Friday we went on one of the tours offered to the National Rally-Goers…the Amish Countryside tour. We went on it in 2013, as well, but enjoyed it and decided to do it again.
We boarded the coach bus and pulled out of the parking lot about 8:00 am.
1st Stop – Rise ‘n Roll bakery, a place we’ve been several times but never get tired of. Michael got breakfast (egg, cheese, ham & bacon muffin) while I did a little shopping. He also picked up 1/2 a dozen donuts to take home. We sat with first time National rally attendees and had a nice chat while we enjoyed our breakfasts. Our purchases: salsa, pickles and chocolate covered cashew crunch.
As we traveled through the country side to Rise ‘n Roll we passed LOTS of Amish traffic and thanks to out guide found out that all of the traffic was due to 2 weddings in the area and quite near each other. But we were most likely in 2 different church districts as the entire church district is invited to a wedding so having 2 weddings on the same day would highly unlikely.
The church service runs from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm with meals for guests at noon, 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm and at 7:00 pm for the bride and groom and their closest friends and relatives.
2nd Stop – Dutch Country Market. This little family run business is owned by Norm and his wife Katie. They also make home-made noodles which they sell. I still have noodles that I bought there last year so I didn’t need to add any to my pantry. Our purchases: Peach Jam & Seedless Blackberry jam.
3rd Stop – Guggisberg Cheese. We started by going through the line to sample the various cheeses. They also have samples of several different kinds of dried vegetable chips which are pretty darn good too. Our purchases: Marbled cheddar & Amish creamery cheese and a package of mixed veggie chips.
4th Stop – Amish Buggy Shop. Our Amish host explained that he is about a year and a half behind on his orders and it takes him about 3 weeks to build a buggy from start to finish. The base price for an Amish buggy is $3200 – $4200 depending on size. Average price is $6000. Most expensive he has sold was $9000. The options are what bring up the cost of the buggies. Options include: Brakes, windshield wipers, headlights, turn signals, heaters, hat holders etc.
Today seemed to be the day for lots of Amish out and about. We came across Amish mowing their lawns, hanging laundry, working in gardens, plowing fields, riding bikes, coming out of Amish phone booths and just traveling down the roads in their buggies.
One gentleman was moving his lawn with a horse pulling a mower of some sort. We just happened to notice a child’s car seat attached to the contraption and as the horse turned the corner around the house we could see a baby sleeping in the car seat….that’s what you call Amish Multi-Tasking!
5th stop – Henry & Caroline Yoder’s Home for lunch. We were served Amish Hay Stacks. We’d never heard of them until our friends, Jay & Stella, told us about them while we were in the Galveston area. They’re similar to a taco salad and can be served with different toppings. Today’s toppings were crushed saltines, lettuce, rice, taco meat, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, green olives, Doritos and cheese sauce. Sounds kinda weird but it was REALLY good….something I’ll serve at home in the future for sure.
The Yoder’s ‘retirement’ home overlooks a small lake and is beautiful. They have a small one bedroom home with a large banquet room off to one side with a full kitchen and room to seat 50+ people. They also have a few horses, one of which had a new baby so several of us went down to that area to visit the horses. You know I couldn’t pass up that chance!
6th Stop – Camel farm….yep…an Amish camel farm! Dallas wanted a way to make money but still be able to stay home with his family so 4 years ago he ventured into the camel business. His friends and family all laughed at him but he said now they’re tired of laughing. He has 16 camels only 1 of which is a male. He currently only milks 1 of the females and she is only 1 of 30 or 40 in the entire US being milked. The milk is supposed to have beneficial properties…especially for those with autism. He sells his milk to a company in California for $8 a pint and it can sell for $40 a gallon! He uses the milk to make soap, which is supposed to be great for the skin. Today we were lucky and they had also made some camel milk ice cream which turned out to be very good…rich…but very good. Our purchases: Soap & ice cream.
7th Stop – E&S Bulk Sales. Quite the place to pick up food items in bulk. We’ve been here several times, as well, but enjoy the opportunity to shop amongst the Amish and pick up some items that we’ve found here that we really like. Our purchases: Popcorn butter, coconut oil, pretzels, powdered cheese, creamy chicken noodle soup & ranch dip, chicken base.
While we waited out front for the bus to come around we sat on a bench and talked with a 69-year-old Amish gentleman who was waiting for his wife to finish shopping. He grew up in Shipshewana just 3 miles from where we sat. He had 5 children. His oldest son died in 2006 at age 34 due to a truck accident…I didn’t ask any specifics. He told Michael about what the area looked like when he grew up. It was a very nice way to spend our time waiting to board the bus.
8th Stop – Yoder Popcorn. Having been here several times I knew just what I wanted and where to find it so I was in and out fairly quickly. While others shopped we waited on the porch enjoying our sample bag of popcorn. Our purchases: 2 tiny tender, 2 lady finger (hull-less) and 2 creamy dill seasonings.
The bus got us back home about 4:15 pm and we lugged our purchases to the truck and went straight home.
We were both pooped after a long day and several days of burning the candle at both ends. We adjourned to our recliners and didn’t move from them other than to make some popcorn to munch on while we watched TV.
By 8:30 pm we were in bed and reading…with the light off about 9:00 pm. We didn’t budge until 8:30 am this morning! Wow….that felt good!