family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Good and Plenty and Issac’s – restaraunts

Ok, I said I was done posting about the trip, but then I realized I took pictures at two restaurants to why not share that info too?

The days we were at Hersey we ate breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner inside Hershey. Monday and Thursday we ate dinner at the hotels. We stayed at Homewood Suites for both locations. They have a decent breakfast and Monday-Thursday most Homewood Suites have some type of “evening reception” which while it isn’t a full meal is enough to make do.

On Friday, we ate both lunch and dinner out at restaurants. For lunch, we walked over to Issac’s. It was in the same plaza at the ChooChoo Barn. Blake and Colby had build your own sandwiches. Blake had ham and provolone. Colby had turkey, bacon and cheese. Richard had the pterodactyl–  Smoked ham, Genoa salami, melted provolone and Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, vinaigrette, French bread. I had the magpie– Grilled chicken breast, melted provolone and Parmesan, bacon, spinach, pesto, ranch, flatbread.

For dinner we went to the Good and Plenty. Ok this is a true tourist trap, but a must do once in your life. This is said to be “authentic Dutch Cooking”.  The food is served family style, Each day they have fried chicken, 2 other proteins, corn, another vegetable, mashed potatoes and so much more. Appetizers were bread with fresh butter, cottage cheese, apple butter, apple sauce, chow chow (a pickled veggie combo) and pepper cabbage. Dinner was fried chicken, pot roast, ham loaf (think meat loaf with ham… it was strange I tried a bite), corn, peas, mashed potatoes, and noodles. Desert was cheesecakes, shoo fly pie, cracker pudding (graham cracker, coconut pudding… very strange taste and texture), cheery pie and ice cream (chocolate, vanilla and orange sherbet).

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family · life · through my camera lens

Strasburg Trains

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When Blake was little he began watching Thomas the Train and liked Thomas a lot. Colby didn’t just like Thomas and trains, he LOVED them. When they were younger we went to a Day Out with Thomas two years in a row. Colby was beyond excited to ride the rails.

While they have outgrown Thomas, Colby still loves trains. He gets so excited every year when we put the train around our Christmas tree.

So when we were planning the trip to Hershey we knew we’d need to extend the trip and go to Strasburg PA. There we went to Strasburg Rail Road and the Rail Road Museum of Pennsylvania, they are across the street from each other. At the Strasburg Rail Road, we went to the Hostling Tour which meant we were up early to see them prep the steam engine for the day.  We got go inside the engine to see them working on stoking the fire. The boys even got to ride in the engine. Then we went on a train ride and rode in the lounge car.

Then we went across the street to see the Train Museum. This was an impressive collection of train items including engines, train cars, cabooses, as well as items that were used on the trains. The pictures below are panorama of the inside collection of trains taken from the overlook.

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This is just a fraction of the photos from this day. I had so much fun taking pictures of the trains.

family · food · life · through my camera lens

Transition Vacation Day

Have you been following along with my travel posts? I posted the last three days about our time in Hershey Park. You can read about it here, here and here.

Thursday found us traveling again. We had one more Hersey place to visit first. Before we left Hershey we decided to go visit the Hershey Story Museum.

The first thing we did there was attend a candy making session in their chocolate lab. Yep, we made our own chocolate bars.  They played Hershey Trivia to start with and apparently I know my Hershey trivia. My boys won quite a few kisses with my help.  Then they discussed the process of chocolate making from the fields to the factory. After, each person was given a candy mold which had a beach scene transfer on it. The tables were given bowls of melted chocolate and you got to work making our own bars. The session we attended was beach bars so we could add in salt or graham cracker crumbs (I found shakers of red pepper flakes and cinnamon there too so Richard and I used those).

We then went through the museum. Did you know that there was once a Hershey town in Cuba? They had a whole exhibit on Hershey in Cuba and how he created a Hershey village there for the people who worked in the sugar factory there. While we were in the museum we purchased booklets for the boys that they could use to go around the museum and fill out trivia information. There were stations along the way to get “rewards” for finding all the information. While the museum was interesting, and the chocolate making was fun, I’m not sure it was worth the price of admission. I don’t regret doing it, but if you aren’t into history and don’t want to go around reading a lot of information then this is not the location for you.

When we wrapped this up, we headed to our next stop on the trip. Strasburg PA. Our hotel was in Lancaster, but the places we were headed were in Strasburg. When we arrived in Strasburg we went to the Choo Choo Barn. This is a model railroad. The boys had fun going around and finding all the different little things there were to see. The layout of this was ok. There were a lot of things that were hard to see since they were in the middle and you felt like they got lost. They did have spots where you could activate the different animations. They dimmed the lights to make it night time. They also gave you a scavenger hunt list of items to find while looking at the scenes. We ended up walking around twice.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about our last day of the vacation… when we ride the rails, visit an Amish farmers market and eat at 2 different local restaurants.

family · life · through my camera lens

I’m BACKKK– Hershey Park day 1

As you may have guessed from my post on Monday, we were on vacation this week. I had pre-posted the two book related posts so that my blog didn’t go to sleep for a week. I tried to pop back into a few of the blogs that I follow all the time to catch up on your lives too.

On Monday we dropped Dixie off and then headed East to Harrisburg. We stayed in Harrisburg for our trip to Hershey Park. I purchased 2 day tickets at AAA. This got us a discounted ticket price, plus we got a free preview day. This meant we could go into the park 2.5 hour before closing on Monday. Plus they have it set up where if you pay for parking on the preview day, it counts for your 1st days parking too.

Image may contain: foodMonday we went to Chocolate World. This is a Hershey Store right outside Hershey Park and had milk shakes, and cookies. Colby had a peanut butter cup blossom cookie. Blake had a smaller chocolate chip cookie. We walked around Chocolate World and went through this “Factory Tour” which is a free ride that takes you through an animatronic model of the kiss factory. At the end you get a free miniature Hershey bar.

We then headed into Hershey Park for our free 2.5 hours. We Image may contain: sky, night and outdoorheaded over to take a look at the Water Park. We planned on spending all of Tuesday at the water park area. We decided to stay over the Mid-Way area and do those rides. This was 2 wooden roller coasters, a mouse trap style coaster, a Ferris wheel, a matterhorn style ride, and the whip. I love the fact that this section was mostly filled with old school rides. It felt like a carnival more than an amusement park.

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We stayed until the park closed. They boys were so excited to head back the next day. Tune in tomorrow for more info about our trip!

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday- Kid Packing

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As I often mention on my blog, I’m big into teaching my sons to be independent in life. They are learning to cook, clean and do many other things on their own. Here is another life skill that they have been working on since they were young…. packing!

I always hear about mothers complaining about packing to go on trips. When the boys were little I used to dread this task. I knew I’d have to pack for 3 people, and the dog(s), and get the house ready to be left alone for as long as we were traveling. So as the boys got older I began teaching them to pack.

They are given a packing list! On the list they are given the number of each article of clothing they need to pack. They put the items on their bed in outfits and let me know when they are ready. Richard or I then go and check to see that they have the right items and if they need to switch things out because they don’t go, or are more play clothes then we want them to travel with at that time. Then the boys pack everything into their suitcase.

They are also allowed to bring their backpack with things to do on the drive/while we are there. They have to bring books, their tablets, some kind of learning something and headphones.

This means I only have to pack for myself and any times that we need as a family. The packing lists are catered to what we are doing and where we are going, but I’ll tell you that taking the 2 minutes to write out a packing list for them (and often times myself as well) will solve a lot of headaches and a ton of time for me now and on the trip!

family · life · through my camera lens

One year ago

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One year ago today the moving truck pulled away from our Orlando house. This was such a bittersweet day for all of us. We were excited for our new adventures. We were ready to all be in the same state again (Richard moved to PA in April, while the boys and I stayed in FL to finish up the school year).

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We moved away from the house the boys grew up in, the house they came to when they came home from the hospital. This was the house they played in, got sick in, learned in, laughed in, and so much more.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sittingBut, where there were tears, there was excitement. The boys were excited to go watch our new house being built. They were ready to go experience snow, meet new people, and start off in a new school.

While the move into the townhouse was not completely smooth and we barely survived some days without “killing” each other, it too was a good experience. The boys strengthened their friendship, we showed that you could pair down life and still enjoy. We played games, went to the pool, took in the $1 movies and explored the area.

One year later…

It feels like just yesterday some days and then other times it feels like forever ago. I thinkImage may contain: 1 person, sitting all of us know it was the right move for our family. The boys feel like they have learned so much this year. They felt challenged in school, enjoyed the new people they have met, and have learned to enjoy the freedoms of childhood.

Richard knows that this job was an advancement in the right direction for him. I took the time away to settle all my guys into our new life. I was able to take time and reassess where I want to go in life.

This has been a long crazy year, but it is a fun journey to be on!

family · through my camera lens

World of Coke Atlanta- Vacation day 3

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Ok here is the last of our vacation posts. I promise!

New Years Eve found us catching up with friends from Orlando. We met up at the World of Coke in Atlanta, GA. This was one of the things I wanted to do on our trip. I mean who doesn’t want to visit a place that has Coca-Cola? And yes they give you free Coke! You can get a can when you first enter the building and then there is free flowing Coke before you leave.  Need I say more?

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While we were waiting outside for our friends we decided to take some pictures. The World of Coke sits next to the Georgia Aquarium and between the two is a park type area. Part of the decorations they had for the holiday was HUGE ornaments. We decided this would be a good time to get some photos just for fun.

When I friends joined us we entered the World of Coke. I really wasn’t sure what we were going to see or do there, it just sounded like something you needed to do and see. When you enter you get to have a free coke! We didn’t have one since A. it was 10am and B we were cold so a cold coke didn’t sound refreshing at the time.

You are then led into a room filled with Coke memorabilia where you watched a quick Image may contain: 1 personCoke video. This leads you into the main “museum” area. You can go into various rooms to see the production of Coke, the history of Coke, the myths and legends of Coke and even the vault that holds the secret formula. Upstairs there is a 4D movie, a pop culture room (Colby’s favorite) and a tasting room. The tasting room is similar to the coke tasting room at EPCOT, but with more varieties. Plus they had taps of original coke, coke free style dispensers, and a test coke product (Chocolate Cherry coke, which tasted surprisingly good).

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No automatic alt text available.Then of course you went into the gift shop!

There was a lot of Coca-Cola history there that I found fascinating. The boys had fun even if they don’t drink Coke. Colby could have spent hours making his own Coke art in the Pop Art room. Blake enjoyed reading everything in the Coke history room.

We had fun there, we were there for about 2 hours and that was maybe a bit too long, but it was worth the trip.

 

family · through my camera lens

Georgia Aquarium – Vacation day 2

Our first day in Atlanta found us going to the Georgia Aquarium. Aquariums are one place that we often go to on vacation. I mean who doesn’t love a huge aquarium? Plus, Colby is a marine animal lover, especially dolphins. So when we find an aquarium on our travels, we often make it part of our plans.

When we were setting up the plans for Atlanta this was the first thought of where to go, well expect for the Peach Bowl of course. The Georgia Aquarium has got a lot of great reviews, so we decided to go for it.

We started off going and walking around and took in both the dolphin and sea lion show. These shows weren’t bad, but since we used to have Sea World passes, the shows were just ok to us. (It’s hard when you’ve lived near Sea World and Disney to not compare everywhere to these big icons)

When we arrived at the aquarium, it was busy. But it got crazy crowded as the day went on. We saw lots of people wearing UCF gear, and had many stop us. One lady even leaned over the table we were sitting at having a snack and yelled “Go Knights” right in our faces, we were a bit startled, but managed to say “Charge on!” right back to her. The pictures below were taken around 2pm when we were having lunch. This was just in the entry way.

We had decided to purchase back stage tour while we were this, this is something we No automatic alt text available.have done at other aquariums in the past as well. This is always a neat way to see the aquarium. Yes, we have seen more filters, skimmers and such than we’d ever need to, but there is so much more to these tours. We also got to see the top of two of the tanks, one being the tank that holds 4 whale sharks. We heard the story of how UPS helped bring these whale sharks over from Taiwan. Image may contain: outdoor and water

The other tank we saw was at the top of their “diver tank” this was a simulated coral reef. They have live coral in this tank and have it simulated to replicate the actual waters in the ocean. This includes having dump tanks which dump water into the tank every 2 minutes to simulate the waves. This was one of Blake’s favorite parts of the tour and he would have spent more time watching this if he could have.  The pictures below are of the boys looking into the divers tank. I love the content look they each have as they watch the fish, waves and just relax.

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We managed to get to all the exhibits and spent almost the whole day there. We enjoyed it a lot. The kids really enjoyed the tank with the 4 whale sharks. There were also at least 2 HUGE manta rays in that tank. The top picture was taken in a tube that allowed you to walk through the whale shark tank.  Ray guided right over us as we were walking through. The bottom picture is at the 60 foot viewing window they have for this tank.

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The Georgia Aquarium was cool. We really enjoyed seeing the gentle giants gliding through the water. I’m not sure the lay out of the aquarium made a whole lot of sense. There were multiple occasions where we questioned why they put things where they did. I can certainly tell you that they did not do a good job setting up the entrance and exits to the two show venues very well. I would hate to be in the dolphin theater if there was ever a fire! The location of the food court area made no sense to me either. But, the food choices were rather impressive. I’m not sure if they whole thing just felt off because of the shear number of people in the aquarium while we were there, or if it was just poor planning, but hey I can’t change that.

I would say if you are in the Atlanta area, go to the aquarium, and consider going on the behind the seas tour. All 4 of us enjoyed our day there.

I posted 3 videos I took that day on my Facebook page. Go check them out and if you haven’t already please like and follow my page there. I often post extra pictures and post more thoughts of my day on that page as well!

family · through my camera lens

Lost Sea Adventure- Vacation day 1

As promised more details about our vacation. The first day we drove from PA to TN. We decided to stop just outside of Knoxville. This got us a good chunk of the way to GA.

We were trying to decide what to do on Friday. We debated driving to Chattanooga, TN. We were considering going to Ruby Falls or Rock City. We hadn’t made a decision nor were we gung ho about either location. We were sitting at the hotel eating breakfast when one of the employees asked about our plans. When we told her the possible options she suggested looking at Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, TN. She let us know that Sweetwater was her hometown.

We looked into the Lost Sea Adventure and it ended up being in a better location for the rest of our travel to GA, so we decided… why not?

As we drove to Sweetwater we saw soooo many signs for Ruby Falls, we were glad we didn’t go there since that typically is a good indicator that it is just tourist trap.

When we arrived at Lost Sea it wasn’t very busy, but we were still game for an adventure. We went and purchased tickets for a tour to see the lost sea. While waiting for our tour time we went and checked out the gift store and the out buildings which included a glass blower who was working. (We ended up getting a few blow glass Christmas ornaments before we left).

 

Image may contain: outdoorWhen it was time to go on our tour we started down a long tunnel, which we later found out was added to the cave to make the entrance easier for the masses.

We then walked on a bridge to see one set of stalactite and Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, child and outdoorstalagmite that are still active as well as rather impressive. Blake was freaking out on the bridge. He informed us he is now afraid of heights, but when questioned he still likes roller coasters, The Tower of Terror and other things that involve heights. I think he just didn’t like the bridge.

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We then walked through the tunnels to a variety of caverns. These were used by the local Native Americans in both the extremes of winter and summer as the cave is a constant 60 degrees. This cave was also used in the Civil War, as a fall out shelter and in the 40s it was a bar/night club. Throughout the tour we saw items that represented these phases (left over rations, a moonshine still, and more).

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We made ourImage may contain: night and outdoor way down to the Lost Sea where we got to ride on a boat to see the Image may contain: night and outdoorrainbow trout that they stocked the lake with back in the 70s. The tour guide was good and told a lot about the cavern as we traveled. He was also good with the boys and the other kids in the group.

It was a fun time. It is one of those been there done that don’t need to go again places, but it was so worth the trip. It wasn’t super expensive and we had fun and learned a bit. If you find yourself near Sweetwater, TN, check out the Lost Sea Adventures. You will probably find a smile on your face.

 

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family · through my camera lens

I’m back!

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Did you notice I was gone? Probably not, but that’s ok.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know that we are big UCF football fans. Well, UCF was in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta GA on New Years Day. So, Richard and I got the boys, well and us, tickets to the game. This was one of their Christmas presents.

So we loading into the car on Thursday, December 28th and headed to GA. We took two days to drive down stopping in Knoxville, TN on Thursday night. We then traveled on to Atlanta from there.

While in TN, we went and did some sight seeing and then did more in Atlanta. More blog posts to follow with pictures and information about the fun and interesting sights along the way. I still have to download all the pictures off both camera and the phones.

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New Years Day found us waking up to cold and snow in Atlanta, but with so much excitement. We were ready to go cheer on the Knights. When we lived in Orlando, FL we had season tickets to the UCF football games. Richard and I had them for 12 year and the boys had them for 3 or 4. It was such a part of our fall life in Orlando. It felt great to be back in a stadium cheering on the team.

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The game was fantastic, we could not have asked for a better end to the perfect season. UCF went undefeated this season. We may not always get the respect we deserve from the “big schools”, but we sure showed up and played a great game. A season of 13-0 taking out a team ranked 7 who beat not 1, but 2 teams who had been ranked #1.

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While it was an 11 hour drive both ways, and the tickets were on the expensive side, it was so worth seeing the boys excitement when they found out we got them tickets and even more when the team won.

So we are now back to our regular lives. I’m off to do laundry, pick up the dog and do grocery shopping today, but I wanted to stop off on my blog and say… I’m home! And I will be back with my regular blog posts.

Stay tuned for posts about The Lost Sea in TN, seeing a 6 ft skillet, Atlanta’s aquarium and The World of Coke in Atlanta… I promise it will be worth it!