Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend Retreat

After all of the business travel over the past several weeks, you might think the last thing I would want to do is more travel, but my daughter, Melody, and I had a nice little over-night getaway this weekend.  I had just returned home on Wednesday from a business trip to St. Louis, just ahead of a major snow storm that dumped well over a foot and a half of snow on us.  We had planned our annual snow tubing trip over President's Day weekend, but the snow kept us from leaving on Thursday, as we normally do, and we cancelled.  Melody and I, going a little stir crazy at home, decided we needed to do something, though.

On Saturday, we awoke to more snow.  We proceeded to have on again-off again snow flurries all day.  We packed up and took Faithful Pup Scout over to my parent's place, then headed north to Hershey, PA.  It was a slow drive.  There was a lot of traffic out on the roads, for some reason.  Maybe it was the Holiday weekend, but a typical Saturday isn't normally this busy.  We took our time, and finally arrived in Hersey at around 5 p.m. We went straight to our destination, Hershey's Chocolate World for the free factory tour, which is a "tram" ride through a chocolate factory.  We've been coming here since I was a kid, though it has been tweaked and improved over the years, and appears to be undergoing a face lift even now.  Melody loves it.  We went through twice, and got a free candy sample at the end of the ride, this time a small pack of Rolos, which I didn't even know were made by Hershey's.  Then we shopped for some chocolate gifts for our family.

We checked into the Quality Inn right up the road, then went back out for dinner at the Soda Jerk Diner in Hummelstown, a little town just down the road from Hershey.  This is a pretty cool place, and modeled like a typical 40s/50s diner.  The servers are mostly young women from Europe here to work, and, I assume, go to school in the US.  We've eaten here several times now, and the food is good road food.  I had the hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy.  My daughter had pasta.

After our fine dinner, we went to the movies to see THE LEGO MOVIE.  It was awesome!  There was so much going on on the screen all the time, it was almost overwhelming, but it worked.  I want to see it again if only to see the background action.  There is a typical lesson about playing with toys and growing up and all that stuff.  Suffice it to say the movie is worth seeing.  The voice actors are major stars, and seem to fit the characters well.  It was a lot of fun.  Melody really loved it.

This morning, we had to rush a bit since we were really tired, but we had planned to visit with our old friends, Sandy & Michelle, and their son, at their church in Carlisle.  Sandy is the Lead Pastor, and has been a friend for about 13 years.  Michelle and my wife, Teresa, were close, as well.  We quickly got ready, ate a quick breakfast at the hotel, and checked out.  We had about 40 minutes to get to their church in Carlisle, and we arrived just in time.  After a very good message and service, we had lunch with them at Red Robin.  It was a really nice visit, and we promised not to wait so long before visiting again.

After saying goodbye, we headed south down through Gettysburg, and then down to Emmittsburg, MD.  I decided to take a little detour and drive up into the Catoctin Mountains behind Mt. St. Mary's University, and drive by the old retreat camp I used to go to annually with my church youth group, and again as a counselor for almost ten years:  Summit Lake Camp.  It was just as I remembered, though it looked a bit run down.  It was practically deserted, and I felt a little spooked knowing I was on private property.  We took a few pictures without getting out of our Jeep, and I told Melody a few stories about the place before we continued on down the road.

We worked our way to Damascus to visit with my in-laws.  My daughter hadn't seen her grandparents in almost a month, so we were long overdue.  We surprised them, but it was a really nice visit.  We chatted for a few hours, then we headed home.  We picked up a Ledo's pizza on the way so we had a great dinner to finish off the trip.

It was a really great overnight trip, though I usually pay for it afterwards because of all of the driving.  I used to be able to do 500 miles in a day.  My record was 800 miles in one day, on a trip from St. Louis to DC.  Now, a couple of hundred miles wears on me.  I hope to sleep well tonight.

It's good to be home.  Have a great evening, everyone.

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