The Long-Weekend of Giving Thanks

30 Nov

Throwback Thursday….


Thanksgiving is a great American holiday…you get to stuff your face without judgement and exchange “I’m thankful for you” sentiments with your close family and friends.

I kicked my Thanksgiving weekend off with some pre-festivities (yay for friendship!) — girls I’m extremely thankful for: Helen and Katie. We started off the night as scientists, rationing out gummy bears between the three of us for the next day, then heading to a restaurant named Cantina, which apparently, is pretty basic because “it just can’t even.” When we arrived, the sign (which I’m assuming was supposed to scroll and say “Cantina”) just kept flashing in big, bold letters “CANT CANT CANT CANT” Pretty hilarious…and somehow discouraging.   Helen and I really acknowledged that we were overstayers.  Even with our bladders, waiting until really have to pee.  “You could say we’re mind over bladder.” – Bella

The next day, Katie and I were headed to Findley Lake to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Why separate a friendsgiving and a family Thanksgiving when you can have both at the same time.  Genius.

In true holiday fashion, Katie and I were half an hour late for her rental car pick-up appointment, and the guy working at the counter told us that they had a whopping 75 reservations for the weekend and that ours was probably canceled due to our tardiness. Now, if this had been during Christmas, I would’ve expected a Hallmark movie situation where our reservation got canceled, we had to flag down some unrealistically attractive trucker who would haul us to Findley Lake, and despite initially hating each other, we would somehow fall in love on the road and he would show me the true meaning of Christmas. Sorry Ben.  Well, it was Thanksgiving, so luckily our reservation wasn’t canceled, and also I’m more of a Hanukkah girl myself, so joke’s on Hallmark.

So we get her a rental car (she was driving up later) and as I’m speeding down the highway (I mean…driving the speed limit down the highway), I realize the passenger door of my car is slightly open. I signal to Katie (which is just the regular way you signal to another car) that I’m going to pull over, and she pulls up right beside me. Without saying one word she just rolls down her window, and opens and shuts my door for me. Talk about being aware of your surroundings, am I right?



Holiday pics from my old phone…#NoFilter



Findley Lake extravaganza


So Katie and I part ways and Ben joins me and, instead of laughing until I cry which is what had just been happening, we fight literally the entire way there until we walk in the door.  Would it be an American Thanksgiving without tension?  Anyway, we arrive at Findley Lake, and the decor is superb as usual. My parents’ decorations were so well thought out that there was even a bouquet of flowers in the shower. So beautiful.

As people started filtering in, it was really great to see everyone, especially my aunt Betsy and Uncle Marvin. Not all of my family was there, but one of the highlights was most definitely talking to my 13-year-old cousin on the phone who told me that I was really fun to talk to. Yes, that’s right.  I’m hip. I’m cool. That was a major point of conversation that night…although I was the only one talking about it.

And what’s a family/friendsgiving without games? Because someone was going to be left with dish duty (and it was probably going to be me), my aunt Betsy and I decided that everyone should use the same glass pretty much all weekend to cut down on the amount of dishes that were going to inevitably pile up. In order to designate people’s glasses, my aunt and I decided to put colored rubber bands on the glasses to distinguish glasses. But our need for functionality soon took a turn for the weird, because we made it into a game and went a little overboard with the rubber bands. We got really into matching the colors, twisting rubber bands together, putting way too many rubber bands on each glass until was it more rubber than glass?! Is this what the pilgrims used to do for fun?

Another great game we started playing was “Name 5,” to which Alex, when told the name of the game, responded with “Name 5?! I’ll name 10!” Truly, Alex should have won the game with just that statement.

Beyond laughing until I cried all night with friends and family, I also enjoyed our dinner table conversations. Since I had my friends at the dinner, my family was complimenting them (or rather…me on choosing them), saying that I have really good taste when it comes to picking friends. I credited my mom because she would always tell me how great I was at picking friends (shoutout to all my peeps!!). I thought that because she encouraged me in picking friends, I eventually just became really great at it (because my friends are cream of the crop, as you all know). My mom, however, dispelled my theory saying that she thinks I became good at picking friends because she taught me how to make good choices in general.

She told stories of how she would always make me practice making choices by letting me choose between a few things whenever I needed to make a decision. She said it was really important that I had things to choose from from the start so that I would eventually grow into making good choices. Once she offered that theory, I thought hey…that makes a lot of sense. Either way, I’m going to go ahead and credit my mom. Thanks mom! You’re the original pal.

Games, dinner, laughter…all that was missing was a movie. By the end of the night, we sat down to watch the movie Gifted. There was one scene where the characters were depressed so they went to a hospital to watch parents’ reactions once their babies were born, and it was the first time Ben had laughed until he cried (it wasn’t supposed to be funny but I was beaming anyway).


One of the best Thanksgivings to go down in history. I wouldn’t be surprised if they teach about it in school, kids.





The next day, Andrew and Brian stopped by for leftovers. We finished the “weekend” off with a wonderful yoga class led by my mom, so it was one of the best leftovers-givings I’ve ever had. With the Thanksgiving weekend becoming nothing but a memory and a food baby in my stomach, Ben’s birthday weekend officially commenced. We headed to Harrisburg, but stopped in Penn State for dinner first where Bens motor skills cracked me up.

Because he wasn’t really sure where he wanted to go and didn’t really have a preference, I took the lead on the trip destination and combined his birthday trip with a dream trip of mine, which was to visit Harrisburg– or as no one calls it: The Burg. But they should call it that. They really should.

Anyways, I had never been to Harrisburg even though it’s the state capital of Pennsylvania so I was really excited to go for the very first time. It was everything I dreamt it would be. It has amazing wide streets, it’s super clean…they even have multi-tiered street lamps… It almost kind of felt like we were in DC. The capitol building was lit up purple at night; the moon was huge and hanging beautifully above the purple capitol, and it was so beautiful. The senators have parking spots right in front of the capital building.

IMG_6403 3.PNG

The ‘burgh.


There was also a restaurant named Sammy’s, so it seemed like fate that I we ended up there. Of course we were too full from leftover-giving to eat anything but it was still neat.  The city also had one of the cutest train stations I’ve ever seen. It was pretty empty–there was no one selling tickets, no homeless people…it was just so quaint. It was an adorable piece of Americana. It was super clean and well taken care of.  I was only there for 5 hours, but I would love to go again….hint hint

So even though we got to stop in one of my dream destinations, the main event was Lititz.   As some of you may know, Lititz is Amish country, so we had a great time experiencing the culture. It was also really funny because this was Ben’s first time in Amish country (he’s from California), so he wasn’t used to the culture and had a lot of observations.  He didnt realize that amish lived right in the middle of regular people — living their lives.  “Did you?” In my opinion some of his comments should be put on t-shirts and sold at the tourist center. Some of the top musings included:

-“Did you see that guys beard? I feel like the Amish and Orthodox Jews would really get along… visually.”

-“Why don’t they just ride the horses [as opposed to riding in the buggy]?”

-“Is that how you tell how well-off an Amish family is? By how many buggies they have?”

-“Do they have buggy races? They must.”

-“At least mean and women both wear different outfits.  Like they both commit.”

(As two men pass and wave to each other) “They probably all know each other.”


Taking pics on stealth mode (you’re not supposed to photograph the Amish)


You go to West Virginia once and you think that all small town america is just drugged out then you come to lancaster and its flourishing small town America.

While in Lititz, we stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast, complete with Amish garb that came along with the room. Did you know they have Amish electricians?


Hello, everyone, meet Rachel.


So of course, I just had to try on the Amish outfit. You know how sometimes you wear the clothes, but other times the clothes wear you? Well, I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but I definitely became another person when I put in on. My friends, I’d like to introduce you to Amish Sam, also known as Rachel.

Ben also tried on some of the men’s Amish-wear and he transformed into Ezekiel.





So while Rachel and Ezekiel continued on their journey through Amish country (“aw look at that, your sticker book.  Welllll, thats not what I call it.”), they indulged in the Amish goods throughout the town. For example, they had homemade, fermented root beer (which is honestly as disgusting as it sounds). They also ate their weight in baked goods, because the Amish know their pastries. We–I mean Ezekiel and Rachel– stopped at every roadside bakery that they encountered. They devoured regular whoopie pies, chocolate chip whoopie pies, shoofly pies, chocolate shoofly pies…the list goes on.

When we assumed our normal identities, we decided to bore ourselves at the Landis Valley Farm museum; however, although the exhibits were a snooze fest, we got to take a private buggy ride at the end, which was actually very cool.

Another highlight was being able to see all the cool animals that inhabit this part of town. There were wolfhounds, clydesdale horses, and baby goats. There were also actual wolves, which was awesome to see.

We visited a wolf sanctuary where we learned that wolves would make terrible pets, confirming our previously held suspicions. We also learned some pretty interesting facts, besides that they make bad pets, like that wolves can be trained to smell bladder cancer in other animals and in humans. Another thing is that other pack members will lick the pack leader’s face in order to make him howl (so that the rest of them can howl).

Because we were so impressed with the buggy ride we took previously, we decided to check out other buggies. We also were looking for houses with no lights who looked like they might be using candles.  One night we spent time looking for tricked out buggies that could’ve been on the Amish version of Pimp My Ride, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. But we did stop for baked goods along the way and talked about brand equity side of the road stand, so the mission wasn’t a complete flop.  

The trip was definitely a success, and even if you don’t want to assimilate and become a Rachel or an Ezekiel, I would definitely recommend taking a trip to Amish country, if only to eat a buggy’s load of whoopie pies.


Yell if you need anything.
-Rachel.. I mean, ‘mi.

2 Responses to “The Long-Weekend of Giving Thanks”

  1. Katie Barbaro August 16, 2018 at 5:13 pm #

    I LOVED reliving these amazing memories!! Hahaha “mind over bladder.” “jokes on you hallmark’…YOU ARE BOTH HIP AND COOL!–I’M STILL TALKING ABOUT IT! (And so is your 13 year old cousin I bet). HI RACHEL!!

    ❤ This made my (delirious-post-red-eye) DAY!

    PS I read this while pooping. AKA I'm in post-trip heaven.

    • Sammi Travis August 16, 2018 at 7:42 pm #

      Aww Katie!! So nice to have your comment — and even more so to relive having you in the apartment! Thanks for coming to spend Thanksgiving with us this year. You will be sorely missed in 2018. Love love LOVE Welcome back to NYC!

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