Pinecraft in Sarasota, Florida is a place where Amish and Mennonites like to congregate in the colder months.
If you’re Amish and traveling to Pinecraft, there’s a good chance you’ll hop on a bus such as that operated by Pioneer Trails. The company makes regular runs from Ohio and Indiana from September to July. For Pennsylvanians, Elite Coach provides service from January to March.
Heading north, the Indiana line first stops in Fort Wayne, where Allen County Amish can “de-board”. Later destinations include Shipshewana, Nappanee, and other points in the northern Indiana Amish settlements.
The Ohio bus makes a few stops in Holmes and Wayne Counties, before reaching its final destination in Middlefield, heart of the Geauga County Amish community.
March is the heaviest month for bus departures, with 13 trips north this month. For that matter the winter-spring months of January-April are busiest (at least 9 runs each way).
A one-way trip currently costs $137, a round-trip slightly less than double that. Those traveling to Middlefield have the longest journey, at over 26 hours. Fortunately, there is a bathroom on board.
Ernie Bontrager took this video of the Pioneer Trails bus leaving Pinecraft. Goodbyes and hellos happen in the parking lot of the Pinecraft Tourist Church. Watch the hands pop up as the bus pulls out.