Monday, October 15, 2018

Lancaster County Pennsylvania: The Amish Village

Lancaster county transportation.
Somehow in all of our journeys up and down the eastern part
of the country we have missed Amish Country.
It was time to correct that omission and are so glad that we did.  

Lancaster county is some of the most beautiful farm country
that we have ever seen. Talk about country roads!
It seemed like we never found a way to get from one address to
another without driving over and around a mountain.
We started our visit with a trip to The Amish Village.

Cultivating corn.
The drive took us past several farms and were lucky
enough to see the corn field of an Amish farm being cultivated
with a horse drawn wagon. The farmer was balancing in the
moving wagon with a dog running along beside him.
It was like a look into the past and we were thrilled by the

The banked barn has entry on two levels.
The Amish Village is an authentic Amish homestead.
It currently serves as a museum that showcases the house and
banked barn.
There is a covered bridge on the 12 acre property as well as a
small dam with water wheel and a wind generator that
demonstrate methods of generating energy that are acceptable
to the Amish way of life.
There are a blacksmith shop and a one room school built
according to a standardized plan. These buildings are typical
of a Plain community.
Premium admission included a bus tour of the surrounding
countryside and one was getting ready to leave as we checked in.
Amish farm
Margaret was our bus driver and tour guide for the day. She is
a long time resident of Lancaster County and has many friends
within the Amish community.
We learned that the Lancaster County Amish came here to
Pennsylvania after being invited by William Penn himself.
They arrived between 1720 and 1730 seeking religious freedom.
Members of the thriving community of over 30,000 continue to embrace a simple life free of materialism and dedicated to God. The Amish way of life is focused on service.
Margaret's stories helped us to understand some of the Amish
customs and traditions. It was interesting to learn how a culture
has learned to do business with the English while protecting
themselves from becoming too worldly.

Scooters outside the one room schoolhouse.
Margaret took us past a number on one room Amish school
houses. She told us that all were built from the same approved
plan. It was interesting to see the childrens scooters all parked
Thats not an outhouse its a phone box, outside the house.
We learned how to recognize Amish homes by the lack of
phone and electric wires, the type of clothing hung to dry and
sometimes a telephone box near the end of the driveway.
Kitchen gardens were meticulously tended, neat and ordered.
We drove through miles of Lancaster County backroads
observing the Amish lifestyle without intruding upon it.

Lydia's Country Store
We stopped at Lydia’s Country Store where the baked goods
were a huge temptation. Molasses sugar cookies are my
weakness and oatmeal raisin Fred’s. Its going to be tough
sticking to our food plan in Lancaster County.
The bus dropped us back at The Amish Village and we
toured the 2 story homestead built in 1840.
This stand mixer runs using air as power.
The kitchen was pretty amazing. Propane lights and a mixer
powered by air were a couple of the innovations we found
The lamp base hides a propane tank.
The bathroom was surprisingly modern.
I had pictured hand pumps for water but learned that a wind
generator supplied power for the water pump.  
There was a laundry and separate kitchen area for canning
in the basement.

Beautiful quits were on all of the beds.
Outside was a Spring house where milk cooled in metal cans.
The banked barn built into the side of a hill, allowed entry on
two levels. 

Basement laundry
We enjoyed the tour and then headed to Deinners for a late
lunch at Margaret’s recommendation. The food was plentiful and
the service great just as she said it would be.

The Amish Village
199 Hartman Bridge Road
Ronks, PA
(717) 687-8511

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

On the Road Again: West Point Military Academy and New Paltz, New York

It's been a wonderful Summer but the road is calling our names.
It's good to be back on the road again.
In case you can’t tell I’m singing these words.

After a year on the plains and in the desert we were happy to see the beach.

Fred and I had a fantastic Summer in New York.
We camped and had outings with our grandsons, spent time with my Mom, enjoyed the company of our daughters, and spent some time with extended family. We got back to the coast enjoying the beaches of Maine and northern Massachusetts.

These 3 are always ready for adventure
Somehow there was time to dust off our construction and gardening skills as the Lake George house foyer got a facelift and major pruning was accomplished outside.

Melissa and Clay's new deck and flower boxes.
A new deck and flower boxes were completed at the Connecticut country house and the Behemoth got new window treatments.

Fred's new Can Am Spyder
Fred checked another item off his Bucket list when he acquired a Can Am Spyder that he has been wanting for a long time. He even got to attend a Spyder Rally in Queensbury at the beginning of September going on a couple of rides with large groups.

Round Pond

Our first stop was at West Point Military Academy’s Round Pond Recreation Facility where we enjoyed a couple of nights at the top of the mountain. Round Pond is a beautiful site. The roads are narrow, steep and twisty to get there but worth the effort.
We were pleased to meet  neighbors Karen and Bill who are new to the full time RV lifestyle.  We met as they were dealing with a broken cable on one of the slides of their rig. We dragged out Nick Russell’s Guide to RV Good Guys to try and find them some help.  You meet the nicest people in military RV parks and we were happy to read a few days later that they found a temporary solution to hold them over until the needed repairs could be done by an RV Good Guy in Virginia.

We had one day to devote to sightseeing and spent it in the Historic Huguenot district of New Paltz, New York.
The Huguenot’s were Protestants who emigrated from France to the New World in the 1600’s seeking the freedom to worship as they chose.

Twelve families settled in the Hudson River Valley in 1677 after purchasing 30,000 acres from the Esopus Indian Tribes. The 12 families who formed the town of New Paltz are referred to as patentees. Names common to the Capital District and Hudson Valley like Deyo, LeFevre, Hasbrouck, Dubois, and Freer originated here.

A portion of Huguenot Street consists of 6 stone houses built before 1720.  Those houses are protected as a National Historic Landmark. Each home is a museum preserving the history of a  patentee family.
The families built their original homes of wood, replacing them over the next 40 years with stone houses in what is now called rural Colonial Dutch architecture. Gambled roofs and curved eaves in single story houses built of local stone are hallmarks of that distinctive style.

We walked the hilly street along the banks of the Wallkill River admiring the stone structures and beautiful gardens. There is a replica wigwam on the lawn of the Dubois Fort representing the Munsee Esopus people who lived in this region prior to European settlement. The wigwam was constructed using authentic techniques and locally sourced materials to make an accurate presentation.
There is a stone church (reconstructed in 1972) and a small cemetery where some of the early members of the community were laid to rest.

The walking tour was pet friendly since we opted not to walk through the inside of the homes.
Rascal enjoyed it and afterward walked with us up the hill to Main Street for lunch at Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters. Mudd Puddle is right next door to Paws of Distinction so he enjoyed  chicken and sweet potato dog treats.
Lucky Rascal.

We left Round Pond on Friday morning.  Army fans were already starting to arrive for Saturdays big game against the Rainbow Warriers of Hawaii.  Grills were being set up and long tables were set out under shade canopys. I bet it was a fun weekend at the Academy.
Army won 21-28.

Next stop Amish Country, Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Getting Our Kicks: Route 66 New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma

Near Albuquerque, New Mexico Route 66 got musical. There is a short strip of road in Tijeras that has been scored to play a piece of America the Beautiful when you drive over it at 45 mph (the posted speed limit).

Rte 66 singing America the Beautiful

This is a relatively recent addition to the road, paid for by National Geographic for its TV series Crowd Control. The musical road fits right in with the weird and wonderful attractions of the original route.

Amarillo Texas found us visiting the famous Big Texan Steak House and Brewery home of the 72 oz “Eat it all and it’s free” steak dinner. The steakhouse sent a horned limo to pick us up at the RV park and the driver told us stories about the area for the entire 15 minute trip. We enjoyed steaks of a reasonable size with fellow RVers Anne and Dave who we had met through the Living the RV Dream Facebook page. Alas no one accepted the challenge while we were there but we did enjoy checking out the Wall of Fame. It is amazing how many people have manage to eat the entire meal.

Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo is home to the Cadillac Ranch, a famous art installation on old Route 66. It consists of 10 Cadillacs with the front ends buried in the ground, tail fins in the air. They are all at the same angle and spaced regularly so that they look like a junkyard Stonehenge.

It is customary when visiting to leave your own spray painted tag on the cars, so of course we did. The paint is an inch or more thick in places. We passed by Cadillac Ranch 6 times during our visit to Amarillo and there were always cars parked along the road and people walking to and from the caddys.

Downtown Amarillo still has some old Route 66 establishments including the Golden Light Cafe, where we enjoyed perfect burgers while exploring the Mother Road.

Oklahoma City was our last stop on old Route 66. We made the time to seek out Leo’s Barbeque. Leo’s has been serving OKC diners since 1974. We enjoyed the ribs and brisket and have been making a version of their pickled cucumber and tomato salad weekly. Every dinner comes with a slice of homemade strawberry banana cake-don't even think about turning it down.

Chairs at the Oklahoma City Memorial
The rest of our visit was spent seeing the Oklahoma City Memorial and the national Cowboy Museum both of which were recommended by my Mom, Ella.
Mom served as a volunteer disaster coordinator for the American Red Cross and worked for many months in Oklahoma City after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995. It affected her deeply. She returned to OKC to see the memorial and wanted us to see it too.
It is a solemn place that manages to preserve history, remember the lost and celebrate the survivors of that violent senseless act.

Wall made from children's art work from all over the world.
The memorial is so effective because it tells so many stories. Those stories begin with the Field of 168 chairs that sit on the ground of the former Murrah building. Their are 9 rows of chairs for the 9 floors of the building. Each chair is inscribed with the name of someone taken that day. 19 of those chairs are small ones. The museum tells the story of the bombing and its aftermath in a personal way. News clippings and video of the bombing and rescue and retrieval are very factual but they are not dry. Victims are always named. Survivors, first responders, and rescue workers have been interviewed and recorded. Their words are the most effective kind of lesson.
The Responsibility Theater is at the end of the museum tour. In the theater visitors are asked questions about their thoughts and beliefs and how involved they would be in trying to prevent a dangerous situation. Video clips about the bombing and its aftermath are shown in response to their answers with further questions about how they might have acted, knowing the outcome.
It was interesting and rather heart wrenching to watch a group of high school students struggle with the choice of trying to stay safe or “snitching”.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum was good for our souls. We loved visiting works by our favorite western artists Frederick Remington and Charles Russell and discovered for ourselves the works of Grand Canyon Artist Thomas Moran, and Native American artist Jerome Tiger. A favorite part of the museum was a room that honored Western film and television stars. It included homages to John Wayne, Gene Autry and Barbara Stanwyck. There were displays about Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Wild Wild West, The Big Valley, Death Valley Days and so many others. I lost Fred to the movie theater for more than and hour.

We are leaving Route 66 now and continuing East through Arkansas on our way back to New York. It seems that we have seen middle of the road. Chicago and LA will wait for another journey.

Musical Route 66
I-40 exit 170 drive east 3.5 miles on Hwy 333/66 between mm 4-5 only works east bound.

Big Texan Steak Ranch
7701 I-40 Access Rd
Amarillo, Texas

Cadillac Ranch
13651 I-40 Frontage Rd
Amarillo, Texas

Golden Light Cafe
2908 W 6th Ave
Amarillo, Texas

Leo's Barbeque
3631 N Kelly Ave
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City National memorial
620 North Harvey Ave
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd St
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Getting Our Kicks: Route 66 Arizona

Motoring east we stopped for one night in Kingman Arizona on our way to Williams. Driving into Kingman you can still see the old pull up motels typical of Route 66. You know...the ones where your park your car right by the door of your room, with vending and ice machines near the office. Most of the neon signs were long gone and the buildings looked very tired but it was fun to see some of the old style signs and artwork. We passed the colorful Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner and Locomotive Park on our way to the Desert Diamond Distillery.

D3 is a young up and comer in the distillery world. Established in 2009 they are already winning international awards. The owners claim that the dry heat of the Arizona High Desert is the perfect environment for barrel aging rum. I don’t know if its the dry heat or their gigantic German still but have to admit they have a very good product. We sampled several rums and a gin that they make and enjoyed a tour of their still and barrel rooms.

The distillery has acquired a vintage railroad pullman car and are in the process of restoring it as a weekend dining area for their customers. It’s an impressive project. Desert Diamond Distillery is a Harvest Host’s stop so after visiting for a while we stayed the night boondocking in their parking lot.
The next afternoon we arrived in Williams Arizona, a Route 66 town that embraces its past. Old Route 66 runs right through town. Route signs invite you to “Get your Kicks” while a variety of hotels, eating establishments and attractions attempt to lure in weary road travelers. A colorful zipline soars above town. Our main purpose in visiting Williams was to see the Grand Canyon but we also took the opportunity to travel down to Flagstaff and visit the Lowell Observatory.

The astronomers at the observatory have been searching the stars since 1894. It was goosebump inducing to tour the place where Pluto was discovered and where so many maps of the stars have been made. Our tour guide was an excellent storyteller who made the history lesson enjoyable and brought the characters to life.

Sedona Red Rocks
Another day found us driving part of the old road past beautiful red rock formations that lead into Sedona and out to Montezuma Castle National Monument in the Verde Valley. The cliff dwellings of Montezuma Castle have stood for a thousand years. We have seen many of the cliff homes preserved throughout New Mexico and Arizona.

Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle is not just enhanced caves, it is an architectural marvel and is considered one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The ancient remains attracted early travellers of Route 66 and we are still visiting in 2018.

Not far from Williams is the Flintstones Bedrock City. The 40 year old amusement park is dedicated to the cartoon show of the same name. It is a color fading, paint peeling nostalgia lovers dream. You can walk into and around the homes of Fred and Wilma, and Betty and Barney.
RVing Bedrock Style
We had fun sitting in the foot powered cars and watching cartoons in the Bedrock Theater. All Flintstones all the time.
The highlight of our stay in Williams was a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway described in our previous post.
We continued down America’s Main Street determined to see as much of it as we could.
We drove to Holbrook, Arizona passing the remnants of old trading posts and the giant twin arrows by the roadside. Holbrook served as homebase while we explored nearby attractions.

Fred finally got to Stand on a Corner in Winslow Arizona, which is something he has dreamed of doing since we started this journey 3 years ago. The experience was made even better as Eagles music filled Standing on a Corner Park from a nearby gift shop.

Standing at the edge of the Meteor Crater
We drove back west toward Flagstaff to spend a day at the Meteor Crater. The 700 foot deep crater is about 4000 feet across and almost 2 ½ miles around. It was formed more than 50,000 years ago when a large meteorite slammed into the flat plain with the explosive force of 20 million tons of dynamite. The force lifted rock along the rim and beyond, creating hills where none existed before the impact.
This Meteor Crater is deemed a National Landmark. It is privately owned and operated by the Barringer family through Meteor Crater Enterprises.  It is one of the best preserved craters on planet Earth and is providing much information to scientists. Apollo astronauts trained here before walking on the moon, learning that meteor samples could be collected from the debris field surrounding the crater.

We were able to participate in a walking tour along the rim of the crater and were lucky enough to see and touch 2 large pieces of the meteorite that formed crater, one located at the Meteor Crater Center and one at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Holbrook is home to Joe and Aggies Cafe a vintage Route 66 establishment recommended by Roadfood. We left our names in the guestbook and enjoyed enchilada dinners before walking back outside to admire the Wigwam Village up the street.

Painted Desert 
Our last day in Holbrook was spent exploring Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert. I have been fascinated with stories of this place since the 1960’s when my Aunt Marian visited and brought home a piece of the petrified wood and gave it to me. I still treasure that little piece of contraband. As a child I pictured the Petrified Forest as a standing forest of trees made of stone. It seemed a magical and wondrous place. Study showed me how wrong my assumptions were but the Petrified Forest still piqued my curiosity.
We entered the Park at the Painted Desert Visitor Center where scenic overlooks and several trails provide a birds eye view of the colors of a landscape created by wind water and the result of mineral deposits.

Thye park is best seen by a 28 mile driving tour. There are 12 major stops and many lesser known ones. Most have short (less than 4 miles) hiking paths that let you really enjoy the landscape.

The old Route 66 alignment is marked by a rusty 1932 Studebaker.

Newspaper Rock
We enjoyed a stop at the Puerco Pueblo where Newspaper Rock has so many petroglyphs that the information resembles a daily publication.

Blue Mesa
Blue Mesa is a small area of badlands with blue and grey tinted sandstone. It was spectacular to walk the 1 mile loop among those beautiful tent shaped rocks scattered with pieces of petrified logs.

Jasper Forest
The Jasper Forest has beautiful views out over the desert to the mountains beyond. Large pieces of petrified wood are all over the ground. Colors of Jasper in the wood ranged from gold to brick red and were pretty brilliant even in the hot sun.

Crystal Forest
The Crystal Forest was showed us smaller logs with quartz inclusions that sparkled in the sun like bits of glass.
We exited the park at the Rainbow Forest Visitor Center and headed back to Holbrook on rte 180.

Petrified Forest National Park
1 Park Rd
Chambers, Arizona

Standing on the Corner Park
100 E 2nd St
Winslow, Arizona

Meteor Crater National Landmark
Interstate 40 Exit 233
Winslow, Arizona

Joe and Aggies Cafe
120 W Hopi Dr
Holbrook, Arizona

Wigwam Village
811 W Hopi Dr
Holbrook, Arizona