Rising To The Road | Hershey, Pennsylvania
A visit to Hershey's Chocolate World and the Hotel Hershey in Pennsylvania made for a cocao-esque bombardment of the senses
Hershey was our second destination after we left New Hampshire to head south with the trailer in October.
We first paused for an overnight with my grandparents in Connecticut, which was so much fun, though much too quick. My extended family (maternal side) is huge now that everyone has "others" and we total close to thirty people when we're all together. That's intense for everyone, but especially a toddler, and when my daughter is overwhelmed, she just tunes everyone out.
So the best part of our visit with "Nanny and Poppy" was the one-on-one time, where everyone could really hear and interact with each other in a concentrated way. It was a blast and a riot of a 12-hour stopover and now, the World's Cutest Human is O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with Nanny and Poppy, or "Lanny and Poppy" as she first called them, mixing the names of my Aunt "Lynnie" with "Nanny." Honest mistake.
The next morning, equipped with some driving advice from my Poppy (they are fellow RV'ers and currently in Florida camping for the winter!), we were back on the road, headed for Pennsylvania with our eye on the Hershey prize. Now, I suppose it's fairly noteworthy that we don't really ever eat Hershey's chocolate or candy. For so many reasons, but I won't make this a Hershey-hating or healthy post. Because the Hersheypark was a 24-hour layover of innocent fun.
We stopped in Hershey because my father worked at the Hotel Hershey after college and I've been hearing about it seemingly since birth. I couldn't drive by and not put context into such a cornerstone of lifelong stories.
After finding a sweet (but very full!) KOA in Elizabethtown, right outside of Hershey, we wheeled the trailer off the open road. As soon as we pulled into the campground, our mini monkey spotted a hayride from the back seat and started begging to "try it?" By pure luck, the tractor pulling the 'hay wagon' drove right by our campsite right after we pulled in and paused to see if we wanted to join them.
My Love encouraged us to go jump on and take a ride while he began the set-up process and so I grabbed my daughter and hopped on. Being just before Halloween and outside of a themepark based on candy, it was heavenly for the kids on the wagon.
Folks at various campsites would toss candy into the wagon as we drove by, which meant nothing to my girl (she still doesn't have context for Halloween, nor does she get excited about any kind of sweet besides ice cream, by some miracle). But the kids on the wagon would dive, mosh pit-style, for every piece thrown into our vicinity. I managed to grab a few Reese's for My Love, his favorite and a Twizzler or two for myself without losing a hand.
The next day we headed into Hershey to explore Chocolate World and planned to have lunch at the Hotel. While Hersheypark works overtime to be an exceptionally happy place, its surroundings stand in stark contrast. It is so beautifully rural surrounding Hershey — and was especially so in the bright colors of fall foliage — but the town of Hershey itself has a bit of a depressing, been-there-rode-that, old industrial feel. Especially since the rides in the park were closed for the season and we visited on a gray, dreary day.
As soon as we entered Chocolate World, I was beyond overwhelmed by the amount of sugary, fatty products, lights, sounds and mostly, people. I knew that at two years old, not being a fan of sweets in the first place, therefore having no context for what we were even doing there, my daughter might be a bit overwhelmed, too. So we streamlined the visit.
We rode a little ride that tells the Hershey story, which involved singing cows, so she loved that. Then we headed upstairs to the sweets shoppe to get her an ice cream sundae with unlimited toppings, which we all shared. That was the perfect amount of fun for us, so we scooted out soon thereafter as people around us piled shopping carts full of chocolate and sugar-laden candy. Hershey's Chocolate World is kind of a perfect microcosm of what's wrong with America.
Having had our dessert first, we headed up to The Hotel Hershey for lunch. It's a beautiful old hotel, similar to one I worked in growing up, The Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont. The Hotel Hershey has a regal old-school flair and reminded me of the resort in Dirty Dancing. So I was Baby for an hour, and My Love, Patrick Swayze. But, the knocked-up-and-now-with-a-toddler version.
We dined in their "Harvest" dining room, which though a casual establishment, was quite upscale and a bit stuffy. But nothing a little absolutely delectably delicious soup trio (she-crab, Amish chicken noodle and roasted pumpkin with pear compote) and lobster cobb salad couldn't distract us from. The food was a truly incredible saving grace of the day. After lunch we hula-hooped in the yard and then headed back to the KOA to pack up the truck'n'trailer and roll on!