To someone who has lived in Florida the better part of 10 years, the rolling hills and farmlands of the Lancaster area of PA are to die for. After an exhausting 13-hour drive from Palm Coast, FL to Virginia, we fell into bed at the Thornburg Holiday Inn Express and slept like the dead. The long drive was worth it because we only had a relativity short 3-hour drive to PA the next morning. The girls marveled at the changing scenery as we approached Bird in Hand. Noelle, born in Florida, and Lacey who has lived there almost half her life, were able to appreciate the beauty of the hills and quaint farm houses.
Our hotel (motel is a better word for this type of place) was called The Orchard Inn. We loved it. Located away from the tourist area on top of a hill and surrounded by apple orchards, it seemed a perfect place to drop everything and relax. Our room, though not new, was clean and comfortable. We checked into the Orchard Inn with help from a 20-something Amish girl who was working the desk- very friendly and helpful and the girls got their first taste of a world totally different from their own.
Outside, there was a circular drive skimming the dozen or so rooms of the one-story hotel and the front lawn along the drive boasted borders of beautiful flowers and plants that I hadn’t seen in years. Two wrought iron tables with chairs were placed among the plantings on a stone patio. The perfect place to sit and enjoy the beautiful view, which we did!
Across the street was a 2 story house, with amazing grounds. There were 2 gardens, one filled with vegetables and herbs and the other a cutting garden of amazing flowers. To the right was a fenced-in field with 2 beautiful horses grazing in the grass. To the left was a dirt path, like a narrow road that led down the mountain flanked with corn fields on each side. The dirt path was irresistible, and the girls and I set off on foot to explore where it lead. We followed it past the house and got a good view of it’s backyard. There was a shed built to look like a cottage, with a patch of flowers and tall plantings. Set in the middle of the patch was an old, antique bicycle-built-for-two as a decoration. Lovely!
Further down the path we came upon the most wonderful, magical place- there was a tall tree making a canopy over the path, with an old fashioned tire swing. Above a small tree house was nestled in the branches complete with little wooden rungs nailed to the tree to get up there. This was definitely some child’s little piece of heaven…we resisted the urge to climb up and check out the tree house. I can only imagine the view from up there overlooking the surrounding crops of corn. It was getting dark so we headed back to the motel to sit outside with some of the other guests and enjoy the summer evening. All of a sudden the grass began twinkling and out came the fireflies, almost on cue. Noelle had never seen a firefly and it had been years since Lacey had, so they were both entranced with the flickering lights. The fireflies twinkled all around us and above the corn fields for miles…a beautiful sight.
The next morning I got up early to get some coffee and free breakfast from the lobby area. What a breakfast it was- home baked Amish bread with Amish butter and the best peach yogurt I have ever tasted. I asked about it and the girl told me it came from the Amish farm store down the road a piece. I gathered my coffee and delicious breakfast treats and parked myself outside at the table in the garden. I had my kindle with me and just relaxed and read while I enjoyed my breakfast. Every so often, the clip-clop sound of horse hooves could be heard in the distance and along would come a buggie driven by an Amish teenager. After a while, Mom and the girls awoke and joined me with their breakfasts at the table. We all admired the view and really felt like we were in heaven! I can assure you this became my daily routine for the whole time we were there.
We spent the next couple of days shopping in the old-fashioned stores, driving around the farmland and enjoying our little spot of paradise outside the hotel. The girls bought books from the local bookshop to read about the fascinating lives of the Amish girls their age. They also bought sketch books and colored pencils to try and capture the beauty of the land around them, sitting outside at our favorite spot at the table. It was like going back in time.
I have to say, one of my favorite things was the farm fresh tomatoes I bought…Florida tomatoes do NOT taste anything like the ones I had in Bird in Hand. I was very sad to leave- I tried to talk everyone into staying an extra day….but I was out-voted. Sadly. I can’t wait to go back. Maybe in the Fall… I loved the place and could see myself living there, living simply…just LIVING and enjoying God’s beautiful land.