Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Rain began to fall today as we sprinted to the Box for a ride up the river to Lewisburg to see our longtime friends Gary and Allie Owens. We hadn't seen them for more than a year, so it was time to catch up on family news and enjoy some time together.

I really enjoy the ride up U.S. 11/15 as it follows the Susquehanna River northward. We start out on U.S. 22/322 toward Dauphin, passing the famous Rockville Bridge. On the eastern shore, you can see where the train tracks curve as they head toward the world's longest stone arch railroad bridge. (The picture you see is not mine.) Once we cross the river at Clarks Ferry, a few miles to the north, the river remains on our right. I enjoy seeing the water and islands as we pass by. I also am interested in the mostly-abandoned old buildings that time has passed by as the two-lane road grew and grew to four or five lanes. No longer needed, they stand and await inevitable decline and collapse, which is also visible along the road.

By the time we arrived at Selinsgrove, the rain had stopped, and no more was seen today. After Selinsgrove, the highway changes from restricted access to highway commercial, so we had to wend our way through several miles of strip malls, covered malls, fast food joints, and lodging. Soon the road turns back to a nice straight shot to Lewisburg, and we arrived only a few minutes late.

Gary and Allie have a delightful townhome in a beautifully kept neighborhood. Whenever we visit, we spend the first few minutes ogling the beautiful furnishings and decorations that Allie has put together with great flair and style. She obviously likes the early American style! She has managed to decorate each room with lovely things without going overboard. Of course, everything was spotless, without a speck of dust in sight.

We took a gander at a cool pergola erected on the back patio. It has canvas cloths that can be pulled across to provide privacy and light control. The happy couple put it together themselves, in spite of the directions calling for "three or four persons." And they're still married! It was too chilly to sit outside, so we moved back inside for some chat.

Next we headed out in Gary's van to take a tour and do some shopping. We passed the new public playground -- every kid's dream -- named as one of the best in the country. We saw Gary's late parents' house, where he grew up. Next stop were the charming "twin churches," one Lutheran and one U.C.C., built in 1877 and 1879. Gary interned at the Lutheran church while he was in seminary.

We stopped at a Pennsylvania House outlet where a nifty little bistro was set up. We had soup and sandwiches. I had the Rachel, of course, which I always try when I see it on the menu. It was delicious. I should have taken a picture of it! I must be slipping.

We crossed the Susquehanna and drive north to Milton, where we visited the American Heritage Crafters. It's an old shoe factory packed with Americana, furniture, china, lighting, and so forth. I could have sworn I heard an announcement over the loud-speaker as we entered the building. "Attention, staff! Allie Owens has entered the building. It's our chance to unload some merchandise and make some money. She is only ten feet inside the door, and her husband's arms are full of stuff. Keep smiling and point out the really expensive stuff -- and don't give her more than 75% off, no matter what she says!"

We had much to see there but exhibited strong sales resistance and bought nothing. We are pledged not to buy stuff until we have emptied out the basement and the garage this summer.

Gary drove us past "The Fence," a drive-in restaurant that is as popular now as it was when Gary was a kid. It is right on the river's edge and has lots of outdoor tables for those not wanting to sit in their cars.

Crossing the river again, we drove through the streets of Lewisburg, a lovely 19th century college town, home to Bucknell University. There is a lovely vista of the town and its church steeples as you cross the bridge. Many of the streets are lined with historic homes and shops. The main street boasts shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

We headed back to the Owens' house, where we enjoyed coffee and lemon sponge pie (yum), some delicious wine jelly made by a friend, and two kinds of cheese. I could snack like that every day! We sat and talked until it was time to leave. After farewells, we drove back to Harrisburg, where I had a meeting at the church.

All in all, a delightful day with some of our oldest friends. We look forward to their visit to Harrisburg later this year. (We have to come up with some really fabulous decorating in the meantime. Any ideas??)

1. The Box pulls up to the Owens' house.
2. A train heads onto the foggy Rockville Bridge.
3. Allie's flair for decorating is evident on the kitchen counter.
4. Loads of Americana in the Heritage Crafters store.
5. Gary (shopping bag in hand), Allie, and Susanne after shopping.
6. One of many beautiful streets in Lewisburg.
7. Gary and Allie wave good-bye from their driveway.

The fabulous decorator in her breakfast room

The living room 

The porringer table and settee

A lovely old ironstone coffee pot

A collection of pots and jugs in the kitchen

A vignette over the sink
The breakfast room seen from the counter
The other of the "twin churches"

 The showroom of the American Heritage Crafters

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