In 1974, Diane and I spent the summer with the Bonnemas in Bethel, ME. We loved the ME coast and the White Mountains that were so close. In short, we thought Maine was beautiful, rural, rugged, forests you could (and I did) get lost in.
But I remember on our return to Bucks County saying to Diane, “Bucks County is beautiful.” Certainly different from ME, but with rollinghills, back roads, hidden streams, the Delaware River, old bridges — arched stone and covered. The many working farms with field stone houses, barns, and other out building, colonial era villages, and classic rural post offices. We really liked Bucks County.
Even before my recent surgery, a drive, an explore in the county was a favorite activity. Diane usually drives and I navigate. Some trips are photographic. Stop. Take a picture. In years past I was the photographer but since retirement Diane has been shooting with me.
Many trips are food related. We have dozens of farms and markets where we buy local. Sometimes stopping for a late breakfast or lunch.
Trips can also have a historic or cultural twist. The Mercer Museum, Mitchener, Washington Crossing, walk around New Hope or Lambertville (in recent years, trips across the river in NJ become part of our Bucks County explores). Maybe there is a craft fair in Tinicum Park, Newtown or Fallsington Days, a movie at the County Theatre, a Frenchtown (NJ again) street fair.
Since surgery, drives through Bucks have taken on a special importance. Yesterday, Sunday, we left the house about 11, headed west on River Road. A classic drive follows the Delaware to Easton and beyond, the Delaware Water Gap is a beautiful ride. Washington Crossing Park, New Hope, Centre Bridge, Lumberville, Point Pleasant, Tinicum. Winding along the river valley is the canal — various places to stop for a walk on the towpath.
But this trip we turn off River Road and take Taylorsville, make a left on Woodhill. We pass Ely’s Farm, known for its pork products. I shouldn’t have bacon but maybe i could have a nice chop. They also make cheese. A mile up thebroad we turn and stop at the Milk House. A small farm store that started with eggs and now has a variety of produce and local products. Some years the’ve had several varieties of heirloom cooking pumpkins. None yet this year. In the Sping they also have some wild plants like ramps for sale.
We continue on to Pineville. I discovered the Pineville Tavern in the 1970s when John Paglione and I worked up the road on the Paul and Ed Daniel’s farms. Paul had a dairy farm and started to sell raw milk the years we worked for him. Ed’s Fairview Farm (still family owned) was primarily egg laying chickens. Today Fairview raises lambs — I haven’t bought any yet but it’s on my list.
Back in the 1970s, the Pineville Tavern was a local bar. John and I would stop for a draft ( no craft been back then). Now it is run by the Abruzzese family and is a destination restaurant. Recently expanded with lots of outdoor seating and a creative Italian menu. Interesting the original tavern dates to 1742 — the front porch a gathering place for local.
Diane and I continue through Wycomb, a time has forgotten village, with its restored railroad station, Histand’s Supply, and the Public House. Beyond Wycombe on the way to Doylestown, we are in rural Bucks County — the Wycombe and Rushland Wineries, the church and Post Office village of Forest Grove, several large farms ( fields of pumpkins, this time of year), Comly’s Turf Farm. Several decades ago we stopped at a farm auction off of Forest Grove Road. Everything was for sale, household goods, farm equipment, livestock. It was sad. A large suburban development fills the north side of the road.
We drive through Doylestown, stopping to take down the phone number of CR Notoris, Clocks and Coins. I have proof coins and silverware I want to sell. And clocks that need repair. I’ve tried the Newtown Clock Shop but not happy with his work.
Diane has worked in this area and knows some back roads. Sooner than expected we are in Peace Valley Park. We take walks here and had plans to bring our kayak. Not sure when, if, I will be kyacking. We head to Tabora Farm and Orchard. The porch is lined with large wooden boxes filled with apples — Fugi, Delicious, Cartland, Gala, Granny Smith. There was also a box full of Butternut Squash. Scattered on tables were decorative pumpkins and gourds and I identified several Long Island Cheese pumpkins. These are a variety good for pies. I get one for $4.
Tabora is known for its fantastic bakery. We can’t resist a loaf of sour dough bread and 1/2 dozen cookies. It was like they were giving away the pastries, pies, cakes and cookies. At the Deli we ordered a turkey and brie panini and a mushroom quiche for dinner. Panini in hand we drove to Lake Galena and had our lunch. Half a cookie satisfied our sweet tooth. Nice watching people walking around the lake, kids, dogs.
For the rest of our Sunday explore we wandered. I ignore the GPS and we follow a road, Callowhill ( wonder about the Philadelphia name). We end up in Perkasie. Although we drive around town, not much catches our attention. One interesting looking Cafe. We discover Lake Tohee County Park. Finally back to Route 611. Ottsville has a number of possible stops — Kimberton Whole Foods, WowCow ice cream, Linden Hill Nursery, we have a gift certificate to the Ottsville Inn. And we pass Vera’s Country Cafe — a place on my check it out list, rated as one of the best breakfast spots in Bucks.
It’s getting late, approaching 3 o’ clock. I’m ready to head home but Diane can’t resist a side road headed toward the river. We get a bit lost — still no GPS. Follow a dirt road and eventually emerge on River Road just below Tinicum. There is a lot of rocky, forested landscape. Reminds us more of the Carmel-Kent, NY area than rolling hills Bucks County.
We are in familiar territory now and head down River Road. It was a good explore — over 4 hours. The day had it’s mix of the familiar and the new. Despite the massive suburban development in Bucks since the 1950s, there is still significant rural landscape, farms, hidden roads, places to revisit, places to discover.