Saturday, February 15, 2014

Things I Learned in Hershey

I recently returned from a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where I represented VSC at an educational technology conference that was held at Hershey Lodge. I was very excited about going to Hershey, not only because it's all about chocolate, but also because there was a very good possibility that I would get to see snow.

I was born in New Jersey, where I lived until the summer of 1977, when I was six years old. The only time I've seen snow (on the ground) was in San Diego (go figure) in 2000. Prior to this trip, I had not seen falling snow in at least 27 years. I watched the forecast in the days leading up to my trip. My niece's husband, Mike (who is a meteorologist and makes the most accurate weather predictions of anyone I know) told me that I had a good chance of seeing a "fun amount of snow" and that it would probably be very cold while I was in Hershey. His forecast was right on target...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

My travel compadre, Bob made our travel arrangements. He knows that I loathe Delta (since my "Meltdown at 37,000 Feet") AND Atlanta airport. Turns out only two airlines service Harrisburg International Airport - United and (you guessed it) Delta. Since Bob is a huge Delta fan (and a Gold SkyMiles member, who often gets bumped to First Class), he booked flights on Delta, but "did me a favor" by having us go through Detroit instead of Atlanta on our way home. I didn't see how Detroit in the middle of February was a better option BUT, it turned out that it was the best decision he could have made.'s a story about my trip to Hershey and the things I learned while I was there (and on the way there):

Well, you've got a long way to go!
I still loathe Delta, but I think I loathe ATL even more. Our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta was on-time and incident-free. We had at least an hour before our next flight was due to leave at 11:05 a.m. and when we arrived at ATL, our next plane was already at the gate. Maybe Delta would prove me wrong. Uh...nope. About 10 minutes before we should have started boarding, the Delta rep informed us that our "plane was at the gate, but the hydraulic mechanism that slowly lowers the boarding door had malfunctioned and the door crashed to the ground, slamming into the concrete." Maintenance had been called and they would need at least one hour to assess the damage and determine if the plane was safe to fly. I am not kidding. Unfortunately, the plane was situated where there were no windows (you KNOW I'd have loved to have gotten a shot of that!)

At around noon, it was determined that the aircraft was not safe to fly, but they had "found" another plane for us, and they were shooting for a 12:35 take-off from another gate. We all rushed over to the new gate. We waited...and waited...and waited. 12:35 came and went. We finally started boarding the "new" plane around 1:15. Let's put it this way, if Delta has to "find" you another plane, consider changing your flight. This plane looked like they had taken it off the junk pile. (See photos below).

Holey Seat Back Pocket, Batman!
Does it really matter?
To add to the "adventure", we were seated in an exit row, so we had to verbally attest to the fact that we were capable and willing to help our fellow passengers in the event of an emergency. Now, if ANY plane was going down, this one had a good chance of it. But, we made it to Harrisburg around 3:00 p.m., just as it was beginning to snow. :D

Northerners are not at all excited about snow. As I was disembarking, there was a small gap between the plane and the jetway. I could feel the COLD air and I could see the first snowflakes starting to fall. Remember, this was the first time I had seen falling snow since I was a little girl. I was SO excited! I exclaimed, "It's SNOWING!" Once I got to the jetway, there were five or six people standing there looking at me like I was out of my mind. One woman said, "You know, you are the ONLY person who is happy about this, right." Bah humbug! ;)

Falling snow is beautiful. As we waited for our baggage, it started snowing harder. I kept  
going outside and just marveling at how beautiful it was. It was like being inside a snow globe and I truly felt like a little kid again. 

The Peanuts' kids are right! It IS fun to catch snowflakes on your tongue! Of course I had to try it!
There are Kisses everywhere at the Hershey Lodge. 
Kisses in the parking lot...Kisses at check-in...Kisses by the fireplace...Kisses in the sweet shop...Kisses on the bedding...Kisses on the wallpaper...the only kisses that were missing were kisses from my doggies! ;)

Hershey Lodge doesn't see a need for blankets, even in the middle of winter. Although the Kisses-covered bedding was downright adorable, in my opinion, a sheet and a light duvet are hardly sufficient for nighttime warmth when the outside temperatures are in the teens. I don't usually like to sleep with the heat turned up, but I didn't have much choice. I asked housekeeping for a blanket and was told they could give me an extra "bedspread". How about filling that duvet with a nice down comforter instead?

You have to scrape your windshield and car windows often when it snows. Again, I never really thought about it before! I can imagine this getting old. It was also odd to see cars practically buried in snow on the side of the road and in people's yards. 

You can't make a snow angel just anywhere. I never considered that there are different types of snow until I asked my friend Kimberly what type of footwear I should bring to Hershey. She told me it depended on the type of snow. Some snow is wet and slushy, some is hard and icy, etc. NOW, I get it. 
Not too shabby for a Floridian!
I realized pretty quickly that, although there was plenty of fresh powder on the grounds at the Hershey Lodge, one step into the "grass" let me know that it was no place to attempt to make a snow angel (unless I wanted to sink down about six inches and turn into a popsicle. 

We had to make a Staples run, and as we pulled into the nearly empty parking lot at dusk (we got there just before it closed on Sunday evening), I noticed that there were a couple of inches of fresh snow on the ground. I asked Bob if he thought I could make a snow angel in the parking lot. He told me go to for it. So I did (and it turned out perfect!). 

The hope of capturing a beautiful sunrise makes logic and vanity go out the window. When I woke up that first morning in Hershey, I could see dawn just starting to break outside my window. I knew that the "feels-like" temperatures were in the single digits, but how often do I have the opportunity to capture a sunrise in a winter wonderland. So, I threw on my clothes, coat, hat, scarf and gloves, grabbed my camera, and ventured outside wearing my glasses with the Coke bottle lenses and not an ounce of makeup. 

As I was taking pictures outside, a nice man from Penn Power offered to take a picture of me with the sunrise in the background. I declined, but thanked him anyway. 

Once I got back to the room and looked at myself in the mirror, I wish I had let him take the photo. I literally laughed out loud at my reflection. My hat was pulled down low and where my glasses stick out on either side of my face, my hair was curling upwards, like wings! It was pretty funny. ;)

Snow really does glisten. As I was wandering around, waiting for the sun to come up, I discovered that snow glistens. Sure, I had heard about it in Christmas carols, but I had never actually SEEN it (or noticed it as a child). It was beautiful! 

Sunrise is beautiful in the winter. Now, I love to watch the sun rise over the ocean and behind palm trees, but there is something about a colorful sunrise against a brilliant blue sky with bare trees and snow in the foreground that is beautiful too! Granted, it's a lot more pleasant watching the sunrise from my balmy balcony in my PJs than freezing wearing five layers of clothes.

Fingertips freeze...and it's scary. I spent a good 30-40 minutes in single-digit temperatures. Although, I did go inside the lobby a couple of times to warm up, apparently I stayed out a little too long as the sun was really starting to come up. Although I was wearing knit gloves, my hands were taking pictures, not in my pockets, so by the time I went inside, they were numb. As they started to warm up, my fingers (especially my fingernails) started to HURT! I began to wonder if I had done serious damage to them. Fortunately, within a half-hour or so, they started to feel normal again. (That's one thing I will NOT miss about winter up North!)

A hair clip may be used as a follicle-taming device in a pinch. The first night in Hershey, after washing my hair, I realized that I hadn't brought a hairbrush with me. Fortunately, I had a large hair clip. Turns out, this can double as a wide-toothed comb when necessary.

Cold weather dries your skin and hair out. Coming from the sauna that is South Florida, I am not used to dry air (outside OR inside). My skin constantly felt dry and my hair felt like straw (which made it even less fun to "comb" with a hair clip). Fortunately, I had my trusty coconut oil hair polish and the Hershey Lodge provided cocoa-infused lotion. Basically, I walked around smelling like a Mounds bar. :)

I was reminded about "jimmies". As I was listening to the local news one morning, a pastry chef from Hershey was making cookies. She mentioned decorating them with "jimmies". :) I had forgotten all about "jimmies." I'm not sure at what point after moving to Florida I started calling them "sprinkles," but it was another nice childhood memory. When I posted on Facebook about "jimmies", my friends from the Northeast knew exactly what I was talking about and others asked what they were. 

Today, I was in Target (in Florida) and observed that, although the container reads "Sprinkles", the shelf tag does not...I wonder if the Florida employees have to ask what product goes in that spot on the shelf! 

In Pennsylvania, it's the law to stop for pedestrians trudging through the snow. Apparently. 

No matter how small the airport, chances are good that I'll be body scanned and patted down. Harrisburg International Airport is one of the tiniest airports I've ever flown into (or out of) - just a handful of airlines, a whopping 12 gates, NO lines at the ticket counters, NO lines at security, and YET, I still get selected to be scanned. As I exited the scanner, the TSA agent pulled me aside and asked if I had something metal in my pocket. My pockets were empty, but I did see the image on the scanner. Maybe I have a metal ovary. Who KNOWS! After having my pockets patted, I was able to go on my merry way. I wonder if I can sue the TSA for excessive radiation.

Psychedelic tunnel at DTW
Detroit WAS a better choice for a layover than Atlanta on February 11, 2014. I've got to give Bob credit for this one. Who'd have thought a snow and ice storm would be slamming Atlanta, Georgia while Detroit, Michigan was clear (albeit cold) on a mid-February night? Well, that's exactly what happened. We did have to wait for the flight attendants to arrive in Detroit, as they were delayed coming in from [guess where]. The pilot made up the time and got us home safely though,so I'll give Delta credit for that.

But I hope I never have to fly that airline (or connect in ATL) ever again. 

Snow is nice for a limited time. For those of you who think that I am completely insane for being so excited about this trip to the Great White North, I must confess, I don't think I'd want to live in it. All that scraping and shoveling and waiting for the plows to come so you can actually leave home, not to mention frozen fingers. And honestly, the snow is not so pretty once it starts to melt and get dirty. Granted, the snow is beautiful when it is fresh and white and I wish for it every single Christmas, but I like the beach even better.

All in all, I'm really thankful that I had the opportunity to visit "The Sweetest Place on Earth" in wintertime. I was thrilled that I got to experience a beautiful snowfall, sit by a fireplace and drink hot cocoa at a place known for chocolate. Reliving childhood memories really did make me feel like a little girl again. It was so much fun to have that sense of wonder that is often lost in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. I am determined to try and find it in the world that is around me every day, even for just a few minutes. 

With love and warm wishes of aloha ~ Nancy