Talk about a shift in cultures! One day grooving to the beat at the Rock and Roll Museum, and the next day soaking in the peaceful Amish countryside and watching the waves roll in on Lake Erie. Ohio is certainly a state of contrasts!
We might not have known how close we were to Amish country if it hadn't been for our new friends camping across from us, Mel and Linda Smith.
In fact, they clued us in on lots of things...from how to work our TV (those of you who know us know that we haven't operated a TV with channels since 1995...but this week we wanted to be able to watch the Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts on PBS) to where the campground showers are, from how to find the bike trails, to how to find the Amish communities, and where to eat once we're there.
So we wandered westward for just about 1/2 hour to enter the fourth largest Amish community in the world, we were told. I googled the standard protocol on taking photos so I wouldn't be one of the obnoxious tourists who give these gentle people of faith so much grief. Apparently, the rule of thumb is that photos of places and buildings and buggies are fine, photos of people taken discreetly from a distance are ok, but in order to respect their desire for humility and for not creating a graven image, one should avoid taking photos in which faces of adults are recognizable. Rules are a little more lax for children who are not of age yet to join the church, yet one should always ask before taking any children's' pictures.
Many of the farmhouses had the washing out on the line as we traveled to the area.
Our first stop was the oldest General Store in Ohio, where everyone in the community shops...the Old Order Amish. the Mennonites, the "English" or "Yankees," (which is how the Amish refer to non-Amish), and tourists like us. The store had everything! As Garrison Keillor would say when talking about the General store in his fictitious Lake Wobegone narratives, "if we don't have it, you can probably live without it."
I was especially fascinated with their shelves and shelves of foods and staples bought in bulk and repackaged at the store. Things that for us would require all kinds of fancy packaging and marketing...
Baking supplies, mixes, candies, chips and snacks...
I was amazed at the beverage selection. Every kind of old-fashioned (non-alcoholic) bottled drink you ever heard of. Curt bought a bottle of birch beer (kind of like root beer) he used to drink when he was a kid.
Caution was needed everywhere we drove because around any bend you could encounter the much slower moving horses and buggies. Some of the roads had lanes that looked much like wide bike lanes, but from the debris on them, you could tell they were for horse-drawn buggies. There were some roads that were closed to motorized vehicles, leading, I assumed, to more Amish farms farther out of town. I'm sure they were much more relaxed traveling on those side roads!
We visited a gift store in Burton where many local handmade items are sold, some made by the Amish and some by the English. Therese, the owner, a non-Amish woman who works very closely with both Amish amd Yankees in the area, answered a lot of our questions. Here she is in front of many of the beautiful Amish handmade rugs which she sells in her shop, The Lilac Garden.
Then onto a beautiful log building which sells local maple products. In March the entire right-hand side of the building is a sugaring-off shack for the syrups and sugar and candies.
The landscape here is still 99% green...but I know that will change fast once we get our first frost.
Then on to Middlefield to eat at the renowned Mary Yoder's Amish Restaurant. We were expecting a small homey little cafe. What we found was a large modern building with a huge, FULL parking lot. It housed the restaurant, a bakery, and a large gift shop crowded with shoppers. Mary Yoder is quite an entrepreneur!
I love the stop sign upon leaving the parking lot:
I had to get a shot of the beautiful flowers in the middle of town, and as I did I was able to snap the side view of a passing buggy:
Here are a few more interesting shots of the day...
And a few more photos in the "Barn Parade" . . .
Then to close out the day once we got back to camp, we took a wonderful bike ride along the Geneva State Park bike path. It wound through the woods that skirted the shore of Lake Erie. The lake looked so inviting that we took our lawn chairs down there and enjoyed the last hour of daylight sharing the bottle of birch beer, watching the waves roll in, and wading in the water. One real bonus to the shore was the plethora of stones perfect for skipping on the water. Curt, a veteran stone-skipper for 65 years, said he has NEVER seen such a good source of smooth, round, flat stones to skip!
The first year we were married, Curt taught me how to skip stones on our 18-day whitewater rafting trip, and I must say, once I get warmed up, I can still impress Curt with my arm!
The end to another wonderful day On the Loose!