The Calm Before the Storm

Amish Country 1

Work is about to get crazy! I work at a printing company and like many manufacturers we are coming out of a slow summer and gearing up for an insanely busy fall which will continue at break neck speed through to Christmas. It’s like that every year. Sometimes the busy season carries right through to New Years. This week started busy but my department got caught up, so I took the opportunity to take today off.

As I enjoy the calm before the storm at work, today is literally the calm before the storm. Hurricane Hanna, or what’s left of it, is going to hit the mid atlantic states tomorrow. That means the Saturday pre-ride with Diana for my Sunday Amish Loop ride is going to get rained out. Hmm… what should I do on this beautiful Friday with temperatures in the high 80’s?

I left a little after 9:00am and got home after 7:00pm and covered close to 300 miles of farm country between Newark, Delaware and York, Pennsylvania. It was an incredible day and I wish you could have come riding with me. I found some roads that I’m sure you would love. These are the kinda roads that make me ask “why do I bother going on trips when these awesome roads are just hiding in my backyard waiting to be discovered?”.

I took Route 896 out of Newark into Amish farm country. Shortly after leaving the University of Delaware campus Route 896 becomes a twisty country road which travels through hilly farmland and enters Pennsylvania. Amish farms line the road and the smell of manure is in the air. Some of the Amish houses don’t have power lines running from the road to the house; they don’t use electricity. You can see their clothes drying on the clothes lines flapping in the breeze as you cruise by. The farmers are tending their crops on horse drawn plows and wagons. The big green John Deer tractors that are plentiful in Maryland are few and far between here in Lancaster County. The little Amish boys and girls are playing baseball, no video games for these kids. I see more goats, horses, cows and chickens than cars or people… or even buggies for that matter. I know that the buggy brigade will be out in full force on Sunday though, that’s visiting day for the Amish.

Amish Farm 1

I caught Route 372 to Route 41 into Gap, Pennsylvania and pulled into Wawa for a pit stop. Wawa is a Pennsylvania based chain of convenience stores that cover Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Your average Wawa is nicer than 7-11 and open 24 hours. They have clean bathrooms and a fantastic selection of hot coffe. There are usually about a eight coffee pots brewing. They have a great deli that serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches. You order at an electronic computer screen kiosk and they make your sandwich for you while you grab a drink out of the cooler and pay your bill. By the time you pay your food is ready for pick up. Now if that wasn’t good enough we motorcyclists love the Super Wawa! The Super Wawa has a huge parking lot with lots of gas station pumps! We stop at Wawa as much as our northern brothers and sisters stop at Dunkin Donuts, probably more! They make great pick up locations to start the ride too. And guess what.. they have Dunkin Donut donuts! Clean Bathrooms, lots of gas pumps, food and drinks! It’s the perfect pit stop!

From Gap I got on Route 772. Route 772 is listed as Lancaster County Drive in National Geographic’s Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways. It is 35 miles long and runs from Gap to Marietta ending at the Susquehanna River. It loops up and over the city of Lancaster through even more hilly and more scenic farmland making Route 896 look like an appetizer. In a addition to twisties these roads have a few 90 degree elbow turns. Watch out for horse pies!

amish country 2

amish country 3

amish country 4

As 772 approached the town of Manheim I found the perfect lunch spot: Rettew’s Manheim Twin Kiss Family Restaurant. Like the entrance to the town the parking lot sat on the left side of the road behind the restaurant. Easy to pull into with lots of space! I went inside and there was plenty of seating for a group of bikers. This place started off as one of those drive in ice cream and root beer places in the 50’s. It still features an ice cream and soda stand inside separate from the grill area where they take the food orders. Apparently they are famous for root beer and roast beef. There is a framed black and white photo hanging on the wall inside from the 50’s of a group of cool guys all hanging out drinking rootbeer. Cool place, stop in if you’re in the area!

Twin Kiss in Manheim PA

I crossed the river on Route 462 across the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge which is a really cool concrete bridge. It has much more character than the newer busier Route 30 Bridge. I followed the rest of the roads mapped out on the Moto-Map for the York loop. Yes that York, PA! The birthplace of many Harleys! Later this month is the annual York Open House where hundreds of Harley Davidson enthusiasts come to tour the factory. By the way, this is the Moto-Maps for Pennsylvania & New Jersey which Jeff from Moto-Maps sent me. I scanned the little map, printed out a big copy and placed it inside my map holder. It was easy to follow and flawless.

amish country 5

The mapped out route dropped me down into Maryland on Route 136 and caught Route 1 right at the Super Wawa! Time for another pit stop! Then it follows Route 1 across the Conowingo dam and heads home. Wait a second! Hold the phone! Almost all my rides cover this same stretch of hard top between Conowingo, Maryland and Newark, Delaware. If I take my HOG chapter home this way on Sunday they might fall a sleep and I can’t have that! Thank God for the pre-ride. Once again the pre-ride saves the day! Time to explore unmapped roads!

amish country 6

I jumped on Route 222 north and crossed back into PA. Then popped onto Route 272 and hooked a left on RT 372 heading east toward the next closest river crossing. I crossed over the Norman Wood Bridge which I have never heard of or seen before. It is very scenic, similar to the Conowingo dam. I traveled north on Rt 74 back toward towns I was in several hours earlier. That’s when I found Nirvana! I banged a right onto Route 425 and found the most incredible piece of windy road that had to be designed specifically for us! It was two wheel heaven!

Bikers are the best!

I didn’t want to say goodbye to this road but when I came to the intersection of Route 624 I had to make a decision to keep heading west toward York or follow 624 east along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Route 624 was just as great and and offered up great views of the river. I climbed up some hills and found an oasis! High atop a hill overlooking the magnificent Susquehanna River I found Lauxmont Farms. A dairy farm with an ICE CREAM SHOP and BAKERY! Made Fresh! You have to walk down the center of the cow stables to get to the ice cream shop. No one was manning the ice cream shop and the cows were out to pasture. It was like an abandoned haunted cow farm! I wandered past a giant picture window where you can watch the farmer milk the cows and then down some stairs as I  looked for a restroom. It was next to the bride’s dressing room. What?! The men’s room was very nice. Then I wandered into The Rotunda! “A circular building overlooking 360 degrees of breathtaking views. Rolling hills and pastures of majestic stallions lead to a beautiful view of the Susquehanna River. The Rotunda has a dome ceiling twenty five feet high resting on sixteen columns…The Rotunda was featured in the March 1985 edition of National Geographic Magazine.” I’m a self proclaimed expert on weddings and this place rocks! This is a perfect location for a wedding! (click here to check it out). I finally found the ice cream girl and got some fresh made cherry vanilla ice cream with real cherries in it.

Fresh Made Ice Cream

Dairy Farm 

Can you see my bike?

ice cream this way

goat ice cream?

give me the ice cream

The Rotunda

outside the rotunda

another great view

I spoke to Diana on the phone and she said the wind was picking up so I should get heading home. So I hopped on the Lowrider and hit the road again. Crossed back over the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge and looked for River Road. I found this road once last year and it was awesome. Ah, found it! It’s not hard to find as it runs south along the edge of the river (on the other side of course). It starts as Rt 441 S Front Street and then becomes Water Street before it becomes River Road. Of all the roads I traveled today this is the twistiest windiest hilliest of them all… pure fun and very few cars.  It passes the Turkey Hill Ice Cream factory in the middle of nowhere which I did not stop at. Finally I came to Route 372 for the third time today and said goodbye to another dream road… “I’ll see you on Sunday!”

Route 372 cut back through Amish farmland and intersects with 896. Rt 896 would take me back home to Newark, Delaware where I could put the bike away, eat some grub and type this not so little story for you! Hope you liked it.

One Response to “The Calm Before the Storm”

  1. And just think…I was teaching a bunch of high school kids to do 4th grade arithmetic and then searching the school to find the only working copier in the building! I did get to have dinner at Don Pablos with my bestest friend, but I still think Jay had a better day. (I’m so jealous…and I can’t wait for Sunday!)

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