Monday, 6 August 2012

Road Trip - Days 12 - Strasburg

This morning began with another delicious Amish breakfast, the girls were keen to finish to go and play with Stephen and Malinda, so whilst they were playing we showered and dressed, then the girls went with Stephen egg collecting, not many eggs today, only one Tilly found, which Martha said was unusual.

After the egg collecting we then had a traditional buggy ride - you see the Amish don't own cars but instead use a horse and buggy and it's the norm, we saw so many of them out and about, so we were lucky we were able to ride on the family buggy, the ride took us to a neighbours farm to drop off some gas. It was a great ride and the girls loved it

After the buggy ride we went out for the day to Strasborg to ride the Steam train. I have a love of steam trains, you see I grew up in York home to the National Railway Museum, where there is a great collection of steam trains, and back home in Haxby we lived near a railway crossing on the York to Scarborough line and every summer the steam trains would run from York to Scarborough so we were lucky to see the steam engines pass by every day.

My most special memory of steam trains is one year my Mum & Nanna took us on a steam train ride to Scarborough, I'll never forget it, it was actually my brothers birthday and mum took us down to York station under the pretence of looking around the steam train - it was the famous Mallard my brothers favourite, anyway we got on board and had a look around (took our seats) when the train set off, my brother was so surprised until we explain it was his birthday present I have never seen him so happy, we had a fantastic train ride to Scarborough and a lovely day there.

My other great steam train ride was in Lithgow, in the Blue Mountains in Australia, whilst I was backpacking I took a trip out to Lithgow to go to the Zig Zag Railway and ride the steam engine, I could never imagine that day, being on my own, I would get invited to ride up in the actual steam engine, I was so lucky, it was a great ride and whilst having general chit chat with the driver and telling him about the (York) National Railway Museum he told me he had been there.

Anyway sorry for the digression and to get back to the point, so knowing at Strasburg there was a steam train ride I was there eager to go, in addition to the steam train ride, there was a museum and train related rides for the kids. We decided to do just the steam train ride so the four of us choose to travel in the open air carriage and we enjoyed our 45 min round trip tour through the Amish country side to Paradise and back again. It was a lovely ride.

After our steam train ride, we had lunch in Strasburg and visited a local winery, and on our way back home we saw one of the famous covered bridges that were typical to the area many years ago but only few remain.

So back to the Homestead it was and again the girls sought out Stephen Jr and had a play out in the garden, in fact the girls just go out and play, one minute they are there and the next minute they are nowhere to be seen just out playing around the farm and discovering.

I must admit I found the Amish/Mennonites very interesting, which prompted me to find out more, The Amish are known for their simple living, plain dress and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology including cars and electricity. They get around by using buggy's pulled by horses, fields are farmed the traditional way using the working horse to pull the plough or machinery needed to harvest the crop.

The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists  in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish. In the early 18th century, many Amish and Mennonites emigrated to Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons. Today, the most traditional descendants of the Amish continue to speak Pennsylvania German, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch which is what we heard Martha speaking to her children.

I love the fact the Amish haven't been influenced by modern technology and continue to do things the old fashioned way or their way, it keeps good traditions in the family, they truly are a family/community unit, bound by their faith and traditions, it's lovely to see and heart warming - I think Mr C was a bit worried for awhile about how much I did love their lifestyle...

In one way it has been a very humbling stay, seeing the women and men work so hard every day, the amazing family & community unit they have, the big loving families - it's normal here for woman to have 8 or so children.

Having said that, all of us did thoroughly enjoy our farm stay and we'd recommend it to anyone who'd like to sample this way of life for a little bit or just getaway for some peace and quiet. I wish we could have stayed longer but this was our last evening at the farm stay and our last night in Lancaster County so we dined at Yoder's a local Amish smorgasbord which we enjoyed, before we retired for the evening.

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