August 4, 2014
Trains and buggies.
Trains and buggies (and lush farmland). [We were slightly dismayed when Colette started proclaiming over and over again as we drove past the farm fields, "Central Park! Central Park!" Her green space references are apparently limited, growing up in NYC]
Those were the themes of the weekend. We headed to Lancaster, PA to meet my parents for my dad's 58th birthday. They are currently on a 3-year mission for the Mormon church - Mission Presidents for the Pittsburgh mission. Although their job requires them to stay in Pennsylvania, we can go to them - so we met halfway between NYC and Pittsburgh. (They have a big job: 260 nineteen-year old missionaries to manage).
I did a bit of research before the trip and somehow landed on the Red Caboose Inn as an option. Stephen put it well when he said, "It is a one night kind of experience" (too bad we still had another night at that point). The idea is hilarious - sleeping in a caboose. Colette, naturally, was charmed when we pulled up to the brightly painted cars: big glimmering eyes. Our caboose was fitted with three bunks and a double bed - a lot to fit in a narrow space (we were just missing Marguerite, who would have loved this particular adventure). The rest of the party's car was bigger - probably originally a passenger car. When Colette came home today, she proudly informed Claire that she had "lived in a train."
The motel wasn't just the train cars, it was also a "petting zoo" - where Stephen's bum was the target of a turkey nip. He squealed like a pig and tried to teach the turkey a lesson, pinching its rear end wearing a vindictive smirk. Romy and Colette learned some animal lessons and Colette worked on some of her fears. Lately, goats have been at the forefront of them (like when we go upstairs and she is behind me - she shrieks and claims a goat is following her), so it was therapetuic to watch Grandma Rosie talk to them gently.
The Red Caboose Inn also had a lookout tower - a grain silo (for an extra 50 cents a climb). The panorama at the top was worth a look - Lancaster is really specatular in that rolling-hills, farm way.
The Amish punctuated our conversation throughout the weekend. We were smack in the middle of Amish country and we visited an Amish farm. There is a lot of lore around these people and their ways. We marveled watching buggy after buggy travel down the modern roads (or in the parking lot of Target) and at the strange juxtaposition of a people determined to live the life of 300 years ago, among the rest of strip mall america (and, strangely, roaming the strip malls too). We admired them and were perplexed by their insistence. As we went through the Amish farm and listened to the rules for their way of life, we found some of the exceptions to the nothing newer than 300-years old rule interesting: no bicylcles, but rollerblades are ok; no electricity but fridges and stoves generated by propane will do; no cars, but hitching rides with the "English" is fine (we saw cars with 'modern' ladies and gents driving, full of Amish kids with their buns and aprons in the backseat); cellphones for business (but how do they charge them?). Dress seems to be more strictly enforced (women's dresses don't have buttons, but rather safety pins to avoid the appearance of decoration; men grow a beard, but shave the mustache - also a relic from 300 years ago when military men were recognizbale by a mustache. There did seem to be some exceptions for the teenagers we were mini-golfing behind though - Abercrombie and Fitch polo, Jordan sneakers - with the right suspenders and haircut though). The general idea for the Amish is to be in the world, but not of it. It was interesting to see how a culture interprets its law and makes exceptions based on a certain line of reasoning.