So this was a mini vacation to Hersheypark over the course of a weekend – so this will be a rather short post. We took off from our house in the Bronx headed due west, towards Reading, Pennsylvania. Now, we tried to book an affordable hotel closer to Hersheypark, but that didn’t pan out. So, we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Reading, right next door to Reading Regional Airport.
Now, you would think that would be a downside – who on earth would want to stay in a hotel right next to an airport?! Well, me and my daughter love planes. I once attempted to attain my PPL but was eventually dissuaded by the exuberant costs of getting a PPL. Perhaps later on in life. But I digress – my daughter also loves planes (and fast cars, go figure – took after her daddy). As for noise – there was near no noise at all. The glass at this Holiday Inn Express had to be thick, because we could see the planes, but couldn’t hear them. Also helps that it was mostly small single engine prop planes, we saw no jets. That being said, we fell in love with how laid back and relaxing the town is. It also helped that there was a Starbucks within a short drive of the hotel.
Now, on our first day there (Friday) we just chilled in the hotel and explored the town. We always try to locate nearby points of interest: Starbucks (or other coffee shops), small grocery stores, and a pharmacy or two. Why? Bare necessities. We found a nice little strip mall on State Hill Road and Berkshire Boulevard (from the Holiday Inn Express, take the 183 southbound to the 12 southwest bound, to the 422 southwest bound and get off at the State Hill Road exit). This strip mall became our “go to” destination whenever we needed anything – a Starbucks, Taco Bell, Burger King, and a Rite Aid in one place? Sold! There was also a pretty decent Thai place – Thaiwat. We ordered from here once – and would order again whenever we’re back in Reading. As for the other days – we ordered pizza delivered to the hotel, but I completely forgot the name of the place we ordered from.
Hersheypark we did on Saturday, and boy was that fun. By now our daughter was old enough to fully enjoy most rides, and she had a ton of fun. We were absolutely tired by the end of the day. Highly recommended if you’re ever on the east coast!
Now, on Sunday we were to head back home. BUT, we had a pit stop to make 🙂 Dutch Wonderland. Our daughter had a ton of fun a Hersheypark – but as with Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire, there were some rides that she was either just big enough for (read: big enough to fit, not big enough to enjoy) or others that she wasn’t allowed to ride at all. Dutch Wonderland on the other hand was a much smoother experience, and much more catered to the under 3 crowd. We had a ton of fun here – particularly because our daughter had fun – finally. We stayed until around 4pm that day, and did most of the rides. Since we had a short drive home (about 3 hours all said and done), it was a good bookend to our small weekend vacation. Rating? Would do so again (and again).
Up to this vacation, we mostly did short drives. Two hours here, three hours there – stretching to three and a half hours with traffic. Never had either of us been to Myrtle Beach, or South Carolina. My wife though, lived in Atlanta, Georgia for a short while – so she knew the south. I, on the other hand, had always been a Northeast boy.
This was a hard departure from previous trips – a ten and a half hour drive. We took off later than we expected, which only compounded time issues. As planned, we were to take off at 6am – only to take off at 8am. Now, this wouldn’t have been too bad…but we had to make a pitstop in Manhattan.
We made our way down – Starbucks in hand. After approximately two and a half hours of driving on I-95 south, we reached our first pitstop: Maryland House Rest Stop in Aberdeen, Maryland. We picked up some food, and a toy for the munchkin, used the rest rooms – and off we were again. The Maryland House Rest Stop surprised us – we weren’t used to rest stops of that size – it was huge.
This time we were headed to another rest stop – the Virginia Welcome Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This was also another two and a half hours away from the Maryland House. For this one, it was purely a bathroom break.
While we had taken day trips to locales here and there prior to the birth of our daughter in 2012, this vacation to Boston in July 2013 counted as our first official family vacation. We left our house in the Bronx around 8:30am, heading towards Brookline. Brookline is a town in Norfolk County Massachusetts just south west of the famous Back Bay. We planned to make the most of our first trip to Boston: the famous Duck Boat Tour, the Museum of Science, and catching a game at Fenway Park. Yes, we’re from the Bronx but are Mass fans across the board: Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics – and Revolution. With tickets and itinerary in hand, we piled into our rented 2012 Chevy Equinox and off we were.
We had planned a small pitstop for breakfast and Orem’s Diner in Wilton, CT – just north of Norwalk, CT. Absolutely the best fried calamari around, or so we had heard. Unfortunately, we were unable to go this time around – though, on our day trip to Lawrence, MA for a birthday in August, we did stop here and were proven correctly: best fried calamari. We ended up grabbing lunch at a McDonald’s and going from there. Our drive was fairly uneventful, and we got to our Holiday Inn Express in Brookline just before 1pm. Not bad for a pitstop here and a pitstop there. We then shucked all of our stuff into our hotel room, and grabbed a cab (thanks to Hailo) over to Fenway Park.
We were set to watch the Red Sox vs San Diego Padres game at 1:45pm on July 4th. We ended up winning 8-2, and had a great time. Granted, the munchkin was not having it with the heat that day (high of 94F).
With our first Red Sox game under our belts, we headed back to our hotel to cool off and relax for the evening. One thing you’ll notice with us on vacation – contrary to most people on vacation, we try to do at most 2 to 3 things a day, or less. After all, a vacation is supposed to be relaxing – not a mad rush to see 50 things in one day. At least, for us.
The day after, we drove up to Lawrence, MA – where we picked up two family members and drove up to Salem, New Hampshire. This is not the “Witches” Salem – rather, we visited a child friendly amusement park here – Canobie Lake Park. Rather unfortunately, our daughter was still a bit too young for the majority of the rides here. First time parents, and all.
The next couple of days we did the Boston Duck Tour, where we saw quite a few places. But first, our seats were right behind the driver, so we had a fantastic time:
We were treated to quite a few sights…but me being me, and knowing my sophomoric humor – this made perfect sense for a photo op: General Hooker Entrance (go on, chuckle):
Right opposite General Hooker Entrance (heh) is the Old State House (and current State Library). We also had the pleasure of seeing the oldest church in Boston – Old North Church. Though, I wasn’t able to get a clear shot of it.
Speaking of old – we saw the Old City Hall
and old Trinity Church in Copley Square – which was destroyed in 1870 to relocate it, and rebuilt by 1872 on a lot enclosed by four public streets – the only such locale that offered this amount of visibility to the church. Later that same year however, the Great Fire of Boston burned the second church down. A carved granite stone from the facade of the burned church is preserved to be installed in the cloister wall – which can be seen from the Clarendon street entrance. By 1876, the newly rebuilt building (as seen) is finished.
And lastly, in our tour of Old – Ol’ Ironsides – USS Constitution. Now, a history lesson courtesy of Wikipedia (Remember to donate to support this wonderful archive of human knowledge and history):
USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy, named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America. Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Constitution was launched in 1797, one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed. Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy’s capital ships, and so Constitution and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. Constitution was built in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts at Edmund Hartt’s shipyard. Her first duties with the newly formed U.S. Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.
Constitution is most noted for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships: HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane, and Levant. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of “Old Ironsides” and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping. She continued to serve as flagship in the Mediterranean and African squadrons, and circled the world in the 1840s. During the American Civil War, she served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy. She carried American artwork and industrial displays to the Paris Exposition of 1878.
Constitution was retired from active service in 1881, and served as a receiving ship until designated a museum ship in 1907. In 1934, she completed a three-year, 90-port tour of the nation. Constitution sailed under her own power for her 200th birthday in 1997, and again in August 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over Guerriere.
Prior to our Duck Tour, we took a small walk through of the Museum of Science in Boston. We had a wonderful time. Although, we did not take any pictures. Also, our munchkin was far too young to truly enjoy and understand all the wonderful stuff there. Only reason we went was because we had time to kill before loading our Duck Boat right outside the museum, but it was totally worth it. The cafeteria at the MoS is pretty good too.
The day after, we took in a bit more sightseeing – though, from a bit further up: The Skywalk at the Prudential Tower, Boston.
The rest of the time we spent mostly driving around looking for food. We also got lost in Cambridge…also looking for food. We love Boston, and always try to make it back at least once every two years.
Our drive back was fairly also uneventful thankfully.