This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Monday, June 3, 2013

Smorgasbord, Buggy Parking, and Amish Just Want to Have Fun!

This morning when I first went outside I noticed that an animal had obviously pissed on the motorhome’s front passenger-side tire. It must have been during the night and I would have assumed it was a dog except that it was 32-inches from the ground to the mark on the tire. I know because I measured it!

What dog can hit a target that is 32-inches above the ground? You have to believe that it was male because if it were female she would have hit that spot WHILE SQUATING! It’s just too scary to imagine that. So it had to be a big male animal. If not a humongous male dog, what was it? I suppose it may not have been a wild animal at all. Perhaps it was just a passing midget. What would be more likely……a midget wandering around the campground at night pissing on tires or a humongous dog doing it? I’ll be watching tonight.

Today we had lunch at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. It was recommended to us as having excellent food and was only a few miles away. I was expecting a small country place, like most of the Amish places around here.  I was very surprised to see how large the place was. I mean it was huge! The parking lot wwas Wal-Mart size or larger and included tour bus and RV parking sections.

Inside, the smorgasbord is 200 feet long and the dining room has seating for 2,000 and serves up to 10,000 customers on a weekend. It also includes a 40,000 square foot gift shop. 

The Pennsylvania Dutch food, though produced in vast quantities, was excellent and tasted homemade. This is what I had for lunch:

Roast beef
Broasted chicken
Mashed potatoes
Glazed carrots
Peach, apple, and raspberry breads
Apple dumpling
Rice pudding
Bread pudding
Egg custard
Ice cream
Chocolate Eclair
Vanilla bean frozen yogurt
Cappuccino - French Vanilla/S'mores/Maxwell House coffee combination. 

Now, I didn’t have full servings of EVERYTHING! And it was only $12 per head (Senior price).

It was an obese persons’ paradise and there were plenty of them there. They must have thought they had died and gone to heaven! There were people so large that they had to be rolled into the dining room. Their plates looked like they were afraid the world might run out of food tomorrow. I ate a lot myself, yet still didn’t come close to the amount of food some of these people consumed. I didn’t have to be rolled in, but I was afraid that I would have to be rolled out. I kept thinking of the phrase, “The Fattening of America.”

After lunch, we went to the local Wal-Mart to replenish our supplies. The first thing I noticed when we entered the parking lot was the covered area for horse and buggy parking only!

Just because the Amish people are “old-fashioned” and don’t use electricity, automobiles, or powered farm equipment doesn’t mean they live in log cabins.  Amish houses can look just as stylish and modern as any other.  They aren’t necessarily old and may be newly built.  Most are rather large because the average Amish family includes seven children.  So if they look like any other house, how can you tell if a house is Amish or not?

Well, the house is Amish if…….

  • A buggy is in the drive (obvious)
  • A long clothesline with pulley is in the yard
  • There are no visible electrical lines or cables running to the house
  • There is no TV satellite dish or antenna visible
  • There is a barn with a garage door
  • There is a sign in the yard advertising “Free Horse Manure”
How do the young people have fun?  Well, their idea of fun and an “English” (non-Amish) kid’s idea can be very different.  Amish kids have no TVs, computers, iPhones, iPads, video games, etc.  There is one time in their life when there is a notable exception to this.  It’s called Rumspringa.  You might say it is an Amish right of passage that begins at age 14 to 16 when they finish school (they only go through the 8th grade).  When they finish they are not yet adults but not really kids either.  From that time until they decide to join the Church (must be an adult to join the Church) they may do pretty much as they please, which includes checking out the modern world to see what it is like.  Some buy cars and cell phones.  They might wear “English” clothes and listen to rock music.  They can still live at home or, if they can afford it, live in an apartment.  They have all-night parties where many may dabble in drugs, alcohol, and sex.  I read where 12% of the girls have a baby in less than 9 months after getting married (but they DO get married).  They might color their hair, grow their hair, or cut their hair.  They can go crazy-wild without parental intervention or curfews.  

The parents know what is going on but they believe strongly in free will and give the kids plenty of rope with which to hang themselves.  Most of the kids get jobs in the “English” world to pay for this wild time. But in the end most of them come back to the Church and are baptized, which wipes away any “sins” they may have committed during their rumspringa.  One of the reasons for not remaining in the “English” world is lack of opportunity.  Remember, they only have an 8th grade education, which only included the “Three R’s”, history, and how to farm.  They don’t study the sciences.  All 8 grades are taught in a one-room schoolhouse, usually with about 35 students and only one teacher (and possibly a teacher’s aide) who has only an 8th grade education herself (the teacher is almost always a young girl).  With that kind of education, what sort of jobs are available to them in the “English” world?   Most realize that they would be much better off in the Amish world and come back, join the Church, and get married.

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