Sunday 5th November - Niagara Falls
I got up early due to a very 'noisy night' and went for a short walk to see those falls again and take yet more photos. We set out at 8.30 to go for a closer look in daylight and without those rainbow lights. Absolutely glorious weather - again! We donned our very glamorous yellow shrouds and went down behind the falls. The view was wonderful. Tracy and I ventured to an opening right behind the water coming down, but we both got drenched and David made some remark like "it serves you both right". We had quite a tasty brekkie in the deli there before we went through formalities to cross back into the USA again and went to Goat Island above the falls. It was so beautiful there and Tracy went back 23 years, mucking around on the rocks once again. Nothing changes! The view from the top of both falls, Niagara and American was fantastic and from above the Niagara Falls we could see little yellow 'daffodils' where we had been earlier. There was a lovely rainbow at the foot of the American Falls. It was so pretty in the bright sunlight. Tracy had been there with Lisa and Dave on the way to meet us but the weather was dull then, so she wasn't sorry to see them again in such lovely weather. We crossed a bridge and as we drove into Buffalo we saw Lake Erie, our last lake - mission accomplished. We travelled along a very good road through valleys with good striations, (Lisa loves striations) and lots of Inuit statues along the sides of the road. We spotted the Home of Little League Baseball in Williamsport - actually I read the information out of the AAA book. I had the right one this time, and even the right map! I was learning. A lovely sky once again. We followed the Susquehanna River which David had trouble pronouncing so I had to write it out phonetically for him - Sus-Kwu-harna - and then he eventually learnt it. This river popped up on us quite a few times in our travels. It is a huge river. We came into an area with beautiful autumn leaves on the trees. Passed through lovely 'American' style homes, which was not surprising really. They were mainly two storey timber homes with great barns. Drove on in the dark to Amish Country so that we could stay in Intercourse, at the Best Western. We then went looking for a place to have dinner. This took quite a while and eventually we settled on a diner in a nearby town called Gap. David's and Tracy's meal was good, but mine was horrible, so bland and uninteresting. As I said before, you can't win 'em all. As we drove around in the dark, we saw lots of Amish horses and carriages, well lit up. It was easy to see them coming, thank goodness. We phoned Godfreys and Leanne to tell them we were in the middle of Intercourse! Naturally! The motel had "Witness" on the TV - the film about the Amish, with Harrison Ford in it, so we watched that.
Once again we woke to a beautiful morning. We
enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the restaurant at the motel before setting out
on our travels through the Amish countryside. The lass serving us our meal
was lovely, with the most gorgeous smile. She made us feel most
welcome. As we walked in we noticed that there were two Amish men
at the counter and wondered if they always ate there, had heard the Smarts were
in town and wanted to see us or were actually 'extras' planted around town to
make it more authentic. David and I then walked to the Candle
Shop while Tracy paid the bill. Tracy was very naughty but
wonderful, as Lisa was in Detroit, insisting on paying for almost everything.
It made me feel very guilty, but very grateful. She really
looked after "the olds". I bought a book about Amish
girls and boys at the Candle Shop. I thought it might make it easier
to explain to Jordy and Yas about the Amish lifestyle. We then drove to
Strasburg to Ed's Buggy Rides for our ride around the lanes and to an Amish
farm. We were packed into a closed in Amish buggy - a bit
squeezy. The driver was a lass from North Carolina, from the Outer Banks,
which we were to visit later in our travels. Her horse Tan was in the mood
to do his own thing, but nevertheless it was very pleasant, trot, trot, trotting
along - so quiet. We
visited the farm of Jesse Lapp, where we met Mrs. Lapp. They have 12
children and their 30th grand child was born recently. They don't
have television - as of you couldn't guess. In fact they don't rely
on any mod-cons. No electricity, no mechanical farm machinery.
They still use horses to work their farms. We looked at heaps of
beautiful hand made quilts and Tracy chose a magnificent one with grapes on it.
It really is so beautiful. On the way to the Lapp farm we passed a
farm-house with several additions which have been added as the generations get
older. The guide told us you can pick an Amish farm by the washing
on very long lines, especially on a Monday, which this was of course.
Then we visited the Amish Village where our guide was a very dry, funny New York
Jewish woman, judging by her accent. Her voice reminded me of Barbra Streisand.
This place was a bit of a rip-off but it did tell us a bit more about the Amish
life-style - their clothing etc. I picked up a small pewter
Amish buggy and pressed the bottom and guess what it played - "It's a Small
World" - so of course.... We then drove through
lovely countryside of farms, Amish buggies, over a covered bridge where I
pointed out four very still geese alongside a creek. On
second look they were made of stone! Oh well...
We then went back into Intercourse where we had a delicious lunch at the
wonderful Kling House, served by another really lovely young lass. Tracy
and I then shopped at an amazing "big kids" shop - I've never seen so
many Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Phantom of the Opera treasures and all
sorts of other goodies. The lady serving us spoke just like Marilyn
Monroe - so soft. Meanwhile David was patiently waiting in the sun.
We then set out for a town called Ephrata because earlier this year while
looking through a book of the USA I spotted that Ephrata had a Green Dragon
Market and I wanted to find out about this, of course. On the way we
went along lovely lanes through beautiful countryside with such great barns and
even over another covered bridge. Ephrata was a lovely town - almost
English looking - but the market was closed. It's only open on
Fridays. Probably just as well. We drove
back to Intercourse and then set out for our drive to Gettysburg.
This took a long time as traffic was heavy and it was dark once again.
Poor old Tracy. We booked in to a Days Inn - lovely motel and nice
room. Had dinner at the Bakery/restaurant nearby, then
Tuesday 7th November – Presidential Election Day!!
It was a dull start to the day, weather-wise, but improved
later. We had breakfast in the hotel then went into
Gettysburg, which is a lovely town and on to the Visitor
Centre/Museum. This is a wonderful place well worth a
visit. It had great displays of letters and artefacts from the Civil
War, or the War of Northern Aggression, as the southerners call it.
We were shown the "Electric Map", which explained very well the battle
which took place here. We then left on the Audio
Tour. Tracy bought the cassette and we followed this all around the
battlefield. Just before we left the car park, Tracy passed wind and David
thought it was a cannon!! - one of the funnier parts of our trip around
Gettysburg. The tour was SO stirring. Guess who
cried?! We drove all around the battlefield to all the spots we had
seen on the Electric Map. It was wonderful. I picked up
a leaf from the ridge where the tide turned as in the book I bought Nick at the
Museum. There were monuments absolutely
everywhere. It is a most interesting, stirring place to visit as you
stand in the exact places the troops stood, listening to the tape explaining it
all. Wonderful. David was looking for Mel Gibson here -
a la "The Patriot", but we explained that it was the wrong
war. We bought (K.F.C.) lunch and headed on to cross into
Maryland. The people in the drive ins of the takeaways seemed to have
trouble with our Aussie accents, so we always ended up having to go inside to
get our takeaways. It was once again a lovely sunny day and
the scenery was beautiful with all the gorgeous autumn leaves. We
were now on the Appalachian Trail. We crossed the Potomac River into
Virginia then into Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. Actually, we were
in three states in five minutes. Travelled along the banks of the
Shenandoah River into Virginia. It was very hazy as we crossed the
Shenandoah again and entered the Shenandoah National Park on Skyline
Drive. We stopped at Dickey Ridge and the sky was beautiful with its pink
haze but we couldn't see very far, which was a real pity. We learned that
there was a forest fire and found out later that it burnt out tens of thousands
of acres. There were lots of deer on the sides of the road here.
They seemed very quiet and sure of themselves. I guess they
know they're in a national park. We could start to smell smoke
at this stage before driving into quite thick smoke. We had to come
out of the park and the smoke from the fire became so thick that I had to hold
something over my nose and mouth to breathe. We saw a group of very tired
fire fighters sitting under a tree. They looked exhausted - and
black. We had to hold David back so that he wouldn't jump out
of the car and volunteer to help - only joking.
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