Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Visit

This past weekend, we were honored with a visit from Zoë's Mom (ZM) and Zoë. They arrived late Thursday, after getting stuck in traffic (of course. Is it at all possible to go from Fairfield County, CT to Lancaster County, PA without getting stuck in traffic?). Getting stuck in traffic would become a bit of a theme for the weekend, but it really didn't matter, because we had such great company while sitting in a car, moving a mere few inches at a time.

The minute they arrived, it was instant love between Zoë and Clare the dachshund. In fact, I'm pretty sure Zoë would've been perfectly content just to spend the whole weekend doing nothing but playing with Clare. For Clare, I think it was a bit more like those older cousins you used to visit when you were a kid. You loved them, couldn't wait to see them, but you were also a little bit in awe of them and afraid (though you would never admit it), because they were so much bigger than you. It was wonderful for Clare's "mom" and "dad" to have someone around who never tired of playing with her and giving her all the attention she wants so badly.

ZM and I share a mutual love of ice cream, so I had decided that when she next came to visit, we'd go to Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia, an old fashioned soda fountain I'd read about in The New York Times last month. I'm too young to remember the days of such soda fountains, and I've always felt cheated that they've been replaced by fast food franchises (not that ZM and I haven't been known to go in search of the nearest DQ). I like the idea of homemade sodas, ice cream sundaes, and egg creams (although I've never had one of those) served to me by a soda jerk while I'm perched up on a diner-type bar stool. It always makes me think of It's a Wonderful Life, although I always imagine I'm actually in New York City, not small town America, when I visit one. ZM is the kind of friend who didn't think it was at all absurd that we drive to Philly on Friday specifically to visit Franklin Fountain. Zoë, of course, came along for the ride. (Poor Bob was left at home to work, although he did sneak off for a little bit to the Board Game Association's convention, which is held in Lancaster every summer.)

Of course, we did more than just go to the soda fountain (for instance, you know, even though it's tempting, you can't really have nothing but ice cream for lunch, so we stopped off for a slice of pizza first), but I have to tell you it didn't disappoint. It was exactly as I'd imagined: bottles of every sort of soda flavor imaginable, old-fashioned candy and gum for sale, all kinds of ice cream concoctions, and a small bar with bar stools. The wait staff even dresses in outfits straight out of the 1940s.

It was nearly impossible to choose what to order. The banana split sounded good, but like a bit too much. They had specialties with such names as the "volcano" that were tantalizing. I really ought to try an egg cream sometime, but this just didn't seem like the time. I was also tempted by milkshakes and the root beer float. Finally, though, I did what I typically do: after browsing through it all, I ordered a plain old hot fudge sundae. It was superb. I haven't had hot fudge like that in I don't know how long, the sort of deep, dark, chocolate-y hot fudge people seem to have forgotten how to make, whose purpose is to enhance the sugary sweetness of the vanilla ice cream, not to make it more sugary. And you could taste the vanilla beans in the ice cream. On our way out, we decided we had to sample some of the sodas, so we bought one grape and one strawberry to share. They were good, but by then, we were really too full to enjoy them.

After all that decadence, it was on to shopping. ZM and I had had a superb shopping trip about a year and a half ago with Ms. Musings, and we decided to go back to Rittenhouse Square where the three of us had been to look around in Lucky Jeans and whatever else struck our fancy. In typical ZM and Emily fashion, we had a cab take us to Lucky Jeans (after realizing the trolly, which Zoë had really wanted to do would take way too long), only to miss it and to go wandering up the street after the driver let us off, unable to find it (turns out, we'd driven right by it, and he'd dropped us off about two doors up from it). Never mind, it gave us the excuse to go into Barnes and Noble, where Zoë got some teen magazines that kept her occupied while we did things like tried on jeans and shoes (yes, of course, shoes. And, yes, I did buy a pair). Then it was time to head home for the community picnic (and to sit in traffic trying to do so).

My town has a community-wide picnic every summer, and I was so glad ZM and Zoë chose to come the weekend of this big event. The town provides barbecue chicken and corn, and everyone brings side dishes and desserts, enough to feed an army (which is a good thing, because, you know, we hadn't eaten enough all day). The night ends with a huge fireworks display, and the Amish all turn out for the big event, so I thought it would be a fun thing for out-of-town visitors. We introduced Zoë to some of our young friends from church, and they became instant friends, deserting us all to go do things like bug the balloon man and scramble for candy in the candy scramble. Eventually, it got dark, and we all got a little worried when the three kids didn't come back, even more worried when each of them seemed to straggle back alone (we'd thought they were all together). Zoë was the last one to be found, but we did eventually find her, and all was well for the fireworks display.

On Saturday, we headed off to Lititz, the home of Wilbur Chocolates. Wilbur chocolate is better than Hershey's, and they have a wonderful, huge candy store, a must visit if you like candy and ever find yourself in Lancaster County. Lititz is also home to the only independent bookstore in Lancaster County, so Lititz is a dream town for ZM and me, who both like to read while eating candy. You visit Aaron's Books first to buy your book; then go buy yourself some candy at Wilbur; and then go home and read (and get fat eating candy) all afternoon. Inbetween the bookstore and Wilbur, we had to stop and get some lunch. This is where I exhibited how fantastically coordinated I am by dumping my lunch all over the booth and floor before I'd even had one bite. Luckily, they gave me another one at no charge. After Wilbur, we headed home, and sat in traffic, yet again.

Bob and I had a party to attend Saturday afternoon, so we left ZM and Zoë who went off to get pedicures and good things to eat at Kitchen Kettle. We were all happily exhausted by the evening, so we just ordered dinner in and had a lazy evening talking (well, ZM and I did. Bob is always prepping for Sunday morning on Saturday evenings, and Zoë was either reading or playing with Clare most of the time). We hit the hay a little earlier than we had on Thursday and Friday.

Sunday morning, it was the Sunday morning rush for church. ZM and Zoë had decided to attend with us (not something we require of our house guests), and it was nice to have the company. Bob did his best to embarrass them by announcing their presence, but the highlight of the morning was, after the service when Bob took off his robe, and Zoë and one of her new-found friends decided to zip themselves up in it. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that (but I'm happy to have gotten the one above of Zoë reading to Clare. They were reading The Totally Lame Vampire). All too soon (as always), it was time for them to leave. But they had a little better luck with the traffic on the way home.


Bob said...

Wow, ice cream, books, and candy – almost as sweet as that wonderful picture of Zoë and Clare. BTW, you haven’t lived until you’ve had an old fashioned “egg cream” (which of course does not have any eggs or ice cream). That was a staple when I grew up in the 1950s as it was less expensive than an ice cream soda, but, if you had a good imagination, tasted about the same : - )

Stefanie said...

What a wonderful visit! The photo of Zoe and Clare is adorable. You also reminded of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour we used to go to when I was a kid. They served lunch and the best ice cream concoctions ever. Every kid wanted to have a birthday party there and every kid wanted to be invited to a birthday party there. And they had a little "store" where you could buy every variety of old fashioned candy you can think of. Good times.

Carrie#K said...

Sounds like a great time! We have Fenton's Ice Cream Parlour out here - Pixar immortalized it in their last film.

So who picked the book? Zoe or Clare? :)

Emily Barton said...

Bob, I think I'll try the egg cream next time...

Stef, Farrell's sounds awesome. Does it still exist?

Carrie, I think Zoe coerced Clare into picking the book :-)!

ZoesMom said...

You summed up our perfect weekend beautifully. We had a wonderful time. Thank you again for everything! We can't wait to visit again.

P.S. I'm eating candy while catching up on my blogs.