"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lancaster, PA: Pennsylvania Dutch Country

We've been having trouble with our hydraulic system since we were in Florida. The two driver's side rear jacks slip down when we travel. Yeah, really, not good. Rick has been strapping them up with two mega cable ties on each jack but lately they've even broken those. So we decided it was time to take it somewhere and get some help with them. We found a DRV dealer in Willow Street, PA, just south of Lancaster who could take us. That meant changing the itinerary a bit and finding a place to stay nearby.  Thus we had a day to spend in Pennsylvania Dutch country while overnighting at the Old Mill Stream Campground right next to Dutch Wonderland! Oh boy. This was our first campground in the shadow of a roller coaster. 

Lancaster PA could be anywhere in the US, with the same chains, outlet malls and congestion, except that the tourist traps have this bizarre Amish twist.  But get out of Lancaster and into the countryside and you encounter the real thing. So that's what I did that evening at sunset.

This was a lucky drive-by shot of a farmer's team of mules doing the haying.

The Amish, or Pennsylvania Dutch, have been in this part of the country since the early 1700's. They are as much Americans as anyone, but have chosen to remain apart, preserving the traditions and vocations of their culture. They are best known for being farmers, and they farm using methods far different from the rest of the farmers in the US. Despite not using "modern" agricultural technology, they are incredibly successful at what they do.  Do you think an Amish person could run for president if we asked nicely?

Their farms are absolutely beautiful and heartwarming. They are large, vibrant, solid, clean, well kept, and traditional. Very few of the Amish use electricity, but they do use gas generators and pneumatic (air) power in their barns and shops to run various kinds of tools and machinery. You can see some kind of motor going on the back of this farm implement, while it's being pulled by mules.  The Dutch embrace technology very slowly and with great consideration for how it will impact their families and their community. Decisions to incorporate a new method or tool are made by the elders of the community.

Families are intrinsic and necessary to the success of the Amish community.  Children work on the farms as soon as they can, doing jobs that are deemed age appropriate. They don't spend hours playing video games. Their parents don't spend hours watching television. What can we learn from that?

You can see activity everywhere on the farms: gardening, hanging out clothes, milking the cows, haying, feeding the chickens, putting the mules away, and on and on.

Of course there are the ubiquitous buggies being pulled along all the streets by the carriage horses. Now the local Dutch have found a way to meet the needs of curious tourists - buggy rides! I saw lots of advertisements for them, and young men hanging out with their buggies waiting to provide the tours.  This was another lucky drive-by shot.

I didn't take a ride, but I did have a great time driving around the farmland, getting pictures when I could. I felt a little awkward and voyeuristic, but did find a few places to get pictures where I didn't feel too intrusive.  See the happy Amish cows?

By the way, we are still having trouble with our jacks, even after getting some part replaced and bleeding the hydraulic system. If we repeat the bleeding procedure and retighten all the hydraulic valves each time before we travel, we seem to be okay. Rick has been trying to get a hold of Lippert to ask them what they think is wrong, but is hasn't been easy. He is still strapping them up with mega cable ties. Don't be caught without them.

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