It seems like it should take more than 35 minutes to get from downtown Baltimore to the cow-studded hillsides of greater Glen Rock, Pa. But it doesn't. So if what you crave is weathered farm buildings, nursing foals, value-priced antiques or a really good mini-doughnut, head north on Interstate 83.
You'll be here before you know it.
But where is here, actually? If you don't know what you're doing, you can get off at the exit marked Glen Rock and drive for quite a while before you see anything like a mini-doughnut or a 19th-century ceramic crock.
Southern York County was a little hard to get the hang of even before they changed all the exit numbers on I-83 to a mileage-based system last year. Now Exit 1 is 4, 2 is 8 and 3 is 10. But don't complain: the Department of Transportation says it's much easier this way.
Once you're off the highway in Shrewsbury, Wal-Mart and Wendy's jump out at you, but where the heck is that place with the great fruit?
Asking for help may or may not be a useful strategy. Locals tend to refer to landmarks that no longer exist. You know the old Valu-Food on the trail? The one that came in after the Food Lion?
Then there's the "trail" thing.
Everything is either "on the trail" or "near the trail," which is sometimes called the "Old Trail." Eventually you learn there are two trails, one a major north-south artery (the Susquehanna Trail) and one a hike and bike path (the York County Heritage Trail).
Don't be discouraged. Although I'm from New Jersey, I've lived in York County for three years, and I'm going to spill the beans and give directions. Because really, you don't want to miss Carman's ice cream. Or Stoner's Auction. Or the Spoutwood Farms Fairie Festival.
Antiques, wine and sustenance
The first thing you'll see in Shrewsbury is all that fast food and discount retail I warned you about. But you're just a quarter-mile away from great antiquing, right there on -- you guessed it -- the Susquehanna Trail. Which is also called Main Street (sigh).
Within three blocks, there are seven or eight antiques stores, many of them multidealer and all enticing, whether you're hunting for something specific or just browsing.
No snobs and no attitude problems here -- the dealers are even nice to children, though, of course, you need to keep a close eye on them. (On the other hand, you don't have to take your kids to the antiques stores. See the Pit Skate Park, below.)
I love the displays of furniture and stuffed animals at Long's. I've bought great '50s movie posters and memorabilia at Patrick's. My husband picked up a venerable edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage for under $10 at the Shrewsbury Antique Center, and has been up and down the block acquiring Flexible Flyers for our kids.
Sixteen N. Main carries Italian and Greek gourmet items, from which they put together appealing gift baskets. In addition to her impressive array of pastas, olive oils and sauces, Adrienne Sabato stocks bread from the bakery in North Jersey that Frank Sinatra used to patronize.
For vintage clothing mavens, Another Time Vintage Apparel has a stunning collection of perfectly preserved movie star-type dresses, Victorian gowns, wedding ensembles, sweater sets, period hats and jewelry.
A sample of Shrewsbury's finest:
* Serendipity Antiques, 2 North Main St.; 717-235-5422
* Patrick's Antique Emporium, 8 South Main St.; 717-235-9049
* Sixteen N. Main, 16 N. Main St.; 717-235-3448.
* Full Count Antiques and Collectibles, 21 North Main St.; 717-235-4200
* Long's Antiques & Specialties, 36 N. Main St.; 717-235-9170
* Another Time Vintage Apparel, 49 North Main St.; 717-235-0664
* Shrewsbury Antique Center, 65 North Highland Drive; 717-235-6637 (This is the largest and oldest of the antiques establishments; it's a block east of the trail, behind Another Time.)
Fred and Lynn Hunter, psychologists from Philadelphia, looked at 107 farms before they chose the acreage that is now Seven Valleys Vineyard Winery. You can taste and purchase their wines at their shop on Main Street -- to my palate, the most successful are the sweeter whites and the dessert wines. The Country Red is a good value at $9. The store also sells modern and vintage glassware.
In the hills a mile west of town, the vineyard itself is open to visitors and worth a visit. In addition to the pre-Revolutionary War buildings on the property -- the Hunters' farmhouse is 260 years old -- there is another wine and gift shop and a tasting room overlooking an idyllic pond. Call for a schedule of their cooking classes and tasting dinners with resident chef Michael Vicchiotti, a York native trained in Tuscany.
* Seven Valleys Wine Shop, 27 N. Main St.; 717-227-0257
* Seven Valleys Vineyard & Winery, 885 Georges Court, Glen Rock; 717-235-6281; www.sevenvalleys.com
If great restaurants are your priority, stay in Baltimore (or go to New York, perhaps.) Fine dining is not the strong point of this area.