Thursday, June 15, 2017

Girls' vacay - 2017

I am back (as of late yesterday afternoon) from a vacation with my girls.  It was wonderful to have six days with them – just me and them…my girls, all to myself.  I’m a bit greedy like that…or maybe that is me being selfish.  I don’t care – it is whatever it is.

Early Friday morning, we loaded up and headed for Weston, West Virginia for our first stop – the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  The building has a very long and interesting history.  The building and grounds are huge – it’s hard to imagine the need for so many beds and rooms to store “crazy” people.  Of course, not everyone who was put there was mentally-ill.  Long ago, husbands could commit their wives for a variety of ridiculous reasons.  There is a separate building on the grounds behind the big stone building that was used only for criminally insane.  Also, we learned that during the times when lobotomies were common, according to hospital records, a famous surgeon (I forget his name) came three times per week and did an average of 100 lobotomies on each visit…for several years.  What amazed me most of all was that the place was open and a functioning hospital until 1989 when it was finally replaced with a more modern hospital in Weston.  We toured parts of four floors and some of the building for the criminals.

Directly in front - with some construction happening.
Center and left side - right side looks the same except it has mature trees in front.

After our tour in the sleepy little town of Weston, we drove another 4.5 hours to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  We crossed through some beautiful mountains and scenic views.  I had never visited those parts of the country (northern West Virginia, central Pennsylvania, and southern Maryland) – very pretty.

The next day, we drove a short distance to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to visit Chocolate World.  This is something both Erin and Emily had been begging to do for quite some time.  We learned how chocolate is made, and did a taste testing thing that was interesting.  There’s actually quite a bit of science (and art) that goes into chocolate making, because cocoa beans pick up flavors from the plants that grow around them.  We were given small bars of chocolate and a wheel of flavors to consider.  People in the audience voted for flavors they tasted in the chocolate – flavors like tobacco, cheese, cherry, banana, leather, wood, cinnamon, pepper, and many others.  Other than chocolate tasting, the most exciting part of the day was standing in line with a couple who were high out of their minds on something.  Sadly, they had two young boys with them.  The family was removed by park security.

At Chocolate World
Emily fulfills a fantasy.  

The next morning, Sunday, we took a train (Amtrak) from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.  It’s a short train ride – less than two hours.  The trip was great – going and returning.  I’m a fan of Amtrak.  

Philadelphia was not a great place to visit (my impression, and opinion).  For one, the streets are narrow, the sidewalks are narrow, and there are just too many people.  Traffic moves fast, there are lots of cars honking, and the cars drive close to sidewalks (because space is so tight).  Everything is expensive in Philadelphia.  Sanitation is not good – lots of smelly garbage and trash on the streets. Worst of all, it was beastly hot (mid 90s), and with all the asphalt and concrete and people – it was pretty miserable.

But...we had some fun.  I arranged an after-hours private tour of the Mütter Museum for us, which was a long-time fantasy of all my girls (and really, the only reason we were in Philadelphia).  They loved it – it was the highlight of our vacation.  Also, there was a Chinese Lantern Festival set up in a park not far from our hotel.  That was a wonderful surprise.  We visited that and had a nice time.  Our hotel was located on the riverfront of the Delaware River.  On our last night, we walked out on a pier across the street to get a better look at the river.  We made our way to the end of the pier where we saw some people sitting around, but we didn’t really think much about it…until fireworks began.  It was a nice show that we got to see, completely by unplanned accident.  After that, we walked on down the river to Dave & Busters – a restaurant that has a huge adult game room.  Loads of fun!  We played a Walking Dead game where we killed zombies with cross bows.  We also played 4-person air hockey, and some other games.  

We saw the Liberty Bell (of course!!!).  
We walked past Constitution Hall.  
We enjoyed the Chinese Lantern Festival.

The coy blowing bubbles was one of my favorites.
Lots of color!!
A glimpse of City Hall - my favorite building (from an architectural perspective).
Walking out on the Race Street Pier.  

On our last day together, we caught a very early train back to Harrisburg.  Gratefully, the long drive home from Harrisburg was uneventful.  We got to our house around 5:30 PM.  Sarah had to get all the way home last night, so we unloaded the car, and she left us for another 90-minute drive (thereabouts) to get to her house.  Erin will go back to Louisville tomorrow morning, and Emily is home for the summer.

Someone left early yesterday afternoon for a conference near Weston (where we had visited on the first day).  Since Someone is mostly undomesticated and he was home alone for five days, the house was pretty much a complete wreck.  It was disheartening to come home, tired from the long drive, and see hours of work to do.  Emily and I walked in first and just stood there in the kitchen surveying the utter devastation for a few moments.  She said, “So Mom, what’s it like to be living with a raccoon?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.

I love my girls.  What a lucky person I am to have had the opportunity to vacation with them!  In less than a month, I will do the beach vacation with Someone and his entire family.  Someone has already started packing.  I am not excited or eager to go, but it will be OK.  Someone’s folks will not be able to do this vacation too many more years, and it means a lot to them to have their kids there.      

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