Visiting ZooAmerica in Hershey, PA

During my visit to Hershey Park, I also visited ZooAmerica. You can go to ZooAmerica separately from Hershey Park, but there is also an entrance to ZooAmerica while you are inside Hershey Park, so you can break up your day and visit the Zoo in the middle of your Park visit.

This American Elk Statue is inside Hershey Park, close to the entrance for ZooAmerica.

Right before I entered into the main part of the Zoo, this sign provided an overview of what was to come. Once you are inside, you have the ability to walk around wherever you prefer, but they also have signs for a “Suggested Route”, which are the signs I decided to follow. I was able to see a lot of animals, but not able to capture all of them on camera. Some of the pictures are a bit fuzzy since the animals were far away, some were in a dark enclosure, some were moving around, etc.

Roseate Spoonbill

American Alligators.

Burrowing Owl

Desert Tortoises

Roadrunner – I was fortunate to get this while it was still. Once it started moving, it would go running all over the place.

Ocelot – This was in a dark enclosure and took me quite a few takes to be able to get a picture (no flash).

Snowy Owl – I wish I could have gotten a better close up.

Bald Eagles – I love seeing Bald Eagles and was fortunate that they were hanging out pretty close to where I was standing.

Canada Lynx – This was tough to capture since it was just sitting up on a hill and far away. This was as zoomed in as I could get.

There were a lot more animals that I saw, including mountain lion, wolf, black bear, elk, ringtail, coati, to name a few.

This last picture was a surprise to me. These two were hanging out at the top of a tree about 10 feet off the ground. These are porcupines! I had no idea they were tree dwellers.

I enjoyed my time in the Zoo. I made my way around in just about an hour, so it was a nice middle of the day break from the park. I would visit again and would hope to get some better pictures and have some more close up experiences with some of the bigger animals.

Visiting Hershey Park

This past Saturday, I visited Hershey Park. I have been there before, but never during the Holiday Season. It was a cold day (lower 30s), which meant that some of the rides were not operating. I did still manage to go on a couple of rides that I hadn’t been on before, which was fun. Since the parks didn’t open until 12PM, I had lunch before heading in, which was not a great idea when going on spinning rides. But I was able to manage.

This is the who and why behind Hershey, so I thought it would be nice to show this, even if the print is really hard to read.

The decorations actually started before getting into the park. On the walkway over to the park from the parking lot, they had the Candy Canes along the lane, which was a nice touch.

My pictures will not do the park justice, but they had some fun decorations all over the place. There were a lot of little kids, and they were loving it. There are characters walking around. When the Kit Kat came around, the kids got really excited. There was one little girl who was very shy, and the Kit Kat went to hold her hand. She then gave it a big hug. That was a very sweet moment to see.

When I was taking the picture by Reese’s Cupfusion, a kid was excitedly talking about Mint the Merciless. I must confess that I was not familiar with these characters, but it was really cute to hear the excitement. It made the experience better for me.

The last time I visited the park, the park opened at 10AM and the weather was in the 60s, so all of the rides were open. I was able to go on quite a few rides: Hershey Triple Tower, Sidewinder, Scrambler, sooper dooper Looper, and more. Those are definitely more for the teenager and above crowd. On this visit, I started by going on the Wild Mouse. This ride reminded me of Goofy’s Sky School/Mulholland Madness in Disneyland. When I was younger, the twists and turns were a lot of fun. Now that I’m older, and after having a big lunch, not as much fun. It is a fun ride, but just a very different experience than if I had started my day with rides and had lunch later. The other ride that I went on was The Claw. This ride spins around and swings like a pendulum, so there are moments when you feel like you are floating upside down. The cold air hitting my face was really relaxing. The spinning wasn’t too bad, so I ended up really enjoying this ride. I could have gone on a couple more rides, but I decided to go to ZooAmerica and take more pictures.

Probably the most fun I had was seeing the Twelve Days of Christmas. I saw the Five Rings, and the Seven Swans, but it didn’t click until I saw the Maids a Milking. It was at that point that I want to start at the Twelfth Day and work my way down to One. Some of these pictures couldn’t capture everything so I apologize. I was there during the day, but I think it must look spectacular when it’s dark out and these are lit up.

ba dum bum bum

I really did have a fun time seeing those and did have that song going in my head most of the time, or at least when I got to each of the “Days”.

I think my favorite was the French Hens. The Beret made me chuckle.

I had a really nice time in the park and was very happy to have been able to experience it during the Holidays. If I was going to be staying up in Hershey, I would want to see everything once it is dark outside. There are plenty of food options inside the park. There is a milk shake place that looks really good and filling. There is a place where you can make your own Whoopee Pies. There is also a place called BBLz, but it isn’t open during Winter. They have unique flavor combinations, so I hope they will be open the next time I’m in town for a visit.

This park has plenty to offer for children of all ages. The park itself is not too big, so you will be able to walk through and visit without feeling like you’ve missed out on any areas. And visiting during the Holiday Season seems like it is something that should be on a to-do list if you enjoy Hershey Park. I had a lot of fun here!

Visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania

This past Saturday, I made a trip up to Hershey, Pennsylvania. It takes me a couple of hours to drive there, so my goal was to get in before 10AM, do a couple of things in town, eat some lunch, and then go to both ZooAmerica and Hershey Park (it didn’t open until 12PM). I was successful in getting there before 10AM. It was not quite 30 degrees, so there was a nice amount of cold when walking around, especially when the wind was hitting me just right. I parked in the parking garage for The Hershey Story and Museum (free parking).

The street lights have Kisses on top, which I think is really cute.

They alternate between wrapped and unwrapped. I think it makes it fun to see.

It must be a tough decision when you have to decide if you would prefer Chocolate Avenue or Cocoa Avenue. 🙂

You can get to the Hershey Company building in about a five minute walk from the Hershey Story building. I took a picture of myself standing in front of it, but forgot to take one of just the building. They do have some energy efficient cars with their brands on it, which I enjoyed seeing.

This is the outside of the The Hershey Story.

I went to The Pantry Cafe and got myself a Peppermint Mocha frozen coffee drink. They had some nice looking treats, but my pictures didn’t turn out. The coffee drink was very good. Nice consistency, not icy at all, the peppermint was not overbearing and went well with the mocha flavor. Definitely a good place for Frappuccino type drinks. There are quite a few things you can do other than just eating at The Pantry Cafe. There is a Museum Experience, a Chocolate Lab, a Tastings Bar, Hershey Gardens and more. You have to pay for these experiences, but they get some good reviews, so I have a feeling they are worth it.

There are other things to do in the town. It’s not just Hershey Park and the hotels, but it’s also a town with residents and shops. I was focused with what I planned on doing, but you can plan a day and do things outside of the park and have fun.

I made my way over to Hershey’s Chocolate World. Since I was going to be in Hershey Park, I paid for Theme Park parking. If you just want to visit Hershey’s Chocolate World, you can park for free for up to 3 hours. Once you step inside, there are plenty of options. There are paid attractions such as 4D Chocolate Movie, Create Your Own Candy Bar, Hershey’s Unwrapped: A Chocolate Tasting Journey, and Hershey Trolley Works. But there is a food court and a huge candy store and a large store that sells Hershey Company related items (shirts, cups, ornaments, etc.).

Right now, they have their Holiday theme going, including this Holiday Chocolate House, which is a nice size.

There are a couple of places where you can buy baked goods. I didn’t purchase any, but did get some pictures just so you can see what types of goodies are available.

I thought these looked very cute. I was tempted, but was able to resist.

Since I was there before the park opened, I decided to order the Hershey’s Cocoa Pulled Pork. It comes with two sides, so I got macaroni and cheese and Cole slaw. They were both good choices. I also got the side sauces. One is Hershey’s chocolate barbecue sauce, which was VERY good. There was also a Heath Honey Mustard, which was also good. I ate more than I should have, especially since I was going to be heading into the park, but it was worth it.

After my day inside the park was done, I came back into Hershey’s Chocolate World to buy more candy than I should have. Some of the items are really good deals, and they also have some items that you can’t get in most stores. I decided to treat myself with dessert. There is a S’Mores station which looked really good, but I was focused on getting their new specialty milk shake. It’s a Kit Kat Duo shake. They’ve recently introduced the Kit Kat Mint and Dark Chocolate Duo, and they have put it into milk shake form. I haven’t had the Kit Kat bars before, and since the milk shake came with two bars, this was my first time trying them. The milk shake and the bars were delicious!

I’ll write more about Hershey Park and ZooAmerica in a separate post, but I wanted to share these things since there are other things that you can do if you don’t want to go inside a theme park and don’t feel like going on any rides. It could be a fun day just hanging out at Hershey’s Story or at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Visiting Gettysburg – Part Two

In my previous post, I mainly focused on my time visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park. Gettysburg is more than just the park. They have a nice downtown area, which reminds me of the Main Street where I live (only bigger), as well as some Historic Districts of other places I’ve visited in Maryland. Gettysburg College is close by, so this is not a city that is in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. There are plenty of sites to see in the downtown area.

I started my day at They Ugly Mug Cafe. I had been there once before and enjoyed the coffee drink, which is why I decided to go back. I ended up ordering a Frozen Mocha with peppermint added. The drink had a really nice peppermint flavor to it, and the consistency was what I enjoy with my coffee drinks. It was a good way to start the morning. I took a picture outside the store with my drink in hand in front of the sign, but the picture did not come through. The sun was blaring and my hand was not the steadiest, so the sign was a big blur.

There are quite a few places for artistic outlets, a local bakery, a modern marketplace collaborative, good food places, and more. There is a really good blend of the past and the present in this town. You can go to Dobbin House, which has been around since 1776 and is the oldest standing structure in the Gettysburg town limits. Or you can go more recent to a place like Gettysburger or Food 101. I haven’t been to either, so I can’t comment on them. I have been to Sweney’s Tavern in the Farnsworth House Inn, and would recommend the Goober Peanut Soup. You will see traditional shops as well as plenty of souvenir and Civil War themed shops, as well as some Museums and places that host Ghost Tours. Plenty of things to do once you are in town.

I didn’t get a chance to try Mr. G’s Ice Cream, but the ice cream shop and gift shop is in the historic Twin Sycamores House, which is more than 200 years old. There is a witness tree right in front of the shop as well.

After a long day of walking, I made my way to Eighty Two Cafe in Downtown Gettysburg. The baked goods are made fresh and I decided on a slice of pumpkin loaf. The bread itself had really nice flavor. It was very moist and had a really good icing on top. I decided to pair that with a pumpkin frappe. The flavor of the frappe was really good. There was a little more iciness than I prefer, but the flavor really stood out. The pumpkin flavor and the seasonings all worked really well together.

I finished my day by stopping at The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg. I really wish my legs hadn’t been hurting so much. I was moving at a snail’s pace while walking through, but could not take the energy to see all the stores. I did manage to visit the Pepperidge Farm Outlet store, which is worth it. I also visited Gertrude Hawk Chocolates and bought some Smidgens to go (but I’m waiting until visiting with family to open those up). I did get a small sample, and I enjoyed the flavor, so I’m looking forward to trying some different flavors. There was also a Jack’s Hard Cider shop, and they are pressed on site. There are enough stores and food shops that have piqued my interest, so I know I will be going back again.

There is a lot more to Gettysburg than you may realize. I am not from that area, so I’m glad that I was able to experience some of the things the town has to offer and look forward to going back again!

Visiting Gettysburg National Military Park – November 16, 2019

Yesterday, I took a trip to visit Gettysburg. I have been there once before and wanted to go back. I was originally going to visit last weekend, but I was having major issues with shin splints in my right leg and decided to wait. I expected to be walking somewhere around 10 miles, and the pain was mostly gone when I started the morning. It was a cold morning and I ended up leaving about 40 minutes later than I had originally planned. I still got there early, just not as early as I might have wanted. The drive is just over 1 hour, so it’s not too bad.

I started off by parking close to the railroad station. I had a general agenda for the day. First was to get a coffee drink at The Ugly Mug Cafe, followed by walking over to Robert E. Lee’s Headquarters. Next would be going to the battlefield, visiting General Meade’s monument, and visiting the Pennsylvania Monument. There was mention of Devil’s Den the last time I visited, so that was a thought, but it was a bit far for walking and I wasn’t sure if I would do it (I did). On my way back, I was planning on walking through the downtown area, possibly visiting the Jenny Wade House, getting another coffee drink, and then going back to the car. The final part of the Gettysburg National Military Park visit would be to head over to the museum.

I wasn’t sure if it was going to be really crowded. Even though the Battle of Gettysburg took place July 1-3, 1863, the Gettysburg Address was on November 19, 1863. I was later informed that they were expecting the crowds to be in the next weekend, so I lucked out, since it wasn’t overcrowded.

It was a bit cold when the day started (low 30s) and it was very bright and sunny. The sun wreaked havoc on my pictures, since it was at the wrong angle for some of the shots. I’ll share them anyway. This isn’t for a photography portfolio, so I don’t mind if they aren’t perfect. All of the pictures were taken with an iPhone 6 which may not last much longer (had to charge it twice while I was there).

When my day in the Park was finished, I had logged about 13 miles walking around. My legs were struggling towards the end of the day, but they made it. There are a lot of hills in the area, so it’s not just walking, but it’s going up and down hills, climbing up a couple of rocks here and there (my choice), and making stops here and there to look at landmarks. There are a lot of monuments and markers in Gettysburg. I barely touched the surface. If I was there for one week of non-stop walking, I might be able to see most of them.

There were some decisions that I might reconsider next time. I did not have any liquid with me. Other than the coffee drink early on, I didn’t have anything else to drink until I was back in the downtown area, about 4 1/2 hours later. I wore hiking boots. Most of my walking was on paved paths, which made it rougher on my feet, but there were areas where I was climbing on top of rocks, so having the boots were good for that. There is a self-guided auto tour, which is where I was doing most of my walking. It might have been easier to drive around, stop, take pictures, and go to the next. But I think I enjoyed the challenge of the walk. My shin splints started back up when I was walking between the Pennsylvania Monument and Devil’s Den. A couple of sharp pains that had me cussing under my breath. But I continued on. I really can’t complain, though. Shin splints and sore legs are nothing compared to the pain the soldiers went through while they were fighting or after they were struck. When I got back to the downtown area, I had an option to walk over to the Jenny Wade House, but it was a little more walking and there was a line, so I opted against it. That can be seen on another visit.

I’ll share some pictures and a few comments here and there. I hope you enjoy!

There are quite a few buildings that have this Marker. It would be a challenge to find them all, but it could be fun…

The C.W. Hoffman House was built around 1843.

This is General Lee’s Headquarters. It was more North than I expected, but it has been preserved well.

There are a lot of cannons all over the place, which is not surprising, but I still think it’s pretty cool to see them (even if they did not see action during the Battle of Gettysburg).

I made my way over to the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The first picture shows a number of gravemarkers that are listed as “Unknown”. There are also names on some of these as well. The other two pictures just give a small glimpse of the markers in the cemetery. There were more than 50,000 killed, wounded, captured, or missing.

The Lincoln Address Memorial is not where the actual Address was given, but it is a nice monument (especially when the sun isn’t covering it with shadows).

There are many monuments and markers.

This is the Major General George Gordon Meade Monument. He led the Union to victory.

I wanted to take a picture of the monument with the sun shining above and the monument casting a large shadow. One of the instances that the sun worked out okay.

The Copse of Trees was the focal point of Pickett’s charge during the last day of the battle.

The Pennsylvania State Memorial stands along Cemetery Ridge and was completed in 1914. This is a beautiful structure (there is much more to it than is shown here). There is a very narrow spiral staircase that allows you to get to the upper level. No problem for me on the way up, but missed a step on the way down and tweaked my left ankle. You can really see the Battlefield when you are up above, so I would recommend it if you can.

This tree talked to me while I was heading over to the Pennsylvania State Memorial. As I was getting close, I could hear some creaking from the branches. I stood underneath and could hear the crunching as the wind was blowing through the trees. It was a nice, serene moment. I took a step back for this picture, since the sun shining through seemed to capture this moment nicely.

Devil’s Den had it’s name prior to the Battle, but during the battle it was the location of many casualties.

There are crevices throughout the rock formation. Not sure what it looked like back in 1863, but it was interesting to see.

This picture is from the top of the hill, since you already saw the picture from below.

Providing a closer view of how the fencing was constructed. This is all over the place, but I think this shows the intricacies of a “simple” construction.

Not sure if you can really see this, but this was taken around noon and there was still some ice on this little puddle of water.

General Meade’s Headquarters and Barn.

Making my way back downtown, and I saw this sign. I never really think too much about town names, but Gettysburg was named for James Gettys. He purchased 116 acres of his father’s property in 1786. In the same year, he divided the land into 220 lots and held a lottery where citizens in the area could purchase the rights to one or more of those lots. Thus the beginning of Gettystown, which would be named Gettysburg in 1811.

There are “Witness Trees” in Gettysburg, which were alive during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Jennie Wade was the only direct civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg, killed by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863. She was only 20 years old. I wasn’t able to make it to the house where it happened, but was able to pass by her birthplace and where she lived when the battle began. She had gone to her sister’s house on July 1 to help her sister with a newborn baby, and was struck on the morning of July 3 while kneading dough for bread.

After making it back to my car, I made my way down to the Museum. I thought this was fascinating to see the ammunition still lodged in the tree trunk. I cannot imagine the pain that those soldiers felt when these went through their bodies.

Just a few more pictures from the Museum.

These weren’t all of the pictures. I had a few that I took that were more scenic views of the Battlefield, and some that were just too overtaken by shadows. I hope you enjoyed this. If you’ve made it this far, I thank you and would love to hear any comments or feedback you have!

Enjoying New Freedom, and Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania

Earlier in the week, I thought about a possible destination for Saturday, and I followed through with it. I took a scenic drive up to New Freedom, Pennsylvania. The drive was beautiful. I passed by some cows and some horses, which were so close that I would have been able to pet them if I was walking next to the road. I took the long way, so there were some parts of the trip where there was only 1 1/2 lanes, so I was fortunate that I was the only one on the road. There were also some spots of gorgeous scenery.

There was one part of the drive where the road was winding quite a bit, but then there was a curve to the right and it was the perfect visual spot. The road opened up a bit and there was a slight valley and then a low mountain full of trees. Seeing those trees along my sightline made my eyes happy. I was fortunate enough to drive through some small towns and very out of the way places.

My first destination was New Freedom, PA. I planned on going to the New Freedom Rail Trail Cafe. The last time I was there was about 2 1/2 years ago, when I was looking for houses (ended up getting one in Maryland, but there were some in Southern Pennsylvania that almost won me over). When I arrived at the cafe, there was a lot of hubbub going on. The town was setting up for their Fall Fest. I got there too early to stick around and see it, but I did go to the cafe.

I had wanted to get the Boxcar Tourist, but they had a special menu for Fall Fest, so I had to improvise. I’ve had the Boxcar Tourist before, and it was really good. It’s sausage gravy on biscuits with a fried egg. I ended up getting a pumpkin spice muffin and a hazelnut/chocolate coffee drink. The muffin was good. It was a bit heavier due to the pumpkin and had a slight spice flavor. I enjoyed it, but would have liked a little more nutmeg or cinnamon in there. The coffee drink was really good. I know I’ve been getting the pumpkin drinks everywhere, but I had a Nutella type coffee drink on my mind, so that’s what I went with. I ended up heading out after I was done, since I didn’t want to wait another hour or so for the Fall Fest to start. It looked like it was going to be pretty fun, though, just based on all the setup they were doing.

My next destination was The Markets at Shrewsbury. This is another Amish Farmer’s Market that is only open Thursday through Saturday, which is why this was on my agenda for today. This Farmer’s Market is huge. It looks bigger than the one in Annapolis. Although there are some similarities with the products, there are some distinct differences. I did enjoy visiting and plan on coming back again. I bought some items at the bakery, and will go back for more when the weather is cooler and the food that needs to stay cool will make the 1 hour drive back home.

I know that this picture isn’t clear, but I’m okay with that. It’s a huge building and I couldn’t capture everything at once. But I like how the sun is shining on top and the rays are coming down over the building.

These are some pictures from inside the building. The first one is just to show how deep this market goes. The other two are pictures I took at the bakery. I was tempted to buy some donuts, but was already full from the pumpkin muffin and had some other desserts in mind for purchase. There are a lot of vendors to choose from, which is why I plan on visiting again. Now, onto the bakery treats.

This first one is called Angel Food Flips. My pictures don’t do it justice, but it definitely tastes better than it looks. You’ve got the nice texture and consistency of the Angel Food cake in a taco shape, with what I believe is a whoopee pie filling on the inside and then drizzled with chocolate. This was something I haven’t seen before, so it was definitely worth the trip.

Next up is a Homemade Butter Cake. I’ve had Butter Cakes before, and they can be hit or miss. I’m not just saying this because they don’t have chocolate in them. 🙂 This Butter Cake was fantastic. The bottom layer was cooked perfectly and the top layer was a little gooey, but not so sticky that you couldn’t enjoy the bite. There was also a slight brown butter taste to it, which helped make it a more well rounded taste. Sweet, but not too sweet.

The last thing I got was a Chocolate Coffee Cake. They had several options for coffee cake, but I wanted to try this one. Sometimes a chocolate coffee cake can be too dry, especially on the chocolate layer. And when you have a huge amount of crumb topping like this one had, there is a tendency for the crumb to dry things out. This was not the case with this treat. The chocolate cake layer was moist. The crumb layer was nice and crisp on top, but it maintained it’s moisture underneath. I was able to bite through the entire coffee cake, instead of having to crunch through the top and have a crumb disintegration issue. Hopefully, you’ll understand what I’m trying to convey.

Today involved a lot of eating, but I’m okay with that. It was good food, good scenery, and good people. And as an added bonus for me, when I was driving up in the morning, “Always” by Atlantic Starr was playing. It’s been a while since I heard that song, so I was quite happy to sing along to it. And since it was a 1 1/2 lane road and I was the only one on it, it’s better that there was no one around to hear or see me while I was enjoying the music and enjoying the ride.

There are days when I get to just drive around, and I really enjoy them. I get to see places and scenery that not everyone else has a chance to see. I get to eat things and try things that others might not be able to experience. So I appreciate and enjoy these opportunities while I still have them. Stay positive!