This is the seventh in the series of posts chronicling our summer road trip, starring Artificially Sweetened (AS), her daughter Cupcake, and me, the Nittany Turkey.
This won’t be as lengthy as the preceding days’ posts have been, inasmuch as we got a late start, drove around Pennsylvania Dutch country, and then went out to dinner. Nevertheless, it was lots of fun for the three of us in the minivan.
AS and I were discussing our forthcoming plans well into the wee hours, so we compensated by sleeping late. We decided that we’d do Hawk Mountain Sanctuary on Friday, and subject to Toejam’s approval, as he wanted to be a part of this one, Ricketts Glen State Park on Saturday. That would leave Sunday open for a coal mine tour or whatever we decided to fit into the one remaining day with the Tams. We would be leaving early on Monday morning, possibly visiting Washington, D.C. on the way, and doing our final layover in Rocky Mount, N.C.
So, we showed up in the TV/patio area just in time to see President Obama chatting it up with the ladies on The View. I didn’t watch much of it, as I knew what to expect: Barbara Walters tossing out softball questions, Whoopi Goldberg fawning over the president, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck throttled back so she couldn’t say what she wanted to say. Toejam and JudyT weren’t very interested in it, either. They had other things to do. Besides, they hadn’t voted for Obama. However, when I mentioned to Toejam that I would pick up a pie from one of the baked goods stores in Amish country, he perked up, expressing his preference for shoo fly pie, the wet kind, with plenty of gooey molasses on the bottom.
AS, Cupcake, and I would be taking off on our own on this beautiful Thursday in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Cupcake was on a mission to photograph hex signs on Pennsylvania Dutch barns, which are all different and some quite beautiful. I had brought a book along that had a set of instructions for a back roads tour that would take us by a dozen or so barns with impressive hex signs. The only problem was that the book was 10 years old; hence, we thought there would be a chance that we would see condos where barns once stood. Fortunately, this turned out not to be the case. Rural Pennsylvania is much more stable than Florida, our transplant home.
The tour seemed to center around Hamburg, north of Reading (pronounced RED-ing, thankyouverymuch), so we shot down busy Pennsylvania Route 61 toward those communities. When we got to the congested intersection just north of the I-78 interchange, I asked the ladies if they would like to do some shopping in Cabela’s, the large outfitter chain store that occupies several acres on top of the hill. I did this with the full knowledge that I could be getting myself into a shopping trap, but what the hell. It’s all about altruism. You see, the Cupcake’s younger sister, BCH (I cannot spell out the nickname given to her by the lovely Cupcake for fear of offending my audience), and her little brother, Shark Bite, had just shopped at Cabela’s in Chicago the previous day, so I wanted to afford Cupcake the opportunity to destroy their bragging rights. However, being around noon, it must have been too early for the vacationing Cupcake, for she expressed no interest. Nor did AS, although she said that being in the parking lot was good enough. Thus, I did a loop around Cabela’s parking lot. I think we might have stopped briefly for a picture as proof of having been there.
We needed to get some gas, and I could detect some hunger growls from the humans as well as the car. So, we espied the very familiar Utility Saving Expert sign and pulled into a gas station across from Cabela’s that had a convenience store with a SubWay. I sent the ladies into the store to get some grub, while I fed the Sienna with 87-octane petrol that was nearly as expensive as bottled water. I finished before they did, so I pulled over into a parking spot by the store. They came out empty handed. The explanation from AS was that she could recognize a 45-minute SubWay line when she saw one, and we’d just have to rough it.
One of the issues with our tour, hunger aside, was with the abundant detours, courtesy of Penndot, which neither my GPS unit nor the book tour took into account. We had to improvise a bit, but remarkably, we managed to make most of the listed stops in the book tour. Cupcake declared that she had more than enough pictures, many of them lazily snapped through the dirty windows of the minivan. I still haven’t seen them; however, this task was assigned to her by her dad, so at least he got to enjoy them. (Possibly.)
As we completed the tour, we set sail for Intercourse, PA, the overcommercialized and touristy nexus of Amish business interaction with us more modern “English”. Other towns in this area have equally colorful names, including Bird in Hand, Paradise, Blue Ball, and Ephrata. On the way, we spotted what AS characterized as the Amish equivalent of an 18-wheeler, a very large horse cart pulled by three horses and driven by an Amish lad so young that AS intoned, “He’s just a boy!” Actually, the Amish educate children only through eighth grade. Beyond that, they learn to work for the family. I think she also told Cupcake that the old order Amish don’t like to have their pictures taken, but I might have been hallucinating. In any case, it is possible that we do not have any photos of this impressive rig. (Update: I found a sneaky picture in AS’s photos.)
Once we had gotten to Intercourse, it wasn’t hard to get what we came for. (That was crudely gratuitous double entendre. Ignore it.) Moving right along, we parked in a large lot by the shopping area. AS remarked, “This is Amish World!” In the true Central Florida spirit, where everything is named something World, she rechristened Intercourse with a rather appropriate moniker. Now that we had our heads on straight with AS’s characterization, we commenced to visit every shop in the plaza. [Read more…]