Farmlands and Chocolate

I stated on my Instagram one day that when it comes to scenery I have “a type”. I love rolling hills, farmland, old buildings (preferably abandoned and falling over a bit), lots of trees and rocky cliffs are also quite nice. I was in my glory in the maritime provinces with so much character everywhere. Then we hit the states and the winding roads really took their turn making me fall in love with them. And then we hit Pennsylvania.

Have I mentioned already the road trip I took with my friend, Lisa, before I was married? We took a month and drove all around the outskirts of the mainland states, I believe they call them the lower 48 and then across Canada. Different spots from that trip have always stuck out to me and Pennsylvania was a huge favourite in my memory bank. Coming back is something I’ve wanted to do for years and it did not disappoint. Except that it was too short a visit.

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It was at this point in our trip that we reached a few days with no previously made reservations. We were so accustomed to knowing exactly where we were going that it felt a little strange when visiting around the fire in NJ and realizing we had no idea where we were going next. It was our chance to go with the flow and see what we wanted to do.

We wanted something somewhat halfway between Freehold, NJ and Pittsburgh, PA where we had our next baseball game stop. I knew I wanted to see the Lancaster area and Trish found Hershey, PA on the map. “Hershey… Do you think? Is it possible that’s the Hershey with the chocolate??” Well, IS it!! The search was on for a spot to stay close to that area. Not quite half way, but totally fine.

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Waiting for the girls to check in at the campground office.

The choice for campground was Pinch Pond just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Technically it’s 3 miles or so off the highway however really you just loop over the turnpike 2 times to end up right beside it. It’s a very well kept campground and when booking the lady offered us “buddy sites”. Clever! I really don’t know why more campgrounds don’t have that option.

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One site was a pull-thru and the other a back-in.

We were able to set up with our campers facing each other and it was awesome! We set up our picnic tables in one long table down the middle and our awning lights together made for a nicely lit area for us to enjoy. Perfect for another pancake breakfast too.

The campground pros:

  • nice laundry facility
  • buddy sites option
  • reasonably priced full hook-ups
  • pool for the kids
  • excellent base camp for the numerous things to do in that area of Pennsylvania
  • different sizes of firewood bundles to purchase

Cons:

  • close to a busy highway meant for traffic noise though not enough to deter us from going back someday
  • internet option was supposed to allow 2 hrs free for guests, but it kept telling me I already used it so no internet unless you pay
  • playgrounds could use some type of ground covering to prevent it from being just mud
  • there is a shooting range close by so every once in awhile you do get a lot of gun shots

Because we had nice short drive from NJ we arrived with time for the kids to get in the pool for a bit while I did some laundry and nursed a bit of a headache. We sure do appreciate short drive days after all the long drive days we’ve had. Especially the ones we assumed would be short and ended up way longer.

We only had one full day in eastern PA and somehow we filled it full and still had a bit of a lazy morning. Trish researched all the chocolate related activities we could possibly do in Hershey and really, we just wanted to check out the free tour at Chocolate World. And get a free chocolate at the end. I was not at all expecting what we saw driving into the city of Hershey!!

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Hershey kisses for street lights! And the amusement park was WAY bigger than I thought. Somehow all buildings were related to chocolate. They even have a building for the Chocolate Workers Union. Somehow the idea of unions and something so happy as chocolate didn’t compute in my brain. I prefer not to think about it.

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We found our way inside a very busy Chocolate World. It’s amazing how we can make so many souvenirs of something like a chocolate bar. Really. When you think about it…. kinda crazy! Of course we bought some!

As we searched through the crowds for the free tour we came for we pass into a doorway and the staff standing there says, “Have a good ride!” What?! Ride? Trish and I immediately look at each other. We missed the part of the description that said it was a ride and Trish LOVES (nope!) rides so I’m sure her heart skipped a beat or two. There were no deadly falls or tight twists and twirls so no worries. Just some singing cows, a “freaky” pig (according to my youngest) and talking chocolates. The pig might’ve been freaky, but she wanted to go again. More than likely for the free chocolate at the end. An IG sewing friend that lives in PA pointed out that the chocolates actually taste creamier there than the ones you buy in the store. I agree totally!

From there we could’ve just gone back to the campground, but I really wanted to go to the Lancaster area. And I was determined not to waste the drive on the very “un”scenic toll roads. We switched the GPS to avoid all toll roads and main highways and headed out.

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So much corn!
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Silos everywhere!
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And, of course, red brick building in every shape and size.
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This particular style of barn was seen a lot. I feel like there’s a story behind them.

 

Of course, we’re not disappointed at all with what we see. Even our route through Lancaster was beautiful. I noticed everyone here gets a covered porch. Even when the front door is 2’ from the road you get a covered porch! I love it.

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When people want to see the Amish countryside the touristy place to go is Intercourse. And can I just say what everyone has thought? Who decided that was a good name for a town? I’d google it, but I’m afraid of what will show up. The comments that were made/texted between the Yanke and Herrera adults were all what we call “saved for the secret blog”.

Secret blog, you ask? You would need a special password and a healthy sense of humour. And we’d actually have to write one. But if we did it would mostly star Erick! HAHA!! And when he reads this he’s going to shake his head at me as if he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Seriously though. Our secret blog content is pretty freaking hilarious and those who know us know I’m telling the truth.

Anyway, back to Intercourse.

We found our way down the back roads and saw lots of farms and the tell tale signs of the buggies and Amish lifestyle. Seeing the men doing the fieldwork with the horses somehow felt so right. Not that I’m about to sell our car though. At one point I was all excited and pointed out a buggy to the girls only to get close and see it was just a bunch of tourists. And then you have to ask yourself how much the Amish love being watched and made into a tourist attraction. There’s probably some mixed feelings on that.

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Because of our longer drive out we arrived in Intercourse a bit late. I feel I need to reword that. We arrived at our destination when stores were already starting to close. I just missed a fabric store, but we did manage to walk around the Kettle Kitchen Village and it was a flashback to my last visit here when the exact same thing happened (arriving too late to enjoy seeing much). So, two trips to this area and I still haven’t seen more than 2 stores! Still, I was able to find some souvenirs of the delicious sort and the girls milked a cow!

While we were enjoying our little jaunt out to the southeast corner of the state, the Yanke’s were out enjoying their own fun with a game of mini golf. It was an unintentional stop, but those really are the best kind.

The next day our drive was even shorter than our last and getting further from the east coast we were more confident that traffic wasn’t going to surprise us and slow us down. We took our time and advantage of a 2:00 check-out time (another pro for the campground) and went to visit a pond with the kids while the guys hitched up the wagons. Or trailers.

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We hopped in the cars and headed west. Through the Appalachians we went and I think we all marvelled at how must faster it is to go through mountains as opposed to around and over them as we did in Ontario a few weeks earlier!

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I think it’s so cool how the vines coat the trees.

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And just around the corner we arrived at our next stop. But that’s a different post.
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