November 22nd, 2016

chicken fries

Honey Brook, East Earl and Shady Maple; Florence

Saturday was the day I tackled the group of 10 geocaches in Birch Run Preserve in the Coatesville area. The first cache nearest the parking area was "Barkley's First Shed", a Wherigo. I figured the Wherigo cartridge would take me pretty much all over the park, so I kept that running while I found the other caches along the way. Incidentally, "shed" here refers to a cast off deer antler, not a small storage structure. Barkley is a dog so until I got partway through the cartridge and saw that the shed was a deer antler, I was wondering what he wanted with a wooden hut! Anyway, doing both the regular geocaches and the Wherigo at the same time worked beautifully, even if I had to make two big detours for geocaches that were somewhat off from the main trail. All in all, the whole hike took about two hours, leaving plenty of time to get more geocaches around Honey Brook, Narvon, East Earl and New Holland before it got dark.

The last stop of the day and dinner was at Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl. Shady Maple is the biggest buffet hall in the area and I'd always been intrigued by this enormous building, a Mecca of Overeating, that rises above the Amish countryside. I felt that I had to experience it at least once and since I was in the area, I went in. The place was packed! There were lines of people, like at an amusement park, just waiting to check in to the buffet. Past the cash registers, it was an old-time affair with curious dioramas and 3-D paintings. Shady Maple boasts of 200 feet of food but it's actually 100 feet of food repeated twice. The first 100 feet of buffet tables is a mirror image of the other 100 feet. I preferred the grilling stations though. I thought the crab cakes were the best but I sampled the seafood and meats from all the grilling stations. Of course, I saved some room for salad (with bacon dressing!) and dessert, which was ice cream cake! Anyway, I thought it was a worthwhile experience but maybe next time, avoid going there on a Saturday evening. I was told that the crowd isn't as bad on other nights.

Sunday's plan was fairly simple. I went geocaching up the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, through Pennsauken, Riverside, Palmyra, Willingboro, and Burlington, towards Florence, where I would end the day at the "Fall Get Together 2016" geocaching event. There was some good river scenery and a nice visit to the Palmyra Cove Nature Center along the way.

The caches...Collapse )