The Downtown Lancaster Visitor Center, the Heritage Center Museum, & the print shop upstairs by the .918 Club. – Yeah, all of this was in one building. The visitor center was my first stop because I had a decent dialog going before our arrival in the area with Henry at the center, and whoever is behind the goLancasterPA Twitter account. I wanted to say hello & give a personal thanks.
After a quick hello, we went on to the Heritage Center Museum for some cool Amish artifacts & hands-on toys, a quick history lesson, and a bunch of other area artifacts like some beautiful paintings, clocks, furniture, & more.
Upstairs in the print shop, we got an all-out printing demonstration from Mike Donnelly. I’ve always found that kind of stuff interesting from printing & graphic design to the art of fonts & printing. It was an unexpected surprise & it was right up my alley! I even got to make a few small prints on some antique presses!
Angry Young & Poor – Yeah, not exactly in with the theme of everything else, but I used to order from this place back when paper ‘zines & catalogs were a thing… so I had to stop since I was in the area. Dude behind the counter seemed cool, and I picked up a Sloppy Seconds CD.
The Dutch Haven – This was a store that looks like a windmill. While there, I bought some Amish root beer & tried a sample of shoo-fly pie. It felt like a toruist-trap boardwalk kind of store, but you’ll have that in tourist areas. They seemed rather nice. Also, we learned that you need to go here before Jakey’s Amish BBQ, and you’ll get a %10 off coupon.
The Outhouse – It was a like a Cracker Barrel store & a Spencer’s crashed into each other. It was full of local stuff, goofy stuff, kitch, and a bunch of silly coin-operated jokes. Fun, but once we saw it, we don’t really ever have a need to go back.
Ed’s Buggy Rides – I had an amusing online exchange with Ed … or someone at Ed’s Buggy Rides. It went sort of like this…
From: MeSent: Monday, May 23, 2011Subject: Prices?Hello,My wife & I are planning to be in the Lancaster/Strasburg area this weekend celebrating our anniversary.I was wondering what your rates are for buggy rides?Thanks,-Eric
Simple enough right? (I mean, a website ought to list that sort of thing, but…)
From: Mrs Brenda Littler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Subject: Re: Prices?
Please call 717-687-0360.
Heh. Don’t email email@example.com, just call ’em I guess. The tour did prove to be awesome though. We took the tour with another couple, and our driver/guide was quite knowledgeable about the Amish history & way of life. He was able to easily answer any questions that we had. We also stopped at a working Amish farm where I had a glass of homemade Amish root beer, and Bethany bought a Quillow from the craziest salesman ever, a 13 or 14 year old Amish girl. We weren’t getting out of there without buying something. She was showing us every quilt, wall hanging, toy, and canned good in the place. I wish I could have taken her picture. For having a seemingly communal/communist lifestyle (from each according to his means, to each according to his needs – right?), this girl was a killer capitalist! (Oh yeah, that was J & B Quilts and Crafts – they’re at 157 N. Star Rd., Ronks, PA 17572)
The Amish Village – The Amish village was a tourist trap, but it was a cool visit. The. Kid. Who. Gave. Us. The. Tour. Yelled. Syllables. Instead. Of. Speaking. Normally. He also wasn’t very good with Amish trivia or history. He said some stuff that contradicted the heritage museum, and other things that I’ve read. He also didn’t answer questions very well, or talk about the Amish men’s clothing or the significance of their hats – which our guide on Ed’s Buggy Rides had already told us about. He talked a lot about the dresses though, and knew a lot about them. Did you know the outer part of an Amish woman’s dress is pinned on with straight pins? Dude knew. He also assured is that the pins don’t jab you, and you get used to it after the first few times. Yeah. If I were the owner, I’d make sure dude wasn’t in there trying on the dresses at night.
After the upstairs bedroom tour, a woman asked about the hats… he said there was no significance where our earlier guide told us about the distinction with the rounded vs. flat indicating if the wearer has children. Then again, downstairs… a man asked about why they use animals in the field… the tour guide went on a tangent about rubber taking them too far away from home… where from what I understand they use horses to ensure that everyone tills a fair amount of land.
It was cool to see a mockup of a typical Amish house, and learn about their extensive use of propane in lieu of electricity for things like lighting, refrigeration, heat, and running things like retrofitted electric mixers.
The Hangover Part II – OK, we were out of town and decided to just relax and catch a goofy movie. The Garmin found us a local theater, we went, we laughed our behinds off. I’m guessing the Amish would not appreciate or even understand 99% of this film.
The Strasburg Railroad – We took a first class ride on this train and it was just awesome. It’s the first time that either of us was ever on a train. (Unless you count the T.) It was fascinating just to see & feel how it worked. This history behind the railroad in general is quite interesting. We sipped drinks & took photos while the train chugged along and we listened to a narrative about the countryside & the railroad itself. I would say this is a must for anyone going to the area. Next time we may hit up the railroad museum across the street, or the toy train museum. Also, next time, we’d like to ditch the Super 8 in favor of the Red Caboose Motel! This was a relaxing way to spend part of the day, & there was plenty there to entertain us for a while. Next time, we may do the picnic lunch where they drop you off for a picnic in a great little picnic area, then you ride back on a different train.
The Choo Choo Barn – The other area train attraction that we did go see was the Choo Choo Barn. This was a model train display with amazing attention to detail, it reminded me of the one here in Penn Hills that they do around Christmas. There was a fire scene were a house “caught fire”, complete with smoke, every 15 minutes… then a little firefighter popped out with a hose and put the fire out with real water. I mean, it was crazy. I wish I had better photography skills to catch all the crazy stuff in there with the odd lighting & night scenes.
One photo I did manage to get though, was a blurry one… but proof of a man taking a pee in the top floor of one of the train stations. You know the guy laughed for hours after putting that one in.
All in all, we had a wonderful weekend in PA Dutch Country, and it was an excellent way to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. We liked it so much that we hope to make it a regular trip! We’ll never run out of things to do over that way. I could spend all day taking buggy & train rides!
The next blog will be about the food. I had to break it down. This post is already incredibly long!