsed with us a bit. Then we returned to our motel. It was all of 11:30. Great – what now?
Mom and Dad went into their room to rest. I went into our room for a pit stop, then my husband and I walked the short distance to the Bird-in-Hand Farmers’ Market. We browsed a bit, picked up a couple small snacks for later and a couple of bottles of Snapple Diet Tea. We were back by 12:45. I decided to read some of my book for a while; my husband took a puzzle book outside to sit in the sun. We plan to eat about 2:00. It’s now 1:54 PM. I didn’t realize time could pass so slowly in a wonderful place like this. Talk to you after we eat.
Here I am, back in my motel room. We left at 2, got back about 3:15. The hour and a quarter we were gone includes the 2 minutes travel each way, a 20 minute wait for a seat and eating our meal. Nothing like a casual, leisurely meal to make the day. I had the tuna melt with a cup of soup. My husband and his parents had the soup and salad bar. None of us wanted the smorgasbord – I personally am “smorgged” out.
I sent my husband out for a walk with his dad. I knew my husband couldn’t stand being cooped up in the room until the hockey game starts at 8 PM. We also figured Dad could use a break from Mom. We must have figured right, because he jumped at the offer with serious enthusiasm. I can hear Mom packing through the walls (I told you they’re thin); I don’t plan to pack until much later this evening.
I can tell you what the rest of this vacation will be like. Shower and pack tonight. I’ll go to breakfast with the rest of the clan tomorrow morning because everyone will want to get going right after we eat. We drive to Massachusetts, about a 6 hour drive from here not counting pit stops. We’ll drop Mom and Dad off at their house. As we pull out of their driveway, my husband and I will breathe a big sigh of relief. As we drive to our home, we’ll wish we were already there.
Actually, we’ll be wishing we had another 17 days for vacation – for just the 2 of us. I know I feel like I need a vacation to recover from the one we’re finishing up tomorrow! I love my in-laws deeply and they did a marvelous job raising my husband. But we’re so different when it comes to what we enjoy. I’m glad we took them on what they call “the vacation of their lives” but I wouldn’t agree to do it again!