What could be better than when adventures and birthdays combine?
Why, that would be when your new husband plans a great birthday adventure for you, alleviating the need for you to do the planning parts!
For the day’s celebrations, Ben creatively chose Strasburg, a town about 20 minutes from Lancaster that combines three attributes with great appeal to me:
- picture-postcard quaintness
- Victorian throwback travel
- high-quality ice cream
As you can see, Strasburg’s quaintness game is strong.
But quaint doesn’t have to mean behind the times. Let no one say Strasburg isn’t up-to-date! (Note the sign outside the adorable Creamery, pictured below.)Our first stop was the Speckled Hen Cafe, a coffee-loving hipster’s paradise in the midst of farm country. Ben took a chance on their homemade lavender soda, and was not especially rewarded, except with experience points. However, we both enjoyed our paninis, and got a lot of fun out of browsing the take-a-book-leave-a-book shelf. Not only did I get to explain the finer points of category romance fiction using their sizeable collection, we also found not one but two Wishbone novelizations. Yes, that’s right–book versions of a TV show about a dog who compares his owner’s experience to the plots of books. Why give your kid Beowulf when she could read the retold plot of the episode “Be a Wolf!”?
As it wasn’t yet time for the day’s main event, we wandered around downtown, only to find that most shops closed on Mondays. Luckily, the old graveyard is always open…
Wait, what does that nearest big tombstone say?
Yup, there’s nothing like a nice, bold reminder of mortality on one’s birthday! Not only did we see this, but at least three “Christianna”s in the cemetery as well. Guess it was a popular name in 18th-19th C. Pennsylvania!
Then it was train time! The Strasburg railroad is quite a production, with a train museum and about six gift shops, but we were there for the main attraction: a ride in the private first-class car of the restored late-19th C. stream train. This trip wasn’t about the destination, or even the journey, so much as the atmosphere.We steamed off through bucolic fields (and one farm-based amusement park, plus a motel where you can sleep in salvaged cabooses!), sipping beverages and enjoying the novelty.I particularly liked the nifty lamps.
We basically just passed a bunch of fields until we reached what the company calls
Paradise, PA. I’m pretty sure this is made up, since the signs we passed said other stuff. But the train just goes right back the way it came anyway.Returning to the Strasburg station, I wondered about those famous railroads we all tried to own in Monopoly as children — the Pennsylvania line, the Reading line, etc. — and realized PA must have been a pretty important place in railroading back in the era we were pretending to inhabit for the afternoon. Only, I don’t really know anything about that history. Too bad the museum was about to close!
We finished the day, of course, with a visit to the Strasburg Creamery, where they make the patient staff wear old-timey outfits. I’m sure it’s a pain, but the effect is delightful.Yes, the ice cream was delicious, and so was the homemade waffle cone, though it was so thickly coiled up that it became kind of a waffle wall at the bottom. But no, sorry folks, I did not try the Pikachu Delight!
I just couldn’t bring myself to eat the little guy.
We’ll probably return to Strasburg sometime, not on a Monday, to enjoy the rest of the little quaint downtown — seems like an ideal place to bring visitors, especially of the motherish variety. And we won’t soon forget our visit to the end of the 19th century!