When the kids hopped off the bus last Friday we surprised them with a camping trip! We headed off to Pennsylvania to visit Hershey Park and Amish Country. I just talked to my former boss the other day and he couldn't believe that we like to spend our time in "small town America, taking pictures of the biggest ball of twine". For the record, we didn't find a big ball of twine but we did visit the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Factory in Lititz (www.juliussturgis.com) , where we made our own pretzels and learned they are actually a religious symbol. Who knew?! (You'll have to visit the factory to learn the story). My guess is that at least half of the people who live in that town have never taken the factory tour. My guess is that there are a dozen things right in our own backyard that we never even take the time to see or learn more about. I encourage you to pick one place to visit this summer that you have always wondered about but never made the time for in your own town. You never know what you will learn! Share it with us after your visit.
We arrived in PA after 8 hours....6 hours travel time + 1 hour traffic + 1 hour dinner = a buzz kill on your last day of school. As we approached the campground on small country roads we noticed thousands of fireflies. It was an incredible sight! I felt like a little kid again. I can't remember the last time I saw lightening bugs...nevermind thousands of them. They lit up the fields along the way and it felt very magical. This is typically what they call "the calm before the storm". Just as we pulled into the campground the kids fell asleep which ended up being a blessing because what came next was definitely a curse. We had a great spot 3 sites over from the pool and began to set up. As we were putting the kids bed down, we discovered HUNDREDS of ants running a rice krispie trafficking ring. Holy Badness. For those of you that don't know, I don't do well with bugs. Well, let's be honest, who does well with HUNDREDS of bugs? I happened to be outside and I just saw a small fraction of the chaos that was unfolding. Tim was inside and quickly yelled "Stay outside! I'll take care of this!" From what I could see, this was not a one person job. We grabbed hoards of paper towels and while Tim worked to squash the bugs from above, I killed those that poured out from the bed, onto his legs and floor. Holy, Holy Badness. In hindsight, I realized I was murmuring things like "Ok...this is ok", "Oh they make a lot of noise when you squoosh them" and "It will be over soon..you can do this". It felt like 30 minutes but I think we had the crime scene cleaned up in 10 minutes flat. There did appear to be a few stragglers that were coming from an area we couldn't reach so we plugged it up and had the kids sleep with us. Tim took one look at my face and said "We need a beer. We deserve it." While I drank it I pondered, "Am I really cut out for camping?" I should mention that I was wearing a super cute green and white a-line skirt, my green polo with the collar up, and pearls. Yes, this is the outfit I murdered ants in.
The next morning I awoke to the sight of a lone ant continuously circling the fire alarm. I just wanted the nightmare to end. But I put my best foot forward in my pink and green bathing suit and super cute cover up...and headed to the pool with the kids. Meanwhile, Tim went to work wtih some ant spray and a straw in the 90 degree heat. With the antastrophy cleared up, we spent the day enjoying the terrific pool...complete with swim up bar for the kids where they could buy candy, get ice cream, and all kinds of snacks. We learned last year that we needed to actually spend some time enjoying the great campgrounds we stay at so we always make it a point to spend at least one day enjoying all they have to offer. We were basically at the pool from 10-5 and couldn't have asked for better weather. That night we played on their mini golf course, ate homemade cupcakes, and caught fireflies. When I apply for my next job and they ask why I left my last job, this is the reason I will give them. Pure enjoyment of my family and enjoying every moment of it.
The next day it was off to Hershey Park and thankfully they have a water park, because let me tell you, it was hot! We spent a good deal of time floating down the lazy river. riding roller coasters, and floating down the lazy river some more. For those that haven't gone yet, yes, the town does smell like heaven...I mean chocolate...and Hershey Park is great. Fantastic rides for those looking for a thrill as well as laid back fun rides. We went to a great restaurant on the way home...Fenicci's in downtown Hershey which makes an awesome upside down pizza. The next day it was off to Amish Country. We rode quite country roads through Lititz, Lancaster, and then on to Bird in Hand and Intercourse. Absolutely beautiful farms. In all honesty, what I really want to do is live on farm in the country, in a beautiful farmhouse, with horses, goats, bunnies, kitties, cows (for Mimi and I)...with a duck pond filled with turtles for Jack. Timmy will be feeding them and cleaning up the poo (not because he wants to but because he loves us and knows we can't handle it) ...all the while we will be loving them. I will have a giant organic garden, wear adorable sun dresses, and we will live such a simple life. Side note: I have no interest in home schooling, doing hard labor, or smelling manure all day. I know now that I will never make it as an Amish person.
I think it was at this point in the vacation when I thought to myself, "My kids aren't exposed to enough diversity.". They pointed at every Amish person they saw as though they were aliens. "Look Mom, an Amish boy!'..."There's another one!", "Look a horse and buggy on the road filled with Amish kids!" We took a horse and buggy ride through Amish roads, learned a lot about their way of life, and saw them in action working on their farms. They bring "simple living to life". Not for everyone but very impressive that there exists a population that truly lives simply. They don't have the cutest outfits but our buggy driver did mention that starting this year, was the first year the Amish could wear summer colors, including pink. Baby steps. Maybe next year they will be able to accessorize.
On our last night I was faced with a cross road. After dinner the kids wanted to go catch fireflies again in the baseball field. There were dishes to do and stuff to pack up for the next day. Tim took the kids over to the field and Mimi looked back and said "Mom, aren't you coming?" I told her I would join them later and while I did dishes I realized I was making a conscious decision not to be present in the moment with my family. My choices were to clean up and start packing, join them in the fun, and if I did join them, take time away from Tim and I later because we would have to spend our night packing rather than sitting an enjoying each other's company. I have to admit, it was a tough moment. Old Kelly would have missed the opportunity to live in the moment. Little Kelly did the dishes quickly (and squashed two ants) and ran to the field to catch fireflies. The kids were so excited that I joined them, which made me a little sad because I realized they never expected me to come have fun. Afterwards we headed back to our campsite, the kids went to bed, and to hell with packing...Tim and I enjoyed some wine and read our books. Sure, we had to get up much earlier than we wanted to in order to leave on time, but it was worth it.
Am I making you think more about living in the moment? I hope so. If so, please share it with us!
Next up....not wearing make up....do those words make you sick just thinking about the thought of having a naked face? I have to say, I have learned a lot lately on that topic...and likely scared many people. More to come soon...