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Virginia and Surroundings
August 2021 - July 2022
Virginia Travelogue 5
August 6th (Friday): Lancaster and Sight & Sound
We wanted to do a quick overnight trip while my parents were here and we settled on Pennsylvania. For the first day, we started out by heading to downtown Lancaster. While I've been to a lot of places in Lancaster County, I don't think I've ever actually been to the town itself before. It's a nice area to walk around, lots of old buildings, shops, restaurants, etc. Our main destination was the Lancaster Central Market, a sort of indoor farmers market with a good mix of local produce, meat, etc., handicrafts, and food stalls. We walked around, snacked, and explored the town a bit.
Afterwards we drove over to The Hershey Farm Inn (our favorite hotel in the area) to check in and unpack. Then it was off to Sight & Sound Theater. Sight & Sound is a place I've been hearing about ever since we moved to Virginia. It's a theater that specializes in plays based on various Bible stories. They do a different one every year and this year is Esther. Lots of people have told me that their shows are a must see, but in previous years I didn't think that Zack could sit through the entire thing. This year though, we decided to give it a try. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but the theater itself was pretty impressive both outside and inside (and, conveniently, a very short walk from our hotel). And the theater wasn't the only impressive part. I've seen a lot of versions of the Esther story over the years but I can safely say that this was the best. We're talking Broadway (or better) production values with fantastic sets and costumes. As a neat touch, the stage wrapped around more than 180 degrees and they made really good use of the space and always had something to see wherever you looked. The acting was solid as well. But, most importantly, they nailed the script. I'm really picky about adaptations of stories I've read but this one hit all the key points, filled out the parts that needed it (unlike a modern novel, Bible stories do need some expansion when adapted to stage or film), but didn't add any dumb fluff scenes either. Add in some good musical numbers, and you have an absolutely top-notch production. My whole family was really impressed and we already want to go back next year to see their version of David. If you're Christian or Jewish, you'll love it. Even if you're not religious, so long as you don't mind that it's based on a Bible story, you'll probably still enjoy it since it's such a well-done production. If you're in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Sight & Sound Theater.
After the show, it was back to the hotel for our usual buffet dinner, then we let Zack play around outside for a while before calling it a night.

August 7th (Saturday): Cherry Crest Farm
Seeing as we were spending the weekend in Lancaster County, we naturally had to take a day to visit Cherry Crest Farm. I've already written about it many times so I won't go into detail, but it was just as good as always. The theme for the corn maze this year is thanking fire fighters, police, paramedics, and the like. I had fun with that and, of course, Zack loved all the different activities and play areas. As always, it's a great place to spend the day, especially with kids.

August 8th (Sunday): Dutch Wonderland
For the final day of our trip, we headed to Dutch Wonderland, a theme park aimed at younger kids. We took Zack there once two years ago and had planned to go last year but they were closed for much of the summer and, when they finally reopened, were requiring everyone (kids included) to wear masks at all times, so that was a no go. Anyway, with that requirement gone, we headed back this year. As before, most of the rides are for little kids. Though they did have a roller coaster that I don't remember seeing last time. It's certainly the most intense thing in the park, though not on the level of what you can find at Hershey or Busch Gardens. But it was fine for Zack. That kid has absolutely no fear of rides. While he'll probably outgrow the place in another couple of years, for now he still had lots of fun and went on nearly every ride he saw. We also checked out an area of the park we'd missed last time, which had a gondola ride, car ride, and a bunch of dinosaurs. Also, while we only caught a couple minutes, it looks like they have some fun shows to watch. Once again, I wouldn't recommend Dutch Wonderland for adults, or even older kids (probably 8 or 10 and up), but for families with young kids it's a pretty good choice.
After leaving the park, we got some food and drove home. It was a fun and relaxing trip and it was nice having my parents along this time.

March 25th (Friday): DC Cherry Blossoms
DC was strongly discouraging people from going to see the cherry blossoms for the last couple of years. But this year they finally opened up the tidal basin again. And Connie and I managed to get a day with good weather when Zack was in class so we decided to go walk around the entire tidal basin. We'd never actually done the entire walk before. It's a nice path with the monuments and everything. And the cherry blossoms make it a whole lot more scenic. Even on week days, it can get pretty crowded, especially near the Washington Monument, but it does get a bit quieter on the opposite end. Anyway, it was a pleasant morning and if you happen to be around DC at the right time of year, it's worth paying a visit to the tidal basin.

June 27th (Monday): Luray Caverns
Since our plans for a summer trip to Japan and China fell through again, my family decided to come visit Connie and I in Virginia instead. We went to playgrounds, malls, pools, the zoo, picked fruit, and the like. I'm not going to write a travelogue about the entire trip, just a couple of things that I didn't write about in the past.

There's a few different caves in the Shenandoah areas. In fact, Connie and I went to Shenandoah Caverns a few years back. But the most famous cave in the area is actually Luray Caverns. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere (pretty drive though), but there are a lot of other attractions surrounding it, some included with your admission ticket, like the old toy museum. There's also an old car museum, a historical town made up of old buildings, a hedge maze, and a climbing course. Unfortunately, it was raining so we had to pass on all the outdoor stuff though. But the weather doesn't really matter once you go into the cave. I've always liked caves, and I've visited a lot of them over the years. But I've got to say that Luray Caverns is easily one of the most ornate I've ever seen. Lost of caves have some nice rooms with lots of formations. But for Luray, the entire cave looks like that. It took us about an hour to make it through the self-guided tour, but you could easily spend the better part of a day there if you add in all the other attractions.

On the way home, we stopped to eat at Headmaster's Pub, about half an hour away. The food was pretty good, but the main reason I want to mention it is its collection of old arcade games and pinball machines. Pinball especially, since you don't see old machines like that around much. I also go the top score on an old punching machine, which was fun.

Anyway, if you don't mind the drive, I highly recommend Luray. Easily one of the better caves out there.

June 28th (Tuesday) - July 1st (Friday): Lancaster, PA
While most of my family's visit was spent near our home, we did go to Pennsylvania for a few days. Most of the places we went are locations we visit every year like Dutch Wonderland and Cherry Crest Farm. We also saw this year's play at Sign & Sound Theatre, based on the Biblical story of David. As with their presentation of Ester last year, I was extremely impressed with both the quality and the adaptation. Easily the best version of the David story I've ever seen and just a fantastic play in general.

We also went to Hershey Park for a day. I used to go every year when visiting my grandparents, but it's been a while. Though it's about the same distance from Connie and I as Busch Gardens, we've made Busch our go-to theme park for the last few years (mainly since Zack gets free admission). Hershey, however, has grown and changed quite a bit from what I remember. They've added a ton of rides, both big and small, and the water park area has expanded to the point where it alone could easily fill the better part of a day. We had to leave a little early that day and I didn't make it through the entire park, plus there was some rain which closed a lot of the rides for a while, so I didn't really get enough of a feel for the place to give it a full write-up. However, I'm going to make a point of going back sometime (this summer or next) and giving it a more thorough exploration.

Virginia Travelogue 5

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