If day two of our road trip brought us to the gates of hell, day three brought us a little closer to the pearly gates.
We awoke to a beautiful, sunny, warm autumn day. Cows chewed their cud in the field across the highway in front of the motel we'd stayed in. A freight train screeched past, thrilling and startling Ada. But the best part of the morning was yet to come.
We drove a half mile down the road to our morning's destination: Amish Acres.
Amish Acres is an Amish amusement park. People who work there wear "costumes" - for the Amish workers it's their everyday wear. There are rides (the Carriage Ride of Terror and the Horse and Buggy of Death - not the actual names). They have a theme restaurant (Eat like the Amish without all the back breaking field work and barn raising! -- not the actual slogan.) There are gift shoppes ("fun" old timey amusement park spelling of shops) filled with apple butter, zucchini bread, and Amish action figures. It's sort of like Disneyland ... minus the technology. Needless to say, parking was easy and there was no tram from the lot to the gate.
We began our visit with an early lunch: bean soup, roast chicken, bread, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy. Thanksgiving in September. When I asked the waitress explained that some employees are "Amish" and some are "English," which is what the Amish call the rest of us.
"I'm not Amish," she added, in a tone that suggested "There is NO way I am Amish."
We gorged and then bought our ticket for the horse and buggy ride. We waited. It wasn't like a Disneyland, where people shuffle forward in the seemingly interminable line; it was more like it takes time to hook the buggy to the horse and to roust the driver.
The ride was ten minutes around the property and A loved it. Our driver talked about how his family had a horse farm and how hard it was for them to work it for any profit these days and, therefore, to keep it. He had a beard and wore the Amish clothes but it took me a while to sort out if he was Amish (he was) in part because I thought it might be rude to come right out and ask it and in part because I'd never spoken to an Amish person directly so I didn't know if they should have a unique accent and he didn't.
A few days later, outside of Buffalo, I met a friend of a friend who worked alongside some Amish loggers.
"Oh, it's a scam," he said, referring to the Amish lifestyle and how they seemed to be making up the rules of what technology is and is not allowed as they go along.
He also explained that one of his Amish friends, who had been English for a period of his life, said to him, "I don't know how you handle those English women, they're too smart for me." It made me chuffed to know that an Amish man thought so highly of me and my English sisters, but it also made me think that the Amish women are probably too smart to let on how smart they are.
The buggy ride complete, A and I wondered around the gift shops. We bought apple butter and A sat in a child-sized rocking chair, which was sort of like another ride, and eyed up the Amish "action figure" dolls.
We finally went back to the car for the next leg of our journey. On the road out, we saw a lot of Amish on bicycles, which reminded me of Minneapolis only with more bonnets. And probably just about the same number if beards.