Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two trips to Lancaster County since my last post

I have made two trips to Lancaster County since my last post. In October, I won tickets to Hershey Park in the Dark from the Lancaster County Convention & Visitor's Bureau. We went up on the Thursday before Halloween, stopping in Gettysburg to have tea at Apple Blossom- it was excellent though everything was super sweet, so I felt diabetic. We made all the usual stops upon arriving in Lancaster County(Kitchen Kettle, Bird-in-Hand Restaurant, Rockvale, etc.) This time we actually made the trip out to Lapp Valley Farm and had ice cream and chocolate milk there. Like always it is the best. We stayed one night at Country Living Inn and two nights at Hampton Inn Lancaster (two free nights with Hilton Honors). On Firday, we took a behind the scenes tour of Kitchen Kettle (called the Kettle Walking Tour) with Pat Burnley, the co-founder of the village, and the tour guide, Bill. They filled us in on the history of the Village and let us talk with different shopkeepers. They were so nice and showed us around and gave us all kinds of goodies to take home with us. I highly recommend this tour. Hershey Park was OK, we went on Halloween night- of course it is geared for kids- I much prefer Chocolate World. Way too many meals in Lancaster County make things a bit too tight for me for riding many of the rides at Hershey Park, that and the fact that I am 6'5" makes me amusement park unfriendly. Zoo America was OK, but again, a little disappointing. I liked watching the different cats they have there, though. That night we ate at Jennie's Diner and had cheesesteaks and fries with gravy. The next morning we woke up sick and were basically bedridden for the rest of the day. I was unable to visit any of my Amish friends. I did manage to go to Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop to pick up some pies I had ordered for co-workers, but I nearly fell out in there. It was a miserable experience. Not sure if we picked up a bug in Hershey or if it was food poisoning. We went back home on Sunday.

On Dec. 13, we went to Gettysburg. On the way we stopped at Holy Cross Abbey and bought a monastery fruit cake and a frater (a chocolate dipped piece of fruit cake-yes, it is decadent). I'm a fan of fruit cake, and this one was a tad overrated. It reminded me of Bensen's fruit cake which you can buy in stores for half this price. We then had lunch at Hoss's in Chambersburg where we had a very nice waitress named Linda. We stopped there again on the way home and she remembered us by name- quite nice. We stayed at the Hampton Inn again in Gettysburg. We had tea, probably for the last time, at Apple Blossom in Gettysburg. Unfortunately, the owner is selling out. As always, everything was delicious. We had dinner at the Gingerbread Man with a friend of ours who is a doctoral candidate in history at Auburn. She is a seasonal park ranger at Gettysburg and is a great source of info. Despite the frigid temps, we did a lot of battlefield exploring, but were outraged that the visitor's center had shut down the cyclorama and the film until Dec. 21. I've been 4 times this year and have yet to have a good experience at that place. The Hampton Inn was OK- this was the first time we had stayed there when we paid and our room wasn't as nice as the free one we get when we cash in our HHonors points. The houskeepers always smoke up the hallways too, so that is unpleasant. We wanted to try a new French Bistro called Cafe Saint Amand for breakfast on Monday but it was closed (we are big fans of crepes).

After two days in Gettysburg we headed for Lancaster County, stopping at Dick's in York to pick up some Penn State Rose Bowl stuff. We arrived in Ronks, filled up at Wawa and I bought a delicious Wawa Egg Nog. We then went to Tanger outlets for a bit before driving to Intercourse to have tea at Ye Olde English Shoppe. This was an incredible experience. The ladies that run it put on quite the spread- we had high tea with all the trimmings. The savories and desserts blew Apple Blossom away- however, Apple Blossom still rules on the scones and tea variety. We liked it so much we had lunch there two more times (steak & kidney pie, bangers & mash, sticky toffee pudding, treacle pudding). One tea I had there was called sugar plum- it was very good- spicy & sweet. After tea we checked in to the Country Living Inn. We then visited our Amish friend Ruth and caught up on all the happenings since we last visited. We ate dinner at Bird-in-Hand, then visited briefly with Ruth's brother Leroy at his farm, Life Enhancing Acres in Bird-in-Hand.

On Tuesday we ate breakfast at the Kling House Restaurant at Kitchen Kettle. I had an egg nog waffle with an orange egg nogg topping. My wife had orange marmalade french toast with orange marmelade butter. I loved all of it, but she wasn't as impressed because she had never had marmelade and realized she didn't like the unique flavor. We then shopped in the Village and then at Rockvale. We had lunch at Isaac's Deli in Strasburg (always good, but slow). We stopped at the Springerle House and picked up some of those ornate cookies that look to artistic to eat. We then saw Sight & Sound Theatre's Voices of Christmas in their Living Waters Theatre. This was a very good show that explained the history behind our favorite Christmas songs from a Christian point of view. It was snowing a bit all morning and picked up considerably after we got out of the play. We then headed to New Holland to Lapp Valley and got some ice cream- I had coffee, chocolate, peanut butter twist, and butter brickle in various stops at Lapp Valley. Of course, it's the best ice cream period-sorry Turkey Hill. We ate dinner at Bird-in-Hand. My wife got some super salty broasted chicken that we had to send back (first time that's happened in my probably 500+meals there). While there we saw the most hideous coat of all time. I had my old standby, veal cutlet with stewed tomatoes, brown buttered noodles, and cucumbers and onions with a glass of Turkey Hill tea. We did some more shopping at the outlets before turning in for the night.

On Wednesday we ate breakfast at Bird-in-Hand. Scrapple for me, as always, and the best hot chocolate around. Our waitress was Janet Glick, one of our favorites and a 25+ year veteran. We then went to Leroy's and took him and his youngest soon Jesse Christmas shopping. We took him to Good's Store in East Earl at the Shady Maple Complex. We browsed around there and Country Home Furnishings while he shopped. We then took him to Leacock Shoe Store (best prices on Columbia shoes anywhere), Gordonville Book Shop (one of my favorites for Amish/Mennonite books), some dry goods store on Gibbons Rd in Bird-in-Hand and Nancy's Notions & Clothing in Intercourse. He treated us to lunch at Bird-in-Hand. Our waitress was Whitney, a very nice lady and one of my favorites that looks the same as she did when she started there in the early-mid 80s-either that, or she has been working there since she was born. I had a chicken salad on pretzel roll and chicken corn soup. Leroy can out eat anyone I know and he gobbled down a huge amount of his and Jesse's food- then ordered a piece of cheesecake, a piece of coconut cream pie, and two scoops of Turkey Hill mint chocolate chip. He cleans a plate like no one I've ever seen. We saw the guy with the awful coat again as well. After dropping Leroy off, we headed to Kitchen Kettle Village for their new Cannin' & Jammin' Tour. It was awesome. We worked with their food/kitchen manager Kristine and two Amish ladies. They showed us what a typical day is like in the Jam & Relish Kitchen and helped us make a batch of Apple Raspberry Jelly. Since we were the only ones on the tour we were given the enitre batch (12 jars), along with a jar of Corn Relish, Lemon Pear Jam, and Apple Butter BBQ Sauce that is to die for. I highly recommend taking KKV's experiental tours. When we left we grabbed a bag of Pappy's Kettle Korn- that stuff is amazing! Then we took a saunter over to Lapp Valley for ice cream. After dinner at Bird-in-Hand we went shopping at the outlets before turning in for the night.

The next morning after breakfast at Bird-in-Hand we headed to Neuchatel Chocolates/The Swiss Chocolatier in Oxford, PA. This is the home of the Swiss Chips and the best truffles. We then took a tour of the Herr Foods plant in Nottingham. That was really neat. Our tour guide was named Suzy and she was great. We were the only two on the tour and she gave us a bunch of "right off the oven chips" to sample. We bought several bags of their "seconds/oops" chips & pretzels. We then headed back to Intercourse and enjoyed lunch at Ye Olde English Shoppe. We then had spa pedicures at the Spa at Intercourse Village. This was my first pedicure- it was pretty cool. My favorite massage therapist, Sam, was there and we briefly chatted with her. After that we visited Ruth and made plans to take her shopping the next morning. Peaches, her giant English Mastiff stepped on my wife's toes and ruined her polish job. We ate dinner at Bird-in-Hand before turning in.

On Friday we went to breakfast at Bird-in-Hand. It was a very cold and rainy day. We took Ruth, Jake, and two of their kids to Jake's brother's house and dropped off the two kids. We then took Ruth, Jake and the baby shopping at the Pfaltzgraf outlet (Which is now closed- a shame, that store had been there since Rockvale opened-it won't be the same without it). We also went to Leacock Shoe Store. We dropped Jake off at home and continued on with Ruth and their baby Susan to Dollar General and Smucker's Dry Goods in Leola. After dropping her off we had lunch at Ye Olde English Shoppe. We then picked up Leroy Andrew and Jesse and took them shopping and visiting relatives because Leroy's aunt in Centre County died and he was delivering messages to them. We dropped him off and said our goodbyes. After we dropped him off we went to Lapp Valley and had ice cream. We then went to Kitchen Kettle Village for their Old Fashioned Christmas Nights, but it was so cold and rainy that not much was going on. We then ate dinner at Bird-in-Hand where we ran into an Amish couple that we had seen earlier in the day at Lapp Valley and Leacock Shoe. We talked to them for awhile. They live near Harrisburg and were visiting relatives in Lancaster County where they were originally from. The man told me he had recently been to NC on a hunting trip. We then went back to the room for the night.

On Saturday, we had breakfast and lunch at B-I-H. We went to Kauffman's Fruit Farm & Market, Intercourse Canning Company, Kitchen Kettle Village (where we were shown a lovely cottage room that we will be staying in in April), Bird-in-Hand Bakery, Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop, Hershey Farm, Achenbach's Pastries, and a few other places. We had dinner at Ruth's. She made us a pot roast, some awesome bread, and an egg custard. We brought along some Turkey Hill All Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream and root beer for floats (kind of a tradition amongst us) and chatted for a few hours before we had to say our goodbyes. We finished the night off with coffee and Shoo Fly Pie at B-I-H.

The next day we went home.