After Intercourse Comes Paradise: The Bookmobile Tour Continues!
On the first weekend in June we revved up the RV and headed to Pennsylvania Dutch country to camp with a group called RVing Women. I’m sure nobody’s shocked that all previous knowledge I had of the Amish came from the mostly forgotten musical Plain and Fancy starring Barbara Cook.
And despite how it sounds, it also won’t shock you to know the weekend also included Intercourse. No, it’s not too much information. I assure you the only naughty thing I did was sit around a campfire and enjoy it.
We set out on Thursday with the Schnauzers and enough food and drink to feed and anesthetize the Israeli Army. After a couple of hours, amid an area littered with tattoo parlors, tractor supply stores and hog farms, we saw the sign. Paradise, 3 miles. I don’t think so.
But a mile on the other side of the self-proclaimed town of Paradise we found our destination—the Old Mill Stream Campground.
Literally, down by the old mill stream, we hooked up the RV to electric, water, and sewer and went exploring. In the campground pavilion, I found the leaders of this RVing Women troupe—the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of a national organization, preparing food and activities for the weekend. We got a hearty welcome and saw that they’d scheduled a book reading and signing for me on Saturday. Would I survive until Saturday without Friday night at Cloud 9 and with only outdoor activities to entertain me?
There were at least 30 rigs, some smaller than ours, but many waaaay larger, and they were all piloted by women, many with partners, and most with pups. Moxie and Paddy got to meet Lady and Pepper, two lithe female greyhounds, a charming boxer, several bichons, a Toto-look-alike and numerous mutts, They all brought their friendly human companions along, with a bounty of booze and munchies. No fear of starvation between the three daily pot luck buffets.
For a woman out of her natural habitat, I adapted well. We sat around a campfire, a sprinkling of women in chairs, many on the turf, and a sprinkling of dogs on the turf, but many of them in chairs. I feared being made to sing Kumbaya, but frankly we talked politics and gay history. I was in my element again if you discount the embers and mosquitoes.
The reading and signing was a blast and on a walk up the road we made the very rustic discovery of the Tanger Outlets, which we happily avoided in favor of a game of redneck horseshoes. What’s happening to me???
Some women played Pickle Ball, a combination of tennis, ping-pong, and delicatessen. But the action stopped with the arrival of the Amish Pie Man, his horse pulling the wagon, his wife handling the transactions, and his pies beckoning us all. As we chomped down on our goodies I fully understood the origins of the name Shoo-fly Pie. (Sing it with me: Down by the old mill stream, where I first ate shoo.)
One great thing about these RVing Women—if you need assistance, look out. Somebody said, “Let’s start a fire,” and a woman came bounding out with an ax. While Lizzie Bordon split logs like Abe Lincoln, other gals dispensed RV lore. We had twelve gals with tool holsters offering opinions and a bunch willing to slither under your rig and check for whatever ailed you. Wow, that sounds naughty, too, but I’m really just talking about load levelers and pump-outs.
For sheer contrast, our mechanical behemoths stood on one side of the old mill stream (had to say it again) and on the other side, an Amish farmer tilled his field with a plow drawn by a pair or horses. I’m sure if he had needed help our women with axes would gladly have leapt the stream to assist.
For this novice camper, the RVing Women put out the welcome mat and gave us reason to join the group. They are organized, they sure can cook, they encourage traveling canines, and share a wealth of RV info and stories…and they don’t even mind when somebody asks, “What kind of engine on your rig?” and I say, “the seats are beige.”
By Sunday it was time to explore and of course, I had to visit Intercourse and photograph the city limits sign. It wasn’t easy, requiring me to balance on a steep hill, watching out for fast-moving buggies. I had to deal with horse shit and not the verbal kind I am used to. An Amish family spending Sunday on their porch went inside while I did my photographic circus act. Bonnie said they didn’t want to be in my picture but I think they didn’t want us to see them laughing at the dumb tourist stepping in horse manure.
We traversed the countryside from Bird-in-Hand to Intercourse to Paradise, repeating the RVing Women mantra: “Not all who wander are lost.” For me, it was “Not all who RV know how to wield an ax.” We were careful not to take the RV through any of the 28 covered bridges in the county. That would have been ugly. And everywhere we went, we wound up behind a horse and buggy with the “slow moving farm vehicle” red triangle on the back.
By the time we finished up the Amish bakery items and campfire cocktails, I was a slow moving farm vehicle myself, needing a butt triangle and load levelers. I’m an RVer and I like it. Go figure.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, and the newly released For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries. Email Fay Jacobs