Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Old Country

     Leaving the sand and the sun and the surf behind us, we followed the coastal highway northwest back toward Philadelphia.  We thought of completing our trip by visiting more Revolutionary sites but then decided that Philly deserved more attention than we had time for.  Perhaps a straight run back to the farm, but that trip was just too long to go without stretching the legs.  What to do?  Where to go in Southern PA?  Why of course, the checkerboard fields and manicured simplicity of Amish country.
      Everywhere you look the Amish culture is the hot topic of the moment.  Yet the roads and fields and homes we drive by are quiet and modest.  The scenery is tranquil.  It is like driving back in time.  The power lines and phone poles slowly fade away.  The traffic slows and lessens.  The roads are winding and relaxing.  This is not the land of producers and reality TV, the places we view on our screens. This is true Amish country, a place of quilts and farms and simplicity.  We are merely passers-by, quick visitors to their place trying to absorb the atmosphere.  The kids were wide-eyed trying to find a buggy, a glimpse of the new, or is it the old? 
      Whichever it was, it was an adventure.  And no adventure would be complete without a brewery stop, but this one would be different.  It was housed on the grounds of an antique mall in the heart of Lancaster County.  The restaurant attached to the brewery was toted as a mecca for aged beef and incredible steaks and farm classics and homemade bread.  What a surprise!  We did not find a farm-friendly brewpub.  Instead we found a building transplanted from somewhere in Transylvania.  The inside was dark and eerie.  It smelt of old country but not in a very good way, more in a musty, less-traveled air.  The food was alright, the beer cold and the pumpkin ale worth a six-pack.  I would not return and could not believe that a big name brewery, largely distributed, operated such a place.  Perhaps that is the kitsch of the place, a product of its location and surrounding population.  If its a Norman Bates dining experience in a sublime setting you are looking for, then Stoudts Brewing is worth the ride down the buggy roads of Lancaster County.
      Ours was a pit stop along the route to Cabela's and everything outdoors and, ultimately, our farm.  It was definitely a memory for the family, in a spooky, Halloween atmosphere.  Maybe a trip back is in order as the leaves change color and the ghouls begin to creep out.  Maybe, just maybe....

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