August 10, 2010

The Sweetest Place on Earth

July 8, 2010--With the 2-hour drive from Washington DC already out of the way and the morning of Day 6 of the Pennsylvania Triangle just beginning, I arrived in the "Sweetest Place on Earth." Hershey! It's a town with avenues named Cocoa and Chocolate, with street lamps shaped like Hershey's Kisses, with a big chocolate factory and an even bigger amusement park. :)

I strolled into the Chocolate World (sort of the Hershey welcome center) just
after opening time. Let me say that any trip to the Hershey should always begin and end with a ride on the Great American Chocolate Tour, a narrated theme-park ride that takes visitors through the the creation of Hershey's Milk Chocolate from bean to bar, complete with singing cows, cocoa fragrance, and an assembly line of chocolate-making machinery. It is a free ride that always ends with a complimentary chocolate bar. Needless to say, by the end of the morning, I had about 5 pieces of chocolate in my pocket. :)

One of my favorite features in Chocolate World is called "Create Your Own Candy Bar."
With ticket in hand, guests step into a sterile room to scrub their hands and put on hair nets, face masks, and aprons. The next stop is a room of computers where each person decides on what types of fillings they would like to have in their chocolate bars. I chose crispy rice and caramel chunks. Once the selections are made, guests proceed to the conveyor belt where they can watch their bars being produced. This part is really cool to watch. When the bar reaches the dryer, guests are prompted to go to the next room of computers to design their wrappers. All kinds of fonts and clip arts are available and it is very fun to create one's own candy wrapper.

Some of the other highlights of Chocolate World include the Really Big 3-D Show, the Trolley Works, and the Tasting Adventure.

A short drive away from
Chocolate World is Hershey Gardens. Set on a hill overlooking the amusement park, these gardens consist of rolling pathways, climbing rose bushes, fountains featuring erupting Hershey Kisses, and even a butterfly house. A very serene place.

My next visit was to Hershey's Antique Auto Museum, a three-level build
ing showcasing a wide variety of vintage cars, buses, and motorcycles. Parked at the front door is an automotive novelty, the Kissmobile. This colorful vehicle brought a big smile to my face. :D

As afternoon rolled in, I hopped in the car and headed west to Strasburg to see the Amish Village. This place gives visitors a glimpse into an Amish community, a
place where the main form of transportation is still horse-drawn carriage and houses don't have electricity. A guided tour is given through the house dating back to 1840, the blacksmith shop, smokehouse, windmill, water wheel, and livestock barn.

Just down the road from Amish Village is Strasburg Railroad. The station offers rides on an old steam locomotive. The train has several open-air cars and takes passengers on a scenic trip through the Pennsylvania countryside, passing tall cornfields and farms. The train lumbers along the tracks making the familiar "chugga chugga" sound and every now and then belches out a huge puff of steam. At one point, the engineer blows the whistle so guests can hear it echo through the distant hills. Choo-choo! Awesome! On the station platform, a booth is set up where Kettle Corn is hand-popped in a huge steaming cauldron and sold by the bag. It is fun to watch it being made and some of the best popcorn I've ever tasted...

My next stop: Indian Echo Caverns. I love cave tours and this one is perhaps the best. Beautiful rock formations. Great tour.

The last place I went on Day 6 was "The Hershey Story." A museum dedicated to the life of Milton Hershey and the growth of the Hershey Company. My favorite part of the museum is the computer where I got to put myself into the Hershey headlines. Also very cool is the Apostolic Clock.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?

and what communion hath light with darkness?"

~2 Corinthians 6:14