Wednesday, September 23, 2009

9/23/09 Today I am feeling the effects of a bad cold, so while Elaine is out on a long walk with our friend Gerry, I will compose this update.
Our visit in Lancaster with Elaine's nephew, niece and her family was fun and informative. Fun because we shared meals and excursions with them and thus got to know them so much better than ever before. In the past we have only been around each other at big family gatherings and then it seemed that the priority was spending time with Elaine's sisters. This time we got to spend time with nephew Chris Daly, and niece Denise Petersen, her husband Steve, and their kids, Zack & Kayla. I suspect that some of Elaine's family members read this blog so I am going to put in a few pictures. Here is Elaine with Chris & Denise.

Our first night with them all, we had a pizza party in Denise's kitchen. Here is the whole gang:

Chris' roommate, Brook, is the one sitting between Denise and Steve.
Saturday we all went together to the downtown part of Lancaster and walked around. Here is the whole gang in a square down there where there was a waterfall:

The extra guy in the picture is Tony, a friend of Chris'. Chris' 2 roommates, Lisa & Brook, also joined us after the picture. The main attraction on Saturday morning was the market, which is the oldest continuously operating market in the USA - started in 1730! It was clean, diverse and had a lot of great produce, food stalls, craft stalls, etc. Because the Lancaster area was the first place that a lot of Amish and Mennonite people settled in the early 1700's, there are a lot of them still living there, and they were selling some of their wares there too. One of the things we had read about was whoopie pies. Didn't know what they were so I bought one there and tried it.

Wow, was that SWEET! It was basically 2 thin squashed pieces of cake with a bunch of very sugary frosting in between. I took a bite and gave the rest to Zack. Another item we had read about was shoofly pie, but we didn't see any of that there, and Denise and Steve assured us that it would be even more sweet than the whoopie pie.
In the afternoon, they drove us down some of the country roads and between Lancaster and Amish towns with names such as Bird In Hand, and Intercourse, to look at the Amish farms. This was an excellent time to be there because they were harvesting. It was also good to be with Steve because he works for New Holland, a company which makes farm equipment, so he explained a lot of things to us. The Amish don't use cars, trucks or mechanized farm equipment- they still use horses and buggies. Here is a picture of them harvesting corn:

They also grow a lot of tobacco, as a cash crop, and here is a picture of it after it has been cut and is on a cart in bundles, ready to be hung in the barn to dry.

We think it is somewhat hypocritical of them to grow tobacco because they are totally against smoking. But apparently if there is a way to make some money, they don't care what the ethics are. While we were driving through Intercourse, there was a huge demonstration going on against the practice of puppy mills, which the Amish also profit from. Just outside town we passed an Amish man who was baling hay. We had never seen a baler that produced the big round bales, but this one did:

Because they don't use cars, they depend on other ways to get around, such as bikes, scooters, and buggies. Here is a picture of an Amish woman on her scooter:

And here is a picture of 2 Amish boys who were driving by with their wagon. This area seems to have a lot of miniature horses, and they had one hooked up to their pint-sized wagon.

Besides gawking at all the Amish people, we visited 2 covered bridges. Here is Zack and one of the bridges:

Because there were so many Amish people and farms around, we learned a lot about them, and the Mennonites, from Steve and Denise and also on the internet. Steve is on the board for the nearby Landis County Museum, which was basically started by the Landis brothers who lived there in the early 1800's and who collected LOTS of stuff, including historical buildings. So there are quite a few old buildings on the site, all full of memorabilia. There was also information here about the Amish and some of their implements. There are a few costumed interpreters in some of the buildings who gave us lots of information about the era and the way of life then. Here is a picture of Jim, who was the tavern keeper and who also showed us the munitions room and told us about the guns.

There was good information about textiles, making cloth from flax, spinning, and weaving, and here is the lady who was making lace:

This is a museum that we would recommend to you blog readers if you are ever in this area.
Then it was time to head west again - to the Gettysburg area where we are staying on the property of our friends Gerry & Karen Deighton. We met them on our cruise around South America in Jan/Feb and we are so glad that they offered their driveway to us. Their property is actually about 10 miles from Gettysburg and is on such a rural road that there have only been about 5 cars that have driven past here in the last 24 hours. The property is heavily wooded and their house is on an "island" because there are 2 creeks that run past it and you have to cross a heavy wooden bridge to get to the house.

We are parked out by the barn/garage and we feel like we are parked right in the woods.

Gerry and Karen are wonderful hosts and have been stuffing us full of good food ever since we arrived. Here is a picture of Karen, Gerry, and Elaine at dinner last night.

Gerry does all the cooking and the meals have been delicious, topped off by a luscious carrot cake. Cruise food is plentiful and good but the food here is even better! So is all the travel talk, because they have been world travelers for years and we are enjoying discussions about many of the places we all have visited. They have a young man from Laos living with them for 6 months and going to school, and we have enjoyed meeting him as well. It just makes us eager to plan some more trips to that region of the world!
Tomorrow, if I am feeling better, we will go to the National Historic Park at Gettysburg, and also the Eisenhower Farm.

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