Good Evening Courageous Travelers,
We have started the trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate is all I have been hearing since we picked up everyone.
We started our pick ups in Davenport. Where we met Amber from HDC. She is super excited and cannot wait to travel. This is Amber first weeklong trip.
The second pickup was in Coralville. Here we met Mason, Quincy, Dree, Tana, and Rebecca (who flew in from Arizona to attend this trip). We checked everyone in and loaded the bus. Each one of the individuals have been on multiple trips. They are excited for those fun rides at Hershey Park.
The third pick-up was in Marion. We met Amy, who was all decked out in her travel shirt! We also met Eric! He is the traveling master! He just went on the WWE trip this past weekend.
Once we left, we made our way to Camp Courageous. On our way we listened to the radio and sang along to a lot of our favorite songs.
When we arrived at camp, we unloaded at Pitlik Cabin and met Sara and Tina are final two traveler checkins today. Sara mentioned how she is looking forward to all the Chocolate! Hershey Chocolate is on everyone’s mind and they cannot wait for the trip.
We meet our last traveler Abby tomorrow in ILL.
The guys of the group sat outside for a while talking about the trip and enjoying the beautiful weather. All the ladies made there way to their rooms to get ready for bed.
It was a great drive and everyone was on time. Tomorrow the travelers begin driving at 7am!
May they have a safe drive to PA!!
Hello Courageous Travels!!
We are spending the week in Hershey, PA!! We started our day getting up at 6am. Everyone was so excited that they were all ready earlier than planned to we packed up the bus and left around 6:40am.
We stopped at the Lincoln Oasis in Illinois to pick up traveler Abby and grab some lunch. We had McDonald’s at the Oasis while we waited for Abby. Mason thought it was so cool that we were eating above the interstate! Abby arrived a little before noon, we greeted her and hopped back on the bus.
We continued our drive to Pennsylvania. We had a smooth drive with only a few little traffic delays. Along the way we watched some movies. Because our week has a chocolate theme, we HAD to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!! Too bad we didn’t have any chocolate yet! Tina was singing along to all of the songs!!
Before we knew it, we were in the great state of Ohio, Melissa’s home state! We stopped at a travel plaza to grab some dinner and fill up the bus with gas.
We ordered sandwiches from The Great Steak and Potato Company!
All of our sandwiches were made fresh to order so we had a little bit of a wait. While we waited, some of the group went for a walk outside around the travel plaza then everyone played a few rounds of I Spy! Once our food was ready we hopped back on the bus and continued our drive to our hotel. Everyone loved their sandwich and said it was defiantly worth the wait!
We arrived at our hotel around 10pm, where we met up with volunteer, Sam! The travelers greeted her and then we settled into our rooms. We will be in Hershey tomorrow around lunchtime time and we can’t wait to explore Chocolate Town, USA!!!
Stayed tuned to hear all about our chocolate filled adventures this week!!
– Travel Team
Day 3Hello Courageous Travels!!The travelers woke early for the day. Everyone got ready, cleaned up, gathered their things and met in the lobby around 7am for breakfast. The travelers enjoyed a breakfast of eggs, cereal, fresh fruit and other yummy breakfast foods. We loaded up in the bus and headed east. We made one stop for restrooms and to stretch our legs and then back on the road. The drive was amazing, great views of mountains and we even went through a few tunnels.We made it to Boomerang’s Bar and Grill in New Cumberland, PA. where a table was waiting for us. Everyone was glad to be off the bus for a little while. The travelers were so excited to be so close to Chocolate Town, USA. Everyone placed their orders and our food arrived so fast. The food was delicious, no one left hungry. While at lunch, Amber told us that she felt like she was being spoiled on this trip!! We told her, she is on vacation and that’s how she’s supposed to feel! This is Amber’s first overnight trip and she is having a blast so far! We went on to our hotel where we checked into our rooms. We unloaded our luggage from the bus and checked into two of our rooms. We then made our way to Hershey, “The Sweetest Place on Earth”! We had some extra time before we had to be at our first activity so we did a little shopping at the Hershey Lodge gift shop called Sweet Memories. Our travelers are all about shopping!! They were literally like kids in a candy store! 😉After everyone bought some great souvenirs, we hopped back on the bus and made our way to the Hershey Story Museum. As we drove down Chocolate Avenue, we noticed that the street lights were Hershey’s Kisses!! Some were wrapped and others were unwrapped! How cool is that?? As we pulled up to The Hershey Story Museum, we were greeted by a tour guide, Ann Marie who ushered us into the museum. We went directly to the Chocolate Lab where we met two ladies, Donna and Valerie who helped us with the lab. Everyone was given aprons to wear so we didn’t get our clothes dirty. We were told we were going to make our own S’more candy bar. Before we got started, our guides shared some fun facts about S’mores. We learned that the first S’more recipe was found in a Girl Scout Book in 1927. We also learned that National S’more Day is August 10th and that Grand Rapids, Michigan eats the most S’mores! We discussed the ingredients that make up a S’more (graham crackers, marshmallow and chocolate) and different recipes for this delicious treat! We also learned that 2.1 million S’mores are made daily in the summer across our nation!After S’more’s trivia it was time to make a candy bar! We poured warm chocolate into a mold then lightly tapped it to even it out. We added marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs too. The candy bar was then placed in a cooler to set. While we waited for our chocolate to cool we learned about the process it takes from bean to candy bar. Donna shared with us that Cacao trees grow in the understory layer of the rainforest. On these trees are small blossoms, which is where the chocolate process starts! These blossoms turn into pods, once ripe, the pods are broken open which is where the cacao beans are located. The beans then have to be fermented, sun dried and roasted before being made in the chocolate that we all know and love. We even got to taste raw chocolate, which was pretty bitter! The travelers sure asked Donna some great questions about this process! Donna also shared that one pod only makes two Hershey Bars and that 10 million Hershey bars are made a day!! That’s a lot of chocolate!After the lab, we got our chocolate back to take home with us, but honestly, I don’t think any of the chocolate is going to make it home! The traveler’s couldn’t wait to try their creations!We broke up into our small groups and were off to explore the Hershey History Museum. The Museum told the story of Milton Hershey, his family and how he started off as an apprentice before building his own company. Did you know that he had a caramel company before he started a chocolate company? Hershey also started a foundation that supported educational and cultural opportunities as well as a school for children in social and financial need. It was a wonderful museum and great way to introduce us to Hershey! One of the exhibits allowed you to create your own newspaper headline! Amy and Sarah made headlines so be sure to check out those photos!Becky and Dree got an ISpy list and found all the items on the list while they explored. They liked shopping for chocolate candy. When they hit the gift shop Dree found a Hershey cook book and Becky got a new hat. Abby liked to read about the history of Milton Hershey and how he built his chocolate empire. Mason liked making his own s’more chocolate bar and “the science behind the chocolate”. Tina liked shopping, she got a pair of flip flops and a puppy she is naming Cocoa. Eric N. liked making his own candy bar and getting a new hat. He was so helpful with his traveling friends, he usually held the door for everyone. Amber liked making the chocolate. She found a shirt and some wax for melting that smelled like chocolate. Quincy had a great day, he liked shopping. He got a new t-shirt and a candle. His candle smelled so delicious he wanted to eat it.Tanna put lots of graham crackers on her candy bar. She can’t wait to eat it. She found some shirts and a special necklace in the gift shop.When we asked Sarah what she liked best about today she said, “chocolate”. When we asked what about the chocolate she said, “all of it, I liked all of the day and all of the chocolate.” Amy showed me her new shirt and said, “I love it so much”. We asked if she had a good day and she said, “yea, the best day.” Sara also told us that this was her “best trip ever”. We are thrilled that the travelers are having so much fun on this trip and it has only just begun!When we were finished at the Hershey Story Museum we walked down the block to Houlihan’s. We were taken to our table and feasted like kings and queens. Everyone was so full and ready to head back to the hotel for some RnR. We got back about 7:30pm where everyone relaxed. We know we have another busy day tomorrow so it’s early to bed for most of the group.We can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring in Chocolate Town USA– The Travel Team
Day 4Hello Courageous Travels!Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! That’s all any of us have had on our minds today as we went through Hershey Chocolate World. We woke up and had breakfast at the hotel, and Becky even started out our chocolate-filled day by making chocolate chip waffles!We loaded the bus and made our way over to Hershey Chocolate World and the travelers were so amazed to see how much chocolate there actually was! There was Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Cups, Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, and more everywhere we looked; it was a sweet tooth’s paradise! There were even huge versions of candy, 5 pound chocolate bars, that some of our travelers took pictures with to show their friends and family back home.Our first activity of the day was the Chocolate Tasting Experience with our paleteer guide, Christy. We were given a brief description of where chocolate comes from and how there are over 600 different tastes associated with chocolate! The experts at Hershey Company explained in a video that there are at least five categories of taste buds; sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory/umami. They also explained how we can use our other senses, smell, sight and sound, to enhance our tasting experience. We were given four different chocolate bars and had a taste wheel with a ton of different taste options for us to choose from. We tasted special dark chocolate, milk chocolate, artisan dark chocolate, and artisan milk chocolate. Eric was so eager to taste his chocolate that he threw the whole thing in his mouth before Christy was done explaining, he also said that this was his favorite activity of the day. Becky said that the special dark chocolate had a “wood” taste. Dree described her milk chocolate as having a “milk and cream” taste to it. Abby said she could taste “caramel” in the artisan milk chocolate. Afterwards, Mason was saying how he was intrigued how all the chocolates melted at different speeds. All the travelers were given certificates of chocolate tasting experts!Our next activity of the morning was the 4-D Mystery Experience! We were all given 3-D glasses and walked into a movie theater room. We were briefed by the Hershey characters; Hershey Bar, Hershey Kiss, and Reese’s Cup, and they told us that individuals have been entering the chocolate factory at night and have been stealing sweets! It was our job to figure out who was breaking in and help stop them. Reese’s Cup was on the movie screen and he was talking to us! He gave Camp Courageous and Courageous Travels a special shout out and asked us to be the first line of defense during this mission. Our travelers were shocked and elated that this character was talking to us and Dree even showed off her muscles to prove she was tough enough to defend chocolate. Through the experience we witnessed 3-D screens, we were sprayed with water, bubbles, and streamers, there were a few times where our seats would vibrate and air would blast at us! It was an immersive experience and our travelers were hooting and hollering the whole time because they were having the time of their lives!! We defeated the bad guy, Victor Von Sauer, and saved the day! Our travelers were even rewarded with Kit Kats!It was time for lunch, and we ate at the food court in Hershey Chocolate World. There was a wide variety of options that our travelers chose. Some people had pizza, some had chicken strips, and others had pulled pork sandwiches. Almost everything had some sort of chocolate or cocoa product in or on it.
After lunch, the travelers headed to the Create Your Own Candy Bar area. Everyone donned hair nets and aprons before entering. We were ushered to an area where we used our tickets to personalize our candy bars. We were given the choice of white, dark or milk chocolate. We then selected up to 3 possible ingredients to have in our candy bar such as chocolate chips, chocolate cookie chunks, toffee bits, pretzels, crispy rice or butterscotch chips. Some travelers chose 3 ingredients while others only wanted plain dark chocolate. When the option of sprinkles or no sprinkles came up, almost everyone had sprinkles. The travelers then got into line by the convayer and watched as their name came up for their turn. The travelers then walked down the machine and watched as their candy bar was created. First all the ingredients were placed in a small mold one by one. Next, chocolate poured into their mold covering their ingredients. Last they saw the machine pour sprinkles on the soft chocolate. Their candy bar then went through a cooling machine. While their candy bar cooled each traveler got to design their own wrapper. Some had their names, some had stickers while others chose to use a design already there. When their candy bar was cooled it was placed in a wrapper, placed in a Hershey tin and wrapped with their specially designed wrapper. Everyone loved seeing their names on the board and following their creation as it became real. They all showed their individualized wrapper to their fellow travelers. What a great experience!Next up, the travelers all took a trolley tour of Hershey. We saw some great buildings and learned what great people the Hershey family was to this town. Driver Lee took us to all the locations we wanted to see and the conductor Bethany was knowledgeable about the area and the Hershey history. The conductor in training, Wilbur was comical. He wanted to sing songs with the group. Bethany told him it wasn’t time yet. Wilbur, did not stay for most of the ride, he forgot his camera and jumped off in the beginning of the ride to get it. Different characters that looked a lot like Wilbur kept coming on and assisting Bethany with the various history lessons and singing some songs. They also each brought with them chocolate candy to pass out to the group. We learned that Milton Hershey was always an ambitious person. He attempted and failed at several candy businesses but he did not give up. He eventually had a successful candy business Lancaster Carmels but he really thought chocolate was the money maker so he sold Lancaster Carmels for 1 million dollars and stuck all that money into the Hershey Chocolate factory. As the business grew the Hershey family was generous to the people of the area. They started a home for orphaned boys. The boys were given a home, schooling and taught a trade. They were given the opportunity to be successful, and many of them were. The Milton Hershey school is still in operation and is endowed for any families that needs financial assistance. We saw the original homestead that was built in 1832 by Miltons great grandfather and where Milton was born. We were lucky enough to be able to drive right up to High Point Mansion, the home Milton had built for his wife Kitty. It was close enough for Milton to walk to the factory each day. The new factory now needs 50,000 cows’ milk a day to create the 2 million Hershey bar and 30 million Hershey’s kisses made each day. Wilbur showed up in the end, and was sad that he missed most of the singing. Luckily there was time for a few favorite songs on the way back. The travelers loved singing along to the songs and eating all the free chocolate.
After we returned from our Trolley Tour we made our way upstairs to the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour station. At this station, we rode in a cocoa bean along a track and got a sneak peak of how a chocolate factory works! Around the first corner we were greeted by singing cows!! This station represented how Milton Hershey added milk to his chocolate to make it extra creamy. We learned previously that one of the reason he started his company in this area was because of all of the nearby dairy farms. The travelers we dancing along to the music as we rode by in our cocoa beans!Continuing along we passed areas where the cocoa beans were ground up, dried and roasted! As we passed through the roasted section we went through a heated tunnel so we felt like we were roasting too! We watched chocolate being melted, mixed and molded. We also got to see how the candy is packaged! This was a neat ride full of different lights, sounds and even smells! It was so cool! Traveler Sara said this was her favorite part of the day! After the ride was over, we got more free chocolate!Now that we had visited all of the attractions at Chocolate World there were only two things left to do! Shop at The Largest Hershey Store and try some goodies of course! Two groups went straight to shopping while the other two groups went to grab a sweet snack! This shop was huge! When they say it’s the largest Hershey store, they aren’t kidding! The store was split up into different sections. There were entire sections dedicated to particular kinds of candy such as Reese’s Twizzlers, Kisses and of course Hershey’s. Most travelers had to grab a cart in order to carry all of their souvenirs! There was every kind of Hershey candy that you can imagine plus a ton of cool souvenirs that weren’t edible. Everyone came out with multiple purchases!In the food court there were stands where you could get ice cream and milkshakes, s’mores, cookies, scones, cheesecake, cupcakes, and even chocolate flavored drinks! Everything looked so good it was hard to choose what to try! Amy, Abby and Sara choose giant cookies while Eric got a delicious ice cream sundae. Dree and Becky tried a chocolate spritzer drink. Mason and Quincy chose brownies and chocolate spritzers!While some of the staff were carrying bags (and bags and more bags!) back to the bus before dinner, the rest of the group was talking about what an amazing day we had. Eric said that the Chocolate Tasting Experience was the best. Tina, Tanna, and Dree all agreed that the Trolley tour was funny and informative. Mason liked the trolley because it was like a live show, but also appreciated the technology involved in the 4-D Mystery Experience and Create Your Own Candy Bar and how that technology worked together. Amber, Becky, and Amy all thought that the Create Your Own Candy Bar was by far the coolest part. Sara was all about that factory tour ride. Abby couldn’t decide on what was her favorite because she liked all of it, and Quincy loved eating all the free chocolate!After shopping and enjoying some delicious treats, it was time to head to dinner. We made the short walk across the path to a section of shops and restaurants that were between Chocolate World and Hershey Park. We grabbed dinner at a restaurant called, Hersheypark Place. We had a delicious dinner! After dinner we visited a couple gift shops before heading back to the hotel to get some rest for our big day at Hershey Park tomorrow!!It has been a fantastic trip so far! The travelers are having the time of their lives! They love it here! Who can blame them with all of the chocolate?!? Everyone is now resting up and excited for our last day in Hershey!
Day 5Today was our last day in Hershey and it was time to visit Hershey Park! Hershey Park has rides, shows, a waterpark and even a zoo! We had a lot to explore and the travelers were so excited!! We all got to sleep in a little, Hershey Park didn’t open until 10am so there was no rush. Everyone took their time with breakfast. Most of the travelers really liked making their own waffle. They enjoyed bacon, eggs, cereal and breakfast pastries. After everyone had their fill of breakfast they boarded the bus for Hershey Park.The group was excited for the rides, shows and more fun. While Melissa parked the bus the group got their picture taken with their favorite Hershey character. Abby and Dree picked Twizzlers, Amy and Sara chose Reese’s and Becky picked Jolly Rancher. Melissa met the group and we all entered the park. The entire group rode the carousel. Some rode the animals, others just rode in the carriage. Everyone enjoyed this ride. Sara rode a horse and kept saying, “wow!”, her horse was pretty tall so she was feeling on top of the world.After the Carrousel, we split into two groups. One group (Group 1) consisted of Charlotte, Dree, Becky, Abby, Melissa, Amy and Sara. Our group headed toward the scrambler where Becky, Dree, Amy and Sara rode this ride. They were all really excited and waved, when they weren’t holding on for dear life. They then went on the Tilt A Whirl! The next ride they chose to ride was a small but mighty roller coaster named the Cocoa Cruiser. Dree and Sara mustered up the courage to ride this coaster. Sara came off with two thumbs up. She loved it. The group decided to slow it down a bit and rode the tram. It was a slow train-like ride over the park. It was nice to see some of the park from above. We even went outside the park as well and saw the original Hershey factory and the Hershey Kiss street lights on Chocolate Ave. After the tram ride Sara and Dree wanted to ride the Pirate Ship. They talked me into going as well. It was fun and when it got to the highest part it did give you the weightless feeling and made your tummy come up in your throat. It was exciting.Group 2 (Kody, Mason, Eric, Quincy, Sam, Tanna, Tina and Amber went in another direction to check out some rides! Tina, Mason, and Quincy, wanted to go on the roller coaster The Comet. While they were riding that, the rest of our travelers, Eric, Amber, and Tanna, rode the Wave Swinger. Both groups had a blast and wanted to continue going on rides! Amber, Mason, Tanna, and Eric chose to go spin around on the Tea Cups. We then walked over to a 75 mph roller coaster called the Sky Rush, and Tina and Mason both said that it was so much fun! Mason even called it his favorite ride of the day! Meanwhile, the rest of the gang was watching Eric try out his free throw skills in a basketball game.The whole group met up again for lunch at Dietz & Watson Country Grill where we were entertained by The Good Time! music group where we joined the gang at Miss Dolly’s Diner for some high energy, toe tapping, finger snapping good songs. The travelers ate their lunch and enjoyed the entertainment. After lunch the travelers split into 2 groups again. Group 1 then headed to Zoo America to see some great animal exhibits. On the way we noticed the Aqua show was about to start so we decided to stop and Group 2 came to the show as well. We took our seats and saw a sea lion swimming in the pool. The host started the show and introduced Bumper the California Sea Lion. We were told he was a new daddy. His mate Mango just had a new baby about 2 weeks before but they were resting now. The baby is named Cocoa. We learned a lot of differences between the Sea Lion and the Atlantic Harbor Seal we met named Ripley. Becky asked how old Riply is and we were told he is 3 years old. The trainer told us Ripley will probably live to be about 25 years old. Group 1 then continued on to the Zoo!Abby loved reading about the different animals. Dree thought the deer were pretty and she was sure the female got up just to greet her when she walked up. Amy liked looking at the bald eagles, she said they were big. Becky liked the desert animals, the snakes and lizards best. Sara commented that was the biggest snapping turtle she had ever seen. Of course everyone loved the bears. On the wall of the Bear exhibit was a chart to see how tall the different bears are, let’s just say, no one in our group is taller than a bear!After the Zoo the group headed to Chevrolet Music Box Theater to see a show Abby selected called Once Upon. It’s a story with all your favorite storybook characters living happily ever after until an evil witch turns back time and tries to change the past….. well, as in all fairy tales, good wins in the end. The story was charming with a lot of familiar songs and great talent. The group was on the edge of their seats. After the show was over some of the group got a snack. As we rested the group was in the right place at the right time and got to have a Hershey’s Character experience, where they got to dance with some Hershey’s treats. Amy, Dree and Becky were out cutting a rug with the Jolly Rancher character and loving it. Next Dree, Amy and Charlotte went on the log ride called Coal Cracker. What a great ride, we didn’t get too wet but it was a good time.Group 2 over to the Triple Towers and Quincy, Tina, and Mason rode the Hershey Tower. Mason said it was a little scary, but he was glad that he faced his fear because it was so much fun! On our way over to the Sunaco Speedway, we met Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and took some pictures with him. We also met Hershey Kiss soon afterwards and took some pictures with her as well. Everyone took a ride in some classic cars at Sunaco Speedway, Amber, Mason, and Eric even got to drive the cars!Group 2 then decided to go look at some animals in the ZooAmerica part of the park, and we met Hershey Bar along the way and took some pictures with him. Our travelers enjoyed walking through the zoo and seeing all the different animals. We saw animals from all over the country, before we stopped for a drink and icee break. While we were resting we watched a show put on by the Ed-Zoo-cation Team consisting of Rangers Dodger, Rodger, Dicky, and Nicky. They juggled and taught us the importance of recycling. Tanna said she now understands how important it is to recycle. On our way out of the zoo, our travelers were even able to pet a lizard. Amber thought it was so cool!The next ride we went on was another roller coaster. Mason and Tina, the Roller Coaster Crew, were so excited to ride the Great Bear. It was getting close to dinner so our group started heading in the direction of our meetup location. Along the way we found the Wave Swinger again our travelers wanted to ride it again because it was Tanna’s favorite ride. Tanna, Mason, Eric, and Tina all rode the Wave Swinger. While they were on that, Amber tested her luck with Whac-A-Mole and won a stuffed bear! The last ride that we went on was the Sky View. Mason, Amber, Tina, and Eric all enjoyed going on it because it was like a ski lift and they could see the park.Both groups then met up and had dinner at Subway in the park. The two groups were telling each other all the fun things they did. It was great to hear them so excited. After they ate the group decided to head back to the hotel. Tina, Tanna, Amber, Quincy, Eric, Mason and Amy went for a dip in the pool when we got back to the hotel room. Everyone then packed up and went to bed early since we have an early morning tomorrow as we start our drive back to Iowa.– Travel Team
Hello Courageous Travels!!