I'm blessed that Chrissy's twin sister, Susan, married one of my very close friends, Dave. I'm also blessed that Susan and Dave's kids are just about the same age as ours. Our kids and theirs have a great cousins relationship, despite only seeing each other 4 or 5 times a year. It's kind of like me and Dave in some aspects. We have a kind of relationship where we could go 9 months without seeing or talking to one another then, when we finally get together, it's like it had only been 3 days since the last time we hung out. Dave was awesome in putting this vacation together. he did tons of leg-work securing our campsite, finding out about the best local spots to visit....what restaurants to hit up, which touristy stuff to check out, etc.
We visited some major smorgasbords for breakfast and dinner. One place that we hit was the "Plain and Fancy" restaurant. They promote themselves as a "Farm to Table" restaurant, getting most of their vegetables and meats from the Amish farms in their surrounding area. It was a family style meal that featured just about the best food I've ever had. The best fried chicken, roast beef, gravy, chicken and dumplings, desserts....If you ever hit up Lancaster County for a vacation, The Plain and Fancy Amish Feast would be my #1 recommendation for good eats out that way. They also had a cool play area and petting zoo:
Hangin' with horses.
I am currently working on putting a materials list together to see what it would cost to build one of these clubhouses out back. This thing was stellar....complete with flower boxes and a loft.
Not exactly sure why, but I LOVE this shot. Our kids are typical 2 and 4 year olds, and they have their squabbles...but they really do love each other, and care for one another. I think this shot captures that beautifully.
My pumpkin with a pumpkin.
Earlier in the day, leaving from the same campus as the Plain and Fancy....we took a 3 mile legit Amish Buggy Ride:
The boys got to sit up front with our less-than-talkative Amish driver "E.J.". The Amish traditionally do not take photographs of themselves...they hold pretty literally to the command in Exodus 20:4..."You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." In fact, they take this verse so literally that the dolls that the little Amish girls play with don't have faces on them. they are o.k. with getting photographed from behind, though...which works out because....the one time my kid is riding shotgun in an Amish buggy....graven image or not...I'm snapping a picture...you got that E.J.?! :^)
here's the fam outside the buggy hanging with the horse that just trotted us around. At the mid-point in our ride, we stopped at an Amish farm for fresh baked cookies and homemade root beer. Very, very nice.
As a parent, you always want what's best for your child. And even though they are young, you hope that they develop skills and interests that will fuel them throughout their lives. It's nice to see your kid's ambition. Gavin has pretty much made the decision that he wants to be an airline pilot or a Belgian draft horse when he grows up.....we're so proud. *sniff*
When we got back to our campsite...i think that this was Thursday night....5 nights into our vacation....we were treated with the Amish equivalent of the Ice Cream Truck:
The Snack Wagon!!!
Let's get fat Amish Style! The Stoltzfus family came through our campsite peddling all sorts of amazing baked and canned goods. We bought some cookies, a pumpkin roll, and several jams and jellies from this wondrous little horse-drawn cart of love. One thing that I had found while vacationing out here is that the Amish don't, in any way, thumb their noses at those who live a "modern" life. They understand that sustaining their way of life greatly depends on the tourism that perpetually invades their County. They don't pass judgement on anyone who holds beliefs different from their own. With that in mind...it was neat to have conversations with them and pick their brains a bit. As I was buying some jam from Mrs. Stoltzfus, I had mentioned to her that our family keeps a rather large garden and small "orchard" at our home and that this past Summer I had experimented with my own homemade jams and jellies. I had brought a few jars with me on our trip and I gave one of my Cherry Jam jars to her and her very quiet husband. She said that she was excited to try it and thanked me for it. I wonder if she and her family actually cracked into my jam or if they accepted it kindly and then privately threw it out, as not to let any influence of the "English" into their home. I'd like to think that they enjoyed it over breakfast the next day, spreading it over some fine fresh-baked bread and thinking "that Englishman puts together a fine jam....he's alright".
That night our kids got some playtime in the Haggerty family loft:
and we got ourselves a good campfire hang outside in the crisp Autumn night:
We had been in Amish country for 6 days....with less than 36 hours left to go....none of us were ready to leave...and it wrenched my gut to think about packing up our site. I guess that when the last full day of vacation makes you feel sick....that means that all the days previous were amazing.
2 more sleeps in the camper....then back to reality.
Wrapping it up in part 5 tomorrow.