Sunday, August 31, 2008

End of Summer Interlude

Larry and I spent a long weekend in Lancaster County Pennsylvania recently. The purpose of the trip was to see Leon Redbone in concert at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse.

We left on Friday morning. A nice plan for a leisurely drive, stopping for a picnic of cold shrimp, cheese, bread, tomatoes; arriving in time to freshen up for dinner and then the theater.

A great plan; all went without incident until the approach to the George Washington Bridge at about 1 o'clock. And we sat. Bumper to bumper. Stop and go and mostly stop. A horrific drive.

You know we are country people. We lived for years in the small village of New Salem in western Massachusetts with its few hundred souls, a general store, library, town hall, post office and book store. Even our move to New Hampshire and a small town of 5,000 didn't alter our life style all that much.

We are not urban people. We are not accustomed to traffic tie-ups that go on endlessly for hours. But on that Friday, we sat in traffic for hours and hours and hours from the approach to bridge and into New Jersey. You know that old saw about spending a week in New Jersey one day. Well that is exactly what we did on that Friday -- at least that's what it felt like. We were on the New Jersey turnpike until nearly 6 PM. Unbelievable. Where oh where was that leisurely drive; where was that fine picnic -- it sat in the cooler getting warm as there was no time, no place, no way to get off the road and enjoy it.

In truth, we didn't get to our hotel in Lititz until after 7 PM; the show was scheduled to start at 8; we hadn't eaten; there was no time to freshen up; and we had a 20 minute drive to Mt. Gretna.

However the drive to the Playhouse was through the Amish countryside. Small tidy villages gave us our first sense of beauty. Of relaxation. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Mt. Gretna is a wonderful late 19th/early 20th century resort, a former Chattaqua site with small cottages, a lake, a playhouse. The air is clean. The grounds are immaculate. Very family oriented. We loved it on sight. This was our first time seeing Leon Redbone in concert; it was his 5th season at Mt. Gretna. He didn't disappoint us: his voice is wonderful; his guitar playing is better, more skillful than I'd imagined! After the concert, we found a chinese restaurant and ordered take out for the hotel room -- at 11 PM!

On Saturday, we played in the sweet town of Lititz, visited a farmer's market and Amish shops. Had our first taste of 'burlap roasted corn on the cob' and that was a great delight. I bought 'meadow tea' - a soothing and tasty iced mint tea - from an earnest Amish family and it seemed to wash away the aches and frustrations of the previous day.

The remainder of our weekend was lovely. We stayed in the Mt. Gretna Inn on Saturday and Sunday on the third floor in a sumptuous room. The Inn serves a candle light breakfast; one of the inn-keepers is a professional chef from Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island. His signature dish is stuffed French Toast: two pieces of toast with the lightest whipped cream cheese and blueberries inside and over top a delicious maple syrup. Oh my oh my oh my ........

We met several very interesting guests at the Inn. One couple was from Mississippi, who like us had come all that way for the Redbone concert! Another couple, celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, had just returned to the States from Africa where they were missionaries. A fascinating story!

The Inn is an arts & crafts style home built by an entrepreneur. It sits back on a broad green lawn and is fronted by a wide porch with comfortable wicker furniture. And that is where we spent Sunday after breakfast. Reading. Snoozing. Reading ........ and in the late afternoon, we headed for the lake and fresh cool mountain water. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

By Sunday evening I was beginning to dread the trip home: I told Larry that I was not going home if I had to go through New Jersey. So he bought an atlas and planned a return trip that headed us in a northeasterly direction towards Allentown and then up the Delaware Water Gap. Lots of green. Lots of country roads and small towns. Lots of things to look at. Places to stop and visit along the way. That route took us to Port Jervis and then onto Route 84 through Connecticut, the Massachusetts Turnpike; up Routes 495 and 95 and home to York.

Along the return journey we stopped Dingman Falls, part of the Delaware Water Gap. It was a short, easy hike into the falls and just right for stretching legs for the next leg of the trip.

These images were taken on that little hike. .. .. .. .Now this is the way I like to travel!

It is the only way - at least for a country girl!

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