Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Vacation Recap, PN/NY, Part II

We took a week to visit famous places in Pennsylvania and New York (specifically Philadelphia and Manhattan).

Day 3

Woke up and went down to the main floor for breakfast. The breakfast had a lot of options, including a few microwaves so you could heat things to your own satisfaction.

Then we got ready for the day. The plan was to spend the day taking in the historic district: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the US Mint, and Ben Franklin’s grave.

The historic district was several blocks from the hotel. There wasn’t a good public transportation option, and I didn’t want to have to deal with traffic and parking, so we walked. It was good for the kids after spending all that time in the van the previous two days.

On the way there, we happened to pass another district:

photo of the Chinatown part of Philadelphia

Being part Asian, the family wanted to make a quick detour down that road and see what we could see.
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Vacation Recap, PN/NY, Part I

We took a week to visit famous places in Pennsylvania and New York (specifically Philadelphia and Manhattan).

Day 1

Get to eastern PA. Nothing fancy here.

Stayed at a local place (not a chain) because I thought it would be interesting – a greater chance of something memorable compared to a national chain.

The place was called the Hershey Farm Inn, and I chose it because they had a buffet-style restaurant that was open for breakfast (and free for hotel guests). Plus it had a pool. And some nice grounds: a pond, some goats, some geese, a flower garden, walking paths, and a giant statue of an Amish man. I didn’t know about that last item until we arrived though. The place is not related to the Hershey Chocolate Company – it’s just near the town of Hershey.

photo of the Hershey Farm Inn grounds near Lancaster, PA

It fulfilled my expectations in that it was unique and therefore memorable. I can’t recall the details/layout/features of the various chain hotel rooms we’ve stayed in, but our accommodations that night were half of the top floor of an old farmhouse. It was setup to sleep 8, I think, so two of the kids didn’t even have to share a bed like usual.

I took the kids on a walking tour of the grounds while Some Wife got dinner ready in the room. She brought it from home so we wouldn’t have to go out that night. We ate dinner, then we all went to the pool. Outdoor only, slightly cold, but it worked. After the pool, the kids played on the boat-like play structure and chased the geese. Then winding down in the room with some home-improvement show on HGTV, then off to bed.

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Nelson Ledges

We met some acquaintances at a state park: Nelson Ledges.

It’s a fun place for kids and a stressful place for parents. If you read my review of Letchworth State Park last year, this may sounds familiar to you.

Nelson Ledges is a scenic place, although on our day there were a number of rambunctious and/or reckless teenagers (or they could have been in their lower 20s, but I don’t have a good term for them that fits like “crazy teenagers” does).

Now for the pictoral tour through Nelson Ledges:

image of a walk through Nelson Ledges State Park

This was the start – just a walk along a forest path.
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Vacation 2016, Part 5

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 7
Up in the morning, continental breakfast at the hotel lobby (which doubled as a souvenir shop and fireworks store), then we were off again. Headed to Minnesota this time.

This part of the trip was the most boring, scenery-wise. On the plus side, it had the highest speed limit, so that was fun.

Not much to report. We drove east for about 8 hours, stopping for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Mitchell. Thought about visiting the corn palace while we were there, but we didn’t. Then more driving, and we got to our destination in time for dinner. Stayed with relatives, not at a hotel, so that was good.

We went from 100+ degrees and dry and windy to this:

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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Vacation 2016, Part 4

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 6
Up in the morning, another round of pancakes for breakfast, and we were off. Packed up the van, checked out of the hotel, and left Custer. Destination: just a couple hours northeast to Wall.

First stop: the Badlands.

Of course, we got in free again. Showed the gate attendant the 4th grade pass, and had the 4th grader wave to her because she had to verify we had him with us.

At first glance, the Badlands looks like a lot of nothing. And it is. But it’s a scenic nothing. In fact, if you look at it the right way, it can resemble the Grand Canyon.

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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Vacation 2016, Part 3

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 5
Up in the morning, another round of pancakes for breakfast, and we were off for a day of hiking.

One of the reasons I chose to stay in Custer was that it was in the middle of Mt. Rushmore (day 4), Wind Cave (day 3), and Cathedral Spires (day 5)

It was not that long of a drive to the trailhead. But to get there we had to go along a twisty scenic drive.

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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Vacation 2016, Part 2

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 4
Since we were staying in Custer, there was not much involved in going to see Mt. Rushmore.

First off, and I don’t have any photos of this, was the hotel’s breakfast. This was a pancake buffet. There was a pancake machine that made pancakes. You grabbed a pancake or two and then added whatever toppings you wanted. It was a novelty that was fun the first time. My suggestion would be to have some protein available also – bacon, sausage, eggs, etc. Because the kids love pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate chips and everything, but it doesn’t last them very long.

After breakfast, we headed to Mt. Rushmore. I had heard the light was best in the morning, so that’s what we did. Got there around 9:30.

Our national parks pass was useless here, as the monument itself is free. You have to pay for parking (considered a “concession”) though.

It was just like it should be:

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

We had perfect weather and sunlight for photos that morning.

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