Friday, October 14, 2011

Leo Family in Lancaster County- Part 3

Before I begin, I just noticed that yesterday I published my 100th post, as well as received my 5,000th hit on this blog. Thanks for the interest y'all. Here we go:

Some things in life are cool, but not nearly worth the money they cost. Like a $9.00 fried dough at the Woodstock Fair (after shelling out 40 bucks for the family to just walk through the turnstile). Today's activity was NOT one of those things. This was so cool and unique that it'd be a value at twice the price. I'm talking about the:

Strasburg Railroad!!! This locomotive is the "Old 475", built in 1905 and beautifully restored by Strasburg Railroad to perfect working order. The 475 pulled us along a 9 mile ride through some of the most picturesque Amish farmland in all of Lancaster County. 40 bucks for the whole family to ride. This train was the real deal. We chose to ride in the "open air car" located at the very front of the train. The 475 hitched to the front of our car and basically rode backwards, pulling us through the countryside.

Hitching up to the Open Air Car

The boy looks a little nervous...but he was psyched (and a little scared)

The girls are ready

Chugging through the countryside, the horn was deafening when we hit a railroad crossing.
Along the way, we were treated to a bunch of different sites. Here's a shot of a "traditional" Amish home:

Many people think that the Amish live in like some thatched roof house built with rough timbers and heat their homes with dried cow patties. Not the case....these Amish are living large!! Some of the most tricked out homes you'll ever see....just no electricity or phone. I dug seeing the HUGE clotheslines that these home sported. Some of them had to be 50 yards long. MTV needs to do a show: "Cribs: Amish Edition". There were tons of old timey farmhouses, but just as many crazy-cool new pads. These places were styling.

Here's a shot of a traditional Amish schoolhouse. Most Amish kids are taught in a one-room schoolhouse taught by a single Amish woman. They have 20-30 kids per school, so there's lots of them throughout the countryside. They are close enough to the farms so that the kids can walk or take their scooters to school. We caught these kids out at recess.
At the halfway point in our trip, they unhitched the engine at a switching station, brought it to the front of the train, making our car the "caboose" and pulled us back to the station. As we were pulling in we saw:

A full-on Thomas the Tank Engine. Pretty cool stuff. We ate lunch at the station and then said goodbye. We figured that it was time for Ice Cream at Lapp Valley Farm.

Chrissy snapped this shot of Amish kid's scooters parked outside their schoolhouse. I gotta tell you...these kids FLEW on these things all over the rolling hills of Lancaster County...very cool to see.
It is rare that you get to meet the cows that make the milk that becomes your Ice Cream. That is unless you are eating Ice Cream made on an Amish Mennonite farm.

After rubbing noses with these guys, we headed up to the parlor and got ourselves the absolute best ice cream we've ever had. You'd think that Breyer's tasted like school paste after having this stuff.

Ivy got Strawberry, Gavin got Black Raspberry. My boy is drawn to Black Raspberry Ice Cream like a moth to the flame...just like his old man. Oh yeah....they also had cats....very hungry cats....

By this point in the trip...I was ready to buy me a plot of farmland and never return. I "modern" standards, our family is fairly "simple". We don't watch much T.V. We homeschool. We garden. We can and preserve our food. We solely burn wood as our cold weather heating source. In many ways, our family is very different from many families around us. If it weren't for the staunch conviction to a religion that I don't fully agree wouldn't take a huge twist of the arm to get me to live this way forever. I'm sure many people have felt the same after visiting this wonderfully intriguing culture.

Now....while the Strasburg RR was super cool. I'm thinking that if we ever come back to Lancaster County, which I'm sure we will, that this will be the coolest way to check out the area:

Part 4 tomorrow.

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