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.

food · life · through my camera lens

Hershey park -part 3– rides

I’ve been telling you about our trip to Hershey the last two days. You can check out our preview day here and our water park day here.

On Wednesday we got up and headed back to Hershey. We go there shortly after it opened. While Tuesday was a ton of fun, Wednesday was the day the boys were looking forward to… the day we ride the rides!

When you first enter the park you can see where you “measure up” each ride is labeled with a Hershey product to show who can ride the ride based on height. If you look at the picture of Colby with the Reese’s on the pole you can see the stripe that says Reese’s, that is the height of the Reese’s riders. Both of my boys were Twizzlers so they were tall enough to do all the rides.

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I found Hershey’s rides to be very balanced as far as parks go. They had a balance between the old and the newer rides. They had so many old school carnival rides that you just don’t see as often in amusement parks now. They have 3 wooden roller coasters as well as 6 other coasters. Hershey’s Super Dooper Looper was the first loop coaster on the east coast of the US. Richard rode all the roller coasters. Colby rode all but 7 and Blake rode 6. I only rode 1, and I’m ok with that! (if you look right above the light in that picture you can see Colby. Blake took the picture, while I took the video below). The bottom video is a coaster that only Richard went on, this is just like the coaster I rode when I had a panic attack and swore off coasters.

The thrill rides didn’t end there. Richard, Blake and Colby also went onto the Hershey Tower ride. P1000110

The boys enjoyed riding all the rides. They were game to try just about anything we came across.

We also went into Zoo America while we were there. This is a zoo that has animals that you will find in the various sections of the US. It was a nice change of pace during the middle of the day. Since it was included in the price of the Hershey tickets why not take advantage??

We ended the day back at Chocolate World to pick up t-shirts!

family · life

Hershey Park- part 2 water park

Yesterday I began telling you about our trip to Hershey Park. Hershey is about 4 hours east of us, so it was a perfect summer vacation spot for our family. I went to Hershey as a kid, and loved it. Richard had never been there before.

Tuesday we spent the whole day in the water park inside Hershey. With your ticket to Hershey park you get admittance to the rides, water park and Zoo America. Let me tell you that we did everything in the 2.5 days we spent there.

As I mentioned yesterday, we stayed at the park until closing on Monday. Tuesday we got up, had breakfast at the hotel and then were back on the road around 10am to go back into the park. We stayed in the water park until it closed at 8 and then went back on the rides.

At the water park we rode the flume ride, which was ok but, we certainly got wet! We then headed over to the two new water rides. One is a race down tube slides riding on foam mats and the other is a water coaster. The water coaster is the only water ride we waited in line for more than 20 min. It was better than I thought it would be so I guess that made it worth the wait. While we were in line waiting a teenage girl in line behind me passed out. I saw this coming as she looked really woozy and had already almost fallen head first over the chain. I prepared to catch her while alerting the people she was with and Richard yelled for the closest life guard we could see. It wasn’t that hot, but it was a good reminder about staying hydrated.

After lunch we went to the water playground. This playground was slides, between all kinds of climbing items. Between each slide there were places for the kids to spray water, fill and dump water buckets and so much more. There were also two huge buckets that filled up at the top of the biggest slides. When you hear a horn, watch out the biggest of the buckets is ready to dump!

We then went over to the tube slide tower. One side had 4 slides that you could use with either a two person tube or a single rider tube. We rode all 4 of these sides. We rode on the two person tubes and would alternate which child rode with which parent.  The other tower had a different type of tube where you sat facing each other on top of the tube. We only rode one of the two rides with that tube. The line was longer, the tube was heavier and I didn’t like the fact that I was backwards almost the whole time.

We also went on the lazy river and floated around that for 2 laps. It was a decent length lazy river and wasn’t too crazy busy when we left.

Right before the water park closed we decided to go back to the racer slides and rode those 2 more times.

We ate both lunch and dinner inside the park. We had Subway for lunch. You could only get 6″ subs, but that was fine, Richard just had extra meat on his. We had ice creams for a snack. They had Turkey Hill ice cream. We each got a small cup Blake- chocolate, Colby – vanilla, Richard- mint chip and I had strawberry. They were all really good ice creams. For dinner we ate at one of the Hershey stands. We Richard and the boys each got chicken tenders and fries. I had the same tenders on top of salad. They were reasonably priced and had decent flavor.

We rode a few more rides and left the park right at 10pm. It was a full and fun day. I don’t have any pictures from Tuesday, just lots of memories of fun times with the boys and Richard.

Tune in tomorrow for more info and LOTS of pictures of the rest of the park and Zoo America.

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 · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday- Summer Break Edition

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The boys started their summer break last week. Over the last few years I have learned a few things about summer break with my boys, so I thought I’d share these insights with you.

  1. Turn off the alarm clocks! But, do not let them sleep forever. I have one son who still wakes up around 6/6:30am and one who would sleep until noon if I let him. I do not have their alarm clocks on, but I won’t let them sleep past 9am.
  2. Shift bedtime, but not too far. My boys go to sleep at 7:45 in the school year. In the summer it typically is 8:15pm. There is fluidness of it depending on what is going on in life, but keeping a consistent bedtime helps too.
  3. Create loose routines that help them keep in check. Children are used to being at school where life is all about routines and procedures, and they need this to feel comfortable and content at home. Some children still need hard fast routines, but I feel that most children do well with loose routines. My boys know that they need to work in their workbooks every day. They need to make their own breakfast and lunch. Once camp is done we will get into more of a routine that includes outside time, inside time and technology time.
  4. Make mealtimes special. I get the boys involved in grocery shopping as well as making meals. This summer they will each make one meal a month from scratch.
  5. Continue to limit technology and don’t allow your day to be structures around the technology times.
  6. Being bored is cured by cleaning. When my sons tell me they are bored I tell them what they can clean.
  7. Outside time is not optional
  8. Trips to the library brings new books to read

The boys are off at camp this week, but next week we will get into our summer life routine. We will head to the gym. They will help with the household chores. We will get outside. We will cook, play games, read and so much more together. Summer life is slower than the school year, but it needs to have a loose structure to prevent the summer slump and boredom.

What are your summer break hints and tips??

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!