We have arrived at the Shire
We have gone deeper into the mid-Atlantic region! Southeastern Pennsylvania to be exact. South of the Poconos and into Lancaster county. To me, Lancaster is most famous for being Amish country. A place where horse and buggy is still the main mode of transportation, folks still churn their own butter and bonnets are the hats of choice. Well, some Amish have branched out. They are not a single unit. Some drive, some even have cell phones. Some even make delicious jams, cheese and meats to sell at farmer's markets. I'll talk more about that later! Lancaster County is beautiful. It is filled with rolling hills of farm land while still having all the modern comforts of the 21st century.
Pulling into our new campground was such a delight. It was our third Thousand Trails campground, so from past experiences, we didn't have the highest of hopes. Boy, did they turn that around quick. The place looked like a maze when we first pulled in but we were quickly able to decipher it. The strangest part about it, the sites are first come, first serve and we're able to pick which one we want. Not with our camper, however. One of the employees took me to look at the open sites in their golf cart. 2 pull-thru and 2 back-in. First thought is pull-thru, always go with the pull thru. The staff member suggested not taking the first one because it was not level. The other one, I didn't want because you were basically on top of your neighbor. One of the back-ins had our what-would-be neighbors playing corn hole on what would be our site. I asked to check out the first pull thru again. I think we can make it work. We'll take it! This was another puzzle: figure out how to make the trailer level. After a few attempts, to start solving the problem, drove in on an angle, hoping our current neighbors won't mind (They ended up being super cool people). The angle to make the downward slope less drastic. We still had to raise one side with 2 blocks but it was leveled side to side. Next, front to back. That was the trickiest part. We ended up needing to have the front jack on 4 levels of blocks! We had to scavenge around to find pieces of wood left from past campers. At this point our neighbor came out watching us set up. Seeing we were out of blocks, she offered some of hers she wasn't using and her complaints about this row of sites being on a hill. Much thanks. Trip to Home Depot is in our future. The camper is the highest its ever been. The doggy ramp is at such a steep angle!
We use 2x4s as our blocks. All the RV store recommend these plastic blocks designed for this but the wood works just as well and is much, much cheaper, works just as well, maybe even better and if they break, get too gross, lost, they are way easier to replace.
Before we left New York, we did some grocery shopping and picked up, among other things, bananas. By the time we got to Pennsylvania, they were still good, but a bit past ripeness. At least for our main liking. Trying to be as food conscience as possible, I make banana bread. Now our bread pan is in storage so its the first time baking with the skillet. Its also the first time baking in the trailer. First time using the oven in the trailer. I remember when we did our walk through for the trailer we had to light the pilot light, it wasn't an automatic thing. I turn the dial on the stove to "pilot" and put the lighter to the pilot. Nothing happens. I try again. Still nothing. Maybe this isn't the pilot. I put the lighter in a different spot that could be it, nothing. Ryne can you help?! He goes through the same process but takes it a step further and consults YouTube. Genius. Push and hold the knob while its turned to pilot while lighting the pilot. Keep it pressed for 30 seconds. Of course. Got it.
I think our oven is super powered too. We had it set for 350 degrees but it ended up being close to 400. Good thing for oven thermometers!
Baking in the skillet isn't so bad or difficult. The main struggle was telling when it was done. The top still looked like it needed more time but the sides were getting a bit too dark. The top was fine. My eyes deceived me. I'd say this first attempt at banana bread skillet was a success! Click here for the recipe (without the crazy blog post to get to the recipe)
So we're in Southeastern Pennsylvania. You know what else is in Southeastern Pennsylvania? Hershey Park! Let's go get a sugar high!
Hershey is more than just an amusement park. You have a museum, you have the factory, the park, the characters, the World Of Chocolate. We went to the World Of Chocolate. You can do everything from make your own creation, watch a movie about the history, or you know, just shop. Ryne was a kid in a candy store, literally. He was so excited to see the entire display of Reese's. We didn't come home with any, but we sure did get a lot of baked goods. A whoopie pie (which apparently Pennsylvania is famous for) with vanilla peanut butter cookies and peanut butter cream filling, a regular vanilla peanut butter cookie, a chocolate chip cookie, cookies and cream Brownie, and a cinnamon scone. Everything there was so good! Did you also know that Hershey also has a free private school serving low income children in lower Eastern Pennsylvania? It has an immaculate campus and even room and board for those who need it. It's been open since the early 1900s. If we can have something like that running and that beautiful we can easily have colleges done the same way.
All right, enough sweets. Let's get lunch. Ryan picks this place in downtown Hershey a little German beer garden. Online they had a Reuben sandwich on the menu we get there but no such luck, the menu changed since then. Oh well, the food was still really good.
During my research of the area, I found out that Lancaster is home to the oldest, continually run farmer's market in the US. It's a no brainer, I must go. Even better it is 5 minutes away from the Lancaster Anytime Fitness. I can knock them both out in one trip. With the market only being open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, I made sure to plan it into the week.
First off, The Lancaster Anytime Fitness is probably the coolest one I've been to yet with wooden columns and exposed brick and a brick archway to get to the functional strength area. Parking in that area is a serious downside though.
Now onto the Lancaster Central Market! King George II officially chartered this market place and designated Lancaster the market town in 1742! The first building was not erected until 1757. The one we see today was build in 1889. A portion of it still occupies the original site! There are around 60 vendors throughout the marketplace. It was hard to choose which to shop at. There is so much fresh produce, cheese, meats, coffee, tea, spices, prepared food of difference ethnicities, souvenirs, homemade quilts and more. Its been rated one of the top 10 best fresh markets in the world by CNN!
I walked up the aisles a few times before picking one to stop at. Local jams, hot sauces and honey. That's where my eyes go. One booth had it all. Gosh, I wish there were enough time and calories in the day to eat everything you ever wanted. I picked up a jar of strawberry jalapeno jam and mango salsa. Some yummy things will be made with these! Being hungry at the time, it seemed like this was also a great spot to find some lunch. I took the recommendation of the manager at Anytime and got an acai bowl from Oola Bowls. It was so pretty, as acia bowls should be!
I still had some more time to spare so walked about the neighboring blocks. They kept that colonial feel but still has that new age vibe. It reminded me a lot of Oneonta, NY mixed with Frederick, MD. Tattoo/coffee shops around the corner from a spice market around the corner from city hall around the corner from this cool looking theatre:
Which is across the street from a local used book store that think books about massacres and other points in Native American history are the children's section:
Overall, Lancaster is a really cool city.
My other favorite part about staying in Southeastern PA is how close it is to the Maryland boarder. I was able make a sneaky, surprise trip to Frederick to visit some friends and walk around the town we just left behind. The Ballenger Creek Anytime Fitness is still my favorite (Sorry Damascus). There's something to say about a gym that is always filled with smiling faces. It was so good to see everyone.
I also got a haircut in from my hair stylist, walked downtown and even got a a bit of Baker Park in. Frederick is such an awesome place.
The whole week in Lancaster County we had phenomenal weather. We were able to take hike on the campground hiking trail, work outside and fully enjoy the start of summer. The boys sure loved it!
The campground was also filled with little baby frogs! At first I just thought it was just a few but they were everywhere! Watch your step!
It sure is beautiful out here, I'm excited to see what Southwestern PA has to offer.