Saturday, July 31, 2010


Today I took the Box to Costco to buy one of their tremendous chocolate cakes, a mile high and covered with chocolate shavings. It was destined for consumption by hungry American sponsors and International Fellows at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.

Susanne and I are community sponsors for a French Colonel and his family. He is studying this year at the War College. Community sponsors help to acclimate the "international fellows" to the American way of life and try to integrate them into our community.

One of the historic buildings at the War College.

When I arrived at the War College, I was asked if I had any weapons or explosives. I showed the big bread knife that I had brought to cut the cake. I wonder if that was the reason the officer at the gate made me get out of the car, open all the doors and trunk, and raise the hood. He looked under the car with a mirror on a stick. All that was missing was a sniffing dog. And the worst part was apologizing for the messiness of the interior of the Box! "Oh, don't worry, sir," said the guard. "I have seen many filthier than this."

Once inside the gate, I found the area where the picnic was being held, deposited the cake, showed the woman how to cut it (she thought that was pretty cool), and then asked her how I could find "my guy," the way the sponsors tend to refer to their officer. She took me right to him, at the end of the food line. There I met him and his lovely wife and four children.

We got to know each other in line and later at the picnic table. It will be fun to get to know them better this year. When their kids had worn out, we all left. I collected the knife and serving tool and the remainder of the cake, which was the plastic lid. Not only had the cake totally disappeared (a good thing, really!), but so had the plate.
On the way back to the Box, I watched the International Fellows in a tug-of-war (see video link below). Kids were still playing in one of those inflated bouncy "castles," and some of the older kids were kicking a soccer ball around the field.

Yesterday the Box had gone in another direction. Susanne has the idea that she would like to have a longer dining table, one made of old barn wood. Naturally, the Internet provided the name of a company that makes such items. And it was not too far away, with two showrooms, one in Bird-in-Hand and the other in Intercourse, Lancaster County.

So we drove south on I-283 then to US 30 and finally to Old Philadelphia Pike. There we wound our way through farm fields and small towns until arriving in Bird-in-Hand. It was there that we encountered the first schlocky tourist shops. We saw the table shop, but being hungry, we headed first for the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market. There was a lunch counter there, but you had to sit on a stool, and it did not look very comfortable. It was a small market, but everything looked fresh and good.

We decided to go on to Intercourse. There we parked at Kitchen Kettle Village, where I had just been with the LEC French students the week before. It's a fake little village of shops, some nice and others selling the same souvenirs as elsewhere, but more tastefully. We did have a nice lunch at the Kettle Café. Then we walked around a bit (the weather was really nice), and took off back down the road to the Old Road Furniture Company. They had some very beautiful tables, but all more "refined" than the barnwood table Susanne wants.

A very nice young man talked to us a bit then gave us directions to the barnwood store at the other end of town. There at E. Braun Farm Tables were a lot of options such as length, width, thickness of table top, number of extensions, kinds of wood, etc. Susanne liked them all. The salesman there told us that there were other styles on display at the Bird-in-Hand store, so we decided to check them out.

In the Intercourse area, you see lots of Amish folks driving buggies and wagons, walking, or riding scooters (both children and adults). We stopped to take a picture of Susanne stealing corn (just kidding) and were surprised to see a barefooted Amish girl, about 8 or 9 years old, on a scooter, riding alone down the side of the highway, dodging the horse poo. Now, we all know that we would never let our kids do something like that.

Interestingly, "my guy" at the War College said that during their first week, they all took a bus tour of Lancaster County, and he was very uncomfortable looking out the bus window at the Amish people, comparing it to one of those rides through a zoo to see the animals in their natural habitats.

Anyway. after seeing the farm tables, we decided to drive home through Lititz, where we stopped at a store where Susanne wanted to look for a large "tobacco basket." We need one badly, you see. She was unsuccessful, but we walked around town to the other charming shops there.

Soon we decided to continue on up Rt. 501 to Myerstown, where we would eat dinner at the iconic Kum Esse Diner. I had the senior meat loaf. For the life of me, I can't remember what Susanne ordered. Unfortunately, they seem to have made the booths narrower since our last visit, so my getting in and out was not the most graceful thing I have seen.

From there we continued north to Bethel, where we joined up with I-78 eastward toward I-81 and home.

Here are the tug-of-war video and some additional photos:

  Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse.

"Our" French family heading home for naps.

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