Monday, August 15, 2011

The Simple Life

After reading about the Amish and even making my own Amish quilt over the years, I finally got to spend a day in Amish Country. I could have spent a week there without running out of things to see and do but the day I had was great. My new daughter-in-law, Kelly, grew up about an hour from the Amish area in Ohio so she knew all the places I needed to see in a day. I was so excited to be going and made sure we were on the road, ready to arrive when the doors to the shops opened.

To me seeing a horse and buggy was the ultimate Amish viewing. I was not disappointed. They were on all the main highways and my family teased me that I took the same picture of them over and over (from the back) but upon closer look of my pictures, every buggy was different.
Our first stop of the day was at Lehman's in Kidron. I was familiar with the store as I used to receive their catalog when Y2K was on my mind. I wasn't prepared for the huge assortment of products from the past. The store was huge and lacking in nothing. Oil lamps, lava soap, toys, hats, cooking supplies, crocks and dishes, books, wood burning stoves and outdoor supplies filled the shelves. I do believe a person could spend an entire day in Lehman's alone.

Ashery Country Store was our next stop in Fredericksburg
. It offers bulk foods many of which can not be left behind. I brought home dark chocolate covered peanuts, Buckwheat pancake mix, yogurt covered pretzels, Buckeyes, sunflower seeds, and Matt and Kelly picked up beef and turkey jerkey. The huge bags of flour, pie fillings, potato chips, seasonings, jams, jellys and relishes could stock a pantry for a lifetime. Our sales clerks were dressed in their traditional dresses and bonnets which added to the authenticity of shopping in Amish Country.
They now take credit cards.
Rows of goodies.

Heini's Cheese Factory

Heini's Cheese Chalet in Berlin had us looking forward to sampling.The cheese is made in the factory right there on the premises and samples of all the cheeses are available. We used a toothpick to pick out a chunk of cheese from a covered plastic bowl (with signs not to put the toothpick in our mouth!). The cheese was wonderful and if I hadn't been traveling I would have brought home many different kinds. I did pick out 3 cheese spreads (Cajun crab, apple raisin and roasted pepper). Rex picked out a chunk of Swiss cheese. Lines of people moved along the coolers with their toothpicks in hand sampling every offering. Pretzels were used for the cheese spreads. It was so much fun and so very tasty. Once I was full of cheese samples, I went to the other end of the store to the gift shop. It was lovely and I found some personalized notecards.
Rex shows a sample!
After all that cheese you'd think we wouldn't be hungry but we were ready for our next stop, Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek. This Restaurant is famous for its authentic Amish Kitchen Cooking, and it is in the original location serving food traditions for more than 40 years. The waiting line trailed down the porch but the restaurant is so large the line moved quickly. Our meal was served family style and included soup and salad bar, large rolls with available peanut butter and apple butter for spreading, 3 meats, homemade mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, green beans and our choice of pie for dessert. The helpings were huge and between the four of us we still left plenty untouched. What a sad thing that was!
A nap after lunch!
Sampling from salad bar

Waddling back to the car with very full tummies, we stopped to admire the panoramic view of Goose Bottom Valley. Red barns and farms dotted the countryside. What a gorgeous view that a camera doesn't do justice to. .
Neat farms on the hillside.

Back on the road, we returned to Berlin to Tis the Season. This is Ohio's largest year round Christmas shop with three floors of Christmas wonderland. Of course we went to every corner of the large store. It was beautiful.

While still in the Berlin area we made a stop at Wendell August Forge. I knew about this store because Kelly and Matt had brought us wonderful gifts from this store on another of their visits.
I knew I would love this store, and I did. It had so many hand-hammered metal gifts to call out to me. I found a pewter tray with quilt patterns that called my name. But for $75 I left it there. I did buy an Amish Christmas tree ornament so that is a trip keepsake for my day with the Amish. There were necklaces, bracelets, cups, bowls, coasters and trays made from hand-hammered aluminum, bronze, copper and pewter. Beautiful craftmanship was in everything. As we left the store, the wooden porch had the cutest rock planters along the edge. They were available to buy but fitting one in my suitcase would not have been practical, as much as I loved them.
Wendell August Forge

Rock flower planters

This is a display showing the
steps to making a Wendall-August

Stores were starting to close so we had to call it a day. On our way back we did drive by Cat's Meow Village. I was sad to see it had already closed as I have known about those little wooden houses for years. I think I even still have a few. It was such a full day though and we were all tired so it was just as well that we could slow it down for the day.
There are still many places we didn't visit but I'm delighted with all we got to see in a day. Kelly definitely knew the premier places to show us and after all these years, I am so happy I got to see the Amish people in their hometowns.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

City Girl Goes Country

Today I joyfully jumped out of bed at 4:00 a.m. to catch an early morning flight to Cleveland, Ohio. Now some of you might get up around this dark time of the morning but I don't! It's against my nature to be up before the sun. When it comes to travel or a good time, I can sometimes re-wire my senses and go for the gusto of the unusual. This is what motivated me today! I have a fun and exciting 4 days planned around the Cleveland area. Actually Medina, Ohio, is the center point of my travels this week. I only fly in and out of Cleveland. I am here with my husband for a wedding reception honoring our son and new daughter in law who were married 4 weeks ago. Kelly is from here but was married in Colorado. This reception if for her family and friends who were unable to travel to the wedding.

This is the first time my husband and I have visited Kelly's homeland. As a true blue city girl I had been anxious to see her family's Alpaca and Tree Farm that Kelly has told us so much about.

Sign in the Kall yard

Alpacas in the yard

Christmas Tree Farm

Arriving at Kelly's family home, we were greeted by her two dogs, Pit Stop and Nascar. Once they realized I was family, they were happy.
Here is my son, Matt, playing with Pit Stop and Nascar.

I was then shown the way to the barn area to meet the newest cria (baby alpaca) born yesterday.

Tony Kall (Kelly's youngest brother) brought the cria over for me to admire up close.

Along the way I delighted in the many chickens that roamed freely across the yard. They were camera shy though as they would run from me into their coop. They must have known a city girl when they saw one. I wonder if my shoulder strap purse gave me away?
I had to outsmart this one to get a picture. She was running fast past me!

The 16 adult alpacas were most welcoming. They looked at me and I looked at them! The
boys were separated from the girls so I wandered to different
fenced areas to meet them. I didn't reach out to pat them though as I didn't know if they'd spit at me or not. This city girl wasn't brave enough to risk it. I was walking in a foreign land here.

These are some of the males,
considered stud quality.

If I got it right, this is White Starr who is the day old cria's
Mama. Behind her are some of the other females.

The day old cria was a sweet, darling, fluffy little alpaca.
I did reach out and rub her and marveled at how soft she was.
I was pretty proud of myself for pretending to be a little bit
country at this point. Names for the alpacas are somewhat random. This one may be named F150, after the Ford truck.

Suddenly there was quick movements in the corner of the fenced area. Another little newborn cria had been found in the
corner of the barn. She was breathing but not doing well. Kelly, her Dad and brothers gave immediate care to the struggling cria. Her mother, Molly, stayed close by while the cria was rubbed and warmed.

Kelly Pilger flashes a smile
as she tends to the cria and
Mama Molly stays close.

In the warmth of the sun, the 3 steers, Fred, George and Bruce, were led out of their barn for a quick turn around the yard. They didn't linger long in the sun and soon headed back into the barn.

Matt Pilger, Tony Kall and Andy Kall pat sweet Fred.

To complete my afternoon I climbed aboard the Ford tractor for a photo shoot. I liked it there and could see myself patrolling the acreage on such lovely days as today.
Such fun on a tractor!

Dinner was a fabulous meal of garden grown corn on the cob, potatoes and carrots and the luscious roast beef from one of their own farm raised cows. I know it's a lot of hard work to nurture animals and a garden but the fruits of the labor are delicious and can't be compared to anything else.

I loved being outdoors among the animals, tractor and garden today. I think my own ranch-raised Dad would have been proud of his city girl.
A beautiful butterfly in the alpaca yard.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Little Good News

"The Guttmacher Institute is reporting that in the first six months of 2011 states have enacted a record number of pro-life laws." 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Following Their Dreams, Every Year!

I had the most delightful find today while having breakfast at Denny's Restaurant in Wheat Ridge, CO.
An exuberant group of people in bright yellow T-shirts caught my eye. The sight of them persuaded me to leave the safety of my booth and go find out what they were up to. I'm so glad I approached them with a request to take their picture. They were as happy to tell of their adventure as I was to hear about it.

The Lopez family is on their 5th annual trip. This year it was Alicia's turn to pick their family dream trip. She lives in Texas and has wanted to visit Colorado. So their bright yellow T-shirt boasts: Following Our Dreams to Colorado 2011.

This group of travelers plans for their yearly trips by fundraising throughout the year to help cover costs. Here in Colorado they have a 15 passenger van to travel the area in. The Lopez family travels from their hometowns to the chosen area each year. They come in from Michigan, Texas and other areas. Last year, New York was their destination and next year, it's looking like New Orleans will be the choice. Las Vegas is also on the agenda for the future.

Twelve names are listed on the back of the T-shirts. These are the travelers. These are the dreamers. Thank you, Lopez family for sharing your fun times with me today!