May 29-June 19 - Hershey, PA
We like the Hershey area a lot. The rolling countryside is absolutely beautiful, and the 1000 Trails Hershey preserve is one of the best in the system. Plus, Derry Presbyterian Church in Hershey is an exceptional church. If we were East Coast kind of people, we'd probably spend more time here. We'd spent two weeks here last fall, so this time we tried to be tourists at places we'd missed the last time. Plus, we did a lot of lying about.
When we arrived, the freshly-planted corn on the surrounding farms was just beginning to sprout. By the time we left, some of it was over 3 feet tall. Looks like we used up a lot of spring these three weeks. The weather was almost always near-perfect, mid-80's daytimes, around 70 at night, but with a few days approaching 100. A couple of nights, we watched the severe weather warnings coming closer and closer, but we never had anything really bad. One evening coming home, we started to see signs that it had rained some. And there was lots of tree debris in the streets. We checked the weather radar, and found that a small storm cell less than a mile across had developed, dumped almost 1.25 inches of rain on our area, and then dissipated, all in about 30 minutes. Fascinating.
Curiously, the last three 1000 Trails parks we've visited (including Hershey), we managed to park in the exact same spaces as our previous visits. We must be turning into creatures of habit. (grin)
If you do a Google for "Pennsylvania Hermit", you'll turn up the story of William Wilson. Long story (which you might find interesting - Wikipedia Link), the end of which has William largely shunning society and taking up residence in a cave near Hummelstown, PA. Today, the Hermit's Cave is commercially operated as Indian Echo Caverns, a nice cave tour. On the day we visited, there were just four of us in the tour, although the groups before and after ours had about 15 people each. Anyhow, we got to see where William lived (and finally died), one cute little brown bat, and a bunch of neat cave formations. Plus it was a cool 52 degrees down there, while much warmer topside.
Philadelphia is less than 90 miles from the RV Park, and we'd never been. It's hard to tour a whole big city in just a day, so we tend to buy a commercial tour that guarantees we'll get the high spots. Of course, the big draw is Independence Square, with the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and all that. But we also visited the Betsy Ross house and the wonderful Rodin museum, filled with sculptures. One whole gallery is devoted to sculptures of Balzac alone. If Balzac looked anything like some of those sculptures, he must have had a challenging social life. Check out the slideshow for our pictures from Philadelphia.
After considerable research, we've begun the process of converting our vehicles to synthetic lubricants, starting with the PT Cruiser. Hoped for benefits include some modest improvements in gas mileage, a cooler running engine and transmission, maybe some more power, and considerably fewer oil changes. We settled on AMSoil synthetic products, and now expect to change our oil annually rather than 4-5 times a year. We wish AMSoil were more generally available and not sold through an Amway-type organization, but the products themselves are well regarded. We finally found a shade tree mechanic who both sold the oil and would do the change. Interesting experience and conversations. Maybe Mr Obama was right. We also finally found a Ford dealer who had the necessary parts to resolve a factory recall on the motorhome, so had that done. It's been almost a year since we got the first recall notice for a potentially incendiary cruise control switch. Before a replacement part was available, the recommended fix was to disconnect the cruise control, and we didn't consider that to be an option!
When we were here last fall, we indulged ourselves at several of the ice cream shops in the area, all of them wonderful. This time, we did most of our ice creaming in the RV Park company store, where clerks Janice and Debbie dished up a wonderful assortment of flavors. We even were able to complete two of their "buy 7 get one free" cards. Hard to argue with free ice cream.
Other Hershey area finds were the delightful Cafe Campbelltown (just re-opened after a fire a year ago), the vast Roots Country Market near Manheim, open every Tuesday, with everything imaginable for sale, and Lebanon Bologna, a smoky, sweet salami-type sausage famous in these parts. Googling any of the above should get you more info, if you're interested.
From here, we head north into the Catskill Mountains of New York. We expect to see many new (to us) things.
There are about 110 pictures in our slideshow for these three weeks in the Hershey area. You'll find them here.