Wednesday, June 4, 2014

HARLEYS, CHOCOLATE, PRETZELS AND THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE…

Heading north we stop at the Ben Franklin RV Resort in York, PA.  It’s an older park in the process of converting from a trailer park.  The spaces are grassy, there’s noise from the freeway and the WIFI is adequate for minor use.  The owner Ben is a great ambassador for the area and he is quick to inform us of all the attractions in the area. This is a beautiful part of the country and we really enjoy our visit here.

Cannons
Our first trip out is to visit Gettysburg.  Touring the battle site can be done by tour bus (not our style), private tour guide (none available) or using a CD to describe the site while following the auto tour signs.  This seems to be our best option, so we purchase the most comprehensive 150-year anniversary edition CD that follows the battle time line and start out.  This is a perfect way to tour the battlefield.  We drive at our pace and we get a pretty thorough understanding of the battle, the distances involved and the horrendous loss of lives. It’s sobering to walk the battlefields and imagine the carnage of the past.

Maple Ice cream
in a bacon cup
On our way back we stop in the town of Gettysburg at the Garryowen Irish Pub.  How can you go wrong with 56 brands of Irish Whiskeys and traditional pub food?  After a couple of shots of Jameson we dine on fresh Oysters on the Half Shell, Garden Salads, Yummy Guinness Beef Stew, and a Mixed Grill of Bangers, Bacon, Pork and Sausages. For desert we indulge in the Soda Bread Pudding and the Maple Ice Cream served in a Bacon Cup. (Yum Bacon!) Our server is fun, the food outstanding and there’s live music filtering down from upstairs. Too bad we're not staying closer, every Tuesday they have 'Bacon Night" featuring bacon dishes and bacon cocktails.  A true gem in the area!

Garryowen Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Central Market
In York we stop at the Central Market.  This farmer’s market has been in continuous operation three days a week since 1888.  There are a lot of food vendors but there is also fresh produce, organic local meats and dairy products.  So, we fill our fridge and freezer with a selection of these.

Harleys
This area of Pennsylvania is known as the factory tour capital of the world… so a touring we will go.  First stop the Harley Davidson factory, where we tour the plant.  After s short introductory film, we enter the plant to see gas tanks and fenders being fabricated and the assembly line where the Touring, Softail®, CVO and Trike models are built. They provide wireless headsets so we can hear the tour guide over the noise of the factory. It’s informational, fun and best of all FREE!


Yum Chocolate
No trip to the area would be complete without a stop in Hershey.  At Chocolate World, we take the free tour, not a real factory tour, but a simulation complete with singing cows.  There is a trolley tour of the town. It’s corny and fun and gives a bit more insight into the inventor of Hershey’s famous chocolate and the town. Most impressive is the Milton Hershey School; a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for children from families of low income, limited resources, and social need, funded by a trust set up by Milton Hershey and his wife Catherine.  We sign up for the Chocolate Tasting Adventure.  We lean about coco production and then look, listen, smell and taste five varieties of Hershey’s chocolate.  Upon completion we are awarded a Master’s Degree in Chocolate Tasting from Hershey’s University.  Love that higher education especially when it involves chocolate! And, the best of all, in the Hershey's store you get the absolute freshest candies you've ever tasted!

Amish Farmers
Nearby Lancaster County is home to Amish and Mennonite farms.  We drive through the countryside past fields being tilled by teams of horses, share the road with horse drawn buggies and see folks on old fashioned bicycles peddling about.  Their clothes are plain, their demeanor serious, they are self-sufficient and their pockets full of cash. It’s easy to over romanticize this lifestyle, but like all communities there is a dark-side, an internet search turns up incidents of physical and sexual abuse, genetic disorders stemming from a closed community, puppy mills and lets not forget the Discovery Channel’s Amish Mafia.

Twisting Hempzels
Over in Hanover, we visit the Revonah Pretzel Factory.  When we arrive the tour guide is not available, but we are invited into the workroom where they are rolling and hand twisting a batch of hemp pretzels.  (Hempzels.) We get to taste some of the garlic hemp dough and watch them dip the pretzels in a soda solution and place them in the 1930’s era oven.  They have been making pretzels like this for 150 years and their soft pretzels are the official pretzels of the Pittsburg Steelers.

Tons-O-Chips
In contrast the Utz chip factory is a vision of stainless steel automation.The self-guided tour takes us along a glass-enclosed walkway above the factory floor. Tons of potatoes (literally) are poured into bins, they are sorted, washed, peeled, sliced, fried, seasoned, cooled, bagged in nitrogen infused packaging, boxed and loaded onto Utz trucks for delivery around the Mid Atlantic States.  At the end of the tour we get a bag of chips… yep it’s all that and a bag of chips. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) Then we head over to their outlet center to pick up some snacks and try some ‘new flavors’ the bacon horseradish chip is interesting – love the bacon flavor, but it’s a little heavy on the horseradish.


Bakery in Reading Trminal
Market
Next it’s onto Philadelphia. We stay at the Timberlane Campground, in Clarksboro NJ.  It’s the closest RV Park to Philly and it has killer WIFI!  It only takes us a half hour to drive across the Ben Franklin Bridge into the City.  First stop is the Independence National Historic Park where we check out the displays and view the Liberty Bell.   Tours of Independence Hall have sold out so we just enjoy the park for a bit and then head over to the Reading Terminal Market.  The market is a giant food court and farmer’s market.  No Chain or franchises here, just local foodstuffs.  We grab a Cheesesteak sandwich at Carmens.  Not the best we’ve ever had… actually pretty disappointing.  We pick up a few bottles of gourmet olive oils and call it a day. Not really into the big city crappy traffic experience today, but it’s been fun.

Well enough time here in the State of Virtue, Liberty and Independence… time to try our luck in Atlantic City…



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