As a person of (ahem) 'modest means,' I don't take vacations. This one started out to be semi-business for me, and when that fell through, the friend who agreed to go with me and I decided to go anyway. Destination....Amish country in northern Ohio. I am from Ohio originally, but farther south than where we were headed. We both wanted to get away and think about something besides work for a while.
After stowing our stuff in a motel in the nearest town of any size, we took off. First stop - Lehmans in Kidron OH.
By then we were starving, so we headed up the road to Mt. Hope, to 'Mrs. Yoder's Country Kitchen.' (of COURSE it would be Mrs. YODER) The weather was dark, gray, rainy and COLD the whole time we were there, but the fall color was gorgeous. We so enjoyed the drive through rolling hills with tidy, neat, beautiful farms. Not many cars, but lots of Amish folks in their buggies - some also going to Mrs. Yoders for lunch, as it turned out. When we got to the restaurant, it was packed. We had to wait 20 minutes or more for a table, with at least 50 other people. It was worth it though. The food was plain and simple (of course) but wonderful. I asked our server and found out no, the business is not Amish-owned, but they employ large numbers of Amish people - about half the staff. All the food is LOCAL - the chickens (some of the best chicken I've ever had!) and the fruits and vegetables come from a local co-op of farmers, in season - like now. Mt. Hope seemed to be just an intersection with a few houses and businesses. This feed store was right across the street, and seemed to speak to me of the real spirit of the area, we tourists notwithstanding.
Following suggestions from a fellow blogger who lives in the area, we went on from there to Berlin, only slightly larger than Mt. Hope, but with quite a few shops - and traffic jams! The traffic was backed up a long way in either direction of the (only?) street light. We had already figured out the pattern - wide open spaces with beautiful scenery, and then - boom! Literally HUNDREDS of people all trying to park and cram into whatever site or shop we were also there to see.
On the way to Berlin we stopped at Heini's Cheese and candy store (Heini's - I'm not kidding) and discovered .....bulk spices! We didn't get all that excited about the cheese or the candy, but when we discovered the spices.....! Large quantities of about anything you could think of, with prices lower than I could imagine. A cup-sized container of cinnamon - $1. A fist full of bay leaves - $1.20. Wow!
We stopped at the Country Primitive Store in Berlin, and also several other stores. Intimidating crowds (it WAS 'peak color' weekend) and a looming time crunch (everything in the area closes at 5!) sent us on down the road. We went to the last stop on our journey of recommendations - Walnut Creek Foods. Why drive 5 or 6 hours to go to a grocery store? Wonderful stuff and incredible prices! I bought half a cart full for $22 - including more spices: Cilantro, cinnamon sticks, cream of tartar (for home-made baking powder) sure-jell (for canning a recipe I found for apple pie filling), etc, Amish noodles in several sizes, locally grown potatoes...it was great.
Exhausted but satisfied with a wonderful day, we drove back to the hotel and crashed. The next say we headed back to a different world. It was a great time. With only a 3 days, including drive time, we only stopped at a few places, but saw a lot more we will put on the list for next time.