July 26, 2014

Amish Country

I promised you the beauty of Pennsylvania and here it is!  Perhaps it's the East Coast Girl in me, or perhaps it's just that beautiful, but either way I found the every day drives to be breathtaking.  

This was an Amish market we stopped in frequently for insanely fresh and delicious veggies.

The county my family lives in is heavily populated by the Amish.  They were a bit of a mystery to me so I (started) reading a book to try and understand more about their culture.  With our crazy schedule, I didn't get past the first 15 pages, but I managed to learn a few things.

They are from German descent and are farmers by trade.  Their farms are meticulously clean, pristine, and look as though they cut the grass with nail scissors!

For the most part, they don't use electricity of any kind but are ok with using gas powered equipment from time to time.  This farmer below was pulling his equipment by horse, but the cutter was being powered by a motor.   

They have an extreme work ethic and their rules are not designed because things are bad or evil, but designed to maintain their ethic and keep the family very close.  For example...if you had lights in each room, your children might want to go to their own rooms to read.  Whereas if you don't have electricity, the family will naturally gather in the kitchen near the large window and be spending time together.

Any of us with children must admit, our families spend a LOT of time apart while in the same house, connected to some form of electronic entertainment.  
Some of this is by design of course ;)

They are also extremely committed to being "plain" or not fancy.  This shows in their dress and hairstyles and sadly their teeth.  Although the women do wear colorful dresses, they are very plain, all the same style and many don't use buttons as closures as buttons are too fancy.  I saw more than one woman with her blouse pinned with a straight pin!  Ouch.  All the girls wear their hair in the same fashion - rolled back on the sides and in a tight bun - and most often wear a sheer "cover over."  Men have a very severe what we would have called a "bowl cut" in my day as cutting layers in your hair would also be considered fancy.  Shoes appear to be entirely optional.

As for the teeth, well brushing is considered being vain too so they don't do it.  Most of the older Amish I saw had very few teeth left.

So let's break from the lesson for a moment...pretty right?  These were my sights for a whole month!  As much as I love the ocean and the beauty of Hawaii, it was nice to see this 
landscape for a change.  So much space!  
(Of course this winter this was all covered in about 100ft. of snow and you can keep that thank you very much!)  

Ok class, break time is over.  Naturally cars are out of the question so it's not uncommon at all to come across (or get stuck behind) a buggy while heading through town.  They are most considerate and move to the side so you can pass.

Fun fact: no rubber wheels!  Their wheels on all their equipment are metal.  Not sure if that falls in the fancy category, keeping the family closer category, or another one that I didn't quite get to in the book.

One of the reasons I was so fascinated with the Amish was that they were living and thriving while being surrounded by the "English" as they call us.  

Most often, a religious group with vastly different ideals than modern society run screaming for the hills.  They avoid "us" and move to a commune with high walls and have no contact with others outside of their group.  

Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to the Amish.  They interact with the English on a daily basis, they sell their produce, crafts and food to us.  They are very friendly, and don't seem afraid at all that we will "corrupt" them with our dress or lifestyle.

The English and the Amish seem to co-exist nicely, even accommodating them with parking spots :)

Where are they heading you ask?

Wally World silly!  Their Amish not aliens after all.  

I'll have to finish the book, some of their customs still have me curious, but from what I saw they are a lovely, hard-working, family oriented people.  

I found a great one page synopsis if you are interested:

This information just might be on the pop quiz :)

These shots are taken from my Dad's house




This concludes our mini-lesson on the Amish.  
Class dismissed

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July 24, 2014


Perhaps the best part of our trip was reconnecting with family.  Three years brings lots of changes in little (and not so little anymore) lives.  It was a pleasure to watch them get to know each other again!  

All 7 children smiling AND looking at the camera.  I think this automatically qualifies me for a prestigious photography award!  Of course at Christmas I won't have the same luck with just my two :)

The self named "Dream Team"

That's the whole unruly gang!  

I felt like I was taking pictures the whole time, and now I realize I never got any with the grandparents.  Grrr.  Next time I might have to schedule a photo shoot!  I guess we were too busy having fun.  Thankfully there are no shots of the adults vs kids pool volleyball game :)  

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July 21, 2014

New York City!!

 We're back!!!  Our month on the Mainland was fantastic, it's been a long time since we have been "home" and it was well worth every cramped, crowded, back achey, sleepless moment on the plane.  Easy to say that now that it's over of course.

I've only had the time to download and edit my photos of NYC,  but it's more than enough to share on it's own!  

Photo heavy post, grab a cup of coffee and settle in...

We started our trip on Staten Island staying at the Navy Lodge which is just at the foot of this magnificent bridge.  The Verrazano Narrows is a sight in itself. 

This is Fort Wadsworth which was just steps away from our lodge room.  I'll let the internet do the talking for me: 

One of the Oldest Military Sites in the U.S.

Built along the high ground of the Narrows is Fort Wadsworth, a formidable structure that has guarded New York City for over 200 years. Fort Wadsworth harkens back to an era when New York Harbor was protected by seacoast fortifications.

An enemy entering the Narrows would be caught in the cross-fire between Fort Wadsworth and Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. During the War of 1812, Fort Wadsworth was crucial in protecting New York Harbor from the British. During the Civil War, Battery Weed protected the harbor and, along with Fort Tompkins, the granite fortification still stands today. When closed in 1994, Fort Wadsworth had been the longest active military site in the United States.

As you can see our first night there was a little overcast and hazy but we were still awed by the sights and sounds of the city.  We took the Staten Island Ferry into Manhattan for dinner, got the lay of the land (and the Subway) and got a good rest for our busy days to come.

The Ferry ended up being one of our favorite things to do.  It's about a 20 minute ride from Staten Island to Manhattan and it cruised right by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island every day.  I could do a whole post of just Lady Liberty photos but I'll spare you, I tried to pick just a few of my fav's!

 Look how much the ferry is listing from all the people crowding on the opposite side to see the sights!  Yikes.

Touristy shot in the Ferry terminal buying our morning coffee

Beautiful right?  For those of you who haven't been in a while, that tall building with the spire on it is the new 911 Memorial building where the Twin Towers used to stand.  

Also for those of you who haven't been in a while...GO!  It's a truly magnificent city.

There she is!

Ellis Island

We started our first full day at the Carnegie Deli.  I should have taken a photo of the food, but it probably wouldn't fit in the camera frame!  It wasn't good, it was fantastic!!  Between the four of us we ordered pancakes, bacon, cheese blintzes, and a pastrami sandwich!  I'd be hard pressed to tell you what was the best, but I can tell you we threw away more than we ate.  

Then we walked...

and walked...

and rested...

Rockefeller Center.  

Obviously no Christmas tree and ice-skating at this time of year.  There was however a crazy half rocking horse, half dinosaur thingy as you can see.  Again, I'll let the internet do the talking:

This summer, Jeff Koons's Split-Rocker makes its New York City debut at Rockefeller Center, to coincide with the opening of his retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Split-Rocker is a spectacular planted form that towers over 37 feet high and features over 50,000 flowering plants.

Some things are just lost on me I guess.

More walking and then it was finally time for the show!!


This has been a long-time favorite movie of mine, and when I heard it just opened on Broadway this March I was determined to go.  

I wish I could explain how fabulous it was.  Just ask my girls what they thought of it and take a look at the smiles on their faces.  At the risk of repeating myself folks...for those of you who haven't been to a show in a while (or ever)...GO!

The beautiful New Amsterdam Theater

 After the show I had the pleasure of meeting up for dinner with two of my old college buddies and their families.  We were exhausted, but had a terrific dinner and many, many laughs.  

Being out late = good opportunity to photograph the city at night!

Day 2 (yes, all that was one day!)

When in NY you gotta have a bagel right?  Fogettaboutit!  Delicious and a good carb load to start another day of walking.  

Whilst eating said bagels I was consulting my handy dandy map app (which didn't really help with my directional handicap at all for those of you familiar with my disability) and noticed we were pretty close to a fun little place called MOOD!

If you are a fan of the show "Project Runway" you know exactly of what I speak.  If you aren't well, that's not cool and you should watch the new season which starts on July 24th.  

The girls and I are big fans and none bigger than my Emily (yeah, it's a show about fashion designers and runway shows).  She was thrilled when we found it and I think she took pictures of every piece of fabric on all 4 floors.  She was also determined to find "Swatch" the dog who appears in most episodes.  As only Emily can do, she had the entire staff of the store looking for Swatch that day.  We finally found him in the break room and they let her hold him and everything.  Magical stuff I tell you!

"Thank you Mood!"

Next we were off to the American Girl store and Cafe!  

Truth be told, only one of us was really looking forward to this experience, but I must admit it was also fabulous.  Our lunch was very nice, the atmosphere was adorable and we even enjoyed walking around the store and looking at all the AG things!  

We bought "Em" a cute bathing suit, flip flops and a coverup AND got her ears pierced to match Emily.  All and all it's a bit like a Disney experience, pricey but classy and somehow you walk out happy.  Nicely done AG :)

More walking...

To the Empire State building.  My mom was excited to visit here as her Dad, back in the day and just out of college, took his first job helping to build this little guy!

And for a mere $100 we got to ride the elevator to the top :)

Well, not the tippy top, that costs an additional $20 per person and I thought $25 each was enough.  Kind of ticks me off as an American to have to pay for stuff like that.  

So here are some photos from the measly 86th floor.  I'm sure they would have been better from the 102nd floor!

A little hazy but can you see Central Park?  Seriously, right in the middle of all that is a beautiful park with a zoo and everything!  

Cool artsy shot huh?

Chrysler Building

St. Patricks Cathedral
I wish I could have taken better photos of the inside, but as you can see it's under a major renovation.  Stunning, you could spend hours in there!

Our last half day we got up and went into Central Park and the Hayden Planetarium.  

This is where we ate our street hot dog :)

In addition to our walking, we rode the Subway quite a bit.  It's a great system and very easy to use.  One thing I loved was that each stop had gorgeous mosaics that had something to do with that particular location.  

I thought these were particularly great as you got off at the stop for the Museum of Natural History.   

Whoa, who put Jupiter there? 

 Last shot on the Ferry back to SI.

I seriously think I could go back to NYC for 3 more days and do exactly what I did on this trip and have a whole new experience.  There is way too much to see and take in...every second is teeming with sights, sounds, noises, street musicians, artists, etc.  I'm sure my girls captured a totally different view on their cameras! 

It was a great experience and one I am so happy my girls got to share with their Grandmother.  I know they will never forget this trip.

PA photos to come, our time there was equally beautiful but vastly different from New York!   Time to unpack!

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