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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lancaster County, Pa

Good Thursday morning to all our family and friends  out there in Blogger land! We have safely made it to Campbell, New York. We are close to the towns of Corning and Watkins Glen and will be here for at least 3 days. We are staying at the Camp Bell Campground, a nice park not far off I-86. Only issues with the park is we only have 30 amp service and no sewer so we are having to ration our electricity and water use. The plus side to that is, this park is a Passport America park and we can stay for half price.
              I want to finish up our post and pictures of our time in the town of Intercourse, Pa. and of Lancaster County and will be the subject of today's blog. The weather there, was for the most part, was very pleasant but turned very hot and muggy the last two days.
              I'm sure most of you already know this area is primarily known for the Amish and Mennonite populations. The area is primarily agricultural, but has a strong tourist attraction with many stores and shops that are Amish owned or supported. Their reputation for being hard working, god fearing people is right on and are known for their strict moral values and craftsmanship. The Amish have parishes and each parish has a Bishop who is their leader. Each parish has a one room school used to educate their children until age 14.  They have strict beliefs that they do not wish to be "connected" to the outside world with electricity or telephones in their homes. They typically have propane gas for lighting and heat and make use of generators and air compressors to operate their equipment. Most of their farming is done using mules and horses, although small gasoline driven equipment is permitted to a degree. Their primary transportation is horse and buggy and scooters. They are extremely crafty and resilient people that deserve our respect and admiration.

Couldn't pass up taking this shot. This store is typical of the ones found in the town of Intercourse and other small towns in the area.

Typical horse drawn buggy. Now for you horse folks out there, you will be interested to learn the American Saddlebred is their preferred breed  due to their trotting gait. The buggies do have lighting on front and back along with turn signals. A lot of the roadways have lanes established for the horse and buggy travelers.

Amish farm. Check out the clothes line that is operated with a pulley on a high support. The clothes are attached on the porch or other low point and then pulled higher on the line until it's full. You can also see a horse and buggy hooked up beside the barn. Very ingenious folks.

Amish cemetery. Notice all the grave markers are the same. They believe one person is no more important than another, even in death. A good lesson for all of us. All of the markers have the born and died date and the length of their lives, like 75 years, 6 months and 22 days.

One room school. All the Amish schools are identical. The teachers have to be single and are usually less than 30 years old since they cannot teach after getting married. The children finish school at age 14 and then go to work on their families farm.

Crickett with a bouquet of flowers we purchased at an Amish roadside stand for $2.00. 

We purchased this clock from Kauffman's Clock Works. It has several selectable chimes when it strikes on the hour. Crickett wants to use it on our mantle at home, but who knows, it may wind up in our RV!  Mr Kauffman didn't make this particular clock, but the ones he did make were immaculate. he imports his movements from Germany.

Mr Kauffman's home was beside his 'Clock Shop" and was impeccable. I'm sure he's not Amish, but guessing he's Mennonite.

Typical Amish farm with alfalfa in the foreground and corn in the background. Most have silos to store the silage made from corn. These crops are used to feed their dairy cattle, which produces their primary source of income.  By the way, Hershey Chocolate is nearby and is one of their primary users.

Pretty swan in a pond on one of the Amish farms.

Not sure of the flower's name, but I thought they were pretty.

Pretty sure these are Hydrangeas.

One of many picturesque Amish yards. The pink and white flowers were very popular in the area. The bloom looked like a miniature Petunia. 

Bus from an Amish tour company.

Annie's Kitchen that sold all types of preservatives, baked goods, quilts and quite a few other goodies.

Beautiful, but expensive quilts. It wasn't unusual to see a price tag of $1,000 or more on the quilts.

Crickett and Bailey in front of the Visitor's center

One of several original covered bridges in the area. This bridge is known as The Pinetown Bridge and was built in 1868. It has been restored but still retains most of the original framing. The workmanship inside the bridge was amazing with tight fitting joints and peg construction.

Inside bridge

Storefront of Rehiels Crafts and Quilts.

Scooters for sale. The Amish don't believe in using bicycles, so they convert bikes into scooters and are used by children and adults alike.

Couldn't resist this one!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Yesterday (Monday) we went to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. Philly is the home of the Liberty Bell, site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the largest city in Pennsylvania. I have no idea of the normal traffic flow or road conditions, but for our visit, the traffic was horrendous. We have traveled through many large cities in our travels, but this has to rank as one of the most congested and worst road conditions we have experienced. I hope the conditions we found are not indicative of the whole area. Our main goal and purpose was to explore the historical section of Philly, which was successful. I had done some reading in preparation of the best way to see the area as well as parking, etc. Our plan was to start at the Visitor's Center with parking underneath it.  Well, since our plans normally don't go as planned, this trip was no exception. We found the Visitor's Center with help from our GPS, but signs were up that the parking area was full. Since we had no "plan B" we started circling the blocks in the vicinity and came across a parking lot with vacancies on Arch St, about 5 blocks from the Visitor Center. I suppose I should have known there was a reason they had vacancies so close to downtown, and soon found out the reason. Yep, you guessed it, mega prices! $24.00 to park for at least 3 hours but no more than 12 was the rate we had to pay. I thought the $18 we paid in San Francisco was the all time record, but not anymore!  We decided to go ahead and bite the bullet since we had no inclination of where else to look. Anyway, we walked the 5 blocks to the Visitor's Center, which is a modern very nice facility with multiple agencies housed there to assist folks in finding their way around and to help relieve them of some of their $. We spoke to a very friendly and helpful lady at the National Park Service desk who helped us develop a plan. The first thing she suggested was to get in line for tickets to the Independence Hall tour. You cannot get into that building or tour without a ticket. Our tour wasn't until 2PM so we decided to explore other interesting facilities close by. The Liberty Bell Center was next door and was our first stop. The first section of the facility has displays pertaining to the planning and history of the Liberty Bell before getting to the Bell itself. There was a very large crowd there with a large percentage of them being of foreign dissent that were very rude and inconsiderate. Taking a picture there was a challenge, but we finally prevailed and moved on to the next attraction across Market Street. We went into the Old City Hall that housed the first Supreme Court and were given a brief overview of the Court's venue while there. By this time, we were getting hungry and asked a security guard of a good place to eat that wasn't too far away. He suggested we walk down Market Street and we shouldn't have a problem finding something. We did as directed and came upon Mrs. K's diner and decided to give it a try. Crickett and I had a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and Bailey opted for a cheeseburger. We weren't overwhelmed with our meal, but it was ok. I'd give it about a seven on a ten scale. We walked back to the Independence Square area and made it through Security without any issues and looked for a bench to sit on and wait for our tour time. The tour was informative and led us through some of the areas were the Declaration of Independence was argued and drafted by delegates of the original 13 colonies. We were also shown the first Congress Assembly building with the original House Of Representatives on the ground floor and the Senate upstairs. By this time, it was 3:30 and we thought we ought to try and start heading back to get ahead of the traffic exodus. Well, wrong again, as traffic was actually worse than earlier, but we managed to escape with our lives and truck intact!  we didn't get to do everything we had hoped we would, but still was a good trip except for the traffic and parking.

Our $24 parking place.

Sign of the historical section attractions

Front Entrance of Visitor's Center

The Liberty Bell!

Looks like we got photo bombed!

A little better

Cobblestone street alongside Liberty Center

Quite a few horse and carriage tours were in the area.

Menu at Mrs. K's Diner

Original Supreme Court Chambers. Notice there are only six seats, which was the original makeup of the Supreme Court.

Going through security at the Independence Hall. I was scolded for taking this picture.

Independence Hall

Closeup of the clock on the tower.

Court room inside Independence Hall

Room where Declaration of Independence was drafted.

Congress Hall where first Congress was convened. This room was the House of Representatives chamber

The Senate Chambers

Our gang in front of George Washington's statue

We wanted to take the double decker bus tour, but didn't have enough time.

This is a charging station for cell phones in the Visitor's Center. I've never seen one before.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ice Cream and Gettysburg

Remember the other day when I was excited to report our temperature was 68 degrees? Well, this morning it was a cool 60 degrees!  I actually had to turn on the fireplace to knock off the chill in the rig upon getting up. The high today was 83! Loving this weather.
         We have found a local (Mennonite I think) farm that specializes in selling diary products and their "special specialty" is ice cream!  I tell you, this ice cream is to die for!  All the ingredients are grown on their farm and they have their own creamery as well. They even make their own waffle cones right in front of you! This farm only raises Guernsey cattle whose milk has a higher cream content and is one of the reasons their ice cream is better than average. Most other farms in this area raise Holstein cattle, which produce more milk but not as much cream. The name of this farm is Lapp Valley Farm, about 3 miles from us.
            We arose early this morning for our trip to Gettysburg, which is about a 90 minute drive to our west. The first half of the trip was smooth sailing on a four lane highway, but the last half was stop and go with heavy traffic through some smaller communities. After reaching the park, all the closer parking lots were full so I dropped off Crickett and Bailey at the front entrance and parked in lot 3, about a five minute walk back. The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center is a large facility that is owned and operated by the Gettysburg Foundation  and is relatively new.  At some point, the facility is supposed to revert back to the National Park Service. We decided to view the film " A New Birth of Freedom" narrated by Morgan Freeman that explained events leading to the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. After the film, we went to the Cyclorama, a  large round dome on the top floor. The walls of the Cyclorama are adorned with a huge painting of the Battle of Gettysburg. The painting covers the entire 360 degrees of the inside wall of the structure. The painting was done by French artist Paul Phillippoteaux in 1882 and took a year and half to complete. The painting depicts in detail the fierce fighting and agony in the battle of Gettysburg. It was restored to it's original condition when moved to the Cyclorama. The presentation included light and sound effects to increase the realism. Our next area was the museum, where many scenes and artifacts were presented in displays that were very impressive and were inter-active displays as well. From there, our next stop was the bookstore where we enjoyed looking at  the books and merchandise pertaining to the area. Of course, we had to buy a T shirt, refrigerator magnet, and a few other goodies. The bookstore also sells a self guided CD you can play in your car and let it guide you through the prominent points in the city and battlefield.  We opted to hire a private guide employed by the Foundation that was recommended to us by friends that had been here before. Our guide was Mr Clay Rebert, a very courteous and extremely knowledgeable fellow who is the senior guide at the facility with over 30 years experience. There seemed to be no limit to his knowledge and was very friendly and helpful in our tour. Our tour lasted a little over two hours with Clay painting such a realistic description of the events making it seem like we were actually a part of history. Clay drove my truck so I could take in all the views without having to watch the road. I highly recommend anyone going to Gettysburg to consider hiring an individual guide. The cost of the self guided CD was $31 and the individual guide was $63, well worth the difference.
          At the moment, our plan is to explore Philadelphia historical areas Monday. The rest of our time here will be spent visiting local farms, shops, shows, etc. Looks like we might be heading to upstate Western New York from here.

Lapp Valley Farms ice cream shop and creamery. There's a nice porch to the left where we sat and enjoyed our ice cream. We've actually been here twice!

Sign outside ice cream shop.

There are two large bull dogs on the property that are designated guard dogs. If you aren't careful, they'll lick you to death! This one is guarding the front door.

This is the other one guarding the porch!

Petting area with young calves.

Needless to say, Bailey loved this part!

There are two families living on the farm. This is the yard of one of them.

And, their lovely home.

This dog pen was on the road into the property. Not sure what breed they are, but the pups were sure cute.

I counted eight of them.

Part of their garden.

Here is where they make their waffle cones.

Of course, we brought some back!

Crickett And I in front of main entrance to Museum and Visitor Center

Crickett and Bailey with Honest Abe.
Plaque of the Gettysburg Address

View of front entrance to Museum and Visitor's center. The round red part of the building is the outside of the Cyclorama

Inside theater

Small section of the painting inside the Cyclorama

Museum Display of Confederate gear

Museum display of Union gear

Main lobby area

Carrie Sheads House that was used as a hospital during the battle, as most houses and churches were. If you look closely, you can see a red flag on the upper porch signifying it was a hospital and not to be fired upon. This flag was the forerunner of the Red Cross flag we know today. Look at the dot to the left of the topmost window and see the closeup of it in the next picture.

Actual artillery shell that hit the house during one of the battles. There are four other structures in the Town of Gettysburg with imbedded shells still in the walls.

One of several North Carolina markers in the park. Clay informed us there are over 1300 markers in the park and said the NPS has placed a moratorium on no more being placed due to the tremendous maintenance expense to maintain them.

Front View of North Carolina Monument.

Our wonderful guide, Clay Rebert

Our gang!

One of many, many cannon batteries all around the park.

This Lutheran Seminary was in place during the battle and is still active today. One of the battle areas was called seminary ridge, referring to this area.

Virginia monument with Robert E Lee on his horse, Traveller. Clay told us on statues with mounted horseman, If the horse had two feet off the ground, the individual was killed at that spot. If the horse had one foot off the ground, it signified he was wounded there. If all four feet were on the ground, he was unhurt. Now that would be a good trivia question, huh!

Lower section of Virginia Monument.