Saturday, January 12, 2019

Holiday Trip Part One

Hello! Yeah, the Christmas season is over and done and we're already over a week into January. With two out-of-state trips and an in-state visit with relatives, the holiday went by very fast for me! The days I was home, I was busy making special foods for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. This is a long way of saying I should have blogged more recently about my Yuletide travels, but hadn't.

So I'll make up for that now, beginning with a little about our first out-of-state trip. It covered central Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. The genesis for the excursion began when, while traveling through Pennsylvania in the fall, I'd picked up a brochure about a Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg, PA - the oldest such event of its kind in the US (the market website, seen here,  states that the event was begun in 1987). I commented to my husband that it'd be nice to go there sometime - well, he took my casual comment seriously and made the travel arrangements. We visited the Chirstkindl Market on December 15th, 2018.

A few scenes from the event:

A festive entrance to the market.

Entrance to one of the small buildings used by vendors at the market. This seller was skilled in scherenschitte, German-style paper cutting. 

Lovely examples of this craft!

We watched a folk dance troupe perform a variety of European folk dances. When the group went through the steps of a Dutch dance, my husband and I were reminded of the Dutch dancing done during our town's famous tulip festival. One big difference: the people above weren't wearing wooden shoes!

We enjoyed seeing the various examples of German-style and American-style arts and crafts at the Christkindl Market, but we also enjoyed viewing some of the older buildings around town:

Mifflinburg is a very old town; it was first settled in the 1700's and became a village in 1827. 

When we first arrived at the market, it was late morning and not terribly crowded yet. But as the day went on more and more people appeared, and eventually it became one of those events in which you can barely move due to the crush of people. Of course, people were there because it's a fun, unique event, but it made it hard to take pictures, let along shop. So after lunch from a couple of the many food vendors, all we bought was a small glass-blown snowman figurine for our daughter.

To escape the crowds, we started walking through the nearby downtown blocks. But I was quickly distracted by a sign pointing the way to a pop-up artisans' market. We followed the arrow and found ourselves at a small events center a couple of blocks away. I was taken with the upcycled sweater mittens crafted by this vendor:

Alas, she'd sold out of my mitten size; she's standing by men's mittens. I tried one pair on and found them to very warm and soft. I liked how she combined different sweaters to create each pair, and she even had the cuffs of men's blazers repurposed as mitten cuffs. Her prices were good too. She and her husband were very nice and I felt bad that I couldn't buy anything from her. If I recall correctly, this was her first craft show, and I hope it went well for her. I wish her luck in her future endeavors!

Would you believe I didn't even get this talented crafter's name? However, I did pick up one of her business cards, and learned that her business is called Recycwool Mitten Co. If you'd like more info, go here.

From Mifflinburg, we headed toward Williamsport. Along the way, we stopped at one of our favorite candy stores, Purity. I'd blogged about seeing their candy canes being made last year in this post.

I was content this year with just going to the store to buy more candy canes without seeing them being made first (some viewing sessions had already taken place that day). Like the Christkindl Market, it's a fun but very crowded event. And without the hordes there, I was free to take some pics:

Employees busy behind the scenes, with trays of chocolates and a large chocolate Santa in front of them. 

A cute chocolate cottage.

And for the white chocolate fans:

I'm not a fan of snow, but I'd make an exception for these snowmen!

Once in Williamsport, we ate at my favorite restaurant there, Boom City Brewing. I don't care for beer, but I like the cozy atmosphere and good food served up there. 

We went to bed with the hopes of going for a hike the next day, but unfortunately the weather gods, who usually smile on us, didn't cooperate. We were stuck with an all-day rain, which meant no outdoor activities. So instead we decided to visit the Woolrich outlet store, which was a short distance away. 

And where is the Woolrich outlet store located? Why, in the small community of Woolrich,PA, of course. Here is the festive scene outside the shop:

Once upon a time, the Woolrich store had a nice selection of their various fabrics, sold by the yard, and I think they had some sewing patterns and notions too. Now there is just a very small section of fabrics - perhaps the better to make room for the gift shop-type offerings we saw. But a big selection of Woolrich brand clothes are available, of course. I tried on a corduroy shirt from a sales rack, but it didn't fit right, so no purchase. (My husband did buy one of their knit hats.) Still, it's a fun place to poke around and even in rainy weather, a pleasant drive from Williamsport. 

We left Williamsport the next day and began the trek west to return home. Stopped in the Cleveland area for the night. The hotel we stayed at was so uncrowded, we got stellar service from the breakfast bar employees the next morning. They came around with refills of coffee, asked us if we needed anything - all the niceties they don't always have time to do. My husband has often commented that Christmastime is a good time to travel. There's usually few business travelers, and I guess enough people stay with relatives for the holidays that they're not in hotels either. So you end up with lower-priced room rates and excellent service from the bored staff!

From Cleveland we journeyed to the Cincinnati area to visit Jungle Jim's in suburban Fairfield. It's undoubtedly one of the largest grocery stores in the country and always worth a visit. And if you're an Ikea fan, then do as we do and stay at one of a cluster of hotels in nearby West Chester. (we've used the Homewood Inn there.)There's an Ikea so close by you could literally walk to it, except there's not sidewalk all the way there. But of course that means it's just a very short drive away.
The next day found us at our daughter's place in West Lafayette, IN. She'd just finished another grad school semester, so it was time to pick her and take her back to our house for Christmas. 

I'll talk about our post-Christmas trip in my next post.

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