We've lost a lot of vacation areas to location casualties and we were really skimming the bottom of the bucket for a semi-local spot to celebrate our seventh anniversary this past weekend. We could have gone to the beach except that Josh didn't want to go to the beach off-season. We looked at a town in West Virginia when we went out to visit some friends in Shenandoah but feared that we'd be bored after a day or two of touring the seventeen churches on Main Street in the seemingly most devout town in America.
Right as we were in the throes of settling on a staycation, I spoke with this woman at a party who told me that they had just been to Hershey, Pennsylvania. "It's fabulous," she said. "All you do is eat chocolate and go to the spa."
Which sounded like a fine idea.
So we dropped off the twins at my parent's house (thanks, mum and dad!) and drove the two hours up to Hershey. Our goals for the weekend read like a Chili Pepper's album except replace the "blood" and "magik" with "sleep" and "read." Which sounds infinitely less interesting now that I've written that sentence.
When we got there, we ate lunch and then collapsed in bed only to be awakened by the suckiest dad in the world and his howling elementary-aged child (seriously, I can handle the squalling baby who doesn't know proper hotel etiquette but I have no qualms about beating senseless a ten year old who wakes me up from my afternoon nap).
Bill at the front desk became my favourite person in the world when he switched our room away from poorly negotiating dad ("um, sweetie, you got to stop screaming. I want to hear an apology. I don't think that was a real apology. I want to hear it again. Sweetie, you've got to stop screaming"). We saw Rachel Getting Married which was fantastic but extremely depressing. Our evening was pretty much about lounging around and drinking coffee and watching bad television.
In the morning, we rolled out of bed close to noon and headed over to Chocolate World where these characters will forever haunt my nightmares.
We saw the 3-D movie because I am such a sucker for a 3-D film. I have dragged Josh to no fewer than 874 3-D movies over the course of our marriage. And this was one of the finest. I was the only person in the theater screaming when the Whoppers shot out of the cannon.
It was in the moments right before the doors opened to the 3-D movie that Josh commented, "we are the only people here without children." And while you probably already thought about this fact the moment I mentioned Hershey, Pennsylvania, it literally didn't occur to us how child-infested this town would be until we were trapped in the theater lobby with twenty other families and their large broods.
Apparently we forgot about that whole children and candy marriage.
But here is the interesting part: Milton Hershey and his wife were infertile. After a few years of trying, they decided to live child-free (not that they had many other choices back in the early 1900's) and they founded a school with their tremendous fortune. The school still exists today and houses 1500 students. Their tuition, room, health care, clothing, and food are all covered by the Hersheys.
So how did this infertile couple come to create a town that is so incredibly child-focused? An amusement park and zoo. A children's garden and chocolate. An enormous school. The town literally revolves around children. Wasn't it exquisitely painful for them regardless of how much joy the school brought them? It is this strange mixture where there are these open nods to their infertility all over the town right next to these child-focused exhibits. Of course we'd not only randomly choose the most child-infested place in the world BUT also the most infertility-drenched one as well.
We went up to the school after Chocolate World and stood overlooking the park. I love amusement parks even though I don't like going on rides. It was raining and the park didn't seem to be open, but it was really beautiful to see the roller coasters and Ferris Wheels peeking out over the fencing.
We read by the fire at the Hershey Lodge and ate our way through the several pounds of chocolate that we picked up at the Chocolate World gift shop. If I look sleepy in this photo it's because...well...because I was sleepy reading Elizabeth McCracken's memoir.
Scattered throughout was a lot of sex. What? We're all adults here. We were celebrating our anniversary--what do you think we were doing? Playing Scrabble?
Now we are back and I am trying to recreate the chocolate-balsamic vinaigrette we had at dinner on our last night there. I'll post the recipe once I figure it out.
I am still in love with Josh after seven years of marriage. He is my heart and bones. He is the reason I bake cookies (because how else do you express the sweetness someone brings into your life?). He is the master of the paddle boat, the giver of positions, and he will always split the extra Reece's Whipps he swiped. There is no one else in the world I want to wake up with every day and no one else in the world who will let me start discussing all of my messy feelings at 11 p.m. when he wants to watch the Daily Show. I love you.
Oh--and just to prove that y'all are never far from my heart, as I was peeing at Chocolate World, I was thinking about how much Julie would love this toilet because it sends a clear message to use your hand to flush instead of your foot. Don't say I never brought you back anything.
Fine, fine, I'll figure out a way to disseminate some chocolate too. Not that you want it after looking at this toilet.