Our last morning in New York began with tears.
Emma was a little sad when we woke up, got all of our bags on our backs, and began the long walk down to the ferry station. “But I do not want to leave New York,” she kept saying. We assured her that we were going on to a destination that would be every bit as exciting as the city, but she was totally unconvinced. She continued to look depressed as we bought our tickets, got on the ferry, and made our way over to New Jersey.
Then, there were tears. “But I want to LIVE in New York!,” she kept wailing. “But you don’t have a job there, Emma,” Ana told her. (Don’t you wish you had a big sister like Ana?) “I don’t care!,” Emma sobbed. On and on she continued as we got off the ferry, paid for our parking, and got all of our luggage back into the rental car.
We wanted one last picture of the girls and the NYC skyline, and we weren’t going to let a sobbing, hysterical (then) seven year old keep it from us. So, we did this picture.
Yes, we’ve had to do the same type of picture at Walt Disney World for the past two years because Emma sobs when we leave the Magic Kingdom, too. See?
Of course, I’m usually pretty inconsolable as well, but in New Jersey, I was too focused on getting as far away from the traffic as possible to be even a little bit sad. (For real, y’all. Do you know that half the outbound lanes become INBOUND lanes during rush hour? And they’re full of buses, taking commuters into the city! How many people can fit on Manhattan?!)
All that said, we got on the road and headed towards Pennsylvania. Wes and I had already decided that we’d stop somewhere for breakfast once we got past traffic, but once we got past traffic, there was NOTHING. “We’re going to starve,” I told him, just as he found a gas station. The girls and I went in while he got gas, hoping to find a convenience store with some donuts or something, but all we could find were vending machines. I had a bunch of change, and after just giving it a cursory glance, I concluded that I could get everyone something out of the machines. The selection was very limited, however, so Ana ended up with Cheez-its and Emma picked Cool Ranch Doritos. For breakfast. Just getting them prepared early on for life in a college dorm.
By this point, Wes came in, saw what we were doing, and said, “Oh, yay. Breakfast.” I waved my change at him and told him to take his pick of fine delicacies. Once I went to put the change in the machine, though, I discovered that all I had left were Canadian coins. Guess what? These vending machines were having none of that.
“I guess we’re not eating,” Wes concluded as Ana and Emma continued chowing down.
“Guess not, Pastor,” I said, chalking this up to Mommy Martyrdom. (You know you do it, too…)
We got back on the road, determined to just wait until lunch since the girls had already eaten and we were only a couple of hours out from Hershey. Not two exits later, in the middle of nowhere, we were seeing signs for Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme (?!), and all kinds of places, which was a source of great hilarity to us both. Every time we’d pass another sign, we’d start laughing so hard that Ana and Emma finally started telling us that we were being silly because it wasn’t that funny. In retrospect, it wasn’t, but I can still hear Wes saying, “Starbucks! NO! Why?! WHY?!” while I responded with, “Do NOT stop! I don’t care how hungry you are! Keep going, man!”
This meant that our arrival in Hershey was even more anticipated than it should have been. Why? Because there was a food court in the middle of Chocolate World. Oh, yeah. We marched the girls past all of the fun chocolate and got in line for some very bland food offerings, all of which we proclaimed were delicious, thanks to how hungry we were.
Once we were full, we headed over to take the chocolate tour.
A couple of years ago, Ana did a school project on Milton Hershey. This was why, when we first started planning this vacation, she lobbied for a stop in Hershey. Because of all the research she’d done, she fancied herself an expert both on chocolate and on Milton Hershey. Along the walkways for the line to the chocolate tour ride there were lots of interesting facts and stories about the company and its history. When we were there, though, there were no lines for the ride. But because Ana was with us, we went through and read every last detail and story. (Emma was about to self-combust in her exuberance to get over to the ride as Ana would say, “Oh, I knew this!” and read us yet another factoid about Milton Hershey.)
That said, we did eventually get on the ride, where the song, “it’s the milk chocolate, ooohhhh-whhhoooo!” was firmly implanted in our brains, where it shall remain the rest of our days. What makes a Hershey bar different from all other candy bars? “It’s the milk chocolate, oooohhhh-whhoooo!” There you go. We rode it a second time, then, because once was not enough for Ana and Emma.
From there, we went to the Create Your Own Chocolate (oooohhhh-whhoooo!) Bar where we got to create our own chocolate bars. Yep. Just like the promo material said. The girls really got into it. So did Wes, even though they made him wear a hairnet on his beard. Can’t win them all, I guess.
After a quick dessert break (chocolate covered everything, basically), we went and did some shopping. We had so much chocolate in our bags that Wes rightly concluded that we needed to get the car cooled off before taking any of it out of the building. So, he went to do that while I got to ride the chocolate tour ride (ooohhhhh-whhhoooo!) yet again with the girls. “Look!,” Ana said to me, pointing to the three girl cows who sang the theme song. “It’s you, me, and Emma! And Papi is that boy cow that keeps on talking!” Excellent.
We waved goodbye to the cows just as Wes pulled back to the front of Chocolate World with a mostly cooled off car. Even as we were driving away, Ana told us that this had been a dream come true.
I’m so glad. Ooooohhhh-whhhhoooo!
Up next… we go off-roading with the Amish. Oh, yeah.