I have been visiting Lancaster County and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country since I was three years old (in 1976). I usually visit at least once a year, sometimes as many as three times. My mother made friends with an Amish family in 1982 when they were visiting her workplace. We exchanged addresses and the next time we visited we went to see this family who lived near the village of Bird-in-Hand. We have been visiting them pretty much ever since. The children were around the same age as me and I looked so forward to visiting them every summer and most winters around Christmas. The parents have since moved to Indiana, while two of their sons and a daughter have returned to Lancaster, all starting their own families. One son farms the old homestead and is an all-organic farmer. He also has a small store at his farm where he sells various organic products. My wife and I enjoy their company immensely, and are happy to drive them around whenever we are in the area, taking them on errands, out for meals or to tourist spots like the Strasburg Rail Road. We especially love having Amish-style meals with them. I consider them some of the best friends I have.
So, this is why I have always been interested in the Amish. During my latter college years, I began studying them on a more scholarly level. I have a very extensive library of popular and scholarly materials on the Amish and the Mennonites and have a pretty good informal education on this subject. If I ever decide to go for another masters degree, it will be in anabaptist studies, but I'll put that off until my retirement years :)
So, the Amish and Lancaster County (yes, it's my favorite vacation spot) are my passion and number one, life-consuming obsession-this coming from someone who has many short-term obsessions, sucking them dry, then moving on to another.