Amish Trail Adventure

Adventure season is here! Sure, I have little adventures (and some big ones) all year long, but there is nothing like the start of steady good weather to get me itching to go places and see things and do cool stuff! So, my friend, Cathy, and I decided to kick adventure season off with a two day visit to the NY Amish Trail – something we had on our list since last fall. The trail is south of Buffalo – about 2 hours drive for us, so not too far, but we thought that if we spent the day shopping and exploring, we’d likely not feel up to the 2 hour drive back home. So, we booked a night at a Bed and Breakfast and made our plans.

The NY Amish Trail is a large area, but the most concentrated area of shops is in Leon, just north of Randolph, NY. It is not commercialized at all – the Amish shops are all small barns or rooms off their homes with just small handmade signs by the road simply stating the type of good they sell to identify them – even the non-Amish shops are very small and like stepping back in time. And, there isn’t much else there to do or see, either! So, it was a very quiet, uneventful trip – just the distraction I needed! With all that has been going on in my life, I was happy to just get away for a couple days and get my mind off things!

Before we even got started, we encountered the funniest thing that happened to us! We stopped for breakfast at Rudy’s in Medina. We were sitting at a table in the center of the dining room and Cathy had her back to the door. A man came up behind her with a big smile on his face and put his hands on her shoulders – obviously wanting to play the “guess who” game! Cathy looked at me for a clue and I just smiled and told her I had no idea who it was! So, she turned to look at him and the look on HIS face was PRICELESS!!! He looked at her and said, “oh, no, you’re not her!” We all laughed, but the poor man looked so embarrassed! For the rest of the trip, every time we mentioned the highlights, we’d say “and, don’t forget the man at Rudy’s”! It was hilarious!!!!

We took the scenic route down – my favorite way to get to go – often an adventure of its own. It was a LONG drive with some really pretty scenery, but nothing to entice us to stop for photos or mini-adventures.

We stayed at the Cherry Creek Inn – a B&B in Cherry Creek, which borders Leon to the west. It was a quaint little inn and Sharon, the owner, was very nice and extremely helpful with suggestions about the best places to go to shop. We booked the Loft room, which had two bedrooms, a private bath, and a seating area. They also had a building in the back where they had a hot tub and an outdoor seating area where they have bonfires at night – which, we sadly were too tired to join in on! Before retiring and becoming a B&B owner, Sharon had traveled all over the world and had extensive collections of memories throughout the house – she even had a photo of Ronald Reagan that had a lovely personal message and his signature on it!

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My room was named “Gertie” and Cathy’s room was named “Millie”

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We read that the Leon Historical Society offered personalized tours where one of their volunteers would ride with you in your car and show you around and talk about the Amish history and culture. We chose to take them up on that service! Our guide was Fred and he was amazing! He directed me to drive all over the area and talked extensively about the Amish – he was one of the top highlights of the trip! Cathy rode shotgun and tried to take notes and mark on the map the things we wanted to go back to……but, we were on so many little twisty-turny, hilly dirt roads that it was not an easy task. But, we thought we could figure it out! WRONG……after we took Fred back to his car, we tried to find a few places before dinner and were clueless! Hahahaha! So, we called Fred and he was, again, very gracious and told us how to get to a couple main places and then we were able to figure out the map from there on!

I didn’t get a lot of photos – it is against the Amish religion to have their photograph taken – they are to leave no trace of themselves behind when they leave the earth. I thought I might get some photos of Amish things, but there was usually people around, so I respected their wishes and didn’t take any photos that had any chance of someone – especially the children – in the photo.

What we learned: The Amish in this area are very much Old World Order Amish. They belong to small communities of 4-5 families that each have their own set of rules that the community lives by. The rules govern everything they do and how they do it – right down to what colors their clothes can be, the shape of their hats, and whether or not they can have rubber on the wheels of their buggies. When all the communities get together for an event – like the big benefit auction that was scheduled for today to raise funds for an account that will pay large medical bills for anyone in the community over the next year – you can tell who is from what community by the colors of their clothes and the hats that they wear. Most of the Amish in the area are farmers, but their farms do not always bring in enough money to sustain them, so they also have small businesses out of their homes to sell things that they have a talent for – such as, crafts, quilts, iron works, lumber, produce, furniture, machine shops, woodworking, etc. Some of the combinations seem strange, but it is because different members of the family may have different talents – for instance, one sign said “Footwear and Drainage Pipes”, and one said “Rhubarb, Homemade Noodles, and Kitchen Cabinets”. Some families run sawmills and other larger businesses – mostly ones that build sheds and furniture. Baked goods are typically only sold on Friday and Saturday because they do not have electricity, so they can not store foods for sale – they bake and sell that day – and it is difficult to keep supplies for everyday baking.

Another thing I found fascinating was their cemeteries. They have very small community cemeteries that are fenced in. They used to only use wood for their “head boards” because they would eventually rot and disintegrate back into the earth – consistent with their belief to not leave any trace of themselves after death. But, at some point they started to use small stone markers – nothing elaborate and the only thing they are permitted to carve on them is their name, date of birth, and date of death. The interesting part is that they put sheep in their cemeteries to keep the grass mowed! They have just put out the sheep to start mowing for the season, so the grass was pretty tall in the cemeteries, but I’m sure the sheep will catch up, soon! I stopped to get a photo of one of the cemeteries with the sheep – this guy was laying in a corner and when I crossed the road to get a photo, he stood up and posed for me! 🙂 And, then he walked over to his buddy and they posed for a photo together!

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The shops we visited were all very typical and had some really nice things for sale. We went to a cheese shop that sold cheese plus other crafts and gifts, a candy shop that sold all kinds of chocolate and fudge made from goats milk, and an iron works shop that had a set of the most beautiful sounding wind chimes I have ever heard — I would have bought them in a heart beat if I had somewhere to hang them (they were extremely long – I don’t have a place high enough to hang them without touching the ground). We also stopped at a toy shop that had all kinds of wooden toys and gifts and the son of the owner was a HOOT! He was probably in the 13-14 year old range and he had the driest of sense of humors and a completely deadpan expression on his face while he tricked me into a series of puzzle boxes! When I got to the cash register to pay for my purchases, he asked if I had ever been there before – when I told him no, he said I needed to put a quarter in the “outhouse” – a wooden outhouse bank on the counter. As I got the quarter out of my wallet, he said – in a dry, low voice – “don’t have a heart attack”! I smiled and put the quarter in the outhouse and it instantly exploded into pieces!!!! Scared the crap out of me!!! There was a mouse trap inside that tripped and made the bank come apart! He then put my quarter in a trick box and made me try to get it out…….that lead to him asking me for a $20, which he put in another more difficult trick box! It was fun!

The best shop we went to was Mattie Hostetler’s Quilt and Gift Shop — WOW — she had some gorgeous quits and aprons and quilted items and lots of other things made from cloth. I fell in love with two, but wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money – I’ve always wanted a beautifully handmade quilt and they were absolutely worth every penny they charged, but it was a lot of money and I had to think about it. I figured I’d sleep on it and go back the next day, if I still wanted one of them. Well, I got maybe 1/2 mile down the road and turned around and went back! I bought my second choice – first choice was incredible, but it was $100 more than I had with me, so second choice it was…….not that second choice was a lesser choice, because it is gorgeous and so beautifully stitched! I chose one that was mostly purple – my favorite color – with lots of green that will go well in my bedroom with the olive colored walls. It is the Lone Star pattern and it is queen size (the one I passed up was a peacock pattern with the same purples and greens). The photos don’t do it justice – hard to see it laying on my couch and the sun coming through the window didn’t help, either, but you get the idea!

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Here is a photo of what most of the roads we were driving on looked like and one that definitely shows that we were in farm country!

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And…….about the cows in the area!!! Every – and I do mean EVERY – field with cows we came across had every single cow laying down!!! I doubt we saw more than a half dozen cows on their feet (other than the ones in the photo above that were being moved across the street)! And, not only were they laying down on their bellies with their legs under them (they way you typically see cows laying down), many were actually flat on their sides with their legs straight out – looked like they were dead!!! We laughed every time we saw a field of these lazy cows! My grandfather always said if you see cows laying down, it means there is a storm coming! I rarely ever see cows on the ground otherwise. These were everywhere……and no storm in the forecast for days.

The next day, we planned to go to an alpaca farm and maybe a couple more shops and head home. The alpaca farm we wanted to go to was only open in the evenings and weekends, so we went to another one, but when we got there, they were closed. The alpaca were out, but inside multiple fences, so we couldn’t get near them. I got one fuzzy photo, though.

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Then…..the highlight of the trip for me was a visit to the Udderly Topnotch Nigerian Goat Farm in Little Valley! They specialize in Nigerian Dwarf Goats and they were ADORABLE!!!! Unfortunately, they were closed, too…..but the goats were out and I could pet them through the fence. Soooooo cute!!! They all came running to the fence to greet us and I put my fingers in the fence and they took turns nibbling on them…..it felt so cool – I fell head over heels in love!!! One, in particular, really took to me – she stood up against the fence and let me hold her hand while she sucked and nibbled on my fingers…..she followed me all along the fence as I took photos of her friends. I would have loved to get in the fence and pick her up to cuddle…..but, no one was home! 😦

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When we got back closer to home, we stopped at the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant for a view of the falls while enjoying a delicious dessert (we had lunch along the way). While we sat there overlooking the falls, some teenagers walked up to the falls and took turns jumping over the falls into the pool below – it was a BIG jump and got my heart pumping just watching them!

So – all in all, it was a very nice trip – good to get away for a couple days and I picked up some nice items and have some good memories! One adventure down……many more to come!

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