1999 Family Vacation — Part Two
On the fourth day of our family vacation back in 1999 where I was only 11 years old, we went to a train museum, did some shopping, and then went to Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The amusement park had all the candies manufactured by the Hershey Chocolate Company. The park was founded in 1906! I remember riding my very first rollercoaster here! I did NOT like it! I was so scared that I put my head back for some odd reason. I’m not sure why I didn’t put my head forward in a fetal position, but I was so scared! I looked at their website to try to see which one I rode, but I can’t remember. I believe it was a wooden coaster. I don’t remember much else from the park.
The next day, my notes indicate that we “went to Chocolate World and Hershey Museum. Saw Hotel Hershey and Hershey Factory. Swam twice.” Again, swimming was very important to me as a youngster! Perhaps we swam before and after dinner, but who knows? I do remember going to the factory, and that was fun, because we got to eat some chocolate at the end! Out of all of the Hershey candies, my favorites are the Rolos and Reese’s. I love chocolate mixed with caramel, and separately, I love chocolate mixed with peanut butter! Now, I’m craving sweets!
The following day, our family went to the Toy Train Museum and the Train Museum of Pennsylvania. So far, we had gone to three different train museums! My dad must have really liked trains! I don’t think of him as a train aficionado, but he must have really wanted to see these museums! Later that day, we took a self-guided tour of Valley Forge, went to the King of Prussia Mall, stayed at a Best Western, and swam! Valley Forge, Pennsylvania is the site where the Continental Army camped during the winter of 1777–1778 during the American Revolutionary War. Eleven year old me wrote and underlined, “saw many deer.” Growing up, we would occasionally see deer behind our house since our house butted up against a pasture with cattle. Now, there’s a berry farm behind the house, and deer still run behind our house. Apparently, I must have seen many more deer at Valley Forge for me to make a note of it!
On our next vacation day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Rocky’s footprints, and the U.S. Mint. For those of you who are not familiar, Rocky’s footprints refer to the Rocky Steps; these are stone steps leading up to Philadelphia’s Museum of Art where actor Sylvester Stallone ran up during the movie Rocky. Sylvester was portraying a boxer named Rocky Balboa, and as part of his training, he would run around Philadelphia. A statue of Rocky was put there during filming of Rocky III. Later, a bronze inlay of sneaker footprints with the name “Rocky” was placed at the top of the steps. Since we had watched the Rocky movies, our dad took us to see the footprints. I am sure we didn’t run up the steps like Rocky, but took them at a nice leisurely pace! Oh and of course, we swam that day!
My dad says we were allowed to touch the Liberty Bell, but then later, someone tried to hit the bell with a hammer in 2001. Now, tourists are not allowed to touch the bell. I can’t believe someone would try to damage it! Why in the world would you want to? Sometimes, people baffle me!
On Wednesday, August 4, 1999, our family saw Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty! We rode a ferry to get to the Statue of Liberty, and went to both New Jersey and New York. If I remember correctly, we were able to go to the top of the statue’s crown. I thought the statue was incredibly neat, and it was even cooler that we got to go inside of it! Ellis Island was also special, as I believe my great-grandparents came from Ireland, through Ellis Island, and then settled in Indiana. The Statue of Liberty is such an iconic piece of United States history, it is a must-see on every tourist’s list!
The following day, Thursday, August 5, 1999, was left blank on my sheet from the Ramada Inn pad of paper. I must have gotten bored of writing what I did each day! I am grateful I saved this sheet of paper, as it brought back fond memories of our family vacation! It also shows just how much I enjoyed traveling and documenting my travels.