Friday, January 25, 2008

Chocolate World

Hershey Park -- located in Hershey, PA -- has been a part of Jen's and my life since we were youngsters. I can personally remember coming to Hershey on at least a couple of occasions when living in New Jersey to attend Regional Conferences of the LDS Church, which were held in the hockey arena where the Philadelphia Flyers' farm league team usually played. I remember Ezra Taft Benson speaking at one of these events (he must of been President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles at that point, and he subsequently presided over the church). Later, I remember (more clearly) meeting Elder Russell M. Nelson (also of the Council of the Twelve) in the lobby of the hotel (I believe the Hershey Lodge) where many of us where staying.
As neat as these experiences were, truth be told, we were much more excited about Hershey Park, a Hershey-brand theme park featuring all of the usual theme park amenities -- but with a little touch of Hershey sweetness.

Jen didn't go to Hershey Park for Regional Conferences (she was in a different Region -- probably including New York). She went just for fun (go figure). She remembers visiting the Park at least a couple of times in her younger years, and camping out both times. (I believe we also did this once as a family, although -- if I have my family history straight -- I think I experienced the event in utero.)

As a family, we have been to Hershey Park itself only once, in August 2006. (As luck would have it, work beckoned and it was consequently a relatively brief trip with active blackberrying and cellphoning.) But we have visited Chocolate World -- which isn't really in the park itself although it sits at the Park's entrance -- on numerous occasions. The latest of these was on the Martin Luther King holiday. The facilities have been upgraded a bit, but the "ride" through the "chocolate factory" remains the most significant attraction. Admission is free, it's not that far of a drive, and there is lots of chocolate. We'll probably be back in a few years.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Surprise Saturday with Grandpa Kelly

Jen was out of town this weekend, as she and a handful of friends went to Deep Creek (in Maryland's panhandle) on a little retreat sans husbands and little ones. However, as Jen was en route (and while the children were in the temporary care of their ever-gracious Willis grandparents, who live about 72 seconds away) she received a rather unexpected call from her father who, it so happened, was in our driveway.

This came as somewhat of a shock, as Jen's father lives in Bountiful, Utah (which is far away) and lately has been spending much of his time overseeing one of his company's projects in western Florida (which is a bit closer, but still pretty far). It turns out he was more-or-less in the area and decided, to our delight, to stop in for the weekend. Of course, this left Jen with some mixed emotions, as his plan was to leave on Sunday morning, prior to her return home. But father convinced daughter to follow through with her original plans, and son-in-law ultimately convinced father-in-law to stay an extra day so he could see his daughter and spend a little more time with the rest of us.

In the meantime, grandpa has made his always appreciated "monster pancakes" and two batches (and counting) of his near-famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. He also took the children (with the help of their father) to the Dutch Farmer's Market in Burtonsville, Maryland (run by a group of Amish farmers from Lancaster, PA), where, after years of searching, I finally found a cream-filled doughnut like those offered at Peter Pan Bakery in Moorestown, New Jersey. After the market, we were off to the playground at Peter's preschool.

It was a wonderful weekend for four grandchildren (and their parents) who only wish they could see their Kelly grandparents more often.

Not a bad picture, considering Abby took it.

The Dutch Farmers' Market -- before the doughnuts.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Air & Space Museum II

One of the many things that makes the Christmas/New Years season so special is that it allows us time together as a family. Whether Christmas caroling, participating in family feasts, reading books, or just watching movies, it's our view that Christmas time should be about family time.

We continued on this theme after Christmas, embarking on several small family outings during the week prior to New Years Day, including our first visit to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The biggest hit, however, was the National Air & Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center, which, unlike its much older cousin, is not located on the Mall, but out close to Dulles Airport in Virginia. A must-see for anybody interested in seeing a lot of airplanes, many of which are simply too large to fit in the museum's downtown location (such as the Enola Gay, Concorde, Blackbird, Space Shuttle, etc.), the Center is well worth the $12 parking fee. (As with other Smithsonian museums, admission is free, although that could be changing.) Some pictures follow.