At home, the Amish way By Randall S...

A MEMORABLE PLACE

November 11, 2001|By Special to the Sun

A MEMORABLE PLACE

At home, the Amish way

By Randall S. Carlson

Special To The Sun

Several years ago, I worked in a film (For Richer or Poorer, starring Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley) portraying an Amish man from a Pennsylvania Amish community.

While being fitted for the clothes I had to wear for the film, I was struck by how comfortable they were and how surprisingly familiar and natural it felt to wear them.

By the end of the filming, I was compelled to buy an Amish straw hat to remember the experience, and even more compelled to encounter a genuine Amish community.

My wife and children and I visited the Old Order Amish community in the mountain area known as Big Valley near State College, Pa. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful countryside and stopping at roadside stands to buy fresh produce.

The Big Valley area, which includes the small towns of Reedsville and Belleville, gives you an idea of what life looked like before strip malls, Wal-Marts and McDonald's spread everywhere.

Later, in Lancaster County, Pa., we were able to explore an Amish area, taking a gentle buggy ride with an Amish driver who shared with us his beautiful countryside. When we got on the back roads, there was a timeless quality to everything we saw. Viewing the land, animals and buildings created a feeling that we could easily be looking at another century, or part of a Grandma Moses painting.

Most recently we had the opportunity to visit an Amish family in Manheim, Pa., and to share a meal in their beautiful home.

The family's home is located on a dairy farm across a field from a one-room schoolhouse. The meal made by the Amish mother and served by her children was a parade of comfort food that included wonderful fried chicken, baked ham, noodles, mashed potatoes, homemade bread, chow-chow (a mustard- flavored relish) and many traditional desserts, among them lemon sponge pie and shoofly pie. We ate by gaslight and were entertained by children singing.

Again I was struck by the same feelings I had when I first tried on those Amish clothes. Everything in this home seemed familiar and natural in a comforting way -- the Amish way.

Randall S. Carlson lives in Hanover, Pa.

MY BEST SHOT

A different kind of boardwalk

By Scott Berkenblit, Baltimore

One of the highlights of a recent trip to the Kenai Peninsula of southern Alaska was a day trip to Halibut Cove, a community of 80 artists and fishermen nestled in a rocky cove on Kachemak Bay. Accessible only by boat, the town has a series of interconnected boardwalks rather than roads or sidewalks. Residents allow only one commercial boat to visit each day, to preserve the unspoiled nature of the place.

READERS RECOMMEND

Westwood, Calif

Lucy Pickering,Baltimore

"My husband and I were touring northern California and wound up in Westwood, a small town that began as a lumber community, amid the awesome scenery and beautiful waterfalls. Much to our surprise, we came across two childhood friends: Paul Bunyan and his buddy, Babe the Blue Ox, in the form of statues. Westwood claims to be the hometown of the mythical giant's legend."

Belgium

Tina Klein, Millersville

"My daughter, Lani (right), and I took a trip to Belgium in August as part of an 'Old Romantic World Tour.' We visited the Arc du Triomphe in Parc du Cinquantenaire. The bases of the monument are decorated with allegories of the Belgian provinces. It was created in 1880 to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Kingdom of Belgium. "

LET US HEAR FROM YOU

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* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

* A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

* Readers Respond -- Send a reply to our current question: Have you canceled your travel plans as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks, or are you more determined than ever to travel? Selected answers may appear in a future issue. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

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Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or send by e-mail to travel@baltsun.com. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

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