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  • Writer's pictureKen Murray

Two Days near Lancaster, PA with Beautiful Weather!

Being cooped up in the house with little travel has worn thin. Shelly wanted to get away for a couple days. About 15 years ago, we were at a Lockheed Martin charitable auction, and we bid on and won two certificates for a hot air balloon ride from the United States Hot Air Balloon Team in Bird-in-Hand, PA. We never used them and there was no expiration date on them, so I called them to check if we could book a ride for April 5th. They said we could, and we booked it. So we decided to spend a few days in the Lancaster, PA area.

We quickly booked a two night stay at the Historic Smithton Inn Bed & Breakfast in Ephrata, PA. Originally built in 1763, the Historic Smithton Inn is a gorgeous colonial Lancaster PA bed and breakfast that attracts guests from around the corner and around the world! Built with local stone, it’s been lovingly restored over the years so that guests can appreciate the history while enjoying modern comforts.

We stayed in the Crimson Dove Suite, a large room with a king bed with dramatic canopy, and a sitting area featuring a crimson sofa and fireplace.

We met Rebecca, the innkeeper and found out she grew up in my hometown of Vestal, NY! We chatted about growing up in the town, and reminisced about school and favorite restaurants. What a small world!

After getting settled in, we drove to the nearby town of Lititz. We went on a 30 minute tour of the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, and learned how pretzels were made in the mid-late 1800's. We then went to the Wilbur Chocolate Store and bought an assortment of chocolate treats. And we had a couple drinks at the Bulls Head Public House. We were supposed to have our balloon ride at 4:30PM, and although the weather was beautiful, there was a bit too much wind, so the ride was rescheduled for Tuesday, April 6th. So we returned to the Inn to relax and enjoy a fire.

The next morning, Rebecca made us a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit (kiwi and watermelon) and a margherita breakfast pizza. We then traveled to Manheim, PA to walk through Root's Country Market. It's an indoor/outdoor market with lots of vendors selling all kinds of produce, meats, canned good, candies and chocolate, and other goods. It was very crowded and few people wore masks, so Shelly bought a couple things and we skedaddled.

Shelly called the balloon ride weather hotline and our ride was cancelled again due to winds. We rescheduled it for Wednesday morning, and decided to spend the afternoon in Lancaster. We had lunch at The Brasserie Restaurant and Bar. I was still full from breakfast but managed to eat a chicken Caesar salad. We then drove to downtown Lancaster and walked around a bit. I made reservations for a rooftop restaurant and bar at the Marriott Convention Center, and we had a couple drinks while overlooking the town and distant farmlands. We then went back to the Inn to relax in front of a fire.

I got up at 4:30AM the next morning to check if the balloon was flying, and gloriously, it was. We left the Inn at 5:30AM for Bird-in-Hand, PA. We helped the crew prepare the balloon for launch, and took off. We saw a nice sunrise, and traveled at about 2000 feet for an hour, and maybe 10 air miles. There were 6 passengers plus the pilot, and we were crammed in pretty tight. There was very little room to take pictures. But the flight was smooth, calm and peaceful. Here's some photos.

We had a wonderful trip and feel rejuvenated. We're ready for our second Covid vaccine next week and to go to the beach soon. Things are finally getting back to normal.

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