A Roadtrip Back in Time (And Chocolate, Too!)

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September 1st 2008
Published: November 17th 2008
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A Fawn on the Front LawnA Fawn on the Front LawnA Fawn on the Front Lawn

In Winowna Lakes, the neighborhood where we lived in Pennsylvania many, many years ago.
This blog may not contain any actual time travel, but it seems a bit like time travel to me since it takes us up to New York, into the Bronx where my Mom grew up, and over to Pennsylvania, to the Poconos where I was born, and finally back through Lancaster County where the Amish give the impression that this is the town that time forgot. And a trip into Hershey, though I guess that doesn’t really fit the theme…

Anyway, my parents have come up to Maryland to visit us, and the four of us take an exciting romp through Bronx and Brewster, New York, and then East Stroudsburg, Hershey, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It starts out with a trip to see family in the Bronx, in the area where my Mom grew up, and we spend the day chatting and, of course, eating lots of homemade Italian food. Seth and I also take a walk around the neighborhood, which was pretty peaceful with some nice homes. Then we head a couple of hours north to Brewster, NY to, again, visit family. Even though we’ve eaten more than enough food for one day, when my cousin offers to pick
Our East Stroudsburg HomeOur East Stroudsburg HomeOur East Stroudsburg Home

Our home when I was a baby, nestled in the woods of Winowna Lakes. Notice the infamous really, really high back balcony. That pine deck on the ground under the house is new, but nothing else has really changed over all these years.
up some New York pizza, well, let’s just say that pizza - especially really, really good pizza - is something I can eat whether I’m hungry or not. And the pizza was accentuated by a few glasses of wine, which means that after hours of hanging out and a game (or two?) of Chinese Checkers I vaguely remember playing with Seth, my memory pretty much fades out for the night.

The next day starts out with piles of doughnuts, bagels, and turnovers from a local bakery, plus a few cups of coffee, and then we’re back on the road about noon. We take 84 west across New York, which has a strange resemblance to A6 in Germany because of the forests and sheared-off rocky hillsides extending into the rolling hills that meander off into the distance. When we enter Pennsylvania we switch over to 209, which weaves through beautiful forests. We also pass through a town called Milford, which is gorgeous in a quaint way. But it also presents us with a great deal of traffic - a reminder that it’s Labor Day weekend. We follow a winding river and pass a bunch of corn fields.

After awhile
Our East Stroudsburg HomeOur East Stroudsburg HomeOur East Stroudsburg Home

A view from below.
we hit East Stroudsburg, the city where I was born and lived for the first year and a half of my life. (I do often refer to myself a Floridian - I did spend most of my life in Florida and still consider it home, but East Stroudsburg is part of my history). It’s within the Poconos, which is actually a mountain range… I always thought it was a town. Live and learn. We take a few minutes to check into Werry’s Cottages, Motel and Pub, where we get a tiny two-bedroom cottage. It’s got the necessities, like two beds and a bathroom, but it could use some serious updating. That’s not too surprising, though, considering the state of this mix-matched town: some buildings are brand new and quite fancy but many others appear to have avoided upkeep for the last twenty years.

It’s been nearly 24 years since my parents have lived here, so the inevitable changes are quite noticeable to them. There was a lot of “this is new” and “I don’t remember this,” but the closer we get to Winowna Lakes, the more they recognize. We head off the main road, up the mountain, and deeper
More DeerMore DeerMore Deer

In Joni's front lawn. They're just taking a stroll through the woods.
into the forest, winding up and up a long road before turning into the “resort” neighborhood of Winowna Lakes. We take Clubhouse Drive up to Hillside Avenue, and there’s this old brown house, perched precariously on the edge of a steep forty-foot cliff, which leads into thick woods. We walk around our old house and snap some photos, but the current owners are not home, so we can’t go inside. We also drive up to the busy clubhouse, past a pretty rambling stream, a lonely ski lift (there’s no snow yet, after all), and the location of an outdoor pool that’s a mere outline now as it’s been filled in some time in the last 24 years.

Then it’s on to visit with our old neighbors, where we’re supposed to hang out and munch on some “hors d'oeuvres,” but there’s so much food we eat (and drink) for hours. At one point, someone yells, “deer!” and we all rush outside. There’s five or six deer roaming around the driveway, grazing on the grasses. One is an eight-point buck and they’re all a little cautious at our approach, but don’t run off until we get about five or six feet
Me Hangin' with the DeerMe Hangin' with the DeerMe Hangin' with the Deer

They actually took off shortly after this photo, but it was cool while it lasted.
away while taking photos. Shortly after that exciting visit, an adorable spotted fawn shows up in the front yard. A couple of hours and glasses of wine later, a dozen wild turkeys waddle across the front lawn. It was incredible.

Thank God Seth was sober, otherwise I fear those dark, winding, forest-y, mountain roads would have been the end of us. We head down the mountain and back to Werry’s, where I finish off the last piece of leftover New York pizza - which is why I don’t drink much at home. I eat when I’m drunk.

The next day, after stumbling out of bed, we enjoy a nice breakfast at Friendlies and we’re back on the road! We pass a lot of farmland, wide fields, and scattered farm houses, which all offer a rustic beauty. We get to the town of Hershey and, I gotta say, I was both surprised and disappointed that there was not the slightest hint of a chocolate smell in the air. My parents were here 30 years ago and my husband eight years ago and they all could distinctly remember the chocolate smell that is now noticeably missing.

We drive to
Werry's Cottages, Motel and PubWerry's Cottages, Motel and PubWerry's Cottages, Motel and Pub

Our cute (from the outside anyway) and itty bitty cabin at the motel in the Poconos. Or in East Stroudsburg. Whatever. The point is, I loved how the whole town was nestled within the mountain forests.
the huge parking lot, follow the mob to the trolley, and ride into the middle of the attractions. We avoid the amusement park because most of our party either can’t or won’t ride the rides, and its way too expensive to pay the entry fee with the intent of mere perusing. So we head into the large brick building with the chocolate-colored smokestacks, under the sign exclaiming, “Chocolate World.” We get in line for the Great American Chocolate Tour and soon board oval-shaped cars to embark on the tour. It was a strange tour. We pass through many rooms with lively music and lots of activity happening all around us. There’s singing cows, wrapped candies passing by on conveyor belts, and fake machines producing plastic “chocolates.” Now, I didn’t expect to see the real Hershey factory, but I did expect it to be at least a little like the Lindt museum we toured in Germany, where we could see real machines making real chocolate treats that you could eat.

We spend some time in the miniature shopping mall, where I get a great Hershey Kiss-shaped, covered crystal candy dish, and then we spend awhile indulging in huge brownie and
And onto Hershey....And onto Hershey....And onto Hershey....

But I gotta tell you, this town did not have even the faintest smell of chocolate....
ice cream sundaes covered in so much rich chocolate that I couldn’t even finish mine. Next we browse the Hershey Museum across the way, which was interesting. There is a history of the town, the company, the Hershey family, as well as historical items from the local area. You can see the Hershey Kiss packaging used over the decades, the U.S. Army field ration bars that Hershey produced in the forties, a collection of Pennsylvania Long Rifles, and a Horned Lizard stuffed in 1916. After a few purchases in the gift shop, we hit the road in the direction of Amish country.

We find a hotel in Lancaster County to spend the night, and the next day we head into the tiny town of Bird-in-Hand. Our first stop is the Farmer’s Market, which is huge and packed with all kinds of goods for sale from food items to wooden children’s toy to Amish-style dresses. We then wander from store to store along the Old Philadelphia Pike, which has the occasional Amish horse and cart clopping past - some filled with Amish, some filled with tourists. We visit a bakery, a lace store, a Victorian shop and a gigantic “hardware”
Chocolate WorldChocolate WorldChocolate World

My favorite kind of world.
store that’s also packed full of antiques. Then we seek out Plain & Fancy, a restaurant my parents ate at over 20 years ago and remember fondly. Today, though, it’s not the barn-like setting they remember, but a contemporary wood structure that is half store and half restaurant, the restaurant a large room with a big fireplace and exposed beams, but quite modern. They still offer family-style dining, but we choose to order à la carte. All of the food is excellent, but we all especially like the Sweet Corn, which is dehydrated corn that is re-hydrated with cream, butter and sugar.

After the early dinner we take one last trek through the countryside to arrive home (well, our Maryland home) in a couple of hours, much to the delight of the cat, who noisily reminds us that she prefers we not leave her alone for so long.

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


Hershey's Great American Chocolate TourHershey's Great American Chocolate Tour
Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour

The ride. Here you can see the fake machines producing plastic "chocolate."
Today's ProductionToday's Production
Today's Production

That's a lot o' kisses. ;)
In the Hershey MuseumIn the Hershey Museum
In the Hershey Museum

The versatile Ration D Bar. Created for the U.S. Army in 1937, widely distributed as of 1941.
Kiss Me, DarlingKiss Me, Darling
Kiss Me, Darling

Well, except between 1942 and 1949, when the silver foil used to package the kisses was rationed due to the war.
View From the HotelView From the Hotel
View From the Hotel

In Lancaster County.
Lancaster County SceneryLancaster County Scenery
Lancaster County Scenery

In the quaint Pennsylvania town named Bird-in-Hand.
Lancaster CountyLancaster County
Lancaster County

Seth and I hanging out at the farmer's market in Bird-in-Hand, PA.
Lancaster CountyLancaster County
Lancaster County

Mom and I by the farmer's market.
Lancaster CountyLancaster County
Lancaster County

Painted building.

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