Manheim, Mt. Gretna, Lititz – road trip to Lancaster County PA (and a little of Lebanon County.

The skies gradually cleared and we had a glorious drive through the Pennsylvania countryside, past PA Dutch  stone houses and barns, small towns with row houses lining the street, Amish buggies pulled by trotting shiny horses, rolling fields of corn,and soybeans.

First stop was Grim’s Apple Orchard just south of Allentown in Breinigsville, PA where I just missed the Mutsu/crispin harvest (oct. 14) but got some excellent honeycrisps. On to Manheim , a small Lancaster County town where we visited my aunt’s college friend Mary, who lives in an old farm house where she grew up, now surrounded, oddly, by a used car dealership.

She and her daughter Beth took us to see the family cottage in nearby Mt. Gretna (Lebanon county) which turned out to be in the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, a summer colony of charming old cottages with wrap around porches tucked into the woods near a small lake, with a few educational/cultural buildings including a theater and a “hall of philosophy.”

It reminded me a bit of the Chautauqua we stayed at in Boulder. Mary’s cottage was lovely, very rustic and old-fashioned, sort of stuck in time. It has been in her family for 75 years and someone else’s before that. The whole community is 126 years old. My aunt used to hang out with Mary and other friends there in the 1950s and she was delighted to be back. We sat in old rocking chairs on the porch in the shade and enjoyed the peace, quiet and each other’s company. Isn’t that what porches are for?

Onto the small charming Lancaster County town of Lititz, where we sat in a small shady park by a river and watched the ducks and young Amish couples (some in surprisingly contemporary duds) strolling by. We had a delicious late lunch at the Tomato  Pie Cafe. (We ate spinach and artichoke tomato pie – sort of akin to quiche, minus the egg custard but with baked cheese.) We didn’t get to see much of the town, but it looked lovely. I’d like to return. We also picked up some locally made Wilbur chocolates to give as gifts.

MAT and I took backroads all the way to Emmaus, where we had another lovely dinner with my cousin Ed, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Sarah plus two friends driving through in their enormous motorhome. We drove through towns with names including Brickerville, Reamstown, kutztown and East Texas. I’d love to come back and check out Lancaster, which has been likened to Brooklyn of late, and old PA Amish towns like Intercourse, Paradise and Blue Ball.

Last night I had the best hamburger at Bolete, in a lovely old stone house that used to be a stagecoach stop, outside Bethlehem. This has been such a great trip, in so many ways.

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