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18 - 24 July 2016 Pennsylvania

Monday 18th July

We left Staunton this morning, a small town that we have enjoyed very much and a good place to base a stay in the scenic Shenandoah Valley. The town is compact with nice small shops and a lively arts, music and theatre scene. A good social setting with bars, restaurants, small breweries, bakeries, coffee shops and friendly locals but the time has come to move on and see what’s around the next corner. Our original plan was to move west from Virginia but we have decided to continue north a little further into Pennsylvania and visit the civil war battlefield at Gettysburg and the nearby Amish Country.

We were due to travel back to the UK in September when our six months leave of stay is up. However, we decided that it makes more sense to come back to the UK in the Spring, when hopefully the weather will be more reasonable. Also, we enjoyed Mexico and Los Barriles so much earlier in the year that we are going back to spend the winter. Therefore, after our visit to Pennsylvania we go west to meet up with Peter and Suzan (who will be travelling with us) in Colorado. From there we make our way south, down to the border near San Diego.

Back to today and the journey north on I-81 along the Shenandoah Valley towards Pennsylvania. The I-81 roughly follows what was a native hunting trail and where once, surprisingly, buffalo did roam.

As we travelled, we could see the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park to the east.

At Winchester we turned east onto the US-7 and north again on the US-340 towards Frederick, crossing the corner of West Virginia heading towards Frederick. Past Harpers Ferry crossing the Shenandoah River back into Virginia

and then the Potomac River and into Maryland. Here we were not far Washington DC and the start of our journey in January 2015. Maryland’s biggest city Baltimore is also nearby sitting on the estuary of Chesapeake Bay. Near Frederick the Maryland Mountains start and the Appalachian Trail passes by. Camp David, the presidential retreat, is also in this area.

Continuing north on US-15 we crossed the state line into Pennsylvania. Four states in one day.

The journey ended at the Ben Franklin RV Park about five miles south of York with pleasant views over the hay fields.

We went into York this evening and had a drink and a snack in the Holy Hound Taproom.

The town is ideally situated between Harrisburg (state capitol) in the north, Gettysburg to the west and Lancaster, Amish Country to the east.

The town was founded in 1741.

The founding fathers gathered here in 1777 and adopted the Articles of Confederation. There are a number of murals around the historic district depicting this era.

There are several old timber framed houses in the town dating back to the 18th Century.

The Golden Plough and General Horatio Gates residence.

Tuesday 19th July - My Birthday!

Started the day with tea and toast in bed. Then off to the shopping mall in Harrisonburg and a visit to Macey’s

and Bass Pro Outdoor shop.

Met Cheryl one of the assistants in Bass Pro, she was interested in out travels and we had a lively conversation.

Spoke to Chris on the phone. They will be flying into Toronto on Friday to attend their nephew's wedding. Had a lovely ecard from Simon, Ninette, Tom and Ellie.

This evening we went to the Left Bank Restaurant, a small fine dining restaurant in York. I had lobster risotto and Tony had Delmonico steak. All was good, including a nice French wine.

A lovely day.

Wednesday 20th July

Today we visited Gettysburg National Military Park, the site of the famous battle. Firstly, we stopped at the Museum and Visitor Centre. Here there is a film about the causes of the civil war and the part Gettysburg played in the outcome.

On July 1st 1863 the Union and Confederate armies met at Gettysburg and a three day battle ensued. At the end of the three days over 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. The Confederate army withdrew after receiving heavy losses at Pickett’s Charge. The battle is thought of as the turning point in the American Civil War.

In the 1880’s French artist Paul Philippoteaux created a Cyclorama depiction of Pickett’s Charge. A massive painting that is displayed around the walls of a domed room, the work measuring 377 feet in circumference and 43 feet high. The detail is fantastic and gives a vivid picture of the last action of the battle.

After lunch we joined a Ranger talk about the soldiers who fought in the Civil War, why they enlisted and what life was like.

One enticement was an $800 bounty to enlist. It was also possible to pay $300 for someone to fight for you. The monthly pay was $13 and the youngest recruit recorded was Johnny Clem. He was a Lance Sergeant at 12 and went on to become a Brigadier General. Many of the recruits were immigrants who did not speak English. An important physical requirement for a solder was teeth to pull off bullet casings and a forefinger to pull a trigger. At that time people did not travel far from their home area. This caused health problems because immune systems were not used to the bugs around in other parts of country and dysentery was common. How the army was fed and watered often drove events, for example, 26,000 gallons of water was needed just for the animals alone. The uniforms were made of wool and the army could march 22 miles per day. We had a demo on how much the soldiers would have been carrying. It was easy to imagine what this was like in the hot July weather.

We bought a narrated field guide CD and took off in the car to tour the battlefield. The route we followed told the story of the three day battle.

Most of the brigades that fought have memorial stones around the battlefield.

The 24 mile tour weaved in and around the town and farmland surrounding Gettysburg with parts of the battlefield looking much as it did in 1863.

The narration was informative and told the stories and strategies of the battle very well.

Thursday 21st July

We have been watching the Republican Convention this week which is being held in Cleveland. It was confirmed that Donald Trump is the republican candidate for president.

Friday 22nd July

We set off this morning to Lancaster County and the heart of Amish Country. For a tour of the farmlands we picked up The Amish Farm Tour bus from outside the Visitor Centre. Our driver gave us some background and described the way of life of the Amish as we travelled the countryside.

William Penn arrived here in the ‘New World’ in 1682 after being given a land grant of 45,000 acres by Charles II. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was set up and Penn put in motion his ideas of religious tolerance within the colony, especially to the Quakers. However, other religious groups were also invited into the colony, one of them being the Amish.

The Amish are Anabaptists originating from Switzerland and a breakaway group from the Mennonites who also live in this area.

The Old Order Amish have no electricity in their homes, propane is used for cooking. They dress plainly with no stripes or patterns on their clothes. The way to spot an Amish home is to look for washing hung out on a line to dry – no tumble dryers. They do not use motorized vehicles. Telephones are not allowed in the house but small wooden structures are often seen in the gardens and this is where the phone is kept. The Amish are farmers and families are usually large, often seven or eight children. The main crops are corn, alfalfa and tobacco. We did see some diversification where camels were kept on one farm for their milk. Horses are used for transport and work on the farm. Retired racehorses or pacers are often bought to pull the buggies.

Our first stop was at farm shop to buy vegetables.

Then on to the Pinetown Bridge, a covered bridge over the Conestoga River. Covered bridges are common in Lancaster with the cover being used to protect the base structure from wear.

Our next stop was the Countryside Road-Stand for a refreshing Strawberry milkshake. Outside the building was one of the scooters often used by the teenagers.

They are not allowed bikes in case it encourages them to stray too far away from home.

The languages spoken are Pennsylvanian German (also known as Pennsylvanian Dutch) and English. Dotted around the area are one-room schoolhouses. The children are at school until the 8th grade which I believe is thirteen and are taught in English. There are no formal church buildings, services are held in individual homes and spoken in German.

After the tour we went to the small town of Bird in the Hand for lunch and a look around the food market.

Our day did feel as if we had stepped into a time warp and gone back to when a rural way of life was the norm. There has obviously been some adaption to the world’s curiosity about their way of life. The tours, farm shops, restaurants and outlets for craftwork etc.,

it is still fascinating to see how the Amish keep their traditional ways whilst being surrounded by the modern world.

Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July

Stayed around camp. Weather still very hot with temperatures in the 30’s. Thunderstorms this evening.

Sandy is totally obsessed with the local rabbits.

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