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Not another Amish thread - help out a quilt lover please :)

Not another Amish thread - help out a quilt lover please :)

Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 11:22 AM
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Not another Amish thread - help out a quilt lover please :)

Hi Fodorites

Travel period: early/mid Feb 2014
Travel Plans: flying into SFO initially (11 Feb), need to get to DC by Sat 15 Feb, need to finish up in Williamsburg, VA by 16/17 Feb.
Travel budget: modest.
Method of transport: Happy to fly and drive. Don't want really long days in car as I'm travelling solo and don't want to get over-tired.

I am wary about long travel days given I will be travelling in Winter time.

I'm coming from NZ and attending a quilting event in Williamsburg in mid-Feb. I also have a DC based friend I would like to see on-route.

Being a quilter, lover of natural landscapes and curious about different lifestyles; the Amish community has fascinated me for years.

I'm wondering whether I could use this short trip to observe Amish life and get closer to Amish quilting.

I have read several pages of Amish threads and have considered the merits of Lancaster-surrounding areas. I did toy with flying to Ohio to see Amish there and then driving to DC but am a bit put off by the drive time.

Fodorites, if you have any suggestions for:

- how to observe some Amish quilting and glimpse the Amish lifestyle
- how to see a little of the area without getting too bogged down in tourist traps.
- where to base myself for accommodation.

I would love to hear your thoughts,

Thanks in advance.

Lovener1
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 11:30 AM
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You are coming in the very harsh part of our winter... travel could be difficult to impossible with snow and cold... most farm activity is non-existent ... I hope you might get a response from an insider in the quilt culture to give you guidance... otherwise you are facing a cold vast quiet drive through the Frozen North... good luck...
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 12:18 PM
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I don't think you will get into the actual community. You might do better in Ohio around New Berlin. I don't think they are quite as Old Order as around Lancaster. There are PLENTY of shops in Lancaster--and New Berlin--for you to look at.
The drive from Ohio to DC could also take you to Lancaster--it isn't a terrible drive but you don't have an overly long time--coming from NZ for a week plus?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 12:22 PM
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Even when you get to SFO, you still have a long trip to get to the DC/Williamsburg area. If you drive, that will be all you do. The weather in PA/OH is unpredictable at that time of year. Flying into Philadelphia and driving to Lancaster is an option. From there you could drive to DC and on to Williamsburg. What time do you need to be in Williamsburg? Although it is not far from DC, it can take a while related to traffic.

If you were coming in late August, or really anytime in the spring/summer/fall, I could arrange for you to see Southern Indiana Amish country, including a quilt store that is Amish run.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 01:19 PM
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Yes, it is a shame about the time of year but nothing I can do about it. Appreciate your concerns re the roads.

At this stage my plan is to fly from SFO to either PA or possibly even Harrisburg and then drive from there. I think that is the most sensible option.

I have some flexibility about my arrival time in Williamsburg.

Charsuzan, thanks for the kind offer… I would have loved it. Unfortunately not an option this time due to Williamsburg dates being fixed.

Very keen to hear others thoughts also (any quilters lurking?)

Thanks everyone for the replies so far.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 01:30 PM
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Fly to either Baltimore Washington (BWI) or Harrisburg (MDT).
If you fly to BWI you have a choice of renting a car there or taking an Amtrak train (NE Regional) to Philadelphia and another (Pennsylvanian) west to Lancaster. The train might be safer if the weather is bad and you have little experience with winter driving.
My DW used to be a quilter but she now does a lot more knitting.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 03:06 PM
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I love quilts and have gone quilt hunting in the Lancaster area twice. The last time was about 4 years ago, so not sure about details. Once we went to the (weekly?) Lancaster market and not only enjoyed the market, but got some tips for great quilt shops in the area.

On the other trip, I was alone in a rental car. Make sure you have a GPS there. Most roads are pretty rural; not signed or lighted well, and it gets dark very early in the winter.

At the time, you could hire a local guide from the Mennonite center for a tour in your car. If you arrange it in advance, you can indicate your interest in quilts so they are prepared.

A friend of mine did a specific quilter's tour all over PA(by bus). She was on the east coast for a big quilt show, and it was specially arranged for her group. My MIL also did a quilt tour a while back. She found it by writing some of the local Chambers of Commerce (pre-Internet days!)

You might contact a local quilter's guild, or ask the people organizing your DC event to see if they can suggest something. Sorry I can't help more, but I wanted to let you know your request is that unusual for the area.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 04:41 PM
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I would try to have alternate plans if necessary. If you run into winter weather (it will be 8 degrees - farenhait, not centigrade - here tonight and we are expecting 5 ot 8" of snow - with up to 12" to the north and west.

If another storm comes through when you are traveling it's perfectly possible for you to be stuck anywhere for a day or two - and the drive from DC to Williamsburg could take 8 or 9 very wearing and dangerous hours (if you're not used to driving in snow).

This is not very likely - but it is perfectly possible - and you won;t know until a couple of days in advance. So I would check out options (perhaps train versus car - since it takes a larger storm to shut them down than to close highways).
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 06:59 PM
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Hi Lovener!

I am a quilter from Australia. I was just in Lancaster in November and if I was you I'd give it a big miss! Seriously I was so disappointed at the poor quality of quilt stores and the lack of quilt stores. Ok, I didn't travel all around the county but I did go through Lancaster, Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse. Intercourse had the only decent quilt shop (can't remember the name but it had the tiny quilt museum upstairs). It sold fabric and finished quilts but most were very ordinary (and expensive). There was a "quilt" shop at Kitchen Kettle Village but they only sold quilts not any fabric or notions. The few other stores that professed to sell quilt fabric were pretty awful - worse than Spotlight fabric! The little gifty type stores were cute especially if you like to decorate in 'Country Style". But even in November most Amish enterprises were closed down (it was bitterly cold then) and as others have suggested there won't be anything open in February.

However, I did a quick search on Quilt Stores Willimasburg Va and it came up with quite a few shops. I think you should give Lancaster a miss. The quilt show in Williamsburg will be much more fun.You can also google quilt stores in San Fran.

You might want to check out Ohio, maybe the weather is better but I don't think so.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 12:49 AM
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Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions. In light of the challenging weather conditions, I have decided that now's not the time to cross this one off the list. I appreciate your time and advice.
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Old Jan 27th, 2014, 10:45 AM
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As a longtime resident, my favorite Lancaster events are the spring mud sales. The 2 best may be a little late 4 U. The first in Strasburg is on 2/22 and the 2nd in Bart Twp on 3/1.They are auctions that feature quilts by the hundreds that are auctioned off as fire company fund raisers. The weather can be very rough and muddy so be prepared.We are not artsy types but can watch the fast moving sales for most of the day.
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 08:37 PM
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Hi Loveners,
I am unable to directly answer some of your questions, but wanted to respond with a comment about driving in such a large country as the US. I live in Australia, where driving distances can be huge, and you are coming from NZ (which I have visited) where towns, facilities are very close together, and where you drive on the same side of the road as ourselves. A friend and I are travelling to the US in April / May mainly for the purpose of going to the Quilt Show in Paducah Kentucky, then onto Lancaster (for it's Amish history) and then to Philadelphia. We have deliberately chosen not to drive - unfamiliar roads, road rules, driving on the "other" side of the road, missing the scenery as we concentrate so much on the thin white line down the centre of the road. We are flying LA to Nashville (to meet tour group), Nashville to Philadelphia, train to Lancaster - easy to book on internet and very cost effective, train back to Philly, then fly back to LA and start journey home to Sydney. We are lucky in that we will be away just over three weeks - two girls only - no men !!!
I am especially looking forward to our time in Lancaster and from my research I don't think we will be disappointed. Yes, I know some things will be "touristy", but there would seem to be ample opportunity to get out a bit and experience the not so touristy. We have been lucky to have been given a couple of names of places to visit. I would have loved to go to the Mud Sales, as mentioned in the last post, but our timing does not suit. `However, there are markets in the greater Lancaster area, and we will visit one of them. There is a market in Manheim on a Tuesday; a market In Bird in Hand on a Wednesday; a market in Ephrata on a Friday, and I was told that there is a market in Lancaster itself close to our Hotel. There are local buses that run between the towns - and although the service might not be as frequent as we are used to, we can travel one way by bus, and taxi back. When I looked at mileage between, they seem to be close together. Again not the long distances that I have in OZ.

I have also seen the advertisements where you can get a local person to ride in your car and be the guide and they will take you to see things that you are interested. If you go with hiring a car, this might be possible for you.

Otherwise we have considered trying to get a local taxi driver to give us an hourly rate, and taking us to places to visit. He / she will have local knowledge, with only two of us, our time in shops can be as quick / long as we want, and we get to see things out of the window while someone else is responsible for keeping their eyes on the road. I understand budget is a consideration, and at the moment I don't have figures in mind, but hiring a car, paying for petrol, insurance, parking, etc. also has a cost in dollars as well as enjoyment of the holiday.

Holidays where hubby and I have driven in Europe, have not been relaxing - while he has the steering wheel, I am still doing the driving looking for road signs, checking our directions on the roundabouts, finding the correct exit, and being the guide as he tries to park the car !!!!!!

Whatever you decide I do hope you enjoy your time away, especially the event in Williamsburg.
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 01:41 AM
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I would love to hear how your trip went, especially if you visited Lancasterand the Amish.
Also how did your quilting event go?
A friend and I are going to Paducah in April! then some time in Lancaster and Philadelphia .
Thanks,
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