After a few years as a single mom, I had a bold idea for a summer vacation with Heather and Patrick. We’d taken several trips but always to places where we had family or friends. Why not go somewhere that we didn’t know anyone, I thought. A Pennsylvania trip with Tom years earlier had been interesting. Patrick was mad about Hershey bars—so why not go to Chocolate town, I thought. With the help of AAA Trip Tiks and maps, we plotted out our vacation adventure. I called ahead to make hotel reservations along the way. No cell phones, Internet—the old -fashioned way.
This photo shows Heather and Patrick in front of our room at the Hershey Motor Lodge, where there was a Hershey bar on each pillow at night. We explored the quaint downtown with street lamps like Hershey kisses, took the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour and enjoyed rides and shos at Hersheypark for a few days.
We spent several days at a charming inn in Pennsylvania Dutch country, visited museums to learn about the Amish, went to country fairs, ate Shoo-fly Pie and other local delicacies, and shopped at outlets. In Strasburg, we enjoyed the railroad museum.
The last few nights we were staying at a motel in King of Prussia, and enjoyed exploring Valley Forge. Although we were near Philadelphia, I’d decided driving there might be too scary for me and didn’t plan to go. The people at the motel office asked if we were going to the city and when I said no, they encouraged me to go that Sunday. They assured me there would be much less traffic and that I’d manage fine.
So I took a few deep breaths and we drove to Independence Mall in Philly! The people at the motel told me about a nearby parking garage. As we walked to the elevator there, Heather said she thought the garage was scary. I actually thought so too—so we went back to our car and exited. Luckily we found on-street parking without any problem and enjoyed several hours exploring historic sights and seeing the Liberty Bell.
A few years later at a workshop I recounted the story of our Pennsylvania trip in a discussion group—as an example of an experience that made me more confident. It seemed that I found my own independence in Pennsylvania that summer!