Sunday, June 25, 2017

Explore America Series: Central Pennsylvania- Harrisburg, Shamokin, Hershey

So far this year, we have been to Tombstone, Bisbee, and Sedona Arizona and San Antonio Texas.  Most of our travels have been outside the US, but so far this year, we have focused on the US, so I decided to dedicate specific posts to Exploring America.

Cody wanted to go to Philadelphia for his vacation, so we planned out 2 weeks in Pennsylvania (mostly:-)).  In 3 days, we have covered quite a lot of central PA, and these are our travels:

Harrisburg, PA- the Capitol of the Keystone state, was far nicer that we expected.  We had always heard that PA was part of the rust belt.  If so, they have remade themselves so well!  The Capitol building and surrounding area are just beautiful- with all the old buildings re-purposed, the area around the capitol gentrified.  Whatever your opinions of gentrification (mine is support!), it creates really pleasant traveling.

The Pennsylvania Capitol!

Dome of the capitol.  This doesn't really capture the beautiful green tint of the dome

Selfie with the interior dome!

One of the many beautiful lamps throughout the capitol

There are 2 hallways off the main lobby- the hallways are just beautiful!

Looking down on the main lobby from the 4th floor, through statuary

Park art!!

I thought these colorful old buildings made for a gret picture.

Shamokin, PA: birthplace of Rich's father- April 17,1902!  This is a coal mining town, so has seen better days.  At it's peak, 29,000 people called it home.  Now- 7,000.  The town is run down and could really be a destination with gentrification.  The streets are tree lined, the homes are stately old turn of the century style, and an old down town that could become a destination.  Sadly, the homes are sagging and in need of paint and refurbishing, the trees and bushes really need trimming and cutting, the downtown is boarded up.  But memorials to war heroes are everywhere, and the people we met were quite nice.  There is hope though- signs and murals looking to the past, and with hope with Trump's focus on coal, are everywhere.  Sadly, their view is to the past, not the future.  It reminds me of the turn of the last century when the horse and buggy were on their way out, but people stared down locomotives and automobiles, saying, "they won't last".  Very unfortunate.

Ukrainian orthodox church

Glory for the past

We found Rich's fathers birth record in the Hall of Records (in the very cute town of Sunbury-the county seat)

Rich and Cody at the courthouse

Hershey, PA- what a fun place!  I actually expected something like Downtown Disney:  A self-contained town with Hershey-oriented shops and attractions you walk to.  Turns out, it is a fully functioning town and the attractions are mostly to the side.  But the attractions are really great.

Milton Hershey was a visionary- he provided health care, pensions, paid days off and sick leave, and housing for his employees.  He encouraged home-ownership, and helped when needed.  He set standards for maintaining the homes and the town, and used locally sourced ingredients for his chocolates and candies.  (except the chocolate- that came from the tropics:-)).  The result is a beautifully maintained town with everything that makes a town great- including safety!

We did not go to the Hershey Park with 13 roller coasters, including a wooden coaster from the late 1800's.  We did go to the Hershey Story, a museum of Milton Hershey, and to Hershey World, which is a whirling tangle of all things Hershey filled with LOTS of people!

Hershey Story:  A museum of Milton Hershey- very interesting and worth a walk through.  They have a special interactive exhibit of different jobs in the chocolate plant, from making the chocolate, pressing the bars and kisses, wrapping, and shipping.  At each station, you punch your card and a bas-relief image becomes a souvenier.

Hershey Park roller coasters

The old mill, no longer in use.  The new factory is about a mile away and is very modern.  But nostalgia wins:-)

As you enter the town- yard art

Lamp posts are Hershey's kisses!

One of many sweet desserts

An original Hersheys Kiss wrapping machines.  Before, they were wrapped by hand.


We had to goof off:-)

The newest shipping magnate:-)

Hershey World:  forget the 4D experience, unless you are a kid.  While I usually love 4D, this was too childish for me.  But do take the Chocolate Tour!  Sitting in little chocolate cars, you are taken through this fantastic ride showing and explaining the making of chocolate- it is really great!  Then we took the trolley tour- what a fun thing it was!  It took you on a tour of the town, which is interesting, but they have these character actors that get on and off, telling different stories of different times, different people that lived and worked and built the town!  It is corny, but there is lots of free chocolate and quite fun.

4D glasses

How much do I love Chocolate?....

Let me count the ways:-)

From the 2nd floor of HersheyWorld, all things Hershey!

A plug for the central valley!!!

The Hershey Hotel- What a beautiful hotel!!!!!!

The ceiling was painted like an evening sky!

The decor: Spanish (our favorite!)

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