I’ve had this week on my travel bucket list since we began this adventure. My ancestral roots began here. In the 1600’s my family, who were Mennonites came to America with William Penn to escape religious persecution. They settled in Lancaster and were a prominent family. I’ve never been to Pennsylvania, but in my heart, I knew that there is something special about the place that was home to your family, the communities they built with their hands, the land they farmed, and the landscapes they gazed upon…I’ve always wanted to visit this place.
Lancaster is home to many Amish families. I’ve always felt drawn to the Amish, maybe it’s my Mennonite roots, a similar faith, that pulls me in. I love the way they live simply. I love the way they reject modern conveniences and society. I deeply respect anyone who is willing to live differently to stand firm in what they believe. I love farmers. I love old things. So naturally, I loved spending the week with this community.
Lancaster is known for its farmland. Instead of finding a campground to stay at, we chose to spend the week utilizing Harvest Hosts, the membership that allows us to stay at farms, wineries, and various unique spots around the country. We stayed at 4 different farms. At each one, we enjoyed fresh food, grown in the fields that surrounded our trailer.
Our favorite Harvest Host was Grandview Winery in Mt. Joy. The owners had us park right in the middle of the vineyard. How cool is it to wake up surrounded by grapevines?! The winery is up the hill overlooking the vineyard. We had a lovely date night on the patio. We enjoyed live music, delicious wine, a “grand view,” and the sunset; all while in view of our tiny home.
The best way to find good food is to skip Google and ask the locals. We wanted a classic Pennsylvania Dutch meal. Several locals sent us to Dienners. Classic home-style cooking around here is essentially like a quality Thanksgiving meal. It’s something you’d imagine a Grandma in her farmhouse kitchen cooking up. We had all-you-can-eat roasted chicken, beef and gravy, potatoes, vegetables, corn, rolls, and anything else you can imagine to go with. The desert situation was out of control. We said we’d all share things so we could try a variety but then we had a serious lack of communication and ended up with a whole table full of sweets. Our collection brought us wide eyes, laughs and full bellies.
We took a tour through the countryside with Abe’s Amish buggy rides. David, our tour guide was a joy. In his German accent, he taught us about the history of the area and the Amish way of life. We ate Whoopie pies in the cart, all bundled up and warm in the light rain. We smiled, joked, and took in the simple beauty of Lancaster. David had jokes, the kids liked this one as we passed a field of cows:
We saw others going about their business in buggies, young boys plowing fields on mule-drawn farm equipment, little girls in home-spun dresses, and boys in suspenders going to one-room schoolhouses. We traveled under covered bridges and passed stone barns built 300 years ago.
Speaking of old barns…. With the help of Google I was able to connect with a family who shared my genealogy. I suppose we are quite distant cousins of a sort, the brave Mennonite man, Theodorus Eby, who came to America from Switzerland and started the American branch of the family tree was the very same. They own Eby family farm and bed and breakfast that has been in the family for over 200 years. They hosted us and fed us a lovely breakfast while teaching me all about our family history. We were able to visit the old barn, built with the hands of my great, great someone. What a gift.
What I read:
The Postcard by Beverly Lewis- I don’t know that I would have intentionally chosen this book. I was researching what to read in this area and having a hard time finding books available on Kindle (the main way I read while in my tiny house life chapter). I came across this book in a Little Free Library, I guess it was there just for me. The story follows the tale of a young Amish widow and a journalist who work together to uncover long-buried family secrets. It was an easy read and a neat glimpse into the lifestyle of the Amish.