It's about time we blogged about our vacation to Hershey! (I said it so that you don't have to).
Let's get right to it...
On the Friday that we left, in morning Maayan said to Lanie, "Make sure you dont forget anything mommy"-- good that someone is checking up on us.
We sent Maayan to school in the morning, and finished up the massive packing job. We picked Maayan up from school on the way out of town and timed it to be about nap time. Maayan dutifully fell asleep and after a not so quick stop in NJ for gas (the fact that it was $3.75 tells you how delayed we are!), we were on our way.
After a pretty non-eventful drive we checked in to our hotel, made our way to the grocery to stock our kitchen and of course paid our first visit to the indoor pool. The outdoor one wasn't open until right after we left, but given the cool weather and rain on many days, we wouldn't have been able to use it anyway!
Going into the vacation we were nervous about shabbos and what we would do all day, but we went to playground out back, played in the apartment, and attempted to get Maayan to nap (never happened), and of course went to the pool. The only tricky part about that was getting back into our building where you needed to use your electronic key card to gain access. Eventually we followed someone in, who was a little suspicious of us.
One idea we had for Sunday was a minor league baseball game in Harrisburg which was 20 minutes away. Unfortunately it was pouring rain, so they didn't play and the second plan of going to Dutch Wonderland, which is an amusement park for little kids was also washed away. So instead we went to the Whitaker science center - a science museum with a kids area - in Harrisburg. When we got there at about 10:30, the place was closed. We were nervous that maybe it was closed on Sunday, but the barista at the Starbucks across the street reassured us that it opened at 11. The museum was fun, Maayan played with the fake grocery, the pretend ambulance and the climbing-ball chute thingie. There was a large school group of middle school kids at the museum who coincidentally were also from NY - sort of (Staten Island). Maayan fell asleep in the car on the way home, and we got our first look at the outlet mall that was across the street from our hotel. When Maayan woke up we went to the pool and then had a dinner of really good fresh corn, pasta and chicken left over from what we brought for Shabbos.
On day 4 in Hershey, PA, we finally did something chocolate related! We went to chocolate world which is what Hershey has instead of a real factory tour. They stopped giving real factory tours years ago, but Maayan really liked the "how chocolate is made" ride, which we went on twice, the factory works which was a little pretend-factory worker activity, and the gift shop. We bought lots of chocolate and were even good enough parents to sneak in some pareve pashkez chocolate for our milk-allergic daughter.
We went back to mall and walked around until Maayan fell asleep, shopped some more and of course went back to the pool (seeing a pattern yet?).
Some more bad weather, but this time we added to the pain by driving 2 hours each way through Amish country to the Herr's snack foods factory! There was one point where I think we were actually on someone's farm access road...you have to love google maps! We were stuck behind a horse and buggy for a few minutes, and I'm sure all he was thinking was, "Ha Ha, Gas is $4+/gallon!"
On the way we saw a store called "Amish Stuff Etc." which in the course of this very long drive we found very entertaining. But once we made it, the factory was fun. We ended up with a private tour with Joel, the highlight of which was fresh potato chips - hot off of the conveyor belt. The room where they made the pretzels also smelled REALLY good. The only bad part was needing to run between buildings in the pouring rain, but we had fun. At the end we went to the gift shop and bought "oops" chips, pretzels and other snacks which were really cheap (we should have bought more).
The ride was much better on way home because we took more major roads and the weather was better. If you've paid attention this far, you'll never guess what we did when we got back...that's right, to the pool!
Here comes the Sun!!! It was finally sunny, so we took the opportunity to go to Hershey Gardens. They have a children's garden where Maayan had a good time. The majority of the gardens are roses which weren't in bloom, but the children's garden was enjoyable.
Wednesday was also the first day we were there that Hershey Park was officially open, and in the park there is a large Kosher food stand! Maayan is too little and afraid to enjoy the actual rides etc, so instead of paying admission, we got what they call a "shopper's pass" which allows you to enter the park for an hour for free, and if you overstay they charge you admission. We went in, sat and had a nice lunch, capped off by Maayan's very first "Ice cream" cone with Tofutti ice cream! Needless to say she was in heaven. While we were there we also took bought some rotisserie chicken for dinner.
On the way back to our hotel Lanie noticed a sign at the Hershey arena advertising the circus which was in town for 4 days starting that day. We went to the box office and got tickets for a Thursday morning show. We had been in rural America for almost 6 days and hadn't been to a Walmart yet, so we had to go! It was exciting, Maayan got some Very cheap clothing, and when we were there we remembered that it was also the day that the Wii Fit came out, but of course they didn't have any by the time we got there.
Maayan fell asleep on the way back, so Lanie and I took turns at the outlet mall to do more shopping. Once Maayan woke up, we had dinner and went to sleep....Nah, just kidding, of course we went to the pool!!!
In the morning we went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus! Maayan was a lot of fun to watch. She really liked it (the first half at least). She was too small to hold the seat down herself, so she sat on Lanie's lap most of the time, but she was bouncing up and down and clapping. It was very cute.
After intermission (read: a cruel and brilliant bathroom break where all the kids demand all the garbage they are selling) Maayan wanted the hat that came with non-kosher cotton candy, and of course you couldn't buy them separately. I convinced Maayan that what she really wanted was an elephant bowl (it was the cheapest thing they had at $10, and it didn't hurt that it was blue, Maayan's favorite color). After the 2nd half mercifully ended (with the exception of the elephants which she actually liked, Maayan spent most of the 2nd half alternating between wanting to leave and complaining that we wouldn't buy her the hat), we went back to Hershey Park to get lunch and dinner again followed by another Tofutti cone for Maayan. Having missed out on Day 1 when Maayan ate the entire thing herself (I mistakenly thought we'd share), I learned my lesson and got myself one as well.
Since we were next door, we went to Chocolate world again and went on the chocolate ride again. Maayan had her very first vacation "melt down" when she couldn't play with the ball we bought inside the store. After a while and a miserable bathroom trip (for Lanie) we calmed her down and took a trolley ride around the town of Hershey. Near the end, Maayan insisted on drinking water out of the elephant bowl which we bought at the circus, she looked silly, and of course got her shirt wet. Consequently, she decided to take her shirt off, and had another melt down.
Since she was obviously exhausted (hence the meltdowns) she took a nap in the car yet again. So Lanie and I went back to the outlet of course, and when she woke up, we... (you figure it out).
After the pool, we started packing... :-(
Checked out...packed the TONS of stuff into the car. Like she did on the way there, Maayan asks, "How are we going to bring all this stuff"
The one thing we'd seen all week and wanted to do before we left on Friday was goto the Gap Outlet that had its Grand Opening on Friday. We made sure to get there when it opened, and even saw the ribbon cutting ceremony. Once we were done there, we got on the road. The weather was gorgeous. One the way home we stopped at the Crayola "factory" which is basically a play place which serves as a large advertisement for Crayola Products. We ended in the store where Maayan wanted everything. We negotiated her down to 3 items, and drove the rest of the way home.
That's it, and if you're still reading, congrats! If you're interested in pictures, just ask.