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My first training tour was to Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Dangerous for the waistline. Soft pretzels. Whoopie pies. Funnel cake. All the meals were buffets or served family style. I had my first encounter with an honest-to-goodness Shoo Fly Pie. Let’s just say I have never met a pie I didn’t like.

The Amish farms and fields were beautiful. While there were some Amish that interacted with the English, I definitely felt like we were invading privacy. I give the bus driver credit for maneuvering the enormous motorcoach down narrow country lanes with horse and buggy alongside.

We had a local tour guide show us around, explaining the Amish way of life. We visited gift shops with gorgeous handmade Amish quilts. We also visited Hersey Park, Chocolate World (a religious experience for me!), and the Milton Hersey School. We walked through Crystal Cave in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. We went to the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater and saw “Gypsy”. With the other trainees, I got to play games with the tour patrons, like the $5 gift exchange. And, of course, the owner of the company and his wife and friends were traveling with us so it was sunshine and solicitude 100% of the time!

Ok. Do the math. I had just graduated from college and I suddenly find myself hanging out with senior citizens, staying at nice hotels, eating out at great restaurants, sightseeing, going to shows and museums, and trolling gift shops, antique stores and art galleries. It was as if I had retired without ever having worked! From college to pseudo retirement, just like that!

Yours, Merryweather