Fun, Fighting, and Flight

After several days of history, maybe with a more ‘adult’ focus, it was time for some fun. Two days ago, we got up in Allentown, PA, and made our way to Easton. In downtown Easton, Crayola has set up an attraction called the Crayola Factory (though it’s not the actual factory). They have lots of fun stuff for kids including places to color and make things, the history of Crayola, the 100,000,000,000th Crayola (molded by Mr. Rogers himself), the largest Crayola Crayon in the world, and a small but real working demonstration of the making of Crayola Crayons.

When we were satisfied that we had covered everything there, we headed to Hershey, PA. Hershey Park was closed (we knew that ahead of time), but Hershey Chocolate World was open. They have a (free!) ride that shows how chocolate is made. They also had a chocolate tasting (not free) that demonstrated some of the differences between several of their chocolates.

We had dinner in Hagerstown with Edi’s mom and step-dad and we were all happy to see each other. We had to keep it kind of short, though, because we had to rest up for another full day yesterday.

We woke up, had breakfast and headed out to Antietam Battlefield, just south of Hagerstown. Yesterday was national Junior Ranger day and they had special activities set up for kids. They started off getting booklets to work in and hats (Erin got blue, Edison got gray). A volunteer dressed in Civil War attire took us out to one of the cannons to do some of the work in the book. After learning several things about the cannon, we went to one of the monuments (the New York monument). Soon, our ~hour was up and we went back to the visitor center for the next activity. There was a demonstration of firing a musket. Unfortunately, it was so humid that the musket wouldn’t fire properly. But we did get to see a volunteer dressed in a full soldier uniform with all the stuff that they usually carried with them (tarp, blanket, books, cards, ammunition, etc.).

The star attraction was next. They had a real working cannon set up, complete with 7-man (eeer person) crew. They started by firing it and boy was it ever loud (it’s a 3″ cannon). Then, the ranger described the roles of all 7 people. After that, one of the volunteers on the crew explained about the uniforms they wore and the battery they were part of. After that, they went step by step through the process to ready the cannon. Then, with another loud boom, they fired it again! The kids thought that was pretty darn cool.

We made our way down towards the Dulles airport and, despite the poor signage, managed to find the Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It is an enormous museum housing a fantastic collection of air and space, ahhh, stuff. There were, of course, airplanes and space vehicles, but also space suits, uniforms, engines, rockets, guns, avionics, simulators, and even computers (a PDP11 and a CDC 3800). The star attractions were impressive: the Space Shuttle Enterprise (wow, it’s huge), an SR-71 Blackbird that holds several world records, the 707 prototype, a Concorde, and the Enola Gay.

Today, we begin 3 days of touring DC. Better get with it!

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