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The Sweetest Anniversary of All

We’ve lost a lot of vacation areas to location casualties and we were really skimming the bottom of the bucket for a semi-local spot to celebrate our seventh anniversary this past weekend. We could have gone to the beach except that Josh didn’t want to go to the beach off-season. We looked at a town in West Virginia when we went out to visit some friends in Shenandoah but feared that we’d be bored after a day or two of touring the seventeen churches on Main Street in the seemingly most devout town in America.

Right as we were in the throes of settling on a staycation, I spoke with this woman at a party who told me that they had just been to Hershey, Pennsylvania. “It’s fabulous,” she said. “All you do is eat chocolate and go to the spa.”

Which sounded like a fine idea.

So we dropped off the twins at my parent’s house (thanks, mum and dad!) and drove the two hours up to Hershey. Our goals for the weekend read like a Chili Pepper’s album except replace the “blood” and “magik” with “sleep” and “read.” Which sounds infinitely less interesting now that I’ve written that sentence.

When we got there, we ate lunch and then collapsed in bed only to be awakened by the suckiest dad in the world and his howling elementary-aged child (seriously, I can handle the squalling baby who doesn’t know proper hotel etiquette but I have no qualms about beating senseless a ten year old who wakes me up from my afternoon nap).

Bill at the front desk became my favourite person in the world when he switched our room away from poorly negotiating dad (“um, sweetie, you got to stop screaming. I want to hear an apology. I don’t think that was a real apology. I want to hear it again. Sweetie, you’ve got to stop screaming”). We saw Rachel Getting Married which was fantastic but extremely depressing. Our evening was pretty much about lounging around and drinking coffee and watching bad television.

In the morning, we rolled out of bed close to noon and headed over to Chocolate World where these characters will forever haunt my nightmares.

We saw the 3-D movie because I am such a sucker for a 3-D film. I have dragged Josh to no fewer than 874 3-D movies over the course of our marriage. And this was one of the finest. I was the only person in the theater screaming when the Whoppers shot out of the cannon.

It was in the moments right before the doors opened to the 3-D movie that Josh commented, “we are the only people here without children.” And while you probably already thought about this fact the moment I mentioned Hershey, Pennsylvania, it literally didn’t occur to us how child-infested this town would be until we were trapped in the theater lobby with twenty other families and their large broods.

Apparently we forgot about that whole children and candy marriage.

But here is the interesting part: Milton Hershey and his wife were infertile. After a few years of trying, they decided to live child-free (not that they had many other choices back in the early 1900’s) and they founded a school with their tremendous fortune. The school still exists today and houses 1500 students. Their tuition, room, health care, clothing, and food are all covered by the Hersheys.

So how did this infertile couple come to create a town that is so incredibly child-focused? An amusement park and zoo. A children’s garden and chocolate. An enormous school. The town literally revolves around children. Wasn’t it exquisitely painful for them regardless of how much joy the school brought them? It is this strange mixture where there are these open nods to their infertility all over the town right next to these child-focused exhibits. Of course we’d not only randomly choose the most child-infested place in the world BUT also the most infertility-drenched one as well.

We went up to the school after Chocolate World and stood overlooking the park. I love amusement parks even though I don’t like going on rides. It was raining and the park didn’t seem to be open, but it was really beautiful to see the roller coasters and Ferris Wheels peeking out over the fencing.

We read by the fire at the Hershey Lodge and ate our way through the several pounds of chocolate that we picked up at the Chocolate World gift shop. If I look sleepy in this photo it’s because…well…because I was sleepy reading Elizabeth McCracken’s memoir.

Scattered throughout was a lot of sex. What? We’re all adults here. We were celebrating our anniversary–what do you think we were doing? Playing Scrabble?

Now we are back and I am trying to recreate the chocolate-balsamic vinaigrette we had at dinner on our last night there. I’ll post the recipe once I figure it out.

I am stil
l in love with Josh after seven years of marriage. He is my heart and bones. He is the reason I bake cookies (because how else do you express the sweetness someone brings into your life?). He is the master of the paddle boat, the giver of positions, and he will always split the extra Reece’s Whipps he swiped. There is no one else in the world I want to wake up with every day and no one else in the world who will let me start discussing all of my messy feelings at 11 p.m. when he wants to watch the Daily Show. I love you.

Oh–and just to prove that y’all are never far from my heart, as I was peeing at Chocolate World, I was thinking about how much Julie would love this toilet because it sends a clear message to use your hand to flush instead of your foot. Don’t say I never brought you back anything.

Fine, fine, I’ll figure out a way to disseminate some chocolate too. Not that you want it after looking at this toilet.


1 Michelle { 11.19.08 at 2:58 pm }

It sounds like you had a wonderful anniversary weekend. I heard Hershey Penn is great. I think it would be my dream place seeing as I am a chocoholic. Your hubby sounds like a great man!

2 luna { 11.19.08 at 3:01 pm }

sounds like a lovely trip. I love the pic of you looking tired while reading. funny, because I assumed when you said hershey before that you brought the kids. but how wonderful to have some alone time to celebrate. happy anniv. again!

3 Heather { 11.19.08 at 3:08 pm }

Congratulations on seven happy years!

4 BethH6703 { 11.19.08 at 3:10 pm }

Happy (Belated) Anniversary! That sounds like a FABULOUS way to spend a weekend!

(and, fyi, but looking at a {clean} toilet does nothing to offend my chocolate-desiring sensibilities)

5 loribeth { 11.19.08 at 3:12 pm }

Happy anniversary! Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

I think I'd be willing to put up with all the reminders of kids & parents in exchange for chocolate. ; ) That was so interesting about the Hersheys!!

6 Kristin { 11.19.08 at 3:16 pm }

It sounds like a fabulous weekend. Congrats on 7 yrs together and I hope you have many, many more.

7 N { 11.19.08 at 3:17 pm }

Hershey was always one of my favorite field trips. I always found it fascinating, how they took loss, and built it into something so huge and caring.

Uh. That didn’t sound nice. I meant it nicely.

Happy Anniversary!!!!

8 Lori { 11.19.08 at 3:22 pm }

It takes a lot more than a toilet to squelch MY chocolate cravings.

I love this tribute to your Love.

How appropriate that you spent your anniversayr in a sweet candy world built amid the background of IF and that caters to the child in everyone.

9 Heidi { 11.19.08 at 3:33 pm }

Happy Anniversary! I love Hershey and often steal other people’s children to go 🙂

(If you ever come back let me know, I live 20 minutes away!!)

10 Jen { 11.19.08 at 3:35 pm }

Yum. I think I have to go there immediately.

Happy anniversary!

11 Chelle { 11.19.08 at 3:42 pm }

HOw FUN!! Happy anniversary!

12 Jess { 11.19.08 at 4:07 pm }

Happy Anniversary!!

13 Kymberli { 11.19.08 at 4:13 pm }

Congratulations on a strong 11. Your weekend away with Josh sounds languidly divine. Who could want more than sex and chocolate? 🙂

14 Vee { 11.19.08 at 4:16 pm }

Hershey is being added on my list of places to visit. It looks like such a fun place.

Happy Anniversary !

15 Aurelia { 11.19.08 at 4:24 pm }

See, I’m kinda like the Hersheys. I’m the kind of infertile who would be DRAWN to children if I could not have my own.

Like stalker drawn to them. I love babies babies and more babies. I was the nutjob who before I had my first, when I thought I could not, who would do anything to be near kids.

Weird as it may be, not every infertile kinds being near kids painful. Some of us are like the opposite.

16 ~Jess { 11.19.08 at 4:41 pm }

Happy Anniversary! Hershey is a fun place to visit: Delicious too!

17 Deb { 11.19.08 at 4:52 pm }

Sounds like a wonderful anniversary weekend! Congrats!

18 itsazooaroundhere { 11.19.08 at 5:18 pm }

Happy Anniversary!

19 Clio { 11.19.08 at 5:22 pm }

I once met somebody from Hershey, a comedy writer. He never mentioned the chocolate world and park… i should have asked.
How wonderful that you had such a good time. There’s nothing better than being so in love with your husband.
All this talk about chocolate made me run for my only left over “crunch” from halloween…

20 Cara { 11.19.08 at 5:27 pm }

I’m jealous on so many levels: chocolate, kid free time, sex..you name it – it sounds good right about now.

Congrats and how cool to have such a location near you!

21 C { 11.19.08 at 5:44 pm }


When we were DINKs living in St. Louis, hubby and I would drive across the state to spend the weekend in Kansas City every anniversary. We chose it the first time just because it sounded lame and funny, and we are like that. Turns out it was actually a blast.

Now that we live someplace beautiful (Washington state) and finally have our munchkin, we have neither cash nor babysitter to afford us an anniversary celebration away from home at any of the nearby scenic getaway spots. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. (Well, okay, maybe the cash would be nice. And yes, the babysitter too. So nevermind.)

22 LJ { 11.19.08 at 6:07 pm }

Happy anniversary my two sweetie pies.

23 Portraits In Sepia { 11.19.08 at 6:20 pm }

I just have to try chocolate balsamic vinaigrette now. I had no idea that the Hersheys were childless. The things you learn.
I want to visit there now. Thanks for sharing.

24 angrycanrn { 11.19.08 at 6:58 pm }

Happy Anniversary! May your happiness continue long into the future. Enjoy and savor every minute.

25 Emily { 11.19.08 at 6:59 pm }

Happy Anniversary!!!

What a lovely post – fitting for what sounds like a lovely trip.

I always forget how close we are to that little chocolate paradise!

What an interesting story about the Hersheys. Who knew?! Thanks for sharing.

26 Tash { 11.19.08 at 7:21 pm }

Wow, I’m not sure what I’m most jealous of here — kid free time, sex, or chocolate. The ultimate trifecta.

happy anniversary!!

27 Jamie { 11.19.08 at 7:42 pm }

Sounds like a fun trip! I would love to go there. 🙂

Happy Anniversary!

28 Waiting Amy { 11.19.08 at 8:02 pm }

Happy Anniversary! Despite growing up about an hour from Hershey, I’ve never been to the amusement park. I have however been to virtually every antique place in the area. I’ve heard lots of adults have a great time there!

29 battynurse { 11.19.08 at 8:46 pm }

Even being kid centered that place looks fantastic. Glad you had a good weekend.

30 Stacey { 11.19.08 at 9:09 pm }

That sounds like a great anniversary trip! I sure never knew that about the Hersheys and infertility. That is quite inspirational.

I’ve been thinking about checking out that Elizabeth McCracken book (even though my husband giggles everytime someone has the last name McCracken). Men! 🙂

31 Another Dreamer { 11.19.08 at 9:55 pm }

Sounds like you had a great time! I’m glad.

And the toilet… it may be saying “Don’t flush me with your foot.” But I don’t think it will see the side kick flush coming!

32 Suzanna Catherine { 11.19.08 at 10:14 pm }

Happy Anniversary (belatedly! What a lovely tribute to your hubby.

Hershey, PA sounds like a great vacation spot! Makes me hungry for all things chocolate.

33 Fertilized { 11.19.08 at 11:27 pm }

Happy Anniversary to you. I saw the recipe to the Chocolate vinegariette on the Food Channel … It was the Show Mission Impossible and the chef was making Hersey’s Employee’s a meal. If i can find it I will send it your way

34 Cassandra { 11.19.08 at 11:30 pm }

When I went to Hershey, I was college-aged and therefore almost a kid myself. Now I wouldn’t set foot there without children (aside from the fact that I’ve replaced eating Hershey’s with going to real chocolate worlds such as Belgium).

Happy Anniversary! Hope the sex continues all year long. 😉

35 momofonefornow { 11.19.08 at 11:31 pm }

We went to Baltimore in July and on the way home we drove at least an hour out of the way just to stop at Hersheytown. (That was one stop I just couldn’t skip) Unfortunately we only had an hour and a half before we had to get back on the road. I would definitely go again if I knew we were going to have more time and money to spend.

36 Tara { 11.19.08 at 11:32 pm }

Amongst my group “playing scrabble” is a euphemism for having sex. So you guys play all the scrabble you want, just remember to clean the chocolate off of the tiles before you put them back in the box. Happy Anniversary!

37 Vintage Mommy { 11.19.08 at 11:34 pm }

Happy Anniversary! We just spent our recent child-free weekend cleaning out our basement . . . glad you did something much more fun.

38 Brenda { 11.20.08 at 12:01 am }

What a wonderful trip and a fun anniversary. Congrats on 7 years! My parents went to Hershey recently and were decidedly unimpressed. They have been married nearly 40 years (this January I believe), so perhaps they have turned into old curmudgeons! I am glad you had a decidedly better time. Perhaps they should have played played more “Scrabble.” Ahem….Now I’m going to bleach my brain of that image….

39 Stacie { 11.20.08 at 12:21 am }

What a fun trip! Such a great way to celebrate your anniversary, too! Happy belated anniversary!

40 Smiling { 11.20.08 at 3:01 am }

I am so glad you were able to find some quality book time, chocolate time, and sex time. No matter how intense the child/infertility theme background you chose, it sounds like a wonderful aniversary with a great partner.

And Tara, instead of ‘playing scrabble’ we had used the phrase ‘chasing cows.’ The random euphemism we come up with eh?

41 Queenie. . . { 11.20.08 at 6:45 am }

Glad you had such a nice weekend. Happy anniversary!

42 MsPrufrock { 11.20.08 at 8:23 am }

Again…cannot believe you went to my hometown when I was 4000 miles away. I must say I’m a bit disappointed that you did not frame your anniversary around my yearly trip to PA. The house I grew up in is about 5 minutes from the vista in half those pictures.

It’s weird reading a post about such a familiar place. Did you have any cookies at Chocolate World? They are the size of your head, gooey, and delicious. On the bad days, I would totally sell my kid for one. Hell, half of one.

I’m glad you had a lovely trip, and happy anniversary!

43 Kim { 11.20.08 at 8:30 am }

Happy Anniversary! Glad you had a great time. I love Hershey and the Lodge. I wonder each time I am there how Mr. and Mrs. Hershey came to the decision to build up their lives around other’s children. Perhaps if they had been able to have kids their lives would have taken a different direction? And then there would be no chocolate Twizzlers! Who could live in a world with no chocolate Twizzlers? Not this chick.

44 annacyclopedia { 11.20.08 at 11:20 am }

Happy anniversary, Mel and Josh! May the each year you spend together be sweeter than the last.

45 Dr. Grumbles { 11.20.08 at 2:57 pm }

Happy Anniversary!

Never knew that about the Hersheys – I may look at Hershey’s chocolate differently now.

46 Io { 11.20.08 at 3:18 pm }

Happy Anniversary! The idea of chocolate could totally lure me to a place filled with children. Mmm..chocolate. Though yeah. The toilet is maybe a turn-off to my appetite. Except the walls are the color of milk chocolate…


47 Lisa { 11.20.08 at 6:59 pm }

Happy Anniversary!!! It’s a wonderful place, isn’t it? My best friend works for the school. It’s really an amazing story – the Milton and Kitty Hershey story.

48 Manda { 11.20.08 at 8:15 pm }

Now you’ll have to organize an Infertile field trip to Hershey. Good news though, I’m only a couple hours from it!

Happy anniversary! And um, maybe it was all the sex that made you sleepy?

49 nancy { 11.20.08 at 8:31 pm }

Sounds wonderful and so glad you had a wonderful time. Happy Anniversary to Mel and Josh!

50 Julia { 11.20.08 at 10:15 pm }

Happy belated anniversary! Sounds like the trip was a lot of fun. (Though I don’t think I have enough self-restraint to be let near that much chocolate…)

I am so impressed with the school thing, for so many reasons.

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