Monday, October 7, 2013

Shangri-La? It's Just North of Philly!

Scenes like this border many roads in Bucks County.
It's not named after a famous writer, although Pearl S. Buck did live here, or after the deer you'll see in the protected green spaces lining the road, or even after the bushels of "bucks" it takes to be able to afford a house here.  This idyllic spot in Pennsylvania is called Bucks County after William Penn's home county in England--Buckinghamshire.

But a more accurate name for this place might be Eden.  Forget Mexican beach hotels or Costa Rican mountain resorts; if you want to get away, a much more accessible Shangri-La can be found right here in the United States.

Although just an hour's or so drive from Philadelphia and New York, it might as well be on another continent--it's that far removed from those bustling cities.  Here, nature reigns with Monet-like backdrops of lush greenery with deer loping across the fields, and quaint towns with gingerbread houses hugging the sides of the twisting roads. 
Even the bridges are so narrow that Tom tucked the side view mirror against the car before we started across.  I don't think signs posted a speed limit, but no one was foolish to drive faster than five miles an hour on this bridge crossing the Delaware River.
It is here, where the Delaware River divides Pennsylvania from New Jersey that you finally understand why New Jersey has the moniker, The Garden State.  As difficult as it is to believe gardens exist anywhere in the state when you are on the turnpike approaching Newark, this area adjoining Bucks County makes you a believer in miracles.  It is as lush as Newark is industrial.

This two-county area straddling the river (Bucks County in Pennsylvania and Hunterdon County in New Jersey) is ripe with possibilities for exploration--to name only a few, there are the Doylestown Mercer Museum, a six-story castle housing American artifacts; the eclectic shops and restaurants in the charming little towns of New Hope, PA, and Lambertville, NJ, (Actually, most any town in this area is worthy of your time.); Washington Crossing Historic Park; and tubing trips down the Delaware River.

Two Buttons
For those with a literary bent, the Pearl S. Buck house is a must-see.  And, if you're a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Last American Man and Eat, Pray, Love, to name only two of her books, you will want to visit the store she and her husband opened in Frenchtown, New Jersey.   

Just inside the door, Liz makes her books available....if you can read them!
The outside of the store is not impressive, but step inside the door and you are greeted with an astonishing assortment of products that entice you to meander through delightfully clogged aisles.  You won't want to miss any of the treasures hanging on the walls, dangling from the ceiling, or crowding the display tables, so take your time.  There's an art gallery on the premises, too, but my cousins and I were too late in the afternoon to see that or to take advantage of the goodies served at the Lovin Oven restaurant next door.  Even so, if you're anything like me, you'll be so busy ogling all the wonders in the store that you'll forget to eat or to take photos and will lose track of the people you came with. 

One of the walls in Two Buttons.
As intriguing as Two Buttons is, I was disappointed that I just missed meeting Liz Gilbert and her husband Jose.  I guess that means I'll have to make another trip back to this wonderful store!

After months of searching, my cousins found just-the-right mirror at Two Buttonw.
What a treat it will be to visit this bucolic part of the country again, a verdant Eden located on both banks of this peaceful river.  I'm ready to go, right now!

Practicalities -

For Bucks County information, click here.    For Hunterdon County information, click here.  For Frenchtown information, click here.

The Two Buttons store is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10-5:00,

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