202210_03-06 – A family visit and miscellaneous stuff, Hershey, Pennsylvania

MONDAY 03 October

(There are 8 photos in this post, distributed throughout the text with captions.  Seven of them were taken with a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.  I don’t know what phone was used for the barn photo.)

Juniper-the-Cat is not really fond of travel days, although she has gotten to be a much better traveler over the course of our trip.  She doesn’t like the motion of the truck, especially on bumpy roads (who does?), and she does not like being confined in a carrier, even though we use the one we got from Paul and Nancy, which is about 4 times the volume of the small one we use to move her between the truck and trailer, and allows her to sit or stand as well as lie down and easily change positions.  I think it’s more a question of being resigned to her fate, but she no longer complains very much like she did early on.

Or perhaps it’s because Linda started keeping her informed about our travel and camping situation.  She tells Juniper the day before we move the trailer that “tomorrow is a travel day,” and when we get where we are going, she tells her how many “sleeps” we have before we have to move the trailer again.  Sleeping is very important to Juniper, at least I presume it is because that is what she spends most of her time doing.  Juniper is a very smart cat, of course, so I’m sure all of this makes perfectly good sense to her and relieves the anxiety of the unknown.

Our main reason for being in the Hershey, Pennsylvania area was to visit with Linda’s brother, Ron, and her sister, Sr. Marilyn.  We had planned to visit with Ron’s wife, Mary, too but she had to travel back to Connecticut to help nurse her oldest brother following a kidney transplant.  Mary is actually a nurse, with a Ph.D. so highly qualified to provide the needed care and assistance.  We were sorry to miss her on this visit, but understood the necessity of her being away.

We are in the Carrousel Circle section of the Hersheypark Camping Resort.  All 86 sites in this section are pull through 50A FHU with cable TV.  The entire RV park lies along a roughly NE to SW line, and our site is oriented with the front of the trailer pointing ~EES, such that this time of year we get the morning sun coming almost straight in the front/bedroom window, which is nice, actually.  The entrance is off of Hersheypark Drive / PA-39, which runs N-S at this point (even through it is an E-W highway).  Swatara Creek runs along the N/NW edge of the park and a Freight Line (train track) runs along the SE edge of the park and is marked as “Operational 24/7” on the park map.  It’s a much bigger park than just the section we are in, but due to rain, and wanting to spend time with Linda’s siblings, we never managed to walk or drive the rest of the park.

We left around 10 AM to drive to Ron and Mary’s house.  We brought the Instant Pot and a couple of bags of food items, to be used later to prepare dinner.  Today was mostly a day to just sit and visit and catch up on the big and little aspects of our lives since last we saw each other in person.  But one of the reasons Marilyn was here, was so the three siblings could go through the many boxes of possessions Ron brought back to the house when their mother moved into assisted living almost 20 years ago.

The boxes were all stored in a crawl space off of Ron’s woodworking shop in the basement, so step 1 was to get them out of there.  Ron worked in the crawl space, moving boxes to the opening.  I stood on a workbench at the opening and moved them down to the extension table on his table saw.  Linda and Marilyn then moved them to the floor.  All told, I think there were about 3 dozen boxes.  Fortunately, most of them were labeled.

At 3 PM I drove back to the Hersheypark Camping Resort (HpCR)  to give Juniper her afternoon kibble and refresh her water.  I tend to take PA-422 back and forth as it is the most direct route between the resort and Ron’s house.  PA-422 goes through Hershey and Palmyra and is posted 35 mph except in those two areas, where the speed limit is 25 mph.  From mid-morning to late afternoon, it is chocked with bumper-to-bumper traffic that often does not even move at the posted limits.  I took a slightly different route back using Hersheypark Drive and PA-39 east, which took me past the Hersheypark complex with the Giant Center where the Antique Automobile Club of America’s (AACA) Hershey Meet (antique car show and meeting) would take place starting tomorrow and running through Saturday.  It’s a very large gathering, and there were vintage vehicles driving around on the streets in town.  We had even seen them heading south towards Hershey on US-15 yesterday.

For dinner, Marilyn made a salad and Linda made Pozole.  Mary called sometime after dinner and we had a group chat with her.


TUESDAY 04 October

We each had a cup of coffee this morning, but did not have breakfast in the rig.  We left around 9 AM to drive to Ron’s house, but stopped at the Panera near the RV Resort and got some Hazelnut coffee (our favorite).  Linda got an everything bagel (her favorite) and I got cranberry orange muffins (my favorite).  There was a WEISS supermarket in the same shopping plaza, so we popped in there for a few things for lunch, snacks, dinner, and dessert.  At Ron and Mary’s house, there was no room in the freezer for the Marie Callender’s Crumb Top Apple Pie (which happens to be vegan), so Ron baked it right away.

The three siblings spent most of the day going through the boxes of their mother’s things and sorting them into disposition categories:  trash, donate, sell, and keep.  Linda was tasked with seeing if our daughter would be willing to handle selling things on Ebay.

This photo of the bus barn was from our lawn care guy (Keith).  He said it had not rained during the preceding week.  The east side of the roof was mostly shingled and there were two guys up there working.  I don’t know if the west side of the roof had been done yet, but I was glad to see this finally being worked on, especially after an absence of rain.

I kept my nose out of their business, worked puzzles on my iPad, and checked on propane restrictions on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which will be the major portion of our next re-positioning.  I drove back to the RV Park around 2:30 to check on Juniper-the-Cat.  On the way I stopped at Fine Wine & Good Spirits (state wine & liquor store), in the same shopping plaza we had visited this morning, to buy some Black Tower Rivaner wine.  I had checked online, so I knew they had it in stock, but it turned out they only had one bottle, and it was the larger size.  I really like this wine, however, so I bought it.  If nothing else, it will serve as a reminder when we get home that I need to find a way to get locally, or have it shipped from somewhere if that is possible.  I then stopped at the Sheetz filling station on the other side of PA-39 to fill the F-150.  I hung around the trailer for a while to spend some time with Juniper and work at my laptop computer.  While I was there, I got a text message from our lawn care guy (Keith) with a photo of the barn.

When I returned to the house, the crew had knocked off for the day and were watching a movie, Margin Call, so I got to see the second half.  One of the more interesting things they had found while I was away was something than none of us had ever seen or even heard of before; fractional currency.  From Wikipedia:

Fractional currency, also referred to as shinplasters, was introduced by the United States federal government following the outbreak of the Civil War. These low-denomination banknotes of the United States dollar were in use between 21 August 1862 and 15 February 1876, and issued in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents across five issuing periods.

The obverse (front) side of the three fractional currency notes sealed in a plastic sleeve, with the obverse side of a modern US Dollar bill for size comparison.

The reverse sides of the same three fractional currency bills, with the reverse side a modern US Dollar bill for size comparison.

For dinner, Marilyn again made a salad and Linda made vegan Cioppino (fish stew) in the Instant Pot.  We had the Marie Callender’s apple pie (with Cool Whip) for dessert.  Yum.  After dinner we played Bananagram.  It’s a word game, so it was not my forte.  Mary called while we were playing.  We stopped to have another group chat with her, so I got a temporary reprieve.

Back at camp, we caught the last half of FBI International and the full episode of FBI Most Wanted.  Linda headed off to bed right after that.  I stayed up and put the finishing touches on the blog post for Saturday and Sunday and published it.  I also copied the most recent photos from my phone to my computer and selected/processed some for this post.


WEDNESDAY 05 October

Breakfast was egg and cheese sandwiches using bagel thins.  Because they are bagels (hole in the middle), it’s important to have the cheese side up.  We learned this lesson the first time we used them for a heated sandwich.

Since we would be at Ron ad Mary’s house again for most of the day, and they have a clothes washer and dryer, today was laundry day for us.  Since I wasn’t involved in the selecting and sorting of their mom’s possessions, I took on the laundry duty.  I do the laundry at home, but the task seems to have fallen to Linda on this trip.  On previous trips south during snowbird season, I usually did the laundry.  I think the difference this time was that we were initially using the machines in Paul and Nancy’s American Eagle motorhome, so Linda would take it there and then hang out with Nancy and work on meal planning and/or preparation.  It is also often the case that RV park/campground laundry rooms are being used by women.  Not exclusively, of course, as there are solo male RVers, but that has never deterred me in the past.

We visited Hershey’s Chocolate World store to pick up the last of our souvenirs and gifts before we return home on Monday.  We were there on Thursday the 6th, but I have positioned the photo here.

We left around 10 AM and went by way of PA-39 west and Hersheypark Drive.  This route took us past the Hersheypark complex where the AACA Meet was taking place, and I wanted Linda to see it.  The meet started yesterday and runs through Friday, and is a really big event.  The complex includes the Giant Center, Hershey Arena, and Hersheypark Stadium, as well as the Amusement Park and Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction and store.  The extensive parking lot was packed, and the grass area on the other side of Hersheypark Drive was in full use for additional parking and dry camping.  This venue is also used for the Hershey RV Show is held every September, which vies with the Tampa RV Supershow (in January) for being the largest RV show event in the country.

When we arrived at Ron and Mary’s house, Ron, Marilyn, and Linda resumed working on their mom’s possessions.  They had unboxed everything yesterday and Linda was using Google Lens on her Pixel 6 smartphone to identify objects and research what value they might have.  Ron went out for a while at 11 AM to deliver food boxes, something he and Mary have done for a while.  As I mentioned earlier, I started doing the laundry, and worked multi-Sudoku and Pic-a-Pix puzzles on my iPad, to pass the time.  Linda and I both made use of the guest bathroom to take nice, long, hot showers.

By early afternoon, the siblings trio had finished what they wanted to get done and come back upstairs from the basement.  Linda had chatted with our daughter (Meghan) to see if she would be interested in trying to sell any items of value on Ebay.  She was, so we will have to return to Ron and Mary’s at some point in the future with just our F-150 so we have room to transport everything.

This photo of Ron and Mar’s house was also from Thursday the 6th, the only day of really nice weather we had during our 5 nights and 4 full days in the Hershey, Pennsylvania area.

We had leftovers for lunch and then Marilyn prepared a batch of brownies in a 9”x9” glass baking dish and put it in the oven to bake.  We then settled in to play a few rounds (10) of Mexican Train using and set of “double-nine” dominos.  A standard set of dominos only goes up to a double-six, while Mexican Train is often played with a set of “double-15” tiles.  Ron’s son, Brian, had called while Ron was out and Ron called him back.

At Mary’s (long distance) recommendation (last night), we went out to Sawasdee Thai restaurant in Hershey for dinner.  Linda had also found it using the Happy Cow app and it had 4-1/2 stars on Trip Advisor.  With the AACA Meet in town, we were a bit concerned that all the restaurants in the area might be slammed at dinner time, so Ron had called and made a reservation for the four of us at 6 PM.  It turned out to be unnecessary, but it was nice to see our booth waiting for us with a “Reserved” sign on it.  The restaurant was on the small side, seating perhaps 40 people when full, but there were about half that many in the time we were there.  It had a clean, contemporary décor with small touches of Thai culture, and I found it a pleasant place to eat.

One woman was handling all of the tables.  She was busy, but very good.  Linda ordered (vegan) Drunken Noodles, a stir-fried dish made with wide rice noodles, tofu, dark soy sauce, bell pepper, egg, onion, carrot, broccoli, and Thai basil.  I ordered (vegan) Thai Smoked Chili and Cashew , also a stir-fried dish with Thai smoked chili, tofu, carrot, pineapple, cashew, onion, and bell pepper with dark brown sauce.  Marilyn ordered Pad Thai with pork (a classic), and Ron ordered Pineapple Fried Rice with shrimp (also a great choice).  Linda and I shared our dishes, while Marilyn and Ron shared their dishes.  It was agreed by all that the food was very good.

On Thursday afternoon (the 6th) we were hiking (walking) along the north side of Quittapahilla Creek in the Quittie Creek Nature Park (Annville, Pennsylvania) when I saw this fisherman in the water.

We had dessert back at the house.  Linda and I had the last of the apple pie from yesterday, while Ron and Marilyn had some of the brownie that she had made earlier in the day.  We had just finished dessert when Mary called for her evening chat.  Ron put the call on speaker so we could all be part of the conversation and we all talked for quite a while.  When that was concluded, Linda and I took our clean laundry and our iPads and returned to our trailer.  I took PA-422 most of the way, as it was basically deserted at 9 PM.

As soon as we got back to the trailer, we put all of our clean clothes away and then slipped into our evening “comfy” clothes to relax for a bit before going to bed.  I worked on this post for a while, adding the bits and pieces from today and filling in details from the previous two days.


THURSDAY 06 October

The weather forecast for today was for partly cloudy skies, no rain, and a high temperature in the low 70s (F).  Linda had originally planned to get out our propane grill and cook / serve the main meal of the day for the four of us at our trailer at the Hersheypark Camping Resort.  She changed her mind yesterday, realizing that it would be more convenient and comfortable to prepare, serve, and consume the meal at Ron and Mary’s house.  We wanted Ron to see the trailer, however (Marilyn had seen it before) so we devised a plan.

We drove back to Ron and Mary’s house around 10 AM and stopped at Duck Donuts on the way.  I didn’t know anything about before going in, other than the fact that it was o PA-422 in Hershey and looked like an interesting place.  And it was.  They only made/sold cake style donuts, and they were all made to order.  They had a machine that featured a depositor and frying tray and you could watch your donut(s) being made.  They were not filled with anything (cake donuts never are) but they had a wide variety of topping combination.  I got a maple cinnamon sugar donut.  It was still very warm when they put it in a box for me, and I took it with us to Ron and Mary’s house.

For our hike through Quittie Creek Nature Park on Thursday, Ron lent Linda a set of hiking poles and showed her how to adjust them correctly.  She got used to them walking on the flat trail that ran along the north edge of Quittapahilla Creek.  We then headed into the woods on a trail that had elevation change, and she got to put them to the test.  I think someone will be getting a nice (serious) pair of hiking poles for Christmas, if not sooner.

At the house, we moved our Hersheypark Camping Resort hang tag from our truck to Ron’s minivan.  Ron then drove the four of us to Hershey’s Chocolate World so Linda and I could shop for some souvenirs / gifts.  From there, we went to the RV Resort so Ron could see the campground and our trailer.  We left our Chocolate World purchases at the trailer and headed back to the house to have lunch, which consisted of various leftovers.

After lunch, we headed to Quittie Creek Nature Park in Annville for some easy hiking (walking).  Ron lent Linda a pair a good/adjustable hiking poles and showed her how to set them to the correct length.  We then headed east from the parking lot on the flat trail along the north edge of Quittapahilla Creek.  When we got to where the trail crossed South Spruce Street, we started back and then picked up a branch trail through the woods, which eventually rejoined the Creekside trail.  Back at the parking lot, we all walked out onto the wooden bridge over the creek for the view, and I got a nice photo looking upstream from there.

Before heading back to the house, Ron stopped for gas and then drove to the nearby WEIS supermarket.  Linda and I picked up some plant-based Italian sausages, an onion, and a red bell pepper for our main meal, and a Marie Callender’s Crumb Top Cherry Pie (vegan) and Ben & Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” non-dairy “ice cream” for dessert.  Ron already had chicken and pork chops at home, but he and Marilyn picked up some broccoli and bread for the meal.

The view of Quittapahilla Creek looking upstream from the bridge near the parking lot of Quittie Creek Nature Park.

Back at the house, Linda started the oven, set it to 400 (F), and got the cherry pie out of its plastic wrapper.  When the oven was up to temperature, she put the pie in and set a timer on her Fitbit.  We then sat outside on the patio under the pergola in the back yard and enjoyed the lovely weather as we had a nice chat.  Around 5:30 PM, Ron lit the grill and started preparing the chicken and pork chops.  Marilyn made a salad and Linda sauteed the onions and red bell pepper to go with our Italian sausages.  Ron sliced and buttered (vegan) the bread and put it in the oven, and then handled the grilling of the various meats / substitutes.  When Linda’s timer went off, I pulled the pie out, added the crumb topping, and put it back in for 15 minutes.

Somewhere in the midst of all that dinner preparation, Linda got a call from our son.  He was on the way back to their house, having just collected his two daughters from their respective schools, and they wanted to chat with us.  Sadie, who will be 4 next Thursday, knew when her birthday was, and how old she was going to be, but both girls also knew that we would (finally) be back home in just 4 more days.

Our last supper (for now) with Ron and Mary was really nice.  It had been both a productive and fun week for all us, but especially for them.  It had been quite a while since they were all together, and they really enjoy each other’s company.  We helped clear the dishes and then gathered up our stuff, which included Linda’s Instant Pot and other cooking related things she had brought over earlier in the week.  Hugs and goodbyes for now, and we were out the door, in the truck, and on our way back to camp.

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