|Only one day back in the RV and it is raining. It rained all night last night and rained all day as well. I am sure that we have had rain over the last month, but it just doesn't seem as apparent as when you are in 275 sq. ft. I had wanted to take the kids to Longwood Gardens, but not in the rain. So we tried for more indoor activities instead. We headed into Lancaster County to see what there was to see. The drive out was beautiful. So many of the old homes here are made of local stone. The rolling green hills and the turning leaves and the stone houses just took my breath away. As we got closer to our destination, it became more and more congested. Deep in the heart of Amish country was traffic jams and outlet malls. Amidst all of this beautiful farm land and people trying to live their lives are all of us "English" out here gawking at them. I just couldn't help but to keep seeing the oddness of it all.
We went to the Strasburg Rail to take a ride. It is a restored coal powered stream train from the early 1900's. I think that many of these trains and cars were made right in Strasburg. It was beautiful inside with lots of inlaid woodwork, velvet seats and even working coal stoves in each car. We brought on our own lunch and enjoyed the countryside on the 45-minute ride. At first I thought that was an awfully short ride, but then as things got going (and the kids got to wrestling), I realized that 45 minutes was probably about 5 minutes to long! But it was fun. And we had just read about a daylong train ride that the Wilder family had taken to South Dakota, so we could relate a little.
Then we drove around the little town of Strasburg for a while to see what we wanted to do next. There are way to many little tourist shops, which I have the least bit of interest in. But we did stop at the Amish Village. It was a real Amish family farm at one point, but is now open to the public for tours. We had a guided tour of the house and learned quite a bit and then were able to spend some time looking around the rest of the property at the springhouse, the barns (with animals) and a one-room schoolhouse and a black smith shop along with several buggies. I have read a couple of books recently on the Amish and Mennonites and find their life fascinating. Although I have some personal disagreements with some of their religious beliefs, I find the simplicity of their lives and the reasons for much of it attractive. I was the only one on the tour to ask any questions and I asked so many that the other tour guest just left. First off, I have a deep respect for the Amish and their self-sufficient lifestyle. Joe and I have dreams of being less dependent on society ourselves. But there are some things that the Amish do, that just don't make sense to me. They have many rules, but there are multitudes of ways for the rules to be "bent". They won't use electricity because of the temptation that it might bring, but also because of the contact and dependency it would bring with the "English". But propane and gasoline are okay. They have propane lights, refrigerators, gas-driven washing machines, gasoline generators, etc. They can't own or drive a car, but do hire cars to drive them around for longer trips. They can't wear buttons because the button remind them of the brass buttons that the soldiers wore that persecuted them some 300 years ago and they don't want anything to remind them of that. But they do wear buttons and their clothing is fashioned to cover them up and hide them so that they don't appear to be wearing buttons. It just seems like the jump through a bunch of hoops to live their lives a certain way and then jump through even more hoops to appear that they are not doing what they aren't supposed to be doing. Most families have 8 or more children and almost all are born at home. Something else that fascinated me (and the guide had no answer for), is who attends all these births? Pennsylvania has been making the midwifery news lately as one of the "crack-down" states on midwives working illegally at homebirths. Well, with such a huge homebirth populations, who is attending these families? I need to look more into that.
On the drive back home, I passed a small sign for Homemade Root Beer. Well, Timothy is all about some root beer. He loves it. So we stopped at this Amish Farm and bought a bottle of it and some homemade potato chips (they were great by the way). The bottle looked like some sort of illegal bootleg stuff. He drank some of it when we got home and liked it. It had a funny smell to it, but tasted okay. Well just before bed, Timothy threw it all up. I am not sure whether he is sick or it was the root beer. We will see tomorrow. He said, "We need to sell that stuff and get rid of it". I think we will stick with the commercially produced stuff in the future. What is root beer made from anyway?
It was a nice day, even with the rain. The countryside is beautiful and so are the people, just not the outlet mall. Ah, it feels good to be back to writing again!