Tuesday, June 19, 2007

this roadtrip has seven days: day four

Day 4: Newark, NJ to Lancaster, PA

Getting out of Newark did not prove a problem, except for filling up the car. Since 1949, self-serve gas stations have been illegal in the Garden State, with proposals to relieve pump jockeys of their duties never having gone very far. I pulled into a Hess not far from downtown and failed to convey to the attendant that I wanted the car to be filled, not just a strict dollar amount. My guess is that with current prices, a few drivers have raced away without paying.

I drove west on I-78, which quickly turned into a tree-surrounded route. Once I hit Pennsylvania, construction reduced traffic to lanes so narrow, my knuckles barely stayed within my skin. Needless to say, I was happy to hop off at Reading and head into Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Goodbye tailgaters, hello winding roads and oddball town names.

Oregon Dairy Restaurant Pinetown Covered Bridge
I stopped for lunch outside of Lititz at Oregon Dairy, a combination grocery store/family attraction/sit-down restaurant. I had the lunch buffet, which featured a better-than-average spread of items like baked chicken and fish , stewed tomatoes and various forms of potato. Definitely the kind of place Mom would be very happy at had she been on the trip. The oddest item, apart from more flavours of pudding than I ever knew existed, was sweet and sour ham balls - ground ham covered in a light, sweet sauce. They also offered a free scoop of ice cream, but not the el cheapo type usually found on buffet spreads - from a long-list of handscooped flavours, I picked Tastykake Chocolate Cupcake. Heavenly stuff.

After lunch, I glanced at my map of Lancaster County and wandered onto the backroads. It wasn't long before I crossed my first covered bridge of the day, pictured above. Built in 1867, the Pinetown Bridge was repositioned on higher ground in 1973 after a flood washed it away from its base. The county's official tourist site has a detailed guide of the area's bridges.

I'll shut up for a few moments to let you enjoy the scenery on the drive southeast to Old Philadelphia Pike...

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Backroads (1)

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Backroads (3)
I could have spent a few days wandering the winding, hilly countryside. All roads appeared to be paved. I was surprised to see many professionally-outfitted cyclists out for a ride on a weekday - no organized ride or race was happening.

Welcome to Intercourse Cow Guards the Door
OK, giggle a little bit. Others have. Shockingly, most of my stops in Intercourse had to do with food, once I got past the cow guarding the Intercouse Canning Company. Security did not moo when I walked out with a bag full of pickles, preserves and odd peanut-based spreads (PB schmier or cream, anyone?).

A Half Century of Cannin' and Jammin' Banjo Jimmy
A cow at the door was sedate compared to the main cannery in town, Kitchen Kettle Village, where a tourist complex grew around preserves. There's lots of cannin' and some jammin', when Banjo Jimmy played in the "town square".

Wall O' Relishes The Mustard Jerry Likes
Inside the main store, with samples galore. Jerry likes the mustard.

Covered Bridge Ahead Cows By The Roadside
Driving south towards the Lincoln Highway, I stopped at the side of the ride to snap a covered bridge indicator sign. I pulled the car next to a herd of cows. One in particular took an interest in me...

Guard Cow
Had there not been a fence, I would have felt the tender caress of cow hooves. This was the guardian of the herd, determined that I not come any closer or potentially corrupt the morals of the locals. We played stare eyes for awhile, then I drove off.

I suspect I'm on the bovine equivalent of a no-fly list.

I drifted into Lancaster, eventually finding a hotel back near Lititz. Dinner was at a family restaurant near Bird-In-Hand, The Family Cupboard. Had another Amish-style buffet spread, this time with hamloaf instead of ham balls, thus fulfilling my yearly quota of ground ham products. The surprise item was a slice of pie I thought was coconut cream until I detected a thin layer of peanut butter cream on the bottom. Inspiration for how to use some of the spreads I picked up earlier?

Full photo set on Flickr.

Next: A taste of Scrapple 

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