Sunday, July 01, 2007

Buggies That Don't Bite (or What a Change from Assateague!)

This has been a great spot to stop for a few nights and just enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the area. My original plan was to
return to Philadelphia this weekend to see Independence Hall. Their website says the timed entry tickets are usually gone by early afternoon,
so I planned to get there early. The weekend seemed like a good idea to avoid the rush hour traffic. Good plan, right?

Of course not! One little wrinkle I forgot... a holiday weekend, and the one holiday that is the most connected to Independence Hall. Fortunately I had the foresight to check the ticket availability
on Friday, and they were TOTALLY sold out for the entire weekend. Plan B, here we come!

So I have toured Amish country, including the
Ephrata Cloisters (pronounced EFF-rata, not ef-FRAID-a).
The Cloisters were the 18th Century living quarters
for a group of followers of Conrad Biessel, who believed that emulating the deity to the best of his ability was his ticket to heaven. He and his
followers practiced celibacy, worked hard, prayed hard, and ate little (he could find no references to God eating). A typical day was: rise
at 5, pray until 6, work until 9, pray until 10, work until 12, pray until 1, work until 6, eat (vegetarian food and water, their single meal of the day), work at crafts until 9, sleep until 12, group pray service
until 2, sleep until 5. Repeat.
Six hours of sleep, interrupted by two hours of prayer. Why prayer from midnight until 2? Conrad believed the "Second Coming" would
happen during that time frame, and he didn't want to miss it.

I have also done a bit of driving around the countryside, enjoying the area. This is covered-bridge land, and there is something almost
magical about seeing a buggy go through one. An Amish family came by our campground selling pies from their buggy. My neighbor's dog
went a little berserk at the site of a horse in "his" campground, but the horse was totally calm (I think they are used to dealing with a lot, at least from a horse point-of-view).

This is the part of the world where cities are named Intercourse, Paradise, and Blue Ball, and businesses are Paradise Pre-Owned (a used car lot with three cars for sale), the Pair-A-Dice Tattoo parlor (in, of course, Paradise), the Almost Paradise Shop (just outside Paradise), the Scenic View Wrecking Company, and the Shivery Funeral Home.

The Fourth of July began early here in Lancaster. It was essentially the same event that will be repeated all over America during the coming week. Lawn
chairs spread out to hear a local orchestra play patriotic songs, kids complaining about the wait until the moment the fireworks start, and food, food, food then oohs and ahhs. In Lancaster, the food was BBQ sandwiches, lemonade, ice cream, and huge, soft pretzels. What a great tradition. Have a great Fourth of July, everyone.

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