Monday, March 12, 2012

Visit to York

My monthly outing or semi-escape, this time a lovely journey to York, Pennsylvania.  I started with coffee at Sweeney's around the corner, finishing about half of it by the time I had gotten to the Perkins in Avondale for breakfast.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Perkins, the one in Springfield, OH being the midway point for me between St. Louis and the East when I drove alone as a medical student.  They made the best pancakes with the possible exception of Bickfords.  I've not been to either since the 1980's, though I did stop at this particular Perkins for lunch when I came to the area for job interviews as my residency was concluding.  It still stands, remains clean, more expensive but I get a discount for having survived past age 55.  Still like the pancakes.  My tape recorder battery was nearing depletion so I drove across the road to Acme, found some Antacid on sale which I got, batteries too expensive so I took my chances, eventually coming upon a Dollar General where I could get four alkalines for a buck, along with some snacks to much on later in the day.  This being the gateway to Amish country, there was a place in the parking lot for horse and buggy, so with the owner's consent I took a few photos, then continued on to the Central Market in downtown York.

This market resembled more of a food court than a traditional Farmers Market.  York has a culinary institute which probably keeps some of the alumni nearby.  Specialty food stalls abound.  After touring the offerings I settled on a wonderful vegetable curry pie, some specialty coffee and a scone of Irish Soda Bread, each obtained from a different vendor.  There were a few artisans as well so I picked up a porcelain cat for my wife and an Iggles apron for myself.  While the downtown is likely to be busy during the week, parking was kept rather loose on Saturday.  I left my car a few blocks away in what appeared to be a lot abandoned for the day, though unknown to me, the main lot across the street from the market does not charge on Saturday.  As I walked back to my car, I stopped in at a music store where they had harmonicas at a very reasonable price so I got one in the key of C to keep in my briefcase.

My destination for the day was a local event, the RV and Camper show at the York Expo Center.  The location reminded me of the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington and this place is used for a similar purpose, less the racetrack.  Vendors from the regional RV and campground sites put together quite a display.  I arrived as an amateur but left with more knowledge than when I arrived, along with an impression of the specialty industry.  Most campers could be had for about $20-25K plus the cost of a pickup truck to transport it.  There were models made by Chevy and Ford that included the vehicle but they cost about $80K, well above the additional price of a pickup.  I tried to assess who actually buys these things.  I get about a week's recreational time off a year so something like this would be a white elephant.  There are a lot of retirees who can spend time on the road.  That means there must be a substantial resale market as these people become incapacitated in some way and no longer able to travel, so there must be substatial discounting on pre-owned models.  The interiors reminded me a lot of a cruise ship cabin with the sleeping quarters very compact but functional and a small sitting and entertainment area.  Unlike a cruise ship, the units also had a galley type kitchen, probably too small for both milchig and fleishig, but with a reasonable amount of refrigeration.  Campgrounds provide the utilities for a price about half of what a hotel would cost for a night but I assume that the amenities of cooking, plumbing and TV would not be functional while in transit.

My monthly trips around the Mid-Atlantic would not be complete without two stops at regional wineries, this time Naylor and Allegro.  Both lie well off the beaten path, probably not reasonably accessible without the GPS that took me through some lovely country not far from the Maryland border.  This is farm country.  When I fly over the eastern half of Pennsylvania, I can see stripes of cultivation negotiating hills from above.  This time I saw the stripes up close.  I could not tell what is being grown so early in the season.  There were farm houses, one enclave of mansions which I presume were occupied by the senior brass of Harley-Davidson, the local dominant industry which did not offer Saturday tours in March, and little clusters of more typical housing where the local school teachers and business people who do not work the farms probably live.  I drove past York College which appeared a good deal larger than I expected.

The members of the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail got together to create an event.  In March for a fixed price, people could visit unlimited wineries every Saturday.  Both wineries had mostly participants in this project, each with their own special wine glass and ID tag.  I paid a la carte for my two tastings, both rather undistinguished but with pleasant and helpful servers.

Final stop before heading home, the Tanger Outlet Center in Lancaster where I could usually count on being able to find a discounted pair of shoes in my size.  To get there, the GPS directed me through more back roads, farmland of York County giving way to a mixture of suburban homes and road signs warning caution for horse an buggy as I crossed into Lancaster County.  This time I approached the shopping center from the back direction instead of the main highway.  I checked all the shoe stores for my size, a difficult one to find which is why I tend to buy what I can when I can.  Success at SAS, Rockport, Nike and Timberland, which had the best discount.  I really liked the last shoes that I got there so I purchased another pair of the same type in black to supplement the tan that I already had.  I thought about getting a leather brief case, even though I have one at home that I never use and an Eddie Bauer green canvas one that has served me well for many years.  There were a few at Wilson Leather and the Samsonite store that looked attractive, each discounted to about $120 but the Samsonite one looked bulky and I really did not need another one, as attractive as I found them.  And what would a visit there be without a stop at the Coach Outlet.  Many years ago I bought my wife a small muted red bag which she uses as her daily purse.  The only designation of Coach was a discrete leather tag appended to the strap.  Now the ladies seem to want to let everyone know their husband or boyfriend got them a Coach purse.  The leather ones now have a gold metallic logo attached to the bag itself with.  What's more garish are the cloth bags with leather trim that have a recognizable C in multiple squares all over the item, no doubt a result of corporate branding efforts.  And the store had no men's leather items at all.

Finally home, arriving about 13 hours after I had left.  I had driven about 200 miles on the trip odometer that I set at the beginning.  A warning light had come on to remind me that my Honda needs a change of oil in the next few weeks.  I still had half the soda bread to share with my wife, about one-third of the coffee I had gotten at Sweeney's before I departed and about half the coffee I had obtained at the Central Market.

York was a lovely town, bigger than I expected, hardly any litter on the streets, with nicely maintained town homes for about a mile radius from the Central area.  There were a lot of churches downtown, some quite impressive from the outside.  As I drove around the countryside, there were a fair number of churches scattered amid the farmland.  The people I encountered seemed to like having visitors.

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