Pennsylvania Dutch Country and More Cousins

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Lancaster, and we had not eaten lunch, so we interrupted our search for a hotel to find somewhere to have dinner,  We discovered the Good and Plenty, a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant that serves family style. We were seated at a long table with two other families. The meal started off with appetizers that included chow chow (sweet and sour vegetables), peppered cabbage (like a coleslaw with no mayo), chicken salad, apple sauce, homemade bread with butter, apple butter and cottage cheese.  Main meal was fried chicken, pot roast and a local sausage, with buttered corn, browned buttered noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, and carrots. This was followed by dessert of blueberry pie, shoo fly pie, cracker pudding, cheesecake and ice cream.  It was all you can eat….We thought the appetizers were good, the fried chicken was exactly what you want fried chicken to be, the corn and noodles were the highlight of the meal.  Both of us were underwhelmed by the desserts and wished we had chosen more noodles over the desserts.  The food was bountiful, but the only seasonings used were butter, salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar, so it was a little one note for us.

With our tummies full the hotel hunt continued.  As we have been learning, there does not appear to be a slow time for many destinations…baby boomers are traveling.  It took quite a few stops to find a place that had a vacancy for the four days we planned to spend in the area. Finally, around 8 PM we found the Courtyard by Marriot and moved in just before the rain began.

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Cheryl Brooks, Bridget, and Kathy outside of Say Cheese!

Earlier in the week, I had contacted Cheryl Brooks, a friend from Sierra Madre who had moved to Bethlehem, PA about 15 years ago.  Luckily, she had Thursday free and we made arrangements to meet for lunch in Reading, PA.  Cheryl’s son, Greg and his wife and baby live in Reading, so he suggested that we meet at a little restaurant called Say Cheese.  I have known Cheryl since our children were very small.  We were both involved in early childhood religious education at St. Rita. It was so wonderful to spend time with her and to catch up with her.  We spent a few hours talking and eating. I am so glad that she had time to meet us.  I’m not sure, but I think we actually overdosed on cheese as every dish had cheese.    After we left Reading, we went to the farmers market in Bird-In-Hand, PA. Lots of meats, cheeses, crafts, jams, jellies and even some fruits and veggies. We tasted a few things and bought some fruit and veggies for the hotel room.

Friday, we made arrangements to take a buggy tour through Abe’s Buggy Rides.  Our tour guide, Sam, was a retired Amish farmer who thoroughly enjoyed telling us all about the Amish way of life and showing us Amish farms,

businesses and schools.

He told us about a wedding he had attended the day before, which lasted about 10 hours–along with prayers and two meals, there are two singing sessions that last 2-1/2 hours each, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

IMG_3610After the tour, we continued to explore the area on our own.  The scenery in Lancaster County is unbelievably beautiful.  We discovered a weaving and yarn shop and Kathy was lost for an hour or so looking at the the hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns (lots of new yarn, Christmas presents????[Kathy: No.]).  The weather was worsening with threats of torrential rains so we returned to the hotel in the late afternoon.

IMG_3618Saturday, we went to a weight watcher workshop in Lancaster, then out to breakfast at a local diner.  We took a wrong turn on the way home and had to go through a covered bridge.  Because the weather was so bad, we decided to take care of personal business for the rest of the day.  Three loads of laundry, working on the blog, and paying bills….fun stuff.

Bridget
Days 68-73

Heading West and Chocolate

While we were in Cape Cod, Kathy and I decided that after NYC, we were ready to start heading west. Originally, we intended to go to the Carolinas, but after the hurricane, and with all of the bad weather we have had in the past couple of weeks, we decided to save them for another trip.  I have always wanted to see the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country, so we decided to head to Pennsylvania.

As we left the long-term parking, we drove through NYC (on the freeway), and  crossed the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey.  We were quickly out of industrial cities and saw the beautiful Garden State.

 

We were really amazed at the beauty of the state.  We drove into Pennsylvania planning to go Wilkes Barre.  Some of our ancestors were from the Wilkes Barre area and we thought we might do some genealogy research, but when we got there, we couldn’t find a place to stay, and did not feel very comfortable so we continued on to Hazelton, PA.  We talked about what we wanted to do for the next few days and decided that we wanted to go to the Hershey Factory, spend time in the Lancaster area, meet up with an old Sierra Madre friend, Cheryl Brooks, who now lives in Bethlehem, PA, and visit Gettysburg.

Wednesday, we drove to Hershey, PA and arrived at Hershey World.  We were able to get a wheel chair for Kathy and we spent about four hours learning everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate.

 

We learned the history of Chocolate, and how to correctly taste it like a chocolate professional, made our own candy bars and watched them go through the whole process from development to wrapping, and went on the Hershey factory ride that simulates the actual factory process.  XuILxxEVTEeb%xqRd6IEsAThe staff was wonderful and very accommodating to Kathy.  We spent some  money in the gift shop, but only split one cupcake and had the couple of bites of chocolate that came with the tasting lesson.  It was great fun, but we were thrilled that we were there in late October, rather than the middle of the summer—the parking lot looked like it was as big as Disneyland’s lot.  There is an amusement park too, but we did not go there (I think it was closed, but we really aren’t park people).  After we left Hershey’s, we drove on to Lancaster to find a hotel for a few days.

Bridget
Days 67-68Heading West and Chocolate

Food, Food and a Little Art

1021181150Day three in New York started with good bye to Laura as she had to go back to New Hampshire and her real life of teaching.  Lisa walked her to Penn Station and when Lisa returned, we had breakfast in the hotel and planned our day.  We decided that we would go to the Guggenheim Museum.  Having seen pictures of it all of us were looking forward to seeing the phenomenal Frank Lloyd Wright building.  The current major exhibit is the works of Hilma af Klint an early abstract artist whose paintings were generated in part through af Klint’s spiritualist practice as a medium and reflect an effort to articulate mystical views of reality. (The last part of this sentence was “borrowed” from the Guggenheim web site, I’m not1021181151 that accomplished as a writer). Additionally, there was an exhibit of the works of R.H. Quaytman, a contemporary painter whose current work, Chapter 34, is influenced by the work of af Klint. But my favorite was the Guggenheim Collection with the works of Constantin Brancusi,  one of my favorite modern sculptors, as well as works by many well known artists of the 19th and 20th century. Additionally there were exhibits of modern Asian Art.

After a full exploration of the museum, we were tired and hungry–Kathy was able to walk the whole museum.  We decided to try the The Wright at the Museum.  Kathy had House-Made Chestnut Agnolotti Pasta, Lisa had Biscuits & Gravy and I had the Chicken Chopped Salad. All dishes were very good but the biscuits and gravy were wonderful, and different from any other biscuit or gravy — the sausage was a combo of sweet and hot Italian sausage, and the biscuit was fabulous.

Then it was back to the hotel and a meet up with Chelsea. Her boyfriend Santhi was supposed to meet us for dinner, but ended up having a conflict. He did recommend an excellent restaurant in the East Village called Yuca Bar and Restaurant, a fusion of Latin cuisine from over a dozen countries. The food was phenomenal and the margaritas were excellent!  We started with guacamole that was served with tortilla chips, fried plantains and yucca chips.

Kathy and I both ordered arepas, a delicious corn cake stuffed with various thing like pork in guava BBQ sauce, chipotle chicken and shredded beef, all were good, but the pork was the best, Chelsea had Yucca encrusted salmon and Lisa enjoyed a plantain stuffed with shredded pork.  We shared the best flan any of us had ever eaten for dessert.  Didn’t eve save you a picture.

Monday Chelsea made arrangements for us to have lunch with Santhi near his office in the Metro Tech Center in downtown Brooklyn. It was great meeting Santhi, who held his own with his girlfriend’s aunt and two cousins.  He is a very creative person who has just illustrated a children’s book, is working on a TV series with Chelsea and works full time. We all look forward to getting to know him better.  1022181154aAfter lunch, we made a trip to the Strand Book Store, a fabulous bookstore in NYC with 18 Miles of new, used and rare books.  This took up most of the afternoon.  After we returned to the hotel, it was time to say good bye to Chelsea, then we took naps and decided to go to Gnocco, a little Italian Restaurant in the East Village.  It is truffle time and we indulged in some fabulous dishes including gnocco, a deep fried dough similar to fry breads or sopapillas, which came with wonderful Italian cold cuts, arancini with truffles, goat cheese with honey, pine nuts and raisins on a bed of greens; pizza Amatriciana; and pasta with butter and garlic topped with truffles.  Everything was fabulous.  Another thanks to Santhi for the recommendation.

VM1UPGoJQLaWeylYrQoUlQTuesday morning we packed up all of our belongings and headed out.  We hired a car to take us to breakfast, and then the airport.  We searched the internet, and thanks to NY Eater, discovered Velselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village (are you beginning to see a pattern here?  We basically ate our way through the East Village in NYC.) Velselka has been in NYC since 1954 and all reviews were outstanding.  Our experience indicates that the reviews are correct. I had eggs with a potato pancake, kielbasa and challah toast, Lisa had yogurt with granola and bananas and a side of sausage and Kathy had cheese blintzes with a raspberry sauce. We also shared a piece of poppyseed bread.  All were great, but the sausage was unbelievable.  It was locally sourced from Esposito Sausage and we have already made plans to order some for Christmas Brunch!!!!  Then on the airport to drop off Lisa, and Kathy and I proceeded to the Bolt parking lot to pick up my trusty Subaru.

Brid
Days 65-67

Give Our Regards to Broadway!

IMG_3398We didn’t leave the Cape until late afternoon, so we only drove as far as Providence, RI.  We stayed overnight in an extended stay motel ( I can’t remember the name). We had terrific Cambodian food — very similar to Thai, but somewhat different.  It was delicious. Next morning we got up and went to a WW workshop in Johnston, RI.  Good meeting, but not as good as #pasadena830!!!  We didn’t have breakfast before the meeting, so after we looked for a local place to try.  We discovered English Muffin, Inc.  YumYum!!! Eggs cooked perfectly, had a combo that came with French Toast, which was good and made great by the spiced apples that were an option over potatoes. And yes it came with a grilled English muffin, too. Really more brunch than lunch.

Then it was on to Queens, NY.  Traffic in NYC was as miserable as we had heard and I was personally delighted that we had decided to leave the car at JFK long term parking for our New York sojourn. As I didn’t want to drive, and because we were in NYC, we ordered Chinese delivery for dinner.  Got up early next morning to bring the car to the Bolt lot and meet our cousin, Lisa at the airport. Our connections were perfect, and IMG_3401within an hour, we were on our way to the Doubletree Times Square West which would be our home away from home for our 4 day stay in NYC.  Unfortunately, our rooms were not ready (it was only 11 so, not really surprised) so we had something to eat and then sat in the lobby for a couple of hours talking up a storm.  Finally got into our rooms around 1:30, and we were all beat, so we took naps.  While we were napping, our cousin, Laura arrived.  We met for dinner and took a Lyft to Katz Deli for a quintessential New York Deli experience.  IMG_3402Pastrami sandwiches, seltzer, pickles and potato salad–mmmmmm. Laura’s daughter Chelsea, who is a director in NYC joined us for dinner and was able to spend some time with us over the weekend, even though it was a busy weekend for her. She had a film being shown at the Chelsea Film Festival, and a Q&A after, and a play in the Fringe Festival as well as  a day of filming scheduled in Central Park for a film on which she is the AD.  And that was just on the weekend!

1020181710a1Saturday, Kathy and I had a lazy morning while Lisa and Laura went to the 9/11 memorial and museum.  I had been to the memorial on my first visit to NYC 2 years ago and there is really too much walking and standing in line for Kathy to navigate.  When Lisa and Laura returned, we met up to go see TORCH SONG at the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway.  It was phenomenal and if you get to NYC, be sure to go see it! The whole cast was brilliant and the play is as timely today as TORCH SONG TRILOGY was in the 80’s.

Michael Urie was perfectly cast as Arnold Beckoff, drag queen and romantic, and Mercedes Ruehl was as terrific as always as his mother.  The supporting cast was also excellent.

While waiting for the play to start, Lisa realized her phone was missing.  I called the number, and someone answered.  He found the phone in the cab we had taken to the play.  He was on his way to a restaurant on the Upper East Side and offered to leave it with the hostess. I thanked him and said we would pick it up after the play.  Wasn’t till I hung up that it was pointed out that the phone would be on the Upper East Side, and we needed to get to Greenwich Village–I  should have bribed the cab driver to bring the phone to the theater.  Oh well, we were in for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  After the play, we waited for our Lyft, that never showed up and got to see the cast of the play as they left the theater.  When we finally gave up on Lyft, we caught a cab who was willing to make this crazy trip.  (of course, it was 5:00 so traffic was terrible!)  Raced from Broadway, to Upper East Side, grabbed the phone, raced to Greenwich Village, and actually arrived early for Chelsea’s play, SERVING BRULEE.

Sone Anandpara wrote SERVING BRULEE and starred in it with Ivy Hong. Our cousin, Chelsea Lockie directed the production.  The play was funny, very current, and thought provoking.  The actors were well suited to their roles. The play was about the first day of a cable TV cooking show.  The actual production took place in a school cafeteria, which made it feel like a cable show.  The title of the show comes from Crème Brulee and the premise is that Crème Brulee is the perfect dessert, and all women should try to “achieve brulee.” Life lessons ensue.

An actor friend of Chelsea’s, Mia Christo, joined us for the play and after it was over, we all went to Death Avenue for an interesting take on Greek food.  I had a wonderful lamb shank. Other foods ordered included a variety of sliders, including  pulled pork with a Greek BBQ sauce and a homemade Greek Sausage, eggplant tacos and Greek salads as well as oregano fries.  Food was very good.  Then back to the hotel and dreamland.

Cranberries and Alverno Girls

IMG_3344Monday was cold and rainy again. After weeks of traveling, we were tired of pre-made scrambled eggs, so we took ourselves to the Keltic Kitchen for breakfast (there appears to be a big Irish presence on the Cape).  They had real Irish bacon and made perfect fried eggs. After breakfast, we set out on our adventure.  First, we wanted to see the Edward Gorey Museum and buy scary gifts. Alas, it is only open on weekends, even the gift shop. So only an exterior photo of his home on Cape Cod.  Then we went searching for some beach plum jam to bring home. While we were driving to the store in Harwick that was supposed to have it, we looked through the trees and saw that there was a cranberry bog being harvested.  When our jam venture proved to be fruitless, we drove back to the bog (missing it twice) and took some pictures.  It was fun to see this in action—looked a little like the ocean spray commercial, without the farmers standing in the middle.  We became curious, so we booked a tour at a local organic bog for the next day.

IMG_3359In the afternoon, we took a trip to the Wampanoag Tribal Museum in Washpee. This was one of the few times that Mavis failed us.  She sent us to the tribal headquarters, rather than the museum, just a few miles out of the way.  The museum was small, but very well done.  The docent at the museum was one of the clan mothers and told the history of her people as if she was speaking of events that happened last week.  We were fascinated and very pleased that we had made the effort to go to the museum.

After a day out in the cold and rain, we were tired and cold so we  ordered a pizza for dinner (only the second time this trip).

Next morning, we took off for our cranberry bog tour.  Our tour guide was Andrea Cakounes, who along with her husband, Leo, owns and runs the largest organic cranberry bog on Cape Cod.  She takes groups around on an old bus that made the trip very handicapped accessible.  Her tour consists of telling a year in the life of a bog month by month. We learned the difference between wet and dry harvesting, saw someone actually hand sorting the cranberries (final sort, after the machine sort) and tasted both a raw (very sour) cranberry, and some that had been dried and processed (sweet). One of the things that we learned was that the fresh cranberries that we can find in the store are dry harvested while those that are used to make cranberry sauce, juice and dried cranberries are wet harvested. The commercial for Ocean Spray that shows the farmers in the bog is an actual cranberry bog, but there is really only one or two days per year that the bog looks like that.  We learned about sanding the bog, the extra steps that go into making a farm organic, and all about the animals on the farm.

After our bog tour, we decided to drive along 6A, considered the most beautiful drive on the Cape.  It really was beautiful.  Stopped for a late lunch at a diner and back to the hotel for naps.  Laundry in the evening. We were checking out tomorrow and then spending the day with an  old friend from Alverno Heights Academy, Mary Kay Wynn Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, we met up with Mary Kay.  She brought us to the Old Yarmouth Inn, the oldest inn on Cape Cod.  We had a wonderful lunch of squash soup and sandwiches. I had Crab Cake and Kathy and Mary Kay had beef dips.  Yummy wine to drink and carrot cake for desert.  It was so wonderful seeing Mary Kay. She had seen my Facebook post about eating at Wahlburgers and let us know that she only lived 10 minutes away in  Scituate, Ma.  We were able to arrange to meet in Cape Cod and spent a few hours catching up on the past 45+ years.  Wow, we Alverno Women really have had interesting and vital lives!  After lunch, Mary Kay showed us some of her favorite places on the Cape.  After we said our good byes, Kathy and I took off on our next adventure.  Next major stop, New York City!

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Brid  Day 59-61

 

Driving the Cape

Sunday morning we awoke to a beautiful day, so we went to Mass at St. Francis Xavier in Hyannis, which is the church the Kennedy family has attended for years.  Beautiful old church, but the parish appears to be very conservative.

After Mass, we decided to drive the entire length of the Cape to Provincetown and back. The days was sunny, but windy and we thought it would be a short drive, but it ended up being the rest of the day.   We wanted to drive along the water, but discovered that there are so many rivers, lakes and inlets, that there is not really a road along the ocean.  IMG_3319There are a few places where the main road takes you along the coast, but there are also times that feel like you are in a forest.  Our main stop of the day was at the Cape Cod National Seashore.  This is a National Park that is protecting the shoreline of Cape Cod while continuing to make it accessible to the public.  We stopped at the Salt Pond Visitors Center and saw a film about the way Cape Cod developed during the ice ages and beyond.  There is a very good museum that is dedicated to whaling and the indigenous peoples of the area.  There appeared to be a number of good hikes and/or walks with accessible trails, but it was late afternoon and quite windy, so we didn’t take any of them.  As we were leaving, we found out that the annual Oyster Festival was taking place further up the road.  We made it past the area without getting caught in the traffic, but were not so lucky on the way back to our motel.

After leaving the National Seashore, we continued our drive to Provincetown.  By the time we got there, we were starving. We had planned to stop for lunch, but fear of getting caught in the Oyster Festival Traffic kept us on the road.  As soon as we arrived in P-Town as the locals call it, we opened our trusty google, “Where to eat near me” and discovered a lovely restaurant called Fanizzi’s. 1014181607We sat right on the waters edge as the sun set over the bay and enjoyed fancy martinisIMG_3328 as well as mouth watering appetizers (an artichoke for Kathy and roasted Brussel sprouts for me) and then a leisurely dinner of savory pork loin stuffed with Italian sausage for Kathy and ….guess what I had….yes, it was more scallops, but this time they were baked in a soy ginger sauce and were delectable. (And yes, we forgot to take photos before we started to eat, again.)

We decided not to continue to the pier as it was getting late, but turned around and drove back to our home away from home. On our drive up, we took 28 on the south side of the Cape, and on our way back, we took 6A for part of the trip, and actually did get to drive along the coast, until we caught up with the traffic, then we hopped on 6 and drove through the center of the Cape, to get back before we turned into pumpkins.

Brid
Day 58

Ask Not…, ARGGH!

We arrived in South Yarmouth on Cape Cod but were still so full from our late lunch at Wahlburgers that we skipped dinner. We have been feeling the effects of the hurricane in Florida and there has been a lot of rain and cloudy days.  Saturday morning continued that trend and we debated about what to do in the rain.  We finally decided to go to Hyannis and see the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. Before we left for the Museum, Kathy called to see if they had a wheelchair that she could reserve as her knee was really acting up in the rain.  The phone system was a little confusing, but she finally got hold of a person named John who was delightful and was able to have the chair waiting for her when we arrived. Turns out that Kathy got hold of John L. Allen, the president of the museum foundation.  He met us when we arrived and gave us a quick orientation.  Everyone we met was charming!  The museum itself mission statement is that it “preserves and promotes the legacy of President Kennedy, his family, and their deep connection to Cape Cod.” The exhibits we saw were “Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe”, “JFK at 100: Life & Legacy” and “Robert F. Kennedy: Ripple of Hope”. We were so reminded of times of hope, courage and public service.  So much of the Kennedy legacy is so needed today. We were reminded of many events that we have lived through.  (Photography of exhibits was not allowed at either destinatio.)

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As we were leaving the museum, we asked the lovely lady at the front desk for recommendations for lunch. She suggested we go to Alberto’s Ristorante, so we tried it.  We had a wonderful dining experience.  Started with delicious appetizers, I had eggplant rotini and Kathy had chicken escarole soup. For our main course, Kathy had Scrod Francaise (in lemon sauce, asparagus, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and mushrooms) with linguini.  I had chicken cacciatore with linguini.  For dessert we both had apple crisps.  All of the dishes were excellent! We are finding that on the east coast, apple dishes use a much tarter apple than on the west coast and we are enjoying them considerably.

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After we finished lunch, we decided to go to the Whydah Pirate Museum.  This museum tells the story of the Whydah, a pirate ship under the command of Black Sam Bellamy, that crashed off the coast of Wellfleet in 1717.  It was discovered by underwater explorer, Barry Clifford, in 1984 and remains the only pirate ship that has been positively identified.  The museum is a repository for many of the discoveries from the wreck and they are used to tell the story of the ship. Research and excavation continue today on the Whydah.  The museum is very well done and fun for both children and adults.  One of the interesting things we discovered about pirate ships is that they were very egalitarian, with ethnically diverse crews.

Bridget
Day 57

Adventures, travel and genealogy of a couple of retired ladies.