Monday, December 29, 2008

Dancing Feet in Lancaster

Come and meet those dancing feet! Photo by Craig Leaper.

I always like to give an experience as part of a Christmas gift. Tickets to a play, dinner out, a getaway - some memory to be made and shared at this special time of year. And so this year I gave both my mom and husband tickets to 42nd Street at the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster. Of course that meant that I got to go along! Yeah.

This performance was every bit as wonderful as when I saw it on Broadway in New York City. Great music from the 30's, lots and lots of tap dancing and spectacular voices make your feet wish they were up there on the stage. The talent never stops for a second and you can't help but notice a possible similarity between the times - the Great Depression and what we may now be facing - a very real recession. But all that is forgotten by the upbeat music that gets stuck in your head for days as you try to remember the words.

You need only to look around at the little girls (that are no doubt trying to learn tap) to see the thrill of the theatre in their faces. This is the place where dreams are made.

And then there is the magic of the Fulton itself. Restored in 1995 to its original splendor of 1852, what would it have been like to see Mark Twain, W. C. Fields, Marcel Marceau or Sarah Bernhardt? They all played here. The gold is real, the lights look like the first light bulbs, and the rich burgundy of the roping and velvet drapes make you glad you dressed for the event. Of course, there are those stories - most will say that the Fulton is haunted. There are certainly plenty of reasons to think so. But more on that some other time - to find out, join us for our Paranormal weekend on October 30 & 31.

If you'd like to catch 42nd Street you'll have to hurry - the last performance is January 4, 2009. Or plan your visit around future shows. Les Mis is coming in June. Now I just need to come up with a reason to give another gift of tickets...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas in Lancaster County

It's the most wonderful time of the year to be in Lancaster County, especially in Terre Hill! The church bells across the street from the inn play Christmas carols, our neighbor's wood stove gives off great smells and carolers just paid a visit. Bruce and I are putting the finishing touches on the last batch of Christmas cookies and fresh greens adorn all of the windowboxes and indoor windowsills.

Last weekend we went on the Churchtown Historical Society's Christmas Tour. Two of the homes were known for famous guests - George Washington slept at an inn, and Thomas Jefferson danced on the floor of a nearby home. Good company indeed!

There are so many holiday home tours (all benefiting worthwhile causes) that it's hard to fit them all in! It's a wonderful way to get a peek inside historic Lancaster homes that are usually not open to the public.

Landis Valley is also a very special place to visit - be sure to keep a lookout for the Belsnickel - the German Santa Claus. You can learn about the Cloister's early religious community on a candlelight tour - they are only held this time of year. And no trip would be complete without a visit to the magic of the National Christmas Center. It brings out the kid in all of us and has a nice gift shop too.

Did someone say shopping? Between the antique shops, the craft and specialty stores, and of course the outlet centers in both Reading and Lancaster, there's no end to the gifts you can find. But the best gift will be the time you spend together - making memories - in Lancaster County.

Don't forget to treat yourself and that special someone to a show - whether at the American Music Theatre or Sight and Sound for their Christmas Shows, the Fulton (42nd Street), Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre (A Christmas Carol) or Rainbow Dinner Theatre (Deck the Halls and Clean the Kitchen), you're sure to find one you like. We really enjoyed "She Loves Me" at the Ephrata Playhouse.

Now all we need is snow! That's when our Amish and old-order Mennonite neighbors bring out their sleighs instead of buggies. Here's a picture from a few years ago of our friend Lloyd's one-horse open sleigh on Main Street. Think snow! And give us a call at 888-999-4479 or reserve your room online now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Feeling Quite Secure....

Sooooooooo Bruce's credit card company calls him and threatens to revoke his merchant account because all of a sudden our computer is not "secure". Seems we keep failing Security Metric's little online test. This becomes my project as I spent countless hours on the phone with our internet provider, wireless router company, Security Metrics, and some tech support guy named "Bub" from India. Most of them say the same thing, "Ah, port xxx? that's not us, you must speak to your (whatever company they don't like that day)". Actually Security Metrics had the line of the day: Well, you failed but we can't tell you why or how to fix it? Huh? No question about job security there!

On about the third go-round of this game, I finally wised up and started asking the really hard questions - I had learned enough by now to throw around some phrases - phrases that I didn't have the slightest clue as to what they meant. That's when they started saying things like "Oh, you need our senior technical support department" - by the wait on the phone I figured that department consisted of one guy who showed up at the office every other day. People were left on hold until he returned.

Of course, our equipment was out of warranty and would we like to purchase a one-time support plan? Or, for another $10, we could have the 6-month extension, thereby allowing us to call in as many times as we needed. While this almost made me run from the room, the thought had crossed my mind that we might be cut off and I would have to call again - thus prompting another "one-time" charge....But at least this senior tech support guy, also named Bub, didn't start with the annoying question of "is your computer plugged in"?

Well, at the end of the day, I'm happy to report that we have finally passed the dreaded security test.....though I have my suspicions as to why we ended up in this predicament in the first place. Come to think of it, our all-in-one printer is not scanning or making copies anymore either...