Livin' In An Amish Paradise

We didn't spend tons of time in actual Amish country, but Lancaster, PA has plenty of fun stuff to do that incorporates modern transportation, electricity, and air conditioning. My kind of day trip. We asked the Foley's to be our tour guides since they knew all the good spots and particularly, where to find all the good food.

First stop, Wilbur Chocolate Factory. You can't see the actual workings of the factory, but they had a nice little chocolate shop/museum up front where you can watch some of the more customized candies being

I wasn't paying real close attention to Brennan who may
have sampled enough chocolate for our entire group...

Some of the older tools of the chocolate trade

Next up, Central Market. This is purportedly the longest functioning farmer's market in the U.S. It is by far the biggest and most diverse we've been to so far. Outside was a guy playing one of the many pianos stationed around the city. He did a beautiful rendition of "People Get Ready" by Curtis Mayfield (oh yeah!). Some other people gathered around and started singing, something that actually happened quite a bit around the market with various buskers.

Too much good food to pick from. We ended up with a Kalosh, Artichoke Hummus, A Lamb Gyro, Olives, Moroccan Couscous, Blueberries, Olives, Sweet Rolls, two kind of fresh goat cheese, Banana chips, and those wax candy bottles with the juice inside. We skipped about ten things we wanted to buy (including an incredible loose leaf tea assortment) and it's a good thing because three days later we're still eating leftovers. 

 We ate lunch outside of the market in downtown.Great weather. That's Vavo, Stacy's mom, on the left.

Next up, Intercourse Pretzel Factory where the kids got to make their own pretzel. Intercourse, PA is outside of Lancaster, a little deeper into actual Amish country. It is so called because it is at the intercourse of several different state highways. What were YOU thinking?

Then we stopped by an actual Amish farm to pick up some homemade rootbeer. You can easily spot the Amish residences as you drive along because there are no electric lines running to the homes. We obviously didn't take many pictures inside the little shed where they kept their store, since the Amish don't like cameras. There was a huge group of people gathered to watch a kids' baseball game out behind the barn while we were there. You really get a sense that they don't want their community to be treated as an anomaly, so we tried not to stare too much. The rootbeer was really strong, and not nearly as sweet as A&W. Went great in a rootbeer float though.

The next morning, Christie fixed a good southern breakfast at the Foley's - fried eggs, bacon, and sausage gravy and biscuits (Mark's favorite). The only thing missing was grits. =( The weather was, as usual, awesome, so the adults sat on the back porch. What a relaxing meal...

We are indebted to these nice people's hospitality. They've
made our Pennsylvania experience really special.
We ended the weekend by seeing Cars 2, which the boys loved, then headed home so Christie could work a few shifts before our Boston trip at the end of the week.


At Home & at the Beach

Okay, I'm not a big fan of lakes. Freezing water + creepy crawlies + sharp rocks + mind numbing heat = me inside playing XBox. But Christie dragged us all to R.B. Winters State Park last week, and it was awesome. We stopped by the massive Lewisburg Farmer's Market first and loaded up on pasta and broccoli salad and tons of fruit for lunch. I couldn't believe the variety of fresh berries and dairy stuff. Lewisburg isn't very far away, so this market may become a weekly stop while we're here. We've got a small local farm co-op down the street, but this had way more variety in terms of produce.

At the park, the water was cold but the weather was great. The boys played happily on the man made beach for a few hours while Christie and I kicked back in shade. Afterwards, Christie and the boys explored one of the trails but it was a bit too much walking for me, so I sat happily in the van reading The Hunger Games and listening to Dream Theater. Nearly perfect day, except for Rich's gnat trouble in the woods.

I also wanted to post some short videos from our current stomping grounds in Anneville (near Harrisburg), as well as the drive coming into Danville. This area is more beautiful than the camera is able to capture.


Danville (You can see Geisenger Medical Center on the hill at the beginning - sorry for the shaky cam...)


Accio Butterbeer!

With the premiere of the last Harry Potter movie just weeks away, Rich is catching a bit of the fever from some of the other kids in the INCH group. We're also reading the books at bedtime, a first for Brennan. Some of the kids are getting together on Monday's to watch the movies until the new release. We won't be able to make all of these because of out of town trips, but Rich had fun at this one. Brennan lasted through most of the first movie, then kind of lost interest. This week was Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.

Between the two movies, Stacy and Christie made butterbeer for the kids, just like they serve at Three Broomsticks. Madam Rosmerta would have been proud. This was a concoction comprised of cream soda, butternut cream, and melted butter.
Boil and bubble!!!

Scout is not amused with all this "magic" business

Butterbeer anyone?


The pizza is from a Muggle place right down the street.
"Amazing, the things these Muggles come up with!"


Anneville Days and Violent Assault

The Foley residence - on Main Street in Annville
Rich still has ice hockey in Palmyra near Harrisburg every Sunday, and we've become very attached to the homeschool group there, especially the aforementioned Foley family. Most weekends lately have turned into giant slumber parties with tons of good food and games, the kids sleeping on the floor, and the adults staying up until the wee hours watching Friends, Freaks & Geeks, and playing board games. It's a nice respite from the isolated little town of Washingtonville, but makes for a bit more driving than we expected.

Last weekend we went down for park day on Friday, followed by an excellent meal at Batdorf on Main Street. Saturday was the Anneville Days festival, but I neglected to bring my camera. Main Street was closed to traffic and filled with vendors selling everything you can imagine, including lots of funnel cake and kettle corn. A Barbershop Octet (maybe there were closer to 10 or 12 of them) walked around entertaining the crowd, and a blues band jammed away outside of a storefront. Our friends the Foleys had a vendor tent for their business The Wellness Point, and we ate really tasty Mediterranean food served by the local Greek Orthodox church. 

Oh yeah - and I got yelled at. I had stopped in front of the Pennsylvania Free Thinkers booth to read their bumper stickers when a kindly Christian gentlemen informed everyone in the vicinity (at the top of his lungs) that "You Don't Love Anyone But Yourself!!!" and that I was "Filled With Hate!!!" I had no idea that standing in the street reading bumper stickers made the details of my personal life so transparent. Consider me informed, and may the love of Jesus fill your heart too, Deacon Whoeveryouwhere. That was a first...

Another first was to come later that evening. It turns out that a while back, Dr. Mark filled at the last minute as the physician for a local wrestling club. I don't mean the full-nelson, everyone wears headgear and competes for trophies wrestling. I'm talking about the paint your face, set people on fire, smash your face with a folding chair type of wrestling. Now Mark's their regular go-to physician, and he convinced me and his buddy James to tag along that evening. For Mark's benefit, let me say at the outset that he only does this because they pay him, though I suspect he takes some primal glee in seeing people get smashed in the face with folding chairs. I mean, who doesn't? 

What followed was unlike anything I have ever witnessed on this planet. Let's just say there was a lot of spandex, faux-drama, folding chairs, extreme mullets, and way, way, way, way too much exposed, middle-aged, Cheet-o eating, male flesh on display. Most of these guys were HUGE. It took me a good 20 minutes at the beginning to really absorb what was happening (about halfway through a match by Rob Noxious and someone who was probably named I Killed Your Mom or something). Death metal music raged while these guys beat the living daylights out of each other with anything they could get their hands on. No wonder they can't operate without a physician present. 

Alice Cooper is somewhere weeping softly

Yes, that's a folding chair, which was not even the highlight of
the "Barefoot Thumbtack" match. I wish I was kidding.

I'm not sure what they're doing here, but it should probably
be reserved for cable television

This match had eight guys going at once. 

Mark, what have you brought me to? WHAT HAVE I
I can't count the number of times I uttered the phrase, "Well, that's something you don't see everyday." Half the time it was in reference to the audience. These people were more into it than the wrestlers (who appeared to be friends behind the scenes, despite the fact that they had just tried to claw each other's eyes out with barbed-wire wrapped billy clubs.) This is a mock-umentary waiting to be made. Money In The Bank.

The best part was when a wrestler named the Rebel (or was it Rockin' Rebel or Rebel Rocker? Either way, this guy is apparently, A Rebel) got thrown from the stage and Mark was frantically summoned to make sure his ribs were intact. "No doctor, we don't need you to look at the million thumbtack holes in that guy's back, or the spot on the back of this guy's head where he was creamed with a folding table. But The Rebel stumbled into the ropes. We fear he may be hurt!"

Now, I don't want to spoil things for any of you who are still under the impression that pro-wrestling is real. But as Mark is trying to assess whether or not the guy has actually punctured his lung, the wrestler mutters, "Play it up, doc."

Actually, most of the punches and throws were so obviously staged that it's hard to even get into the spirit of this (at least for me), but the chairs, thumbtacks, and street signs were for real. Oh, did I not mention that they were hitting each other over the heads with a Stop sign and a Do Not Enter sign? It sounded like thunder crashes inside the building. I'm not sure if the signs are the cause or effect of the brain damage.

"Well, that's something you don't see everyday."

ANYWHO, I promised several people I would chronicle this event here, but now that I have done so, LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN.