This last weekend Ellen acquiesced to my winter hockey obsession.
We spent Saturday in Hershey PA. That night we saw the Hershey Bears, http://www.hersheybears.com/, wallop the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins 7-2. And we then returned to Washington Sunday in time to watch the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3.
We hadn’t been to Hershey since our two daughters were young. That last visit, we went to a number of the Hershey Chocolate themed places, the names blur in a memory that cannot recall last week well these days. We also visited Hershey Park, where as I vaguely recall I even went on some of the roller coasters which is normally not my favorite thing to do.
The Gibson House. Lately when we travel we try and stay in Bed and Breakfasts whenever we can. You get a bit more of a sense of a location and the opportunity to interact with the other guests is much more likely which often can be fun.
The prevalence of the Internet has dramatically increased the information available about B&B’s. Typically I spend a couple of hours investigating places, leaning a lot on the Trip Advisor ratings and any other references we run across.
In Hershey we stayed at The Gibson House, http://www.gibsonhousebandb.com/, which ended up a great choice. It was a 1925 Victorian style house, which had been updated and decorated by the owner Tom Powers. The rooms were very nice, and the “and B” part which was Blueberry pancakes was great. Equally important it was close to the tourist areas, but in a quiet neighborhood, and just a few minutes from Giant Center, http://www.giantcenter.com/, home of the Hershey Bears.
The Museum on Choclate Avenue. We only had time to visit one of the Hershey sites, the newly built Museum on Chocolate Avenue, which replaced the old Hershey Museum, http://www.hersheystory.org/splash.aspx. We enjoyed wandering around including have some Mexican Chocolate Cake.
I was surprised at the details of what is now called the Milton Hershey School, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Hershey_School. Milton Hershey and his wife Catherine, did not have any children. Instead, or perhaps as a result of that, they created a school to help orphan children. Originally limited to only white boys who were orphans, over time the school, happily, became available to all children in great need.
The school has controlling interest in the Hershey company, owns the Entertainment company, runs many of the local hotels as well as Hershey Park. Over 1700 children currently attend with the plan to increase that to over 2100. All students who graduate receive an $80K scholarship to attend college. The videos of former students are really heartwarming. I didn’t realize what a rich legacy Hershey, who evidently never completed fifth grade, left.
DA BEARS. That night we attended the Hershey Bears game. Evidently when the hockey team was originally formed, it was called the Hershey Bars, but was forced to change its name when it wanted to play competitive hockey, or at least that is the story we were told.
It turns out that by coincidence, the Capitals Road Crew was also attending the game that night. So we met the busload of other Caps fans at the Bear’s Den in the Hershey Lodge for dinner before going to the game that night.
We got to Giant Center around 6:00pm, an hour before the game. There already was a large crowd present; the crowd ended up at the capacity of 10,500. The Giant Center is a great arena, anyone who hasn’t gone and who loves hockey should consider the short trip up to Hershey. You get to see lots of players who have been up to the Caps plus future stars, and the crowd is great. Minor league hockey is a lot like minor league baseball, really community based and fun to attend. Hershey has a very long and deep relationship with the Hershey Bears. The fact that they won 7-2 AND beat the farm team of the hated Pittsburgh Penguins was an added bonus.
While the Caps have two very good young goalies in Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, it is very possible that the best of their young goalies is playing in Hershey, Braden Holtby. With both the Hershey Bears, the Capitals number one minor league affiliate, and the Carolina Stingrays, the Capitals other minor league affiliate, both far in front in their respective divisions, the organization is very deep in talent.
BREAKFAST. Sunday morning, one of those added benefits of staying in a bed and breakfast happened. We had breakfast with a couple from Carroll County, MD, who visit Hershey once a year to see the Hershey sites and go to a Hershey Bears game, and a family, with a young boy and girl, who were in from South Carolina. The wife was from the Pennsylvania area and was visiting her grandmother and other family.
We had a great conversation about hockey and to Ellen’s distress wandered into South Carolina and Massachusetts politics. It turned out that the mother from South Carolina and I had a number of mutual friends as well as an intense interest in political campaigns and politics in general. Great fun.
C-A-P-S, CAPS, CAPS, CAPS. Sunday, we return to Washington, saw the Capitals beat the hated Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 in a very physical, almost playoff atmosphere. And then sadly we had to leave the hockey cocoon to return to ‘real life’. A great two days.