Continuing our road tripping saga…
After saying our goodbyes to Scott’s family, we headed south to Pennsylvania Amish Country (Lancaster County.) We camped at Country Acres RV Park. The park was situated off the main drag and where our site was located, there was some road noise, but across from us was an Amish farm (corn field to be exact!)
We had breakfast at the Bird-In-Hand Bakery & Cafe and then walked across the street to the Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market and bought a few goodies. We stopped by the Roadside Stand (yes, that’s what it’s called) and had the most delicious, buttery pretzels I’ve ever eaten, along with homemade root beer that was only 25 cents a cup! We visited the little Ace Hardware and found some bulk food items and then ventured into Country Housewares – locally known as the “Amish Walmart” – and ended up coming out with a cartful! Locally made baskets and a drying rack, sheets ($13/set for queen!), and I can’t remember what else now! The lighting inside was by gas light and they had everything from sweaters and socks to crystal, home decor to stationary, toys, games, hardware items – you name it, they had it! We found some great spots, thanks to my innkeeper friend Ruth Harnish at Flowers & Thyme B&B. She mailed me coupons and a map with all the great spots circled. We looked at our map and realized we were at the wrong Bird-In-Hand bakery for breakfast that morning and headed to Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop, where we got a dozen whoopie pies and two shoofly pies to bring home. YUM! Then we met up with my brother and his fiance and enjoyed dinner at Dienner’s Country Restaurant. This offers the smorgasbord experience, without the giant price tag.
I am a huge fan of Amish fiction. I read Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis and Beth Wiseman… I have wanted to visit Amish Country for many years. I have to say, I was shocked by how commercialized it was. Heavy traffic, outlet malls, and “amish” stores selling items mass produced in China. Bird-In-Hand is a corporate identity and they have restaurants, a theater, accommodations… It all kind of blew my mind. We did spend some time just driving through the country and looking at the farms. We saw an Amish father with his son on his lap, mowing their front lawn and being pulled by a horse. We enjoyed it, it was just a whole lot different than I was expecting.
One activity that we really enjoyed in Lancaster was the Biblical Tabernacle. About 40 years ago, some Baptist man in Florida built a life-sized replica of the tabernacle described in the bible. He sold it to the Mennonites and it is now on display at the Mennonite Information Center. (Side note: The Mennonite Information Center offers tour guides who will RIDE IN YOUR CAR WITH YOU and spend a couple of hours giving you a tour of Amish Country, hitting spots that interest you. We would have done this if we didn’t have a toddler in tow!) Our guide for the tabernacle was so well versed in biblical history and so filled with the Holy Spirit that we felt like we had been to church to worship. It was an awesome experience. The actual reproduction is kind of dated, but is neat to see so that you can imagine what the real tabernacle was like. But the tour itself and the tour guide were just incredible! Highly recommend! Inside the Mennonite Information Center is a gift shop that includes Ten Thousand Villages items, too! (These are items made around the world to give people a sustainable income.)
After breaking camp, we headed south and camped at Claytor State Park in Dublin, Virginia. We got there in the evening and enjoyed a walk through the woods and along the lake. It was quiet and peaceful. A wonderful spot!
We loaded up and were back on the road. Boy, were we glad to see Blue Ridge, Georgia come into view! It was a wonderful trip and we made many memories! Including Isabel falling off the bunk and hitting her head and the entire camper flooding due to heavy rain… Can’t wait to do it again (but we may upgrade to a regular camper! Pop-ups are hard to deal with if you’re changing locations every day or two!)