Human Zoo.

Yesterday my wife and I spent our 10 year anniversary in Lancaster, PA, the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. I spent the day following my wife around shopping centers and quilt shops, and basically I was left with a general sense of disgust. People trying to live a traditional, simple life have been reduced to tourist attractions, their culture reduced to a caricature for bus loads of gawking morons on their way to the next bland buffet. While their art, crafts, and other representations of their way of life are certainly present, they're outnumbered by watered-down versions created for mass consumption that nobody feels any pride about.

You could say the Disney version of the Pennsylvania Dutch helps support that way of life, and without the tourist dollars they would have long ago disappeared. Fair enough, but I can't see how Dutch Wonderland represents the Amish, Mennonite, or Pennsylvania Dutch any more than a touristy trading post in the western US full of made-in-China trinkets provides any insight into the local Native American tribes. It's cheap and depressing, but I guess I'm not their target audience. If I was them, I would be openly hostile to people who gawked at me like some sort of roadside attraction because of what I was wearing or how I chose to live. Again, not my scene.

After a full day of shopping and high-stress interstate driving, I didn't get the best sleep. However, I woke up at more or less the normal time, kitted up, and got on the bike. I cut it a little shorter than I have recently, because my enthusiasm level just wasn't there. I rode because I knew if I didn't I would regret it later. A couple days is all I have left of rolling hills in heat and humidity, before heading home to warmer-than-normal temperatures that will probably still make me feel chilled. I need the miles, even if I don't want them initially. After a few miles of pedaling, my head usually comes around. It certainly did today.

Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway is exactly what it should be. Lots of miles on good pavement, through rolling climbs. Low traffic. The occasional bear, deer, skunk, or whatever crossing the road. It's not watered-down or mass-produced.

I'm the target audience.


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