A couple of weeks ago I was looking at a list of organized bike tours and found one called The Pumpkinvine Ride that took place in Northern Indiana and advertised that it went through Amish Country. Oh, how I wanted to do that! But there were already too many commitments scheduled for that weekend. Then I picked up a book from my reading pile that my friend Gail had passed along some time ago. It was called The Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult and I hadn't even realized that it was a story set among the Amish. Now I knew I just had to go so I made us some reservations at the Amish Inn in Napanee, Indiana.
As you may have noticed from my earlier fascinations with the local Nuns and Monks, I am intensely curious about "alternative lifestyles" and have always especially wondered about those Amish. Just what was up with the buggies and odd clothes and no electricity?
Our hotel was adjacent to a historic farm that provided tours and meals and information about the Amish people and their ways. But my favorite part was driving around the back roads looking at their farms, and seeing them in the town where they gathered for the fourth of July parade and fireworks.
I now understand that they are a sort of an ethnic group as well as a religious community, and I learned about the history of how they came to embrace the traditions and rules that seem so unusual today. Very interesting.
It was fun just to see them trotting along in their horse-drawn buggies, and wearing their matching old-time clothes. Up close, it is clear that they are just regular people who do everything a whole lot differently than the rest of us. When you contrast their ways with some of our current issues, it almost seems like they might have gotten a few things right: Gas prices don't affect them since they don't drive cars or use electricity; they value their community above the individual (no wars or ego trips), and are completely non-violent and without crime. I was liking the idea that they usually work from home, are outside a lot and get to ride bikes around for transportation in addition to those buggies. Tim and Jeff were interested to learn that they only go to school up to the 8th grade and never get homework. But don't worry about us joining up, they don't take in outsiders, you have to be born into it.
Here's a picture of me with Katie and Peter, who just got engaged:
And here's a picture that I thought was ironic: Horse and buggies at the gas station. See the Amish man coming out of the Yoder Mart:
I enjoyed this trip because it felt like we had time traveled to another world. And we got to learn about another culture which at first seemed like it might be freaky and cultish but turned out to be simply another way that people live.