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The Walmart parking lot was perfect last night.  I replenished my snack supplies, bought some groceries in anticipation of cooking dinner at a house tonight, enjoyed the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday last night, and grabbed coffee and a bagel from Panera this morning – one stop shopping, eating and sleeping!

This morning I started out taking a driving tour of Lancaster, one of the largest inland cities in the 13 colonies during the American Revolution.  I actually wanted to find the Central Market, dating back to the 1700s, where many local specialties from the Dutch farmland can be found, but I never managed.  I did; however, find Wheatland, former home of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, and the dogs and I took a walk around the grounds through the Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum.

After our morning walk, we ventured north to the Ephrata Cloister, established by Conrad Beissel in 1732. Beissel, born in Germany in 1691, fled to

Sisters' House

Pennsylvania to avoid religious persecution in 1720.  After spending 12 years in Pennsylvania, some of it as a leader of a local congregation, seeking solitude, he moved to the forest.  Others followed, and by 1750 Ephrata was home to 80 celibate Brothers and Sisters called the Solitary as well as 200 Householders who chose Beissel as their leader, but did not make the other

Just like this picture

sacrifices of the Solitary.  In order to be closer to God, the Solitary ate only one meal a day, worked long hours, slept little, and meditated often.  Only a few of the buildings in the cloister remain including Beissel’s house, the Sisters’ House, a barn, a bakery, the carpenter’s house, and a few others.

I passed through Intercourse, clearly home to the Amish, as evidenced by countless horse and buggies, quilt shops, hitching posts, and farmland.  I stopped at King’s Homestead, I’m assuming Amish, given the sign on the building and bought some homemade preserves.  I finally got a few good pictures of horses and buggies here that alluded me in Ohio.

I took some back roads to Strasburg in order to ride the train!  Strasburg could be named the railroad capital of the world.  Located on the south side of the highway, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania houses over 50 railroad cars, while the National Toy Train Museum and the station house to the Strasburg Railroad is across the way.

The train service offered premium, open air, dining, and coach class tickets for a 45 minute ride past the farmlands of the Amish, the Caboose Motel (you can stay in a caboose for the evening), and the Amazing Maize Maze.  This area would be a fantastic weekend getaway for families with train loving children.  Personally, I enjoyed getting to see the Amish farmers use horses to farm their land as opposed to tractors…that is what I was expecting to see in Ohio.

After the train ride, Scout, Petey, and I continued on 30, once a wagon trail between forts where inns and taverns stood every 4 miles (the distance a wagon could travel in a day during the 1700s) toward Villanova to arrive at Fluff and Charlie’s house!  A house, a hot shower, a laundry room, a home cooked meal, and a Ranger’s win – what more could I ask for?

websites:  www.ephratacloister.org, www.rrmuseumpa.org

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