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Late Fall Colours in PA Dutch County

© By Gene Chambers
  If you enjoy driving through the countryside looking at the vibrant fall foliage colours, and wish they didn't end so soon, extend your pleasure by with a drive to the Pennsylvania Dutch area of Lancaster County. Fall colours start at the end of October, and extend beyond mid-November. As a bonus, enjoy the pastoral beauty of the Amish and Mennonite farm country, where past and present merge.
     My wife and I toured Lancaster County in search of some of over 25 covered bridges still in existence and use. A stop at the Pennsylvania Dutch Visitors Bureau, 501 Greenfield Rd., Lancaster provides a wealth of information on the area. Tell staff that you want to tour some covered bridges, and they provide a choice of five different self-guiding routes.
     We started with the Southern County route, which takes us through many Amish and Mennonite farming areas. As meandering roads wind through rolling, agricultural countryside, we often view farmers at work in fields with horse and mule teams composed of two to eight mules. (A word of caution: the Amish don't want their pictures taken, as it's against their religious beliefs, so please respect this desire as you travel.)
     We pass many Amish buggies and a few wagons on roads during our travels. Amish farms are easily recognized by their lack of hydro lines and the predominant use of white colour for the buildings. An interesting feature of the drive is that we find that all rural back roads are paved, and discover it's to make it easier for Amish employing steel and wood wheels (their religion does not allow for rubber wheels on any vehicle).
     We find the first small covered bridge in a secluded, wooded stream valley in the southeastern part of the County. Known as Mercer's Mill covered bridge, it seems well preserved and is used for modern vehicle traffic, restricted to 5-ton weight limits. Three other bridges we tour present the same basic structure, each slightly different in style and appearance.
     Pine Grove Bridge, 204 ft. in length, is the only double-span, double-arch bridge that remains in the county that is still in use. All exude that old-world charm of yesteryear that reflects the horse and buggy character of Amish country.
     There are many places to stay in Lancaster County. We opt for a B&B for its relaxed, quiet atmosphere. The Apple Bin Inn on Willow St., just south of the city of Lancaster, is base camp for our three-night stay, central to the attractions we want to see in the area with easy road access. Built in 1865, the owners have kept much of the home's original decor, from original wood trim and mouldings to hardwood floors throughout, including a gorgeous pegged wood floor in the common room. The common room also enjoys a wall-to-wall library, and nestled among the books, many antique cameras peek out from the shelves.
Our suite provides a sitting room to relax in each night to plan the next day's itinerary, and the artistically prepared breakfast feasts fuels the day's adventures ahead. Each morning, we feast on a different marvelous hot meal. Hosts Jamie and Steve Shane are accommodating and friendly, making us feel part of their home.
     As we drive through the northern part of the county the next day, it seems we are jumping back through time. One minute, we drive through an urban area with restaurants and outlet malls; then, we are in rolling farm country behind an Amish horse and buggy, watching mule teams work the land. This trip truly brings together the past and the present.

    The author has another Lancaster County article    

Gene Chambers is author of three secondary school textbooks on computer studies in data processing.

Photo Credits
Gene Chambers

If you go
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Pennsylvania Dutch Visitors Bureau: www.padutchcountry.com
Apple Bin Inn: www.applebininn.com
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancaster_County,_Pennsylvania
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Lancaster_County

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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