Last weekend was my birthday.  Mr. Apron whisked me away to Lancaster County for a getaway.  He told me only (barely) what to pack, and I managed to weasel out of him the approximate distance we’d be traveling from home (between 1-3 hours).  This meant I was tromping through a pumpkin patch wearing designer jeans and ballet flats as my shoes took on more hay than a scarecrow at a gay pride event.  We were trapped on a hayride behind a tractor spewing diesel, nestled among Coach-bag-toting white trash parents and their eager children.  This meant we found ourselves side-stepping the smorgasbords with their promises of “authenticity” and “family friendly”ness among the vats of macaroni salad and bacon dressing.  This meant staying far from the “Amish experience” tourist traps and seeking out our own adventures. 

Some highlights:

  • Leaving the dogs behind, enjoying a night’s sleep without worrying about letting them out first thing in the morning, and not being able to get back to sleep.
  • Letting someone else cook for us, even if the breakfast “strata” of white bread, eggs, heavy cream, and American cheese, left something to be desired. 
  • Seeing kitty footprints all over our car in the morning, as the 15-odd barn cats had evidently used our car as a jungle gym during the night.
  • Watching preparations for a wedding to be held at the B&B on my birthday.
  • Playing Skip-Bo (the best card game) on the canopy bed in Violet’s room while munching on Chex Mix Muddy Buddies.
  • Spontaneously deciding to see the Lancaster Symphony as we sat in a café across the street sipping endless glasses of strawberry lemonade. 
  • Take naps in the middle of the day. 
  • Opening birthday presents from my best buddy and feeling like the world revolved around me. 
  • Laughing at the frog pajamas my aunt gave me, and plotting for their immediate donation to the aptly named “Donate Pile” at Mr. Apron’s place of employment.
  • Selecting apples from the orchard, shining them on our pant-legs, and eating them while sitting on the trunk of the car.
  • Bumping along on the hay-ride, staring out over the open fields and pretending no one else was near us. 
  • Being surrounded by antiques stores and old things. Trying on hats and playing with lead-laden children’s toys.  Hunting through old dress-patterns for a gem.  Discovering a brand-new old corduroy winter coat for $6.50 at the thrift store.
  • Getting birthday phone calls and text messages all day long on my birthday.
  • Leaving behind our e-mail, work, home, and life responsibilities for a weekend.

To enjoy your Lancaster County get-away, simply follow our rules for eating.  They pretty much apply to businesses to patronize as well.

  • Nothing with ‘N in the title: “Plain ‘N Fancy”, “Good ‘N Plenty”
  • Nothing called “Smorgasbord” or “buffet”
  • Avoid restaurants claiming to cater to families
  • Diners are okay, but steer clear of out-of-region specialties, such as seafood
  • “Ethnic” cuisine is a safe-bet, as long as there are people of that ethnicity eating and/or working in the restaurant.  Chinese restaurants serving chicken nuggets are a no-no. 
  • Cafes are generally a good idea, but watch for “pumpkin spice” coffee flavoring that is just non-dairy creamer mixed with nutmeg repackaged with the café’s label. 
  • When in doubt, indulge in cookies, cakes, pies, and fresh fruit.  After all, this is a vacation. 

I love when Mr. Apron takes me away on a surprise trip.  He took me to Hartford, CT, to propose to me back in 2005.  We ran away to Bucks County to revisit our mini-honeymoon last year.  He’s taken me on countless day trips for my birthday.  I’ve dragged him to a drive-in movie theatre, car shows, and a folk festival.  While there’s always the worry I won’t be properly attired, or I’ll forget some critical supply I didn’t know I’d need, there’s also a thrill, an excitement, in the plotting and scheming (for the planner), and in the element of surprise and the unexpected (for the recipient).  I hope he never stops trying to whisk me away, sweep me off my feet, and kidnap me to mystery destinations.