East Coast Road Trip: From Pho to Chocolate Haha!

Today marks our last seven-hour stretch of driving for this fun, enriching, spirit-revitalizing road trip. By this evening, we should be back in Duluth, ready to think about hair cuts and eye appointments before the kids start school next week.

So, now that it’s almost over, I’m finally ready to go back and recap some more of the highlights. Rather than toss 45 photos all into a single post, let’s parcel them out over a few.

I left you last as we were about to head to Columbus, Ohio, and then into Pennsylvania for the Hershey factory.

Even after 20-odd days on the road, a definite highlight–a real “I’d completely return to Ohio just so I could go there again”–was Columbus’ indoor market, a place full of food-related stands offering up local and organic and artisan and YUMMY.

I was delighted to find a bottle of Voodoo Donuts maple bacon ale. Paco was delighted to find a pho stand so that he could slurp away at a bowl of his favorite anise-based broth:


After pho, beer, and bbq sandwiches, we left Columbus and headed to the canny bit of marketing that is Chocolateworld, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I was happy to take the place for what it is, which means I chortled ceaselessly during our ride through the history of the company.

The tragedy in the photo below is that, shortly after I snapped it, that hay bale hurtled out of the mural and landed on Grandpa’s head there in the ride, giving him a neck sprain that even a two-foot Twizzler licorice vine couldn’t heal.

Paco and I decided to pay extra and do the “create your own candy bar” attraction; if I’d had my phone on me, I would have texted Allegra frantically and told her, “You do TOOO want to do this thing; it’s actually more fun than you thought it would be. It’s amazing. Buy a ticket. Get in here!” Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone, so now she just has to look wistful whenever Paco and I rave about how unbelievably delightful it was to choose our fixin’s and send our plan through the line and then design packaging and retrieve it at the end.

Because Paco went with a dark chocolate base, I went for variety and chose the lesser-liked milk chocolate for mine. He did sprinkles, toffee crunch, and pretzel bits; I chose pretzel bits, semi sweet chocolate chunks, and almonds. The resulting bars were weighty and packaged in tins that, in future years, can hold all our lost teeth (those that rot out from too much sugar).


After Pennsylvania, we headed to the Washington DC area and spent a week basing out of the charming town of Takoma Park, Maryland (cheaper to stay there than in the city, and only a few train stops away from the heart of things).

Coming up in the next travel post: Smithsonian! Smithsonian! Smithsonian!








10 responses to “East Coast Road Trip: From Pho to Chocolate Haha!”

  1. kmkat Avatar

    I don’t think the make-your-own thingie existed when we visited Hershey. Now I want to go back!

  2. Lil Avatar

    I NEED to make myself a candy bar.

  3. Jess Avatar

    I’m so jealous!! Our kids have been in school since the 8th. We had all of 7 days with them. 😛 And Ohio- I love Ohio. I went to college in PA, and I want to be on your road trip. The end.

    p.s. Make-your-own-chocolate-bar sounds very very dangerous. It’s a good think Hershey is far away from here.

  4. Meg Avatar

    Mmmm. Hershey, PA. We’ve been pondering that one and you have given me a good reason to visit. Not that I needed one.

  5. pam Avatar

    Enjoying this Jocelyn – can’t wait for the Smithsonian post. My goodness Paco and Allegra are growing up fast! I wish my husband had a t-shirt like Byron’s that said “Surley” (with the Brewing Company bit omitted). He has one that says “Does not play well with others”. It would team up well with that.

  6. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar

    It’s been fun to follow this on FB–now it’s cool to hear all the details.

  7. Julie Sucha Anderson Avatar

    Definitely would have done the candy bar. Toffee bits, milk chocolate. Julie’s Delight.

    I can’t believe this trip is over already. You just left yesterday.

  8. Murr Brewster Avatar

    I never made it to Hershey. I had a chance during a late-’60s bicycle tour of Amish country, but all I remember is we did go through Intercourse. But we were chased all the way.

  9. lime Avatar

    the history of the candy company is less interesting (to me) than the history of milton s. hershey himself and the very practical philanthropy he and his wife engaged in. the residential school they founded really has done tremendous things for kids who needed the hand up.

    oh and chocolate…my dentist confirmed it, in small doses the dark variety is actually good for your teeth because it helps prevent plaque formation. so do enjoy. i know i do!

  10. chlost Avatar

    I learn so much on this blog of yours….didn’t know about pho, didn’t know that dark chocolate was good for teeth (yessss!) and hadn’t heard of Milton Hershey’s school. I knew a woman who worked at the Hershey plant, who was not overly happy there, but never visited/toured there. Maybe I could have made the newest candy sensation had I only had a chance. Sounds like a fun trip. Can’t wait to hear more.

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