Sunday morning about 10am we were on the road again heading east. We weren’t sure where we were going to go at first, just didn’t feel ready to go home. So finally decided to go to the Thousand Trails Hershey Preserve at Lebanon for a couple days before going home. It was a pretty day for traveling- sunshine, green grass and trees with leaves. After 351 miles we arrived at the T.T. Hershey Preserve about 4:30pm. We got into a site had dinner, took a walk and then relax the rest of the evening. We had never been to this campground before but it seems to be a nice place. There are some hills here and our site is on the biggest hill giving a nice view.
Today, Monday, we decided to drive into Ephrata to the Ephrata Cloister, a place we had passed numerous times but never toured. The Cloister was a creation of Conrad Beissel in the mid 1700’s at which time there were about 80 celibate Brothers and Sisters. There were also families(Householders) in the community(about 200) that chose Beissel as their spiritual leader that contributed with funds, products and assistance to the Cloister. Life in the Cloister was regimented and disciplined. Diet was one meal a day of mainly vegetables and bread, rest was limited to 6 hours, long hours of work and periods of meditation were required. A printing press was operated for 50 years and is known for printing the largest book in colonial America when they translated and printed the 1500 page “Martyrs Mirror” for the Mennonites. Beissel died in 1768 and along with a decline in this monastic lifestyle lead to the demise of this community. The last celibate member died in 1813 leaving the Householders to maintain the property and the faith as the German Seventh-Day Baptist Church. Some Householders lived at the Cloister until 1934. In 1941 Pennsylvania acquired the property and undertook a program to restore and interpret this historic site. An interesting day. We grabbed lunch and made a couple stops at some of the unique stores in this area before returning to the campground.