Monday, August 19, 2013
What I did on my summer vacation
Stop #1…pick up Sabrina. Yes, Sabrina came with us. The thought of going out of town for a week without her was unbearable. So, we did what all freaky dog-parents do…we figured out a way to bring her with us. Joe’s sisters in-laws (are you following me?) live in Cincinnati and are big dog lovers. They agreed to watch Sabrina for a couple of days for us, which made us feel great. Like most people, this couple fell in love with Sabrina. In fact, when Joe called to check on her on Thursday the woman told us that Sabrina slept in her arms all night. That is one spoiled dog! But if you met her you would know that she deserves it! She is the sweetest, most precious dog there is.
Stop #2…Indianapolis! One of the perks of going to Cincinnati is that Joe’s sister only lives a couple of hours away, so it’s easy to take a little side trip down to see her and her family. Ella has 2 cousins down there and one is just a few weeks older than Ella, so it’s good that they get to see each other. And Sabrina loved meeting her dog-cousin Daisy. They had a great time together and Sabrina missed her when we left.
While we were in Indy we got to reconnect with some of my greatest friends ever from my Boston days. I miss Matt and Dana and was so happy to be able to grab breakfast with them! And I was even more happy that they got to finally meet Ella in person.
Saturday afternoon we headed to the Indiana State Fair. I feel like I need to explain something about myself…I like crowds. I know it sounds nuts, but I really do. I love going to places like the fair or a theme park and just watching people. Long lines don’t bother me. Crowded rooms don’t bother me. Maybe I’m weird, but that’s just the way I am. I should also say that all 3 of the Murray’s LOVE fair food! We go to theme parks, baseball games or fairs fully prepared to eat our weight in junk food. This fair was no different. I spent most of my time sitting in the shade watching the people pass by and eating ice cream/BBQ/funnel cake/root beer float. Joe, Ella and I had a great time! I hope Joe’s sister and her family would say the same…although they aren’t as big on crowds as I am.
Sunday our time in Indy came to an end and we headed out to Stop #3…Hershey, PA. I have lived in DC for 10 ½ years and since day 1 I have been itching to get up to Hershey. An entire town centered around chocolate…what could possibly be better than that? We told Ella about Hershey earlier in the summer and since then she has asked every week when we were going to visit. Her main question was, “Will I be able to use all 5 of my senses…smell the chocolate, see the chocolate, feel the chocolate, taste the chocolate and hear the chocolate?” We told her that she would definitely be able to use 4 of her senses, but we weren’t sure how she could hear chocolate, although she could hear all about chocolate.
Unfortunately the trip started out with one big mistake! We decided to try and cut corners on the hotel, so we rented a room at an unnamed chain hotel in Harrisburg, PA (it was about 1/3 the price of a standard hotel room in Hershey). We arrived around 10:30pm. Ella was fast asleep in the back seat, so Joe went in to get us checked in. As he was waiting in line, the woman in front of him was yelling (I mean seriously yelling…including slamming her hand on the counter) about how filthy the room was, there were feces on the floor, the bathroom wasn’t clean, etc. Joe thought to himself, “This can’t be good.” Finally he was able to check in, so he came out to get us and we made our way to the room where we would spend the next 3 nights. To say the hotel was old and run-down would be an understatement. But it was more than that…the hotel was absolutely disgustingly filthy. Our plan was to wake up the next morning and take Ella swimming, then come back to the room and change her bandages. Well, there was no way Ella was putting one toe in that pool, and there was no way we were going to expose her open wounds in that filthy hotel room. There was trash on the floor (big trash…soda cans, paper, stuff like that), the bathroom hadn’t been swept in who knows how long, and everything just looked gross. The first thing I did was pull the bed spread completely down so that we weren’t touching it at all. I went to wash my face and when I grabbed the wash cloth there was a long, dark brown hair hanging off of it. The bath tub looked like it had never been cleaned. There were actual brown streaks in it. I was beyond thankful that I had given Sabrina her flea and tick treatment before the trip because there was no telling what she could have picked up from that room. And don’t even get me started on the odor in the hallway. This pregnancy nose couldn’t handle it and I had to hold my breath until we got outside.
By the time we actually got up to the room it was 11 pm. Ella was fast asleep on the bed (fully dressed) and there was no way we could check out and find another hotel room at that point. We had to suffer through the night and figure things out in the morning. Joe and I stayed up until after 1 am discussing all of our options. I told Joe that I would leave it in his hands and knew that he would make the best decision for our family. At 6 am Joe got out of bed (after a very restless nights sleep), went and got in the car and headed out to find somewhere else for us to stay. He returned 2 hours later with a reservation at the Hampton Inn in Hershey.
We couldn’t have gotten out of that nasty hotel fast enough. I woke Ella up, dressed her as fast as possible, and we loaded the car. No showers, no free continental breakfast, nothing. We were gone. The minute we pulled out of the parking lot we all felt better. We headed to Hershey and had an awesome breakfast at this adorable restaurant and talked about how that ordeal would soon be a distant memory. Thank heavens the Hampton Inn was able to let us check in early, so we were able to get into our beautiful, clean, good-smelling, nice, new room and actually relax. I immediately fell asleep and slept for 2 hours while Joe and Ella watched TV. Then Joe took Ella to the nice, clean, up-to-date pool while I got things ready for her bath and bandage change. Even Sabrina was calmer in this hotel. She knew that it was better than that nasty hotel. Ella asked, “Are we going to go back to that yucky hotel?” NO WAY!
After all 3 of us got showered and cleaned up, we decided to head over to Hersheypark for their sunset hours. Another tid bit of information about me…I LOVE (and I mean LOVE) roller coasters! The thought of spending all day at a theme park without the ability to ride any of the coasters was a difficult one for me. Luckily, going for the sunset hours (from 5 pm-10 pm) was perfect. It was enough time to grab dinner, catch a couple of shows, ride a few rides (for Ella and Joe of course) and get a lay of the land for when we come back sometime in the future (when I’m able to take on each and every one of those roller coasters). The night ended on a perfect note and our vacation was officially underway.
Tuesday morning we headed out to visit Chocolate World. Ella had been looking forward to this part of the trip since day 1. She wanted to make her own chocolate bar. She even had a name picked out…Ella’s Famous Chocolate! Ella’s favorite activity of the vacation was riding the ride at Chocolate World that tells all about how to make chocolate and has singing cows. Ella’s second favorite activity of the trip was making her own chocolate bar. Hers was dark chocolate with sprinkles and chocolate chips inside and sprinkles on top. It was really cool to actually follow our chocolate bars down the conveyor belt. We watched them add the sprinkles and chocolate chips, and watched it get coated in an extra layer of chocolate. We even got to design our own wrappers. It was a lot of fun. We also attended Hershey University where we learned that you actually can hear chocolate…milk chocolate makes a thud when you break it, and dark chocolate makes more of a snap. We got to sample 5 different kinds of chocolate, which Ella loved (of course).
Tuesday night we headed out to a very special event. In Lancaster County, PA they have a show called Noah: the Musical. We had heard great things about the show and decided that it would be a nice outing for the family. If you’re ever in Lancaster, I highly recommend you go see this show! It was wonderful! They had real animals on stage and the acting and singing were terrific. The coolest part was during the second half when the rain was coming and everyone (audience and all) was in the ark. The sides of the theatre opened up and there were animals (both real and fake) all along the sides surrounding us.
After the show we headed to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. My steak was delicious, but the loaded baked sweet potato was awesome! Mental note…put marshmallows on top of baked sweet potatoes.
Wednesday morning we headed home. We were sad for our vacation to come to an end, but we were all glad to be home and sleep in our own beds. That said, we are already planning our next vacation to Hershey, PA. It was such a fun trip and next time we want to spend more time up there and hopefully spend a whole day at Hersheypark. Of course the next time we’ll leave Harrisburg out of the trip…ugh.
That was our last trip for the summer. We still have 2 weeks before Ella starts back to school, and boy is she ready. Last summer we had a very active and busy summer. This summer, with a new baby coming and all, I decided to take the opposite approach and not plan too many activities so that she would be able to relax and get ready for 1st grade. Well, that plan pretty much backfired on me. The poor kid has been bored out of her wazoo. Every morning she wakes up and asks me if we’re going to do something fun today. This morning we’re going to Target to buy school supplies and maybe go out for a special mommy and Ella lunch. Last Saturday she had a birthday party of one of her school friends and it was evident that she missed seeing her friends this summer. I told Joe that next summer I need to be more proactive and actually plan at least 2-3 weeks of camps for her to participate in. Who knows, maybe we’ll head back to Wyoming for a few weeks. After all, we will have a new little Murray to show off.