My previous post featured one highlight of a trip we took to central PA - the making of candy canes at Purity Candy near Allenwood. But there was plenty more to see as we continued south on US15 that day.
First stop: the historic town of Lewisburg.
Lewisburg is loaded with charming older buildings such as these two. As it's not a large town, the downtown area is small, but plenty of nice shops and restaurants beckoned. But I only made one purchase, a baking book at the used bookstore Mondragon Books.
But my shopping wasn't done yet, since my husband agreed to travel a bit further down the road to Selinsgrove. I had read somewhere that supposedly the largest thrift store in the US is there, so of course I wanted to check that out.
Indeed, the business - the Community Aid thrift store - was housed in a large building. I asked a clerk what had previously been there and she told me a Value City store.
Well, I can't say that bigger is always better; it wasn't in this case. Most of the items for sale were clothes. That's great if you need clothes, but if you're me, you want to zero in on kitchenware for your daughter's first apartment, vintage Christmas stuff for your holiday decor, or craft supplies to fuel your creativity. There wasn't a huge selection in these three categories, but I managed to find one vintage Christmas ornament and two sewing patterns.
I was surprised that such a large retail space didn't have much furniture to speak of, as they certainly seemed to have the room for it. A clerk said they didn't get much furniture in, so what they put out on the floor was usually snatched up right away.
It was interesting to see what the so-called "largest thrift store in America" looked like, but I can't say I was overwhelmed. Still, proceeds go to churches and non-profit charitable organizations, so I felt good about buying something from this business.
After being in Pennsylvania for a few days, we began to make our way home. One stop along the way was the incomparable Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio (suburban Cincinnati). One feature I love about this grocery store is its international foods section, which is a huge section of this massive place. Each country or region of the world gets its own section of product shelving, with the more popular locales getting several shelves apiece.
I guess German cookies are popular at Jungle Jim's, or maybe the supplier of these treats had a holiday promotion going on:
Above, a large cookie house had been constructed. The decorations are various German cookies. The signs on either side of the house say "Please Do Not Touch". I imagine it was hard for children to refrain from doing so.
Looks good enough to eat!
Our last stop on the trip was to pick up our daughter in West Lafayette, Indiana for her Christmas break from grad school at Purdue. With her in tow, we returned home on December 22nd - to about 8" snow in the driveway.
The forecast for the days in between Christmas Day and New Year's Day was for yet more snow, accompanied by very cold weather. My husband proposed going out of town to get away from the snow.
So where did we go? Chicago and Milwaukee. They were even colder - but had far less snow. I'd say there was no more than 5" snow on the ground in either city during our visit. It did snow a bit one day in Milwaukee, but the roads were in pretty good shape. There was the matter of driving through lake effect snow in southwestern Michigan and northwestern Indiana, both coming and going, but we made it through those snow bands unscathed.
For the third year in a row, we visited the Mitchell Park Conservatory in Milwaukee, which is set up as a grouping of three domes. One dome features tropical plantings, one dome is dedicated to desert growth, and the third is reserved for various special exhibits throughout the year.
I'll focus on that last dome, since it was sporting a holiday theme during our visit. I think the theme was "Naughty or Nice", with various scenarios of elves working on gifts and goodies to pack in Santa's sleigh.
Close-ups of a huge, festively-decorated Christmas tree.
The same tree, seen from a distance.
A "bakery" building. Inside, dozens of pretend gingerbread cookies were being made in assembly-line fashion. Note the attractive rows of poinsettias and other plantings in the foreground.
The other side of the same building.
Nary a red poinsettia in this bunch!
Alas, we didn't stay at the Domes as long as we had in previous visits. It was quite crowded; perhaps people wanted to see signs of plant life in the midst of a severe cold spell. But we still had a very nice time there.
We had one more trip to go on, and that was to take our daughter back West Lafayette. We stayed down there for a couple of days, which included a run down to the Indianapolis area. A new Ikea had just opened in the fall in the suburbs, so I wanted to check it out. We also trooped over to the Fashion Mall, which might be the swankiest mall in the state. We all just window-shopped, as we weren't there long enough to do serious shopping. It was fund to look though!
It got down to -15 the last night of our stay in West Lafayette, and it was still only -2 when we left our daughter's apartment after breakfast. That's a far cry from the 56 we experienced on December 22nd there! What a difference a couple of weeks can make.
Ran into more lake effect snow on the way back home near South Bend. Saw about 8 slide-offs, including a car that landed upside-down in the ditch. An emergency crew was just arriving on the scene as we passed that vehicle. Hopefully the driver was okay.
Needless to say, after that we were glad to eventually arrive back at our house, safe and sound. It had been a busy period of trips, sandwiched between holiday events. Now it's life back to normal...until the next holiday or trip comes upon us!