My parents took me to Amish Country one summer when I was in college. I suppose it might be more accurate to say they dragged me there. I had just broken up with a boy I thought I loved and barely left my room for 3 days. When my mother proposed a trip to Amish Country, I was convinced that my parents were just trying to make me see that my life could be a lot more depressing than it was. I might have suffered a broken heart, but at least I had electricity and running water.
Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate the simplicity of Amish life back then. So, recently, I have felt a need to return and see Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as an adult, not a moody adolescent. Naturally, I thought it would be a good idea for Luke and Leah’s New Experience #11.
Luckily, I did not have to drag my children. They hopped in the car excitedly. The two-hour drive went quickly and soon we were surrounded by a strange juxtaposition of Amish farms and shopping outlets. The kids were thrilled to see Amish horses and buggies driving alongside our minivan. When we saw a young Amish woman walking down the road, Leah exclaimed, “She’s beautiful. She’s dressed like Belle!” She was referring to the young woman’s blue dress and white apron, which was actually very similar to Belle’s outfit in Beauty and the Beast.
When we got out of the car, Luke smelled the country air, and said, “Well, I guess Amish people don’t pick up poop!”
Clearly, my children need to spend more time outside of suburbia.
In addition to the Amish community, Lancaster County has many old-time railroad attractions. So, we visited the Choo-Choo Barn, which is a huge model train layout. I thought it was expensive for what it offered, but the kids really enjoyed it. When we paid for admission, the cashier handed us a list of things to find hidden in the layout. Both of my children like to play “I Spy”, but Leah absolutely loves it. So, we had fun looking for various objects in the display.
Next, we took a ride on the Strasburg Railroad, a historic coal-burning steam train. The kids enjoyed the novelty of riding on an old-fashioned train, and we all enjoyed the beautiful views of the Amish farms. The highlight of the trip was when we passed a group of Amish boys who waved and danced as we passed by. My children saw that their Amish counterparts acted very much like other children they know.
Later in the day, we went to the Plain and Fancy Farm for an Amish dinner. It is probably a tourist trap, but we all wanted to try Amish food. This restaurant offers an “Amish Feast” served family style so we could try lots of different items. Much of the food was familiar to us, but we tasted pickled vegetables called Chow Chow as an appetizer. Unfortunately, none of us liked it. For dessert, we had Shoo Fly Pie, an Amish specialty. It was definitely the best Amish food we ate!
The next day I had planned for us to take a Buggy Ride and shop in some of the small stores that sell Amish specialties. Unfortunately, we woke up to nearly 5 inches of snow. Everything was closed. We were disappointed that we didn’t get to do everything we wanted, but we will definitely return to Amish Country again this year. We just have to try that Buggy Ride!