VIDEO: Amish Time

Posted In: Airstream, Blog, Destinations, People We Meet, Video

Okay, this is a weird one. The Amish pose a compelling conundrum for a travel blog.

We travel types are motivated to explore. Not unlike Captain Kirk, we seek out new life and new civilizations. Most of us embrace modern technology along the way (yes, you can have my iPhone 4… when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers). With all of my video gear, sometimes our Airstream looks like a bloated Best Buy threw up. We never met an electrical hookup that we didn’t like.

What about the Amish? The Amish really don’t care about travel. They’re content to travel no further than the county line. An Amish travel show would consist of a few square miles. I’m reminded of hobbits happily working in the Shire. They’ve little interest in other cultures. Technology? These guys won’t even hookup their HOUSE to the grid.

Yet there’s a lot to admire about the Amish. They are self-sufficient, and by all accounts generally a happy and satisfied people. The driving motivation of the Amish is to remain OFF THE GRID. Many Amish will indeed use modern tools IF those tools can be powered by (OFF THE GRID) solar or a diesel / gasoline generator. (I guess they have no problem with oil refineries? Hmmmm)

And about that oil… Do you consider yourself an environmentalist? Do you think you’re green? The Amish make so-called environmentalists look about as green as a BP sign. By eschewing electricity and automobiles, the Amish “carbon footprint” is smaller than most amoebas. Those Amish buggies make your hybrid look like an indulgent joke.

Not only do the Amish live without electricity and cars, they also rank very low on the consumption scale. You probably generate more tech waste in a year than an Amish person does in a lifetime.

There are many layers of irony in the “simple” Amish lifestyle. Henry David Thoreau was an advocate of simplicity, right? Yet he did not consider the farming life simple in the least. In Walden he pities the poor souls “whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these things are more easily required than got rid of.” He called these fellows “serfs of the soil” and basically railed against a long life of manual labor. In the old ant vs. grasshopper debate, Thoreau was siding with the green guy.

So, what about RV camping in The Amish Zone? It’s surprisingly a lot of fun to step back in time. The food is fresh, organic, and delicious. The countryside is gorgeous. There’s no shortage of arts and crafts. Discount quilt madness! We stayed at Scenic Hills RV Park in Berlin, Ohio. While the campground would benefit from a few extra trees, overall it was a pleasant place to park. They even offer free firewood, wood scraps culled from local furniture makers.

Overall, you gotta respect the Amish. As Sinatra might say, they do it their way. Yet there are certain aspects of the belief system that leave me scratching my head. Most troubling is the fact formal education ends after 8th grade. I have always prized education, so the thought of an entire social system rejecting it is more than a little strange.

I’m not the type of person who enjoys preaching my own religious and political beliefs. Here’s what’s fascinating: neither are the Amish. Unlike pretty much every other group in the world, they aren’t trying to convert the rest of us to their way of thinking. I respect the fact that the Amish are happy to live their own lives without trying to change the rest of us.

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Scout365 – Our Inflatable Boat!
Counter Assault Bear Spray
Oxygenics shower head
Antisway bar

Inverter generator
LED spotlight
Sean’s Tilley hat
Merrell Jungle Moc shoes
Walkie talkies
Boeshield T-9 lubricant
Weber portable grill
OBDII code reader
Water “jerry can”
Eye masks for sleep
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