Last, but certainly not least: Amish Country with an ex-Amish family.
We arrived at night and were uneasy as we drove up a long, dark driveway in the woods. Everything's scarier at night. As soon as we walked into this Airbnb home though, we couldn’t have been more comfortable. Both nights there, we stayed up past midnight chatting with our very gregarious host family. The parents had grown up Amish, but had left the community in their early 20's after they'd had 2 children. They went on to have 4 more. Many of their family members were still Amish and they were nice enough to make an introduction. We drove over to their Amish family's home and ended up spending several hours with them. They were awesome too.
At 6:45 AM, we rolled out of bed and made our way downstairs. We'd been invited for morning chores and obviously when you get an offer like that, how can you pass it up? We began by feeding the family's two baby goats, who started hopping up and down when they saw us coming. These giddy goats each drank a liter of milk in under a minute, which was actually super impressive. They also followed us around the yard as we went about the rest of the chores. Next up was feeding pigs. One mama pig had recently had babies so we went to the first pen, where she and her 7 piglets were. Our family had three other pigs, one of which was a 450lb male. These pigs were kept inside an electric fence, which is why our host wore rubber boots. She warned us ahead of time so we were able to avoid any shocks. Last, came the chickens, which apparently lay one egg per day. This was much faster than we expected. They also had their own garden, with all sorts of organic vegetables. We couldn’t have had a better start to the day!
This family is incredible. They told us that they run 5 different businesses: 1) Hosting guests via Airbnb, 2) Long-term leasing of their basement apartment, 3) Woodworking and carpentry, 4) Raising pigs and chickens so that they can sell bacon and eggs, and 5) Providing doula services and mother’s helpers to facilitate growing families. They seem to be doing great. Being with them was a reminder of how many different ways people make a living. We saw it abroad and we saw it at home, but nowhere did we see it more than in this household.
We had an extended conversation with the matriarch of our host family regarding her doula business. Prior to this visit, neither one of us was particularly familiar with what a doula is, but we learned that it’s a companion who provides guidance to mothers before, during, and after childbirth. Their role is to make a mother’s experiences easier, while at the same time coaching them in an attempt to enrich the process. They are not a doctor or a midwife, but they share relaxation techniques, assist with chores, give spiritual guidance, and provide general support.
American Military Edged Weaponry Museum
While Annie did a bit of window shopping, Adam stopped by the American Military Edged Weaponry Museum. It stood at a 3-way intersection in the town of Intercourse. A 90+ year old man was working the front desk and having difficulty operating the credit card machine. Adam had a wonderful time talking about US military history with him. They were standing in a room that was filled with all sorts of military swords, knives, and bayonets dating from the Civil War through Desert Storm. He pointed to his favorite piece, a sword belonging to one of the most notorious southern mercenaries in the Civil War. He said that not many people know much about American military history when they enter the museum. Adam and he spent much of their time discussing the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Vietnam.
Funny Town Names
We ran into a bunch of odd town names around Amish country, which included Fertility, Intercourse, Blue Ball, and Bird in Hand.
Last Supper Eating Tomato Pie
For our last night of travel before heading home, we drove to Lititz for a date night at the Tomato Pie Café. Our Airbnb family had told us that if we went, we must order the Tomato Pie. Despite thinking to ourselves that tomatoes had no business being in pies, we ordered it. We almost ordered a second one, but realized that we had two other entrees coming our way. The place was so cozy and had this wonderful old school music playing.
As we were leaving, Annie decided that ice cream was a good idea so we walked to a shop that she had spotted on our way in. We arrived to the store as the last group of people were leaving and the staff were locking the door. Annie told the woman working there that this was the last night of our cross country road trip before heading home. They asked us if that was true and when we told them yes, they told us to come on in. We got our ice cream and walked back to our car. It was a sweet ending.