Category Archives: Travel

Writing Prompt #41

“What is the best road trip or vacation you have ever taken? Who was there? Where did you go? What did you see along the way?”

I have several amazing travel memories, but my most recent ones, like the trip to PEI, Canada with my husband, have already been shared extensively on my blog, so I’m going to take you back further, to my trip to the Netherlands with my media class from university.

 

The Netherlands, or “NL,” is a beautiful country, with incredible scenery, modern innovations and transportation, and hard-working people who exercise frequently, usually riding their bicycles wherever they need to go.

Home of the famous windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, canals, and dykes to hold back the sea, this country is often known as Holland, but as we quickly learned, Holland is only a region in the Netherlands, not a name for the entire country.

We saw great variety, as we traveled from the small town of Barneveld by train to the big, famous/infamous city of Amsterdam. It was amazing to me how different parts of NL really are from one another, even though it’s a pretty small country.

One of my favorite experiences on the trip was getting to see the Corrie Ten Boom house in person, and stand in the official “Hiding Place,” detailed in the book by the same title, that saved the lives of several Jews during WWII. It was amazing to see what an incredible sacrifice was made by the Ten Boom family for the cause of truth and justice. We gained a new appreciation as we stood inside their home, which is now a museum.

I highly recommend a visit to the Netherlands, and plan to return one day.

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Writing Prompt #34

“Write about a souvenir you have bought or received.”

One of my most precious souvenirs is actually one that was not purchased, but rather one I received from my husband. He picked a special rock out on Cavendish Beach, on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, Canada, during our special first wedding anniversary trip.

It’s so special to me because he thoughtfully searched the beach for several minutes to find one that was just right. I also love it because I grew up going to the beach in Florida, so I love beaches and associate them with fond memories. I’ve also collected rocks and shells since I was a very little girl, and now I have my own collection I’m building with my husband.

Hershey, PA

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Hershey, PA is a small, unincorporated community of only 14.4 square miles, located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. It may not be a very big area, but it is worth your time to visit. IMG_7841

The main attraction of Hershey, PA is, of course, all of the activities associated with the Hershey chocolate company, which was founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey. As his chocolate company grew, Mr. Hershey provided well for  the town – a community building,
IMG_7868.JPGdepartment store, convention hall, swimming pool, several schools, and of course the famous amusement park. He wanted to take excellent care of his employees, as his philosophy recognized that workers who live in a safe, comfortable environment and are treated fairly by their employer will thrive and excel.

Today, visitors to Hershey can experience “The Sweetest IMG_7861Place on Earth,” which is also affectionately called “Chocolatetown, USA.” All the local attractions, including the main factory tour facility of Chocolate World, Hersheypark, Hershey Gardens, Hersheypark Stadium, and ZooAmerica, are all owned and operated by the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company. Other places of interest within Hershey include several museums, a fancy spa inside of the big IMG_7873hotel, and four world-class golf courses. The downtown area and surrounding parts of the Derry township include several good restaurants and an antique mall.

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 Our visit to Hershey, PA was brief, as our main reason for traveling to the area was to see family nearby in Harrisburg. Since it was winter and the temperatures were in the 20s-40 (*F.), the rides in Hersheypark were closed. We were able to drive and walk by the outskirts, and I can tell you that, when it’s open, there are plenty of rides for those of you who are into roller coasters! IMG_7833We focused on touring Chocolate World, and decided to take the free tour this time, without adding on any additional package options for a price.

Chocolate World has an extensive gift shop, with both edible and wearable merchandise at various prices. We mostly browsed, as we didn’t have $32 for sweatshirts in our budget. I did find a reusable bag for $2.07 (with tax) IMG_7951.jpgthat I can use for my art and journaling supplies on the go. I love both the vintage vibe of the bag’s design and the fact that the purchase didn’t break the bank!

The short tour was set up to -look- like the real chocolate factory, but was  all staged in an entirely different building from where they actually make the chocolate bars which is a short distance down the road, but not open to the public). Attendants help you onto a IMG_7844.jpgslowly moving platform and into little cars on a moving track, that takes you through the chocolate bar creation process. It was free and a lot of fun…and another attendant even gave us a free miniature Kit-Kat bar as we excited the little ride. (Hey, I don’t know about you, but this girl loves chocolate, particularly if it’s free!) More extensive tour and tasting options are available for purchase, including the opportunity to design your own custom chocolate bar – perhaps something we will try another time, when we have a day or two longer to spend in that area.

IMG_7863We enjoyed the opportunity to visit the lovely little area of Hershey, PA. To me, it felt like being live inside the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory movie, without any unfortunate accidents! I think both adults and children will enjoy the various activities, and those who love rides should go to Hersheypark during the warmer months. If you have the time, check out the rest of the little town, too – it’s kept clean and has recently been renovated a good deal, but of course the original Hershey smokestacks remain as iconic figures in the landscape!

The Biltmore Estate – A Brief History

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The sophisticated construction and Châteauesque (French Renaissance chateau) style of America’s largest private residence leaves a lasting impression upon each visitor and an impressive legacy of independent wealth and fine taste. The architect, Richard Morris Hunt, was hired by George Vanderbilt to begin this massive design and construction undertaking, which took from 1889 until the end of 1895 to complete.

IMG_6815The 250 rooms in this lavish estate include 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, a very impressive 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool and bowling alley, and a library that boasts of 10,000 volumes. The hall leading into the library holds beautifully preserved 16th century tapestries on its walls, and other portions of the house feature original works by famous artists including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent. Most of the items in the Biltmore are pieces from George and Edith Vanderbilt’s original collection. Visitors to the home are led on an extensive tour that includes three floors and the basement, while additional add-on options can be purchased, including audio guides, rooftop tours and more.

Much of the substantial 8,000 acres not only holds natural beauty,IMG_6861 but also features landscaping designed by the famous Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed many well-known parks in the US, including Central Park in New York City as well as the area around the United States Capitol building. IMG_6840Olmsted also did work at Niagara Falls and countless other parks, and his quality work was well-recognized in his lifetime, making him the clear choice for George Vanderbilt to create a stunning outdoor space around his elegant home. Skillfully crafted sculptures stand out beautifully against the mountain ridge. Part of the estate grounds runs right next to the French Broad River, while others lead through the Deer Park meadows. Walking and equestrian trails wind through America’s first managed forest, making the numerous acres surrounding the Biltmore HouseIMG_6907 a conservationist’s paradise. The lovely Rose Garden is still kept up faithfully by gardeners and boasts of over 250 varieties. A set of greenhouses holds tropical plants and cacti in warm conditions all year long. Six acres of solar panels help the house and grounds operate in a way that is environmentally responsible. Visitors are free to walk about the grounds, and can also choose to purchase guided equestrian tours.

Watercolor of Green Gables

I whipped this up this morning, inspired by a photo I took of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s aunt & uncle’s home on Prince Edward Island, the home that Anne’s house in Anne of Green Gables was modelled after.

Perhaps I have some watercolor talent after all. 😉