Chocolate is a girl's best friend

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Where I stayed
Red Roof Inn, Manassas, VA
What I did
Hershey Chocolate Factory, Hershey Park

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Sunday, April 15, 2012

    Hershey, Pennsylvania. A name synonymous with childhood happiness, indulgence, and the scent of chocolate filling the air. A perfect first stop for my first road trip ever with my best friend in the spring of 2012!

    Tracy (the best friend) and I loaded up the car in the early early morning of the Sunday of our school's spring break. We had been planning this road trip for months since almost all of our friends were going on a school sponsored trip to Europe. Why should they have all the fun?!
We threw our small suitcases in the trunk, and resting on blankets in the back seat of my Honda Civic was a cooler loaded with ice, drinks, cold cuts, fruit, everything possibly necessary for surviving a long drive. 
 
    We set off at about 6am from my sleepy Connecticut town and hit Hershey around 11 (after stops and coffee). One of our first stops on the way was one of the best parts of the whole trip. We were STARVING after only eating granola bars at 7am so I whipped out a pack of Hillshire Farms sliced ham we had brought and we sat on he trunk of my car eating right out of the package. We definitely got some strange looks for that one but were we embarrassed? Not even a little bit.
    
    Finally after a couple more hours, we arrived in Hershey, PA! You couldn't miss this place for the world. The name of the town was everywhere, on signs, on the hillside approaching the park, everywhere!! We parked (for a pretty high parking fee might I add) bought our tickets and headed straight for the chocolate factory for our "tour". If you haven't been it is a slow ride down a track, with narration about the process of making Hershey chocolate and a little bit about the history of the brand. Though it wasn't exhilarating, it was a cute little ride and at the end you get a free sample of chocolate, so who can complain!

    The best part about Hershey, I think, was the rides. Being a roller coaster fanatic, I was blown away by Fahrenheit (a double loop coaster), the Comet, and ESPECIALLY the Storm Runner. The last one is this amazing magnetized launch coaster that shoots you from 0-72 mph in SECONDS! Even more impressive than the ride itself? The at least 85 year old woman who entered through the handicap entrance with a doctor's note to ride the coaster! The ride itself was amazing, though I was so shaken up after I wondered how that old lady could do it. I want to be like her when I'm that age I think. 

    Hershey not only has chocolate and rides, it has a little zoo. Trace and I are kids at heart and absolutely love the zoo. This one features a pretty decent variety of animals, but the two of us were pretty exhausted so much of what I remember from the zoo was sitting on a bench watching caribou graze on the hill. 

    My dad very generously gave me some compensation for food, so after we had enough of watching the animals graze, we decided to get some sustenance of our own! A barbecue stand ended up being our lunch choice and to be honest, my pulled pork was REALLY good. Park food can be disgustingly expensive but I remember being both satisfied with the food and the cost of the meal. It made up for the cost of parking that's for sure.

     So our day at Hershey ended up being full and fun and we finally set out at around 4:30 for Manassas, VA, the location of our five star hotel (aka Red Roof Inn Manassas). As the sun began to set and the mountains began to appear, another one of my absolute favorite road trip moments happened. 
    
The two of us kept pointing at the sunset commenting on its beauty...we wanted to stop and savor it before it was too late (or before I crashed due to lack of focus on the road). So, a couple miles later I saw my opportunity, threw my right blinker on and turned directly off the road facing an open field with the mountains on the horizon and the setting sun in the background. 

Music still blasting in the car, we got out and sat on the hood just staring at the pink and orange sky when Tracy all of a sudden remembered the bubbles she had packed! The next half hour at least was spent the two of us blowing bubbles, taking pictures, and taking in the amazing scenery. I felt like I was in a car commercial with my Civic as the star of an off-roading adventure (okay we were maybe five feet off the road but still!). It was one of those moments that is utterly unplanned and utterly amazing.

That about wraps up the Hershey, PA portion of the Great Road Trip of 4/12!
Next entry? Manassas and Washington DC!

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