This past Memorial Day weekend, Steve and I took a trip to Lancaster Pa., aka Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where some of the Amish still dress in traditional garb and wield horse-driven carriages down Route 30:
One friend immediately replied, “BORRRING!” Another waxed passionately on the merits of a local restaurant called, “Good ‘n Plenty.” We envisioned quaint colonial towns, and restaurants brimming with local farm fresh produce. What we did experience was not boring, but neither could it be called dynamic. Rather, our three-day sojourn in Lancaster can be viewed through two separate lenses: On one side of the frame is an image of the canned string beans served at Good ‘n Plenty – limp and dull. But what one sees through the other lens, is best summed up by the landscape – flat, but filled with a quiet lushness, and richness of color that screams beauty.
Saturday, the day we arrived, we spent trolling Route 340 in Intercourse. It is a town inundated with front yard garage sales, standard souvenir shops selling mass-produced chochcalas, and boutiques decked with only the finest handmade quilts and textiles.
(The area is also dotted with lots of poetically phallic silos):
My first reaction to the boutiques was anticipation – I love to shop when I visit a new place. But by the time I stepped into the third quilt shop, I was a little numb. So it was definitely time for a beer. We stopped at a local brewery called the Rumspringa, enjoyed a couple of stouts, bought souvenir glasses, and headed into Lancaster, the capital of the United States for one day in 1781, and now known as the oldest inland city in the United States. Not a whole lot going on in downtown Lancaster on a Saturday in May. But there were lots and lots of brick buildings that were quite lovely when seen basking in the late afternoon sun:
A local recommended dinner at a restaurant called The Belvedere Inn. It was good. The chef came out to chat with us, so we asked him for suggestions for Sunday, as we were a little lost on a game plan for the next day. He thought Muddy Run State Park, where we could rent row boats, and tour the reservoir might be interesting. So on Sunday morning, after a hearty breakfast, and a tour of the farm we were staying at, we headed off to sing, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Then it was time for another brewery – this time Stoudt’s in Adamstown. Adamstown, like Lambertville, N.J., and Hudson, N.Y., is renowned as one of the premier antique shopping meccas in the Eastern United States. We walked through one of the markets filled with old lamps, tables, headboards, china, flatware, paintings, but weren’t really in the mood to peruse, so we headed back into Lancaster. Sunday afternoon was more dead than Saturday, so we wandered through the cemetery of the St. James Episcopal Church:
The next day we decided to visit Longwood Gardens on our way back home. In 1906, Pierre S. DuPont, a scion of the DuPont family, purchased a modest farm for the sole purpose of conserving, and protecting the surrounding woodlands. Ultimately, it morphed into a public garden. It was spectacular:
All in all, the weekend was mighty fine. But we probably won’t ever go back to Lancaster, Pa. Except with a U-Haul for antiques.