Originally published in September 2011, this is my most popular post to-date. I hope it has brought the Amish community in Giles County great success with their funding. I am continually surprised at how far-reaching my writing has traveled. Just a month ago, I was contacted by a reader in Sweden planning a trip to the US in March 2014 who was trying to incorporate a visit to the Amish in her travels. One thing remains clear: we are fascinated by the Amish and their way of life.“All aboard! Keep your feet off of these seats, girls.” “Yes, Daddy!” “Whoa! Settle down, now. Did ya’ll go to the bathroom?” “Yes, Daddy! Where are we going, Daddy?” “Kalamazoo, then Timbuktu!” “Aw–Daddy, you always say that! Where are we really going, Daddy?” “The White Gate community in Giles County, Virginia.” “Why, Daddy, why?” “To see the Amish way of life, eat some great BBQ chicken, and see what we can see! A sailor went to sea, sea, sea, to see what he could see, see, see, but—“ “How many miles, Daddy?” “Fifty.” “How long before we get there, Daddy?” “One hour.” “Daddy, can we play the count-the-owl game?” “Alright. Look! Quick, now! Did you see it? In that tree, right over there!” “Where, Daddy, where? Aw, I missed it. Are we there yet, Daddy?” “Not quite. Hold your horses!” “I’ve got to go to the bathroom, Daddy.”
Sorry, just a flashback to earlier times. I can’t seem to head down Rte. 460 into Virginia without recalling trips to Blacksburg, Roanoke, Salem, and Floyd from my youth. Traveling through these mountains always stirs up golden memories. Let’s get back on track.
We’re headed down Rte. 460 East today, out of Princeton. Our destination? The Amish community, also known as the White Gate Community, in Giles County, Virginia. They’re having a big fundraiser today to try to raise money for their school. From what I understand they have these fundraising events periodically during the summer and fall months. It’s a time when we, the non-Amish, get to visit and partake in their exclusive way of life, if only for a few hours. I hear they’re selling chicken dinners and harvested fruits and vegetables. Who knows what other surprises may be in store!
Approximately twelve miles out of Princeton, we hit the Virginia state line. Don’t blink or you’ll miss Glen Lyn! Off to your right, you’ll see New River.
This river is “the oldest on the North American continent and second only to the Nile River in Africa as the oldest river in the world” (New River).
We’re looking for Rte. 100 now, which we easily find right before Pearisburg. After taking a right onto Rte 100, we take an immediate left at the stop sign, headed toward Dublin, and that leads us straight through the quaint little town of Pearisburg.
We venture approximately five miles or so down Rte 100 after passing through Pearisburg. Now, we’re looking for Rte 42 West, and we recognize instantly where to turn when we see some Amish set up with baked goods for sale at the intersection of Route 100 and 42.
Headed down Rte. 42 now, we come upon a sign I can’t help but notice.
Just a bit too hoighty-toighty, I think, and place its message in the back of my mind for future reference. Not too far down the road, we come upon yet another Amish stand, with two of the cutest gals in charge. I stop, hoping to confirm my next turn, which I estimate should be coming up any minute. I buy a couple of whoopie pies which I find too tempting to resist, one pumpkin and one chocolate, then ask if it’s OK if I take their picture. They agree.
I see a large tent, where some people have chosen to eat outdoors if they prefer, today. To the right of the tent is the Amish school, the reason this chicken-dinner fundraiser is being held. The smell of the BBQ chicken being cooked outdoors wafts through the crisp air. As we step into the school, a poetic display of Amish hats greet us. With one taste of the BBQ chicken in my mouth, I am in heaven. It is juicy, lip-smacking, mouthwatering perfection. I have opted for green beans rather than baked beans of the two vegetable choices, and decided to go without the coleslaw, the reason one section of my plate is empty. I have chosen shoe-fly pie, because I’ve never ever had it, above several other scrumptious dessert selections, including peach and cherry pie.
Glancing around at the inside of this one-room schoolhouse, I snap a few pictures to try to capture its warmth and endearing simplicity. The school’s pot belly stove, sky and gas lights for illumination, and pine log walls come together to evoke a learning environment reminiscent of the days of yore: clear-cut, uncomplicated learning. Outside, I check out the harvested fruits and vegetables for sale, as well as the homemade baked goods.
I notice some Amish children playing on our way to the car. This is the way I played when I was little! No video games or computers here!
What a great day, I think. On the way home, we pass that sign again, and I have to stop to take a picture of it. Maybe that sign leading into this area of Virginia isn’t so hoighty-toighty after all. I know a good thing when I see it.