Now I am on a full fledged mission to visit all 50 states. I said I wasn’t going to do this on Road Trip 1.0, but two things happened. One: I’m so close. And Two: I read The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau. I highly recommend this book. It is about setting goals, but it is also about passion: about how setting and achieving goals gives us purpose and meaning. And direction. It’s hard to decide where you want to go without direction.
I’m in Pennsylvania this week. State #41. I thought about doing the Philly thing, but then I read about Lancaster County: highest Amish population in the U.S. and I thought: I’m going.
I didn’t know anything about the Amish. I mean, not really. Not much. But it fascinated me. And sometimes I think I would like to live sans modern conveniences, so I was excited to see what they’re all about.
My Couchsurfing host accompanied me on my mission. I wasn’t sure she would want to since she lives there, but she admitted, that like most of us, she hadn’t explored her own city too much. We went to the Visitor’s Information place downtown Lancaster and the lady gave us a map and highlighted some of her favorite places to go and the tours she recommended.
And off we went. We found a farmer’s market that was actually open on Wednesday where we sampled ALL the things. Fresh apple ciders and homemade fudge and all sorts of dips and jams and spreads. We ate fried chicken for lunch.
Then we went on an actual tour; I believe it was called the Homestead Tour. It was nice. To be honest though, I wanted to see a real home or farm or go on a tour that was led by an actually-Amish person. Our tour guide was lovely and seemed incredibly knowledgable, but when we’re surrounded by the actual people we’re talking about, it’s not like you need a historian to tell you what life used to be like.
After a quick stop in the town of Intercourse for a photo op (mature, I know, but it had to be done) we drove around in the farmlands. The information lady and my host had both suggested driving around in the countryside to get a real good look at the farms.
I had expressed my slight disappointment over learning about the Amish second-hand and / or having only spoken to one actually Amish person to order fried chicken. And I guess the lady that I bought some loose-leaf tea from. But seriously. No insight to their lives at all. Just maybe that they seemed shy and socially reticent.
Many of the farms have small signs that say, Tomatoes or Shoo-fly pie or whatever they happen to sell there. Any place with a sign, my host informed me, you can just drive up to their front door and take a look at what they had to sell.
And secretly, covertly, take a sneak peak at what their lives are actually all about. And so we did. After stopping at a fruit farm / market, where I spoke to a man who I believe to be Amish at relative length about marshmallow fluff, we headed out to the countryside.
I’m not really in the market for intricate quilts and homemade furniture, so we decided on baked goods. Who couldn’t use more baked goods in their life? We pulled into a long drive and just in front there was a middle-aged, full-bearded Amish man in all his suspendered glory putting his carriage into the shed / garage thing for the night.
We parked out front and went inside. A young-ish girl came out to greet us. Except greet is a strong word in this case, because she didn’t say anything or even smile really. She stood there and waited for us to make our selections. A part of me wanted to be like, “So…. tell me about being Amish…” but given the circumstances, it seemed wildly inappropriate. She didn’t seem like the chatty type.
I bought some pineapple jam and a whoopie pie. I don’t think we really have whoopie pies on the West Coast, and it was on my list of things to try. I thanked her on the way out, and I think maybe she smiled. But I’m not sure.
Not going to lie, I’m a little disappointed about my Intro to Amishness lesson. I still know hardly anything about them. A bit more than before, I suppose. At the very least, I was inspired to Google / Wikipedia some good info about them when I got home that night. Plus, I was able to snap a couple of sweet pics.