Day 17: Amish Delights

Good-bye, Tonsils, a book we saw in an antique store. Photo: Jenny Williams

I didn’t have a big plan for what to do around the Amish country, here in Lancaster County. I had a handful of places that I wanted to stop, and honestly, that was enough. Combined with yesterday’s drive around the farms to see the mostly corn fields (with a few not-corn fields), I think we got a good, quick overview of life around here.

Here I demonstrated my pretzel-twisting prowess at the pretzel factory. Photo: Jenny Williams

Our Inn had an included “European” breakfast. It was anything but European, in my experience. I’ve had breakfasts in Ireland and various continental locations, and none of them really looked like this one. All they really had in common was the muesli. It was more like a typical American hotel “continental” breakfast with slightly nicer options. I recognized Costco products, however. Mini brownies, apple “strudel”, etc. For breakfast, though?

Though we got to breakfast on time, we headed out and about a little late since we’d just had a lot to drink with breakfast and I know my son’s bladder. But soon after we hit the road, we saw our first topless Amish carriage. I guess they only bring those out on sunny days! In this one rode a mother and a daughter, with the latter not wearing a bonnet. I wonder if there is an age requirement for when you are required to wear a bonnet. We saw several boys on scooters, and later girls on scooters. One of the boys was married (as evidenced by the beard), but looked all of about 20. We saw many more regular buggies today, since we drove the road between Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand, and less in out-of-the-way places.

Another Amish buggy. Photo: Jenny Williams

We toured a local pretzel factory and got to try our hand at rolling and twisting our own pretzels (though they didn’t bake them for us). We bought a few pretzel things that we’ll get to enjoy over the next couple of weeks (if they last that long). Next we stopped at the Old Country Store, which had typical touristy things to buy, and some local handmade items. My reason for going there, though, was the quilt museum upstairs. It was pretty small, but larger than I’d thought it would be for being on the second floor of such a building. We took our time going through it, and I guess I explained and interpreted it in a sufficiently interesting manner because as soon as we were done, my son exclaimed, “That was a very cool quilting museum!” My daughter and I enjoyed it, too. In one of the little rooms they had diamond-shaped blocks that were put there for kids to design their own “tumbling block” quilt pattern. Both kids came up with neat designs (but I neglected to take photos, oops).

My son spent half the day asking for candy and chocolate. He kept negotiating for it. But I didn’t want to buy anything unless it was local or really special. To that, he just said, “Candy is special.” We compromised by buying Whoopie Pies (see below) and some locally made gingersnaps that we’ll eat another day.

Next stop was the Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market. If you are anywhere near Intercourse, Pennsylvania, I highly recommend a stop here. It is very affordable, has fresh food, local produce, bulk-type foods bagged up and labeled, including interesting options such as dried and salted veggies, instant pudding powder, unusual rice mixes, and other non-commercial meal starters. There are also whoopie pies wrapped in plastic wrap and locally made pretzels with things printed on the bags like “Jesus Saves” or various bible passages. Mmm… pretzels… Another interesting product was these long tubes of different flavored fillings such as fruit or chocolate. I can only assume they are for filling pastries and the like. Everyone in the store was very polite, including the Amish that shop there and the Amish that work there. I wish this store was right next to us. I like how they use less packaging than the name brand stuff, and the food looked much better than conventional groceries. Everything was quite affordable by regular store standards. We got a whole shopping basket full of food including three 89 cent whoopie pies for less than $17. If you saw what we put in the basket, you’d realize that this is a good deal. One thing I like about places like this is you can get a real sense of life here and see real people (including Amish in this case) shopping without all the touristy overlay. Though this market was on the tourist map, it was not a tourist attraction. It was a regular market. They even had separate parking for the Amish, complete with parking spot stripes and a hitching post.

For a late lunch (which also stood in for dinner, sort of), we did our one touristy thing and went to the Plain & Fancy restaurant, where they had seemingly authentic, family-style Amish meals (served by the non-Amish). Included in our “family” this day was a family from Denmark that I couldn’t quite make out. They appeared to be a blended family, and the woman and her daughter spoke Spanish in addition to Danish and English. The woman was quite surprised that we knew some Spanish. I explained that Arizona was directly north of Mexico, but though she looked like she might be from Mexico, I’m guessing she isn’t. The Danish man came complete with a moody Danish teenager. I wish we’d been seated alone, but oh well. Two shy groups of people don’t make for great dinner conversation.

However, the food was excellent (though the boy didn’t partake – he didn’t like most of the food so instead opted for a kid’s meal of Kraft macaroni and cheese). The girl and I had lemonade, fried chicken, roast beef, sausage, chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, brown buttered noodles, green beans, chow chow (pickled vegetables), cole slaw, dry corn (eew, didn’t have any), rolls with apple butter, raisin bread with icing, and ice cream and shoo fly pie for dessert. The best parts were the mashed potatoes and gravy, the chicken, and the shoo fly pie, which I’d never had before. It was made of win.

There was also a part touristy/part decent shop attached to the restaurant. For the second time on this trip, I actually purchased a souvenir. I think I’ve spent less than $20 on souvenirs so far, not including regional food to experience. Not too shabby. I imagine that will change at the gift shops at the Smithsonian and in Williamsburg.

Tomorrow we leave Pennsylvania and start our week and a half in the DC area.

Drove: Around town.

States: Pennsylvania.

Weather: Humid and warm, but just a few minutes after we got back to the Inn, it started pouring. Good timing!

Kids: The boy was complain-y about food, but otherwise good as usual.

Best Parts of the Day: Shoo fly pie! The quilt museum (the kids both said that this was their favorite part of the day). Shopping at Kauffman’s.

Saddest Part of the Day: Not being able to buy the 1/2 peck of locally grown peaches, since they would get too beat up before we could eat them all.

What I Learned Today: My love of grocery shopping in travel destinations holds true even domestically.

Total GeekDads Visited: 5.

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About Jenny Bristol

Jenny Bristol is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, playing board games, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.
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One Response to Day 17: Amish Delights

  1. My husband’s family is from the Amish country and we have experienced ALL of the touristy stuff there from when I was first dating him in the mid-90s. Tee hee! We now spend every Father’s Day weekend in the area for his family reunion, regardless of where we’re stationed.

    My favorite places to visit have been Good n Plenty (like Plain n Fancy) and the Lancaster Central Market in downtown Lancaster — which used to be open daily, but now is only open Wednesdays or Saturdays or something like that…

    Now with our sons we have to pay homage to Thomas the Tank Engine at the Strasburg RR, but be glad you didn’t do that because it’s nightmarishly crowded when Thomas is in town.

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