Day 2 was all about chocolate. We spent the bulk of the day in Hershey, PA.
The girls started their day with a mug of hot chocolate. Then we went to the Hershey Museum. The big girls and BestestHusband got tickets to the Chocolate Lab to make chocolate bars. While they were learning about where chocolate comes from and how it's made, I was managing a grumpy toddler and a hungry and poop-covered infant. After a trip to the car for a feeding, cleaning, and attitude adjustment, we tried the museum again. They have some great exhibits, including a "factory" where you get to "try out" the jobs done before mechanization replaced the heavy lifting. Wear the aprons. "Roast" the beans. Move bathtubs full of chocolate. Wrap and pack the chocolate. It was a cute way to teach the girls about how the chocolate was made in the early 1900's.
They also had a cute "I spy" game to get kids to look through the artifacts of Milton Hershey's life. They had an impressive collection of artifacts, as well as info about his ongoing philanthropic endeavors. His legacy includes a school for orphans, hospital wings, much of the town of Hershey, and a solid economy of dairy farming. A chocolate that is based on a recipe of sweetened condensed milk needs a lot of milk. And being perishable, a local source requiring minimal transport is handy.
I had no idea that he was such a huge philanthropist. Apparently, he had booked passage on the Titanic, but had to change plans at the last minute. Lucky for him. I also didn't know that Hershey used to make soap and other products out of the discarded cocoa fat.
I really learned a lot, actually. The staff was knowledgeable and very engaged. They seemed to be a mix of older specialists and teen summer interns
The cafe had tasty food. The international hot chocolate tasting was delicious. The gift shop had multiple options for our obligatory Christmas ornament purchase. It was definitely a winner of a destination
Hershey's World of Chocolate was the opposite of the Museum. It was enormous. It was flashy and animated. Singing cows! People in candy character costumes. (The girls got to high-five a Jolly Rancher!) There was a free ride that showed how chocolate was made. (Singing cows! Talking chocolate bars and kisses!) Everything else required tickets. Much of the complex was a giant souvenir shop. HeyMama finally found her perfect memento keychain there. We had already done a chocolate tasting, and the girls had already made candy bars. Since we didn't have time for a trolley tour of the town of Hershey or a trip to the amusement park, we cut our losses and headed out to hit the road
We still had a lot of driving to do. LittleFritter does not love being in her car seat. Me sitting next to her helps a little. But not for long. So traveling at the end of the day is very wearying. We got off the highway to Take a break and found a family restaurant with a soup and salad buffet. It looked like a nice restaurant.
The cheese in the ham and potato soup tasted like nacho cheese. But everyone got to eat fresh veggies, and LittleFritter found a gaggle of staff to dote on her. So I call it a win-win.
We got to our hotel after 9:00 . So another night without the chance to use the pool. But we front-loaded the driving in the trip, so the days should get easier. After tomorrow. Tomorrow's our longest driving day. Wish us luck!