Monday, July 19, 2010

MT. GRETNA, PENNSYLVANIA

The weather was great yesterday, so it seemed like a good idea to take a ride to Mt. Gretna in Lebanon County. It's a woodsy resort area with many cottages from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I really wanted to check out the miniature golf course there as part of the LEC French student excursion to Pennsylvania Dutch Country this week.

I invited my sister Rachel along, since we generally have lunch together after church, and we were joined by Susanne at the famous Chez McDonald's for a gourmet lunch. We set the Box on course for Mt. Gretna, heading east on Rt. 22, then onto old Rt. 22 to Harper's Tavern in Lebanon County. We changed direction there and headed south through Annville, and then east again on Rt. 322, past Cornwall and its extraordinary historic iron furnace, and south again to Mt. Gretna.

As we pulled into the village, we spotted the miniature golf course on our right. It was beside a store called La Cigale (French for 'cicada'), which sold fabrics, tablecloths, tableware, and photographs from beautiful Provence in southeastern France. It seems a Mt. Gretna couple had once brought home some things from their trip to Provence, and the next time they went, they were asked to bring certain things for friends and family. Soon, they were in business!

We went into the store first and looked around. While the women kept looking, I went next door to survey the golf course, which, I am sorry to say, I found lacking. I did enjoy, however, a brief conversation with the manager, a nice lady with a classic Lebanon Valley Pennsylvania Dutch accent.

So, it was back to the store for me. We continued to examine a number of items, all of them attractive. They even had the bee motif glassware that we have collected. We were able to resist, but Rachel made a purchase to give as a gift.

Leaving there, we drove a short distance to a group of distinctive yellow-painted wooden buildings, once part of the Mt. Gretna Chautauqua. According to Wikipedia, "Chautauqua is an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers, and specialists of the day. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is 'the most American thing in America.'"

Among the buildings remaining, we like the Jigger Shop best! It's a sort of open-air ice cream shop with the Jigger being its signature sundae, featuring vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, marshmallow topping, and their secret ingredient, "Jigger Nuts." Being people who never eat things that are bad for you, we denied ourselves the Jigger. The women settled for small dishes of ice cream while I had something I have not had for years, a chocolate malted milk shake.

Once our treats were consumed, we walked next door to a small shop and browsed. The yellow building looks a lot like a tiny Greek temple. There were some interesting things for sale there, but our sales resistance is now perfected. We left no money behind.

As we departed, we decided to go home a different way, and so the Box headed south again so we could pass the lake and watch the fun. There were tons of canoes on the water and hundreds of sunbathers and folks in the water on the far side of the lake.

Continuing on, we drove through tiny Colebrook, with its Coleman mansion and Tastee-Freeze, back to Rt. 322 at Campbelltown, passing by Annie's Soft Ice Cream (do you see a theme here?), through downtown Hershey and past the park and its many roller coasters, ending up back home just in time for a late afternoon nap.

Here are some additional photos from our drive. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Dinnerware is displayed on tablecloths
made from French fabric in Mt. Gretna .

Susanne really liked this green tablecloth;
I liked the big yellow crock in the back.

This beautiful metal bench caught my eye. For the first
time ever, though, Susanne said it was too expensive!
I thought it was a bargain. Role reversal at work.

Gorgeous photos of lavender fields 
were for sale.

Rachel chats with the sales woman
after making her purchase.

I loved this scene of a lavender grower and his cart.
I forgot to look at the price!

Here's Susanne at her favorite green table.

The garlic man peddles his crop.

The cigale is shown in the dinnerware and the salt
and pepper shakers. It's the emblem of Provence.
I can hear cicadas outside as I am typing this!

More figurines show traditional Proven├žal costumes.

Flowers outside the Jigger Shop.

Susanne watches a sundae being made as she waits to order.

My malted milk shake was to die for (from?).

 The outside deck of the Jigger Shop was filled. 
It's so pleasant there, among the trees.

The signpost at Mt. Gretna.

One of the old Chautauqua buildings, now a shop.

Goodies for sale.
Canoes ready for a trip across the lake.

 A canoe glides by our vantage point near 
a dead tree, gnawed to death by a beaver.

 
The Coleman mansion at Colebrook is still beautiful.
It was built in the 18th century by the family who owned
Cornwall Iron Furnace and a nearly identical furnace
at Colebrook, Lebanon County. 

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