Driving in Amish Country

It's been a while since I gave my last dispatches from Amish country, so it just feels like the right time for another one.

For those who don't know, I live in Intercourse, PA in the heart of Amish Country. It's a great place to live and raise kids, except for Saturdays in the summer when the traffic in Intercourse is so bad it makes you want to run yourself over with an Amish lawnmower.

A few days ago I had my wonderful wife Erica take a picture of me in front of the "Welcome to Intercourse" sign at the park near our house. I told her I needed it for the blog. Though it was a bit embarrassing for her, she snapped away anyway while I made goofy faces in front of the sign. Yes, love does conquer all.

The topic for today's discussion is driving in Amish country. Driving around in Amish country has some challenges that are fairly unique to the region. Amish buggies travel at a very slow pace, as you probably surmised, so a driver has to always be prepared to encounter one around every corner and over the crest of every hill. Passing buggies by crossing over double yellow lines is a necessity, but many tourists and out-of-staters do not know this, and as such will travel 5 MPH behind buggies for long periods of time until cars start passing them and they realize they can pass the buggy too. (Usually while they are passing the buggy the front seat passenger will stick a camera out the window for a picture, which probably makes the Amish angry in an old-school, anti-technology kind of way.)

But driving around here isn't all bad. You do see some interesting things from time to time. In fact, I've had my camera phone ready over the last couple of weeks for any kodak moments that might arise while I was on the road. Here's a few of the things I caught on film, err, phone.

Most buggies are covered, but as you can see here, some are not. Rumor has it that whenever a guy and a girl who are not married travel together, they are not allowed to ride in a covered buggy. Even the amish understand the power of teenage hormones. Since there are four people riding in this buggy, I'm guessing the reason they went with the convertible was just to enjoy a nice day.

Once in a while you'll see a buggy hauling something behind it, but I have to tell you, this was the first time I had ever seen a buggy hauling a crate of live chickens. The crate appears to be too big for the wagon, so the thing looks like it could fall off at any second. Thankfully, you don't take turns very fast when you've only got 1 horsepower under the hood. I'm not sure what happened to the chickens, but I'm guessing it didn't end well for them.

On rare occasions you'll see someone cutting out the middle man and leaving the buggy at home. This guy was riding a horse on the side of the road. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend this. It's just not that safe. Especially when there's people in cars driving by trying to take pictures of you.

Another popular mode of transportation among the Amish is the scooter. Think of it as a 1-man buggy without the horse. As opposed to the razor scooters that have been huge with kids for the past 10 years, these amish scooters have huge wheels on them. Like, bicycle wheels. Not sure what the advantage is over the razor scooter, but I don't see the Amish adopting the Razors into their way of life for another 50 years or so. I'm not sure why, but seeing an old Amish dude riding a scooter still makes me laugh. Probably because I'm a jerk.

Of course, you can't really talk about driving in Amish country without discussing the emissions that their engines give off. Avoiding road apples is a way of life around here, and before long you don't even notice it ... UNLESS, the road apples in question are piled up at pump #3 of the local gas station. I got out to put gas in my car the other day and almost walked right into this heap of equine excrement. Seriously, someone want to explain to me what that pile of horse crap is doing at a gas pump? Feel free to share your thoughts on that, and anything else Amish-related in the comments section.

Well, that's all for now. Y'all are welcome to come join us in Intercourse any time!


  1. My old roommate grew up in Peach Bottom in Lancaster County and always had funny stories about the Amish. She told us about some friends who had a trampoline and lived right beside an Amish family. They came out one morning and the trampoline was gone, but they could see Amish heads bouncing up and down behind the privacy fence dividing their properties. Their parents asked the Amish parents what happened and they denied everything. So after dark they snuck into their yard and stole the trampoline back. I guess the whole "thou shalt not steal" commandment only applies to other Amish...

  2. that picture of you in intercourse is classic!!

  3. Bryan,

    I love these slices of life from Amish country. I've never been to that part of Pennsylvania, though I've heard it's gorgeous. I'm also fascinated by the Amish. I feel there is a lot I can learn from them. One book especially, "Amish Grace," is high on my reading list. I also have two documentaries about the Amish on my Netflix queue.


  4. We live side-by-side with the Ohio Amish. Shameful as it is, our observations usually involve pointing out inconsistencies.
    Such as:
    - Why are those kids always bumming rides in cars?
    - Our doc cuts the Amish such a sweet deal it makes conversion look like a stellar health care plan.
    - What’s up with all the generators?
    - Why not clean up the horse poop? Why? We have to clean up dog poop (much smaller).
    - Why all the ice cream stand ice cream? Ice cream stands are pret-ty worldly.
    - Fast, reckless buggy-driving at the hand of a twelve year old is the worst!
    - Frequent and multiple marriage engagements (I’m wondering if you get to do more if you are engaged, making this is a loophole to Amish promiscuity)

    Honestly, I also think we have much to learn from the Amish. The community aspect is incredible. However, the Mennonites in my town are much friendlier.

  5. My spouse just walked in and said, "The horse crap is at the gap pump because of the generators. You need gas for those generators. Did you know that 20 hours of generator use puts out more pollution than mowing your lawn all year?"
    Well, dang.

  6. John,

    it is a beautiful place to live. I take it for granted seeing it so often, but every now and again the scenery will smack me in the face and say "pretty cool, huh?"

    I figured the gas they were getting was for generators or some type of machine they were using to construct a barn in 4 hours. It would have been nice of them to clean up the exhaust though...