Monday, April 29, 2013

The Strasburg Railroad

We had reservations to ride the Strasburg Railroad at noon. We had tickets for one of the dining cars. It was the HOBO lunch car! Really really fun!

The coal, the smoke, the whistle, the clickety clack. The nostalgia, the excitement, the conductor and staff. It was all so surreal. So hard to believe how it used to be for people to travel. I was imagining the hustle and bustle of travelors that I have read about.

We got settled into our car and right away they brought Lemonade and Iced Tea in mason jars to cool the parched throat! It was so much fun and so tasty!

The sweet Train staff brought our hobo lunch on a stick! so neat! The pulled pork sandwiches, chips, chocolate cookies hit the spot and you get to keep the hobo bandana!

The train ride takes you to Paradise. The conductor describes the scenery, the history, and points out things along the way. One week before Abraham Lincoln died he stopped in Paradise and gave a speech. After his death he travelled by train the same route in a casket.

When the engine detached and had to make a turn around to take us back the waitress brought out a big old crock of baked beans. Wonderful! They were so tasty. So we ate going and ate coming back.

It was the most wonderful day! Now back to reality, work tomorrow!

..our farewell special weekend is now history...what a time!

Since Denny leaves for Costa Rica Sunday, May 5, we planned our weekend with something we had never done before. Since this is graduation week for VFCC graduates and also the week we need to move Renee home, plus have some special meals with friends to say goodbye this past weekend was the only time to get away.

We were scheduled for ministry in Lancaster country yesterday morning so we made reservations for last night and today to do special Lancaster stuff! We were not disappointed!

Denny was born in a railroader's family. He is the youngest of nine. His mother didn't have daily support and help from her husband since he left to ride the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was a conductor and sometimes a brakeman. In my 35 years of marriage I saw Mom Seler drive only one time and that was simply because there was no other choice. So she truly was a stay at home mom. Dad would drive into Enola, PA to catch the train to Philadelphia. He was gone much of the time. Trains are a huge part of the Seler family. When the grandchildren were born each was given a train set for their own Christmas tree. Dad and Mom set up an entire village under the Christmas tree, complete with landscaping, houses, restaurants, skating ponds, sledders,etc.

One time I remarked to someone that I have never had a Christmas tree skirt. The train from Dad Seler goes there! Sometimes more than one train! What a fascination for Ryan and Renee. They love the tradition.

Dad Seler could hear the rumble of the train miles away. He was deeply fascinated by trains, play or real! I wish he had been with us this weekend. We came home saying, "Oh I wish we had taken Dad to the Red Caboose Motel and for the ride on the Strasburg Train." I hope he knows we were thinking of him the entire time!

The Red Caboose Motel has a really funny story attached to it. Don Denlinger placed a bid on 19 cabooses in 1969 as a joke! When he got a call and learned that he won the bid, he had to fork over $100! $100 for 19 cabooses! The Pennsylvania Railroad office called him and said "You need to get these cabooses out of the train yard!"

He had no idea how to or where to put the treasure he had just bought! He found a parcel of land in Ronks, PA and there they landed! Because of the weight of each they couldn't be brought in by truck but rather by freight to their new home. The Strasburg Railroad is across the road from the Motel so I guess that must have been the easy part.

The Red Caboose is right in the heart of Amish country and provided lodging and dining for weary travelors! When we checked in we were so excited that we actually got a red one!

The first thing that we did was meet Portia and Mary. Two horses that give tours through the Amish farmland.

Our sweet driver gave interesting trivia along the way. Things about the Amish houses, the farms, funny things about Portia and Mary. She was delightful.

When we returned to the Caboose, we visited the petting zoo, the view tower and the gift shop. The view tower has 60 steps up the silo to take in the panoramic view. Absolutely magnificent.

Something I really enjoyed was the clip clopping of the horse and buggies. I kept running outside to capture a picture. Funny how fast they go! At one point I just went outside and sat on the stoop of the caboose to be ready for the buggies to go by. I felt hesitant at first knowing that the Amish do not pose for pictures. I figured they were used to all the tourists so I could do it too! I heard buggies go by even in the middle of the night. That was something I was going to ask the motel employees first thing in the morning. Who was in those buggies and where were they going?

This picture is one of my favorites. There were two children in the front! They were adorable.

Interestingly since it was Sunday afternoon, the employees told us they were leaving from church. We saw families in the buggies. Mothers and daughters were in the same color church clothes.

This morning we had our breakfast in the dining car. Using hydrolics, the waitress flips the switch and the cars move as if they are actually going down the track. So cool!

Oh by the way, I asked the waitress about those middle of the night buggies. She said the teenagers have been in church all day and the afternoon meal that goes on for a long time. So when the family goes home, they take the buggies and run around all night. Interesting, huh?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

..the start of a great weekend...

At Christmas time a co-worker gave me 2 tickets to Longwood Gardens. They say that every season is very beautiful at Longwood but I felt like I wanted to save the tickets for tulip season. Tulips and peonies are Denny's very favorite flowers. Longwood is exquisite at Christmas time and I was so tempted to go ahead and use the tickets but with the cold temps I just kept holding out for the tulips and spring!

Today I am so glad I did. Next Sunday Denny leaves for Costa Rica and we are making this weekend our special farewell. Today was a day at the Gardens. Tomorrow after preaching our last itineration service this time around we are going to the Red Caboose in Lancaster to spend the night. Monday we are taking a trip on the Stasburg train and eating a hobo lunch! Should be fun. But back to the Gardens....

Pierre DuPont's father was a chemist and experimented with the makings of gun powder. Later in years the Dupont company created smokeless gun powder. Pierre's father suddenly died in an explosion and Pierre became the father to 10 brothers and sisters. He graduated with a chemistry degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the CEO of General Motors for a season and also DuPont Industries. Going through his home was wonderful, to see the artifacts and such. DuPont created so many things, one was the sponge, another was cellophane, still another was Dacron. The list was massive.

In the process of time living in Delaware, DuPont became aware of a park in Kennett Square, PA that was going to destroy all the trees and he admitted that he had a lapse in sanity and bought the park. Through his and his wife's dedication to saving the trees, Longwood Gardens was created. Interestingly, it was created for the public to enjoy. He and Alice didn't have children, but they loved children. There are 2 treehouses on the property even. At one last family reunion there were 672 people present. Now that is a large family!

As a matter of fact, just recently I heard on a Philadelphia morning show that Longwood Gardens is number 2 in the country for its beauty. Incidently number 8 on the list was another Garden in Wayne, PA. I thought that was so interesting, considering the fact that I was holding 2 tickets to Longwood Gardens!

Pierre passed away in 1954 and through his generosity the Gardens have remained a non-government institution. An institution for the arts, for education, for pleasure. It is a very delightful place.

DuPont and his wife travelled to Europe and through the dreaming and creating years of Longwood Gardens, they would return with ideas for their residence. He created an Italian Garden and Fountain.

The influence of Europe is evident throughout the gardens. As a matter of fact when we walked on the grounds Denny's first response was, "Does this remind you of Versailles?" Little did we know until after we saw the video on the house tour that indeed it really did have an influence on the DuPont's thinking.

The conservatory was asolutely breath-taking. 4000 acres of indoor beauty and exhibit halls. Rain Forest, Orchids, greenery,flowers to take your breath away.

It is such a beautiful place. I am so delighted it was the start of our weekend together.
Tulips and More Tulips! Just gorgeous...

Thursday, April 25, 2013 of my favorite things!

I have to admit I am a recital junkie! I love all kinds! piano, percussion, guitar, anything, but especially violin!

Ryan began violin lessons at the age of 4 and Renee began at 3. Through the years I have been to many a recital and have loved every one! I have the programs to show for it!

This week we were able to attend Renee's string ensemble recital and it was wonderful! I am so proud of her. As of today she is majoring in English Literature and now has a minor with violin performance. So very proud of her.

Last week Renee asked her dad if she could play one of her pieces in the service where he was preaching and of course that was a real treat. She needed to see if she had it together for a performance this week. No better place than to do it in church with a very warm crowd! She did really well and when she auditioned that piece along with another yesterday the professor clapped and said Bravo! Very well done!