Reporting Jay Lloyd
The “Sunday Drive” was always a weekend family staple. It was a country day-trip that took city folk out into nearby rural areas for fresh air and bucolic vistas. Then, as rumble seats became extinct, country settings turned to suburban population centers. But there are still country drives to be enjoyed and area suburbs are providing getaway escapes of a more sophisticated sort. So pack up the car and away we go. – Jay Lloyd
In the rolling countryside near Ephrata, on one hand there are silos and fields as far as the eye can see – on the other horse drawn buggies are sharing modern parking lot space with SUV’s. Enjoy the rural sights, grazing livestock and vast tracts of pristine farmland. Then stop a while at a wildly popular smorgasbord restaurant, a part of the sprawling food and furniture complex called, Shady Maple. The seemingly endless buffet offered enough tempting dishes to feed a pet bear. And for licorice lovers, in the sweets store – the very best. Shady Maple may also be the tchotchke capitol of Pennsylvania – that’s knick knacks in some circles. So just follow route 23, do some shopping have some lunch and just marvel in the colorful scenery of a world apart.
ST. PETER’S VILLAGE
It’s just a small picture postcard village – a few shops, a first class restaurant and Inn, a bakery with coffee and a view of a babbling stream that can offer hours of leisurely fishing. And, it’s just off route 23 in Southern Chester County. Melanie Melle who operates the bakery and its popular outdoor deck marvels at working in a serene setting.“That’s my office. The beautiful French Creek and the black granite boulder field.” It’s all surrounded by parks and streams, hiking and biking trails. But to James Archer who I found fishing in the creek, it’s more than the catch. “It’s got the history. It’s got peace. And this river flowing down, gives it that extra hint of tranquility.”
A faithfully restored Berks County farm epitomizes the life of America’s early settlers. And why not? The Boone Homestead is the birthplace of one of the most famous American settlers, Daniel Boone. It’s near Reading just off route 422. Visiting on a weekend you’ll see re-creations of French and Indian War skirmishes. There are frequent “long rifle” demonstrations with riflemen in period costume firing homemade ammunition from their flintlocks . If you think there’s a bit of the pioneer in your family background, here’s a spot to get the feel of a “frontiersman”.
Eighteenth century life is portrayed in authentic settings. There are hiking trails, campgrounds and picnic settings. It’s the ideal destination for a “country drive.”
It’s a pleasant drive along the Perkiomen Creek, up Route 29 through Schwenksville to Spring Mountain in central Montgomery County. This popular local ski area stays humming in summer with Zip Line tours. Trees, lining the now snow-free slopes act as a canopy for an adrenalin rush while soaring as much as 40 feet off the ground. You’re tethered to what is called, for obvious reasons, a zip line. First time “Zippers” talk about the exhilaration of leaving the ground and the sensation of free flight while secure in the fact that you’re firmly anchored. Something like Tarzan an Jane. Tours are from 1-1/2 hours to half a day. Best call ahead for a solo or group reservation. Phone 888-305-5044. If biking or jogging is your thing. The scenic Perkiomen Trail is nearby.
If you really needed an excuse to meander among the boutique shops, a booming restaurant scene, the Irish pubs and antique nooks on Bridge Street here in Phoenixville, frequent fairs and events along with a well attended Saturday Farmer’s Market should do it. After all, Phoenixville is one of those old industrial suburban boroughs that reinvented itself as destination day-trip for Philadelphia area recreation seekers. It’s an easy drive out route 422 to the Phoenixville exit or through Valley Forge Park. Last year 4,000 people, many in kilts showed up to enjoy the music and food – and a taste of Ireland to wash it down at the annual Celtic Festival. And thousands came to town just a few week ago, most in costume for the re-creation of the screaming theater scene in the cult film, The Blob”, filmed at the Colonial Theater here. Just outside of town, you can even rent a kayak for a lazy paddle on the Schuylkill Canal and river.