Thursday, April 19, 2012

A weekend in Lancaster County

This weekend Dan and I left Philadelphia. Since arriving at our new abode on the 10th of December, our existence has been almost entirely lived within the constraints of Vine Street to the North, Wharton Street to the South, Front Street to the East and 40th to the West. Even that's being generous. We've had minor excursions I can list: one party in South Philly and one in the suburbs, a bar on Spring Garden, an abortive trip to Northern Liberties, the inevitable Ikea mission, a cycle ride as far as East Falls. Our patch covers approximately three square miles, which is kind of painfully small and at times claustrophobic.

Our patch in blue
The actual size of Philadelphia

But this weekend we spread our wings a little. We signed up to zip car, booked it for the weekend and headed off to a B&B on the edge of Lancaster County. Neither of us had driven a left hand drive car before, or driven on the right hand side of the road. Dan was brave enough to have first go and drive us west out of the city on Friday night and into the sunset.

I was over excited and took a lot of crap pictures whilst we were in the car
One of the more unexpected consequences of this new driving experience (apart from having to think very hard at every junction) was the constant fighting with your own brain about what was going on. The worst time being at night on the virtually empty roads of deepest Lancaster County - you'd been driving alone on the road for a while, you were relaxed, then a car would start coming towards you from the distance. The moment my eyes could see it was on the left hand side of the road, my head was screaming that it was on MY side of the road, even though I could clearly see for myself I was on the right hand side of the road. This came complete with adrenaline and increased heart rate and near panic, until the car approaching was almost passed and no one had crashed. On the other hand, the fact we did achieve this backwards driving made me happy for my neurones as I thought about them successfully undergoing plasticity - it got easier in other words.


In the rush to get away I forgot my book, my knitting pattern (although it turns out that was just hidden in a bag pocket) and a US/UK adaptor for the camera charger. Fortunately the landscape of Lancaster County wasn't so awe inspiring that the lack of an SLR upset us very much. We spent Saturday morning poking around Amish country. Ten minutes in Intercourse (yes, it's really a place) was enough to give us the House of Bruar heebee jeebies. We're just not that kind of people - or that kind of tourist. But we know now to trust our instincts and run in the other direction. After a nap we trundled round Middle Creek Reservoir before dinner - it was nice enough, but the trails definitely weren't put together by the National Trust!


On Sunday we trundled slowly back towards Philly via the Antiques markets in Adamstown - which were huge! It was fun looking at old American junk though and I still have the antiques market bug from the endless trawls I used to do with my Mum. Convincing Dan to go was the only battle, but I think even he enjoyed it in the end. After that we trundled a bit further home, stopping off at French Creek State Park. Whilst we were sitting next to the lake, enjoying the breeze and identifying birds with the help of the lovely book Dan bought me as an emigrating present, it dawned on me how obsessed American's really are with hunting. All around us we could hear shots being fired the whole time and it seemed like almost every inviting green patch I could find on the map had "State Game Lands" emblazoned across it. I am not enamoured with the American way of 'enjoying' the country side.

This shot was taken with my iPhone through our binoculars - no geese we're harmed (by us at least).
Although it has to be said that perhaps the most exciting part of the weekend was the drive back into Philly - approaching the sky scrapers from a distance brought back the sense of excitement we got when we approached the city in a taxi from the airport for the first time. I always used to like driving into London along the flyover for that sense of swooping down into the melee - but Philly's towers are much more impressive.

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