Hershey Park and New Friends

So, in typical Johnson fashion, we waited to go to Hershey Park until after we'd moved an hour and a half away from Hershey Park. I assume the summer will be filled with such trips to places that were just down the street less than a week ago.
"Look, kids! The Broad Street Market!"

"We used to pass that every day, Dad..."

"I know, but now it's foreign and exotic!"

Hershey offered a 50% discount to homeschoolers last Sunday, which is about the only way we were going to afford it right now (considering I just blew half our yearly income trying to get the XBox and computers working in the new place on books and educational materials for our beloved children). The threat of tornadoes, hurricanes, monsoons, and the rapture apparently scared everyone else away, because the kids barely had to stand in line for anything. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays homeschoolers from the swift gobbling up of half-price tickets. We'll show up at a sweater knitting competition if you offer us a discount.

Hershey Park was a dream. I've spent the last few summers suffering through Branson, Missouri. Now, my parents and in-laws love Branson. It's 1) a haven for country music and gospel heroes of the 60's and 70's, 2) a shopping mecca, and 3) most importantly for the kids, the location of Silver Dollar City. I have nothing against any of these things but they translate into this for me: 1) Going to work (I played in a club band for so long that watching live music has become a chore), 2) a lot of walking, and 3) a lot of walking up very steep hills.

Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri is built on the side of a volcano from one of those old Godzilla movies. You can literally feel your ears popping as you drag yourself up the 70 degree angled streets to get to the rides. Because, of course, the rides are all at the back of the park, a three mile hike up wanna-be Everest. Then the rides for the small kids are all the way on the OTHER side of the park. Steep climbs, brain-melting Arkansas heat, and whining kids. For me, the thrill isn't the rides - it's finding a premium spot at the top where I can hurl myself down the mountain into the sweet embrace of a quick death.

But I digress...

Hershey Park had the greatest layout of any amusement park I've ever been to. Right inside the front doors are *actual* rides, both for big and small kids, along with a few well placed food vendors. In fact, the whole park is designed this way - scary rides, tame rides, food, bathrooms, all in little clusters. It's like it was designed by someone who has actually patronized an amusement park with children of varying ages, instead of by a childless mountain climber with anorexia and a colostomy bag.

This brown guy kept following us around until we took a
picture with him. Sad.

We went with our new friends, the Foleys. Have I mentioned the Foleys? The Foley's (pictured right) are awesome. I started e-mailing Stacy about the local homeschool group she coordinates (INCH) before we moved here, and she was extremely welcoming. Once we arrived, our families hit it off immediately, mostly due to our kids being completely awesome (at least we've agreed that they're all totally awesome), and our deep abiding love of all things related to Friends (the sitcom) and ice cream. Mark and Stacy live in Annville, a quaint little Pennsylvania town where Rich takes Ice Hockey lessons. (Note: They have a blog! Follow the link above or click Sushi and Pizza in the sidebar)

Rich is amused. Max is not.
I'm Strongly Advised by the signs on these insane roller-coasters that people with heart disease should not ride attractions that exert an excess of 700 G's on your face. Rich, being Rich, wants to ride those particular attractions multiple times. Yeah - he's one of those, that stick their hands in the air when the coaster does those flippy things that neither nature nor physics, even on their worst days, ever intended. So Christie gets to do those with him, except this time she got off easy because Kate (a.k.a. Thing 1, as the Foley's call their 11 year old) is equally blase' about her life expectancy. They made a good, if somewhat worrisome pair.

Here's another thing that's awesome though: When this happened, Maxim, the younger Foley (a.k.a. Thing 2) skipped away with Brennan (at least 4 years younger than him) to ride other rides. Max, being the more sane of the two Foley Things, doesn't enjoy rides that make normal humans vomit copiously. Brennan is down with that. I could digress here into a long and admittedly biased praise of the age-integrated nature of homeschooling, but you get the picture. The kids traded back and forth like this all day and it was a very role-affirming, self-congratulatory parenting moment for all adults involved. Did I mention that our kids are awesome?

All this was followed by a scene of gluttony and feasting at Red Robin that was so gratuitously disgusting that I can't bear to display photos of it. We were STARVED after mostly avoiding overpriced park food all day. How have I never eaten at a Red Robin? The A1 Peppercorn Burger and Bottomless Fries hit the spot, and I distinctly remember stuffing my face with a huge wedge of something chocolaty and fluffy. It was some kind of mousse/chocolate/cheesecake type thing, but I was too  tired and hungry to pay much attention to the name. As usual, we sat there until midnight laughing and making a general nuisance of ourselves to the wait staff while the kids played Yu-Gi-Oh and tried to scheme a way to stay even later. Good times.

We were a little tired by the end of the day


  1. " . . . instead of by a childless mountain climber with anorexia and a colostomy bag."


    I'm so glad the Apocalypse didn't hamper our plans. That would've sucked.

    And I'm so so so glad that y'all (heheheh) moved here and into our lives, even if between the hours we keep, the food we eat, and the noise we make, it seems like we're all from the same frat/sorority house. Can hardly wait to do it again!

  2. Next time, WE'LL bring the bacon!

  3. No bacon before the roller coasters, though. I don't think my poor stomach can handle it! And what does it say about my approach to my life expectancy that I kept chaperoning Kate and/or Rich on those ridiculous, vomit-inducing rides?

    I think it was called "The 14-pound, Do-You-Even-Care-About-Your-Health Mud Pie." It was awesome!

  4. Did you get eat one of them too? I was so busy stuffing my face I didn't even pay attention to what everyone else ordered...

  5. Oh, we got one, too. Notice I said, "we." We wisely split the monstrosity between the four of us rather than try to defy the laws of physics.

  6. Oh! You're supposed to split it? That's probably why I perforated my spleen trying to cram it all in. I can't remember being so hungry that I just shoveled food in with abandon like that. I guess I might as well get as much use out of my current heart as I can...

  7. Keep eating those mud pies and you might need a new colon as well.

  8. Hey, that colostomy bag might come in handy at Silver Dollar City! Hey, look at us -- we've come full circle!!