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» Monday, November 09, 2009A Visit to Addictions
We rose at the leisurely hour of 7:30 (well, for a weekday, since we are usually up at six), to the good news that the SEPTA strike has been resolved, so we can take commuter rail into Philadelphia if we want to. Yay.
They had corn flakes on the breakfast bar this morning, and bacon. I had my usual three slices, the corn flakes, oatmeal, two slices of whole wheat toast, fruit (cantaloupe and oranges), and two pints of milk.
This morning we drove out to the Reading Regional Airport to go to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum. This is a small (one tiny hangar stuffed with aircraft, and a static display on the runway of about a dozen planes, plus about a dozen display cases) air museum, which is, sadly, what the Quonset Point Air Museum should at least be, if someone would bother giving the poor sods financial aid. The "MAAM" came complete with a tour guide named Fred, who is a World War II buff, who first took us out to the static line. This included several civil aircraft, including an old Eastern Airlines passenger plane from the late 1950s-early 60s (back when airplanes still had curtains and their dinner came with china and silverware), and some helicopters, a Coast Guard craft, and a Navy plane which was the equivalent of a DC-3. I initially handed the camera to James, but he was having such a good back-and-forth with Fredoccasionally disputing facts with each other!that I just took it back and took photos of the planes the way I see him do it, sometimes several angles to one craft.
Also took some photos of the landscape in the distance: it was a chill morning, with a low haze lying over the trees and the fields. The chill eventually burned off, although it never did become as warm as they predicted, as high cloud cover crept in throughout the day.
Anyway, inside the hangar are more aircraft, including aerobatic planes hung on the walls, a B-25 bomber, a Texan aircraft like James flew in on his 40th birthday, two trainers (the one used by neophyte military fliers and then the aircraft they graduated to), a superbly kept Beechcraft, and others. The "crown" in the collection is a P-61 "Black Widow" they are restoring. This is a World War II aircraft, and only four of them are left: one at the Smithsonian, one at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, and one in China, and this one here. It's in pieces right now, and will probably be several more years in restoration.
Several display cases included airline memorabilia and military mementos, and there were also two cars. The first one looked a lot like the HHR Chevrolet, and there was also a 1925 Pierce Arrow roadster with huge running boards and a rumble seat. I've always wanted a roadster like Nancy Drew drove in the early books, and this came close enough. And of course Pierce Arrow was the manufacturer of "Foolish Carriage," the Gilbreth family car in Cheaper by the Dozen, although their car was many years older (and larger...LOL). I had James take a photo of me with it.
There are also some display cases inside the main building of Pennsylvania boys who served. The most famous "Pennsylvania boy" was the fellow the airfield was named after, General Spaatz, from nearby Boyertown. [More info here.]
Fred apologized for talking so much, but he was fun to listen to. He talked a lot about the World War II re-enactment they hold here every year in June, about the declining industry in the area, his family, and hosts of facts about the airplanes. It was obvious he loves working there.
We didn't really know the museum size, so didn't have anything major planned for the afternoon in case it was extensive. If we finished in the afternoon I figured we could drive north to Roadside America, which is only a couple of hours to see at most. However, we got to the museum a little after they opened at 9:30 and left at 11:30. We first decided to get lunch. James punched a few buttons on the GPS and we picked an "Ozzie's Restaurant" out of the results.
However, on the way there, we saw another restaurant and decided to eat there instead. Terrific serendipity! This was the Crossroads Family Restaurant, and the food was yummy. I've been hankering for roast turkey and that's what I had. This came with a vegetable and the soup and salad bar. It was turkey breast, but very moist and flavorful. It was stuffed with a potato stuffing (!!!), but it had too much sage in it for my taste. Off the bar I had only applesauce (very nice!) and their chicken noodle soup, which was superb. I could have eaten lunch just on the soup.
Since it was so early (not even one), we decided to go out to Hershey and visit "Chocolate World." We drove there via Route 422, which we hoped might be a country road, but which was interrupted by little towns. I am quite interested by the houses here; a great majority of them are brick, or brick fronted, and many duplexes with small porches on the front. Some were well maintained, some not, but I was happy to notice how many of them had fall decorations! Especially near the farms, homes had corn stalks, scarecrows, pumpkins. Some just had Thanksgiving flags, and a few leftover Hallowe'en decorations.
Hershey was fun. Originally they did allow tours of the factory, but for years they have been at this "Chocolate World" visitor center. (And I do mean years: it was like that when I was last here in 1974.) You go on a Disney-like ride with moving cars that takes you through the chocolate process: from the jungle to how the beans are ripened, roasted, chopped, mixed, blended with milk, rolled, etc. until they become a chocolate bar, all narrated by three sassy cows and a bull.
I bought us tickets for the trolley ride, so after taking the ride we strolled about the gift shop [it's a state law...LOL] while we waited for the tour to start. This is huge: mostly chocolate, but also shirts, stuffed animals, Christmas ornaments, gifts, the usual things.
The trolley ride: another great tourguide! Two days and we've had three in that time. He introduced us to our motorman and called himself "your motormouth." He was great. The trolley basically begins at Milton Hershey's childhood home and traces his life, and the "chocolate empire" he built after failing multiple times as a caramel manufacturer due to the high price of sugar. His caramels were eventually a success in England, where they were enrobing them in chocolate. It was in this way he got interested in chocolate. Eventually he was worth millions, and had a wife he adored. Since they were destined to be childless, he founded a school for orphan boys [which is now a co-educational school for poor or abandoned children]. Sadly, his wife didn't live very long after he built her a lovely house. We saw the school, "Founders Hall," the home he built for his wife, the housing he built for his workers, the school building named for his wife, and the three factories (the original factory still makes the basic chocolates, a second does enrobed chocolates, and the third makes the Reese's peanut butter cups, which, ironically, Milton Hershey never liked, and now they are the best-selling chocolates of the bunch!).
We picked up a few things from the gift shop, then returned home, mostly in the dark, since it was now after five. We drove home via the same route, and I noticed more of the window candles. A couple of the homes did have further Christmas decorations, but most were just candles without any further holiday decoration. Maybe white candles only are a Christmas custom? I will have to ask on my Christmas group; I know there are some members from Pennsylvania.
Anyway, made supper in our tiny hotel kitchenette, watched Jeopardy and House, and just finished Castle.
Have to check out the weather report, but I believe we're going to the train museum tomorrow.