Are you addicted to your phone? Well, it seems most of us are. And you wouldn’t believe just how much. A study out of the research firm dscout found that the average person swipes, taps, and pinches their display about 2,617 times a day, for a total of one million times per year. Yikes! Do you ever wish for a simpler time, to disconnect from your phone and the 24/7 news cycle even if it’s just for the day? Well, there 's a place. for that! Lancaster Pennsylvania, located just two hours from the District, has the largest Amish community in America, where they still live that very simple life.
I decided to make the trip, and have an Amish experience. First stop: the Amish Village and a typical Amish house. Before I continue, let me say that there is no electricity in their homes, but there is diesel or windmill-powered running water. I don’t know about you, but in my kitchen I have a fridge, a stovetop, a microwave, an oven, a dishwasher, a Keurig, a toaster, and a Kitchen Aid Mixer. Yes, they have a stove and fridge, but all are powered by propane, and there is an air-compressed mixer. And you wouldn’t find a phone in the house. It’s outside in a structure similar to an outhouse and is only used for emergencies or business; the rules are the same for cell phones. That sounded good to me – no sneaking a peek during dinner! The children’s toys were wooden and their clothes handmade, except for some of the men’s shirts that are store bought.
Next, it was on to the one-room school where about 25 children from first to eighth grade attend. They study reading, writing and math, but nothing about evolution. After 8th grade, the children go on to an apprenticeship. On the property is a farm, complete with a barn and animals, a blacksmith shop, a smokehouse, and more. It was a history lesson sans class or textbook.
Hunger pains started when we finished our tour. It was time to hit up Katie’s Kitchen, which is owned and operated by an Amish family; the servers are also Amish. If you’re wondering how they cook since they don’t use electricity, I learned they can get a dispensation when it’s for business. Here, you can enjoy everything from homemade meatloaf and mashed potatoes to wraps, salads, sandwiches, apple dumplings, shoofly and whoopee pies -- delish!
One Amish experience that was a definite must was a buggy ride tour. And I promise you won’t be the only buggy on the road, since the Amish do not drive cars. Even with a few buggies, it’s nothing compared to I-270 or I-66. Ah, now this I could get used to! The driver gave us lots of information and a good look into the Amish way of life.
After our drive, it was time for a little snack and a little poking around for handmade Amish crafts. One of the great farmers markets is in Bird-in-Hand, where you’ll find many Amish vendors and fresh cut meats, local honey, candy making, fresh baked goods, soft pretzels, locally handmade quilts, leather goods, and birdhouses. You can also find many Amish products at Central Market, the country’s oldest farmer’s market and housed in a 120-year-old red brick building.
While you can’t stay at an Amish house overnight, there are many beautiful Bed & Breakfasts in the area. The Lancaster Bed & Breakfast is an historic inn and centrally located. Enjoy the porch and exquisite gardens. It may not be Amish, but breakfast includes lots of ingredients from Amish Farmers’ produce stands and orchards. And innkeepers Brad or Keith can give more info on roadside stands, farmers’ markets, and more. Another gem is Swiss Woods Bed & Breakfast Inn. Tucked away in a quiet area, the owner is a beekeeper so make sure to have some honey in your tea. And breakfast is outstanding with herbs, cherries and potatoes from their own property -- you will want all the recipes. Owner Debbie and Werner can tell you what to do in Lititz, but there are many shops owned by the Amish to browse -- just remember they are closed on Sundays.
As much as I would love less cell activity, less traffic, and less breaking news, I wasn’t ready to fully embrace the Amish way of life. Truth be told, I did check my cell after the village tour.