Monthly Archives: September 2010

Things We Love About the Strasburg Rail Road

There’s just something about real live steam locomotives.

My boys and I are drawn to them like a moth to a flame. Maybe it’s the grandeur of the gigantic steel machinery or the comforting sound of a steam whistle in the distance, but every year we are inexorably drawn to the Strasburg Rail Road to take a ride on the rails.

Riding in an open air car through the Lancaster County countryside with the familiar clickety-clack noise of the passenger cars rumbling beneath us is a comforting and fun summertime tradition. There are lots of thing to love.

  • They love seeing one of the steam engines in all its restored glory pull into the station and drop off passengers.
  • They love flipping the bench in the open air car so they can be facing the “right way” going to Paradise as well as the trip back to the Strasburg station.
  • They love hearing the Ghost Whistle.
  • They love asking me if we can stop at the picnic spot halfway through the ride, although they’re always disappointed with my, “Not today,” response.
  • They love seeing the farms whip by. I enjoy knowing that they’re beginning to appreciate the inherit beauty of PA Dutch Country.
  • They love that I’m a sucker and buy them kettle corn when we arrive back at the station at the Strasburg Rail Road at the end of the day.
  • I love seeing the big smiles on their faces. What more can you ask for?


Cherry Crest Adventure Farm’s Sweet Corn Festival

The boys and I were able to visit Cherry Crest Adventure Farm recently during their Sweet Corn Festival. While I’ve documented how much fun we have at Cherry Crest Adventure in this space before, some of the things we love about this place bears repeating.

Noah, my 7-year-old, still loves the tractor pedal kart / hay bale race course, the pumpkin slingshots and the corn maze. But what’s great about Cherry Crest is that there are so many things to do, your young ones can ease in to activities when you come back year after year. This year Jacob, my 4-year-old, went on the potato sack slide, the jumping pillow and the aforementioned pedal karts when last year he would have been too timid or too small to try one of those things (he’s not overly adventurous).

Old favorites for everyone include the farm animal center where the boys got to hold a chick and feed goats and llamas, the water pump rubber duck race, and the corn bin. There were some new additions this year as well. The had some giant Lincoln logs where you could build a playhouse sized cabin, and some carnival style areas where you could throw footballs, baseballs and basketball at their respective targets, hoops etc.

Roasted Sweet Corn

Because we went to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm during its Sweet Corn Festival, we received a voucher for a free piece of roasted sweet corn with each admission. As we’re Lancaster County residents, we get our fair share of sweet corn at home, but I rarely roast it for the family (we’re boilers) so this was a special treat for the boys. The roasting really brings out the sugary sweetness of late season corn. Noah loved it so much I anted up for an additional ear or two for him. I’m a sucker like that.

I took my video camera along for our day and I put together a short video. Hopefully it captures just how much fun of an attraction Cherry Crest Adventure Farm can be for families of any age in Lancaster County.

Mini Golf – it’s a classic at Village Greens.

I love mini-golf. As kids, my dad would get us together after dinner and say “We’re going mini-golfing tonight” we would get so excited! As a teen-ager, it was an activity that we were allowed to do with our friends, and it was tons of fun. While dating, it was a favorite date option. Now that I’m married, it’s a cheap date option while we save money. When I have kids, I’m sure it will continue to be a family favorite outing!

About a week ago, I went with a bunch of co-workers to a golf course I had never been to – Village Greens. They’ve got two courses there: the Orange Course, which is 18 holes, and the Gold Course (which is what we played) that has 23 holes. The Gold Course is truly a challenge! There’s one hole that you have to shoot straight up a narrow ramp to get it up to the hole in one shot, or you can go the long way around. Another hole has no rim on the side that you’re shooting toward, and if you hit too hard it goes right into the water! (Another favorite as a kid was fishing out my ball!)

Village Greens is open through October, and it’s getting to be the best time of Village Greens Miniature Golf Courseyear for mini-golf – not too hot, and not too cold! Village Greens has a punch ticket, so make sure to ask for one – when you play 10 games, you get one free! Also look out for special events like Glo Golf with different themes, National Ice Cream Day,  and coming up October 31, Trick or Treat Nite (4-9pm – 18 & under golf FREE). Get on out to Village Greens for some mini-golf – you’re never too young or old for it!

For more photos of this beautiful course, click here.

The Wolf Sanctuary of PA

There I was—face to face with one of nature’s most fierce creatures, the wolf. I stood frozen, staring down 12 sets of eyes, each of us waiting to see what the other would do next. We stood, stuck in a human-canine staring match…well, until the person that feeds them walked up to the fence and the wolves forgot about me and went, tails wagging and all, to greet him.

Not what I expected from the sly looking creatures I see on the Discovery Channel using their slashing teeth and spine-tingling snarls to bring down elk.

“They love attention just like any other dog, but food aggression is where things get dangerous.” Darren, who works with the wolves, tells me. “We’re not a petting zoo.”

The non-petting zoo Darren is referring to is the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania at Speedwell Forge in Lititz. Frankly, the Sanctuary is better than any zoo I’ve ever been to. Forget the trips where you stood for hours, staring at a pile of trees hoping just one animal would peek its head out from behind the brush. Here, the fascinating animals behind the fence are just as curious to see you as you are to see them.

100_1615The Darlington family has owned and lived on Speedwell Forge for three generations and has been rescuing and housing wolves on their land for almost 30 years. After a wolf has been exposed to human contact, for example through illegal pet ownership, the wolf can no longer be released into the wild. Thus, in swoops the Darlington family where they bring the wolf to the Sanctuary to keep both wolf and human safe. The Sanctuary now houses over 40 wolves in over 22 acres of enclosed land.

This old dairy farm is also home to the Speedwell Forge Bed and Breakfast, a beautiful stone home built in 1760 and on the National Register of Historic Places. While at the B&B I couldn’t help but imagine myself on a relaxing weekend getaway, sipping hot tea in the cozy sitting room with a fire roaring in the hearth, or having a bite to eat on the back porch enveloped by the sounds and smells of nature, or waking up early to watch the majestic wolves as they go about their daily activities. If you can’t stop by for an overnight stay, a day trip to at least see the wolves is a must.

The sanctuary is completely self funded by money brought in through daily tours and special fundraising events, such as Full Moon Tours and Music and Art with the Wolves.

For more information on how you can help the Wolf Sanctuary of PA by visiting, volunteering, or donating, visit

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