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Dixie Chicks, Chocolate, and What If…

Last summer we learned that The Dixie Chicks were going to be touring – and they had a show planned for Hershey. Tickets wouldn’t go on sale until November, so we set a reminder and bought them the first day we could. We printed them out and put them away.

Fast-forward seven months. Friday was the show.

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All I can say is The Dixie Chicks are back with a vengeance! What a fantastic show!

Neither of us had ever been to The Sweetest Place on Earth™  so we arrived early to check out the town. First off, if you’ve never been to Hershey, Pennsylvania, be prepared for chocolate.

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It’s a company town. Chocolate Avenue, Cocoa Way, Hershey-this, and Hershey-that. Street lights downtown are shaped like Hershey Kisses. Hershey dominates. And all roads lead to Hersheypark. One word.

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Not really knowing where to start, we went logical – Hershey’s Chocolate World. It’s a faux-factory tour and a dozen ways to get you to part with your money. My complaint is you don’t actually get to see that real chocolate being made. We toured a Hershey factory in California when we lived there, but that plant is now closed and the chocolates are now being made in Mexico – thank you, NAFTA. This was a very Disney-esque ride done with props and a lot of video.

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It was fun – it just wasn’t seeing real chocolate being made – which really is kinda cool.

Not wanting to spend exorbitant amounts of money on Hershey-Logo’d clothes or other really dumb items, we left Chocolate World and headed up the the Hotel Hershey.

When I first started looking at where to stay, the Hotel Hershey was the first place I looked. And, at $456.00/night, I started looking elsewhere, right away. After seeing the hotel, I may have been a bit hasty. The place ain’t half-bad. This is the back of the hotel. Pools, fountains, and huge expanses of green lawn abound.

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The hotel was staffed. And I mean staffed. There were people everywhere to do anything for you – with smiles on their faces. We walked into a couple of the gift shops and walked out with a couple of trinkets and bottles of Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar and Chocolate Raspberry Vinegar. We tasted it in the shop – both are ridiculously good!

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Besides the obvious topping on ice cream, there are a few ideas floating around in my mind… Stay tuned…

We headed back to our hotel for a bit of freshening up before the concert. This is the hotel next door to us – and, yes, they were open and renting rooms.

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A little rustoleum, a little paint …

But I digress… It was off to Hersheypark Stadium for the concert!

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The place is pretty big – Paul McCartney’s going to be playing there in July – but not arena huge. And we had good seats – 18 rows back, center stage.

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The concert was scheduled for 7pm. At 6:45pm, a few raindrops fell. At 6:50pm, the skies opened and a deluge fell from the shy. They cleared the seats and had us all under the stands.

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It poured for an hour. Everyone was soaked – and after a few minutes, in ridiculously good moods. We finally were able to get back to our seats and at 9pm the concert began.

They opened with The Long Way Around and went right into Lubbock or Leave It, and  then Truth #2.

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The backdrop videos were stunning.

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They did a Prince cover – Nothing Compares 2 U – and the crowd went wild.

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Song after song after song, the audience was on its feet. I’m glad we paid for seats – we never once sat in them.

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And they got political. They had to have shot a ton of red, white, and blue confetti into the crowd. Caricatures of all the presidential contenders danced across the screen. It was a sight to behold. Goodbye Earl had a picture of Trump with devil horns. Great stuff.

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My favorite song, though, was the first of their encores – I’m Not Ready to Make Nice. This has been my favorite song of theirs since the country music world vilified them for their comments about Dubya.

And while it’s pretty hard to top this, their last song of the night was a dedication to the 49 victims in Orlando, played in front of a huge rainbow heart. A cover of Ben Harper’s Better Way. Very moving. The crowd roared its approval. And it was an interesting crowd. All age groups, lots of folks who didn’t look all that liberal on the surface – and everyone cheering the political stuff. The adage of don’t judge a book by its cover was continually going through my mind.

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One of the best concerts I have seen in the modern era. It had everything. I am so glad we were there! We got back to the hotel at midnight, totally wired! It was a great night – pouring rain delay, and all. I’m still singing I’m Not Ready to Make Nice!

Saturday morning arrived without a cloud in the sky. After a leisurely breakfast , we decided it was time to see Hersheypark.

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We arrived just before the 10am opening and joined the queue. It went pretty quickly and in no time we were in the park and having fun.

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We took a merry-go-round ride, replaying a day in Santa Cruz where we almost got arrested for throwing taffy from the alpine cars. No taffy, this time, and no police greeted us at the end of the ride.

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But we did have fun.

 

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It was hot. This fair-skinned little boy slathered on the sun screen, but after 4 hours, it was time to say goodbye. I just can’t do the direct sun/water park stuff stuff, anymore. But there is a lot to do if you can take the heat and don’t mind standing in lines for indeterminate amounts of time with no shade.

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Back to the hotel for a regroup and we were off to an outlet mall. We need nothing. Could find nothing. Outlet Malls really are a ripoff. There was nothing that I couldn’t buy online for less – from Jockey underwear to FoodSaver bags. We figured if the new stuff wasn’t going to get us, maybe some old stuff would – we headed to an antique mall.

Antique malls are my kind of shopping. With no preconcieved ideas of what you’re looking for, things just happen to catch your eye. And the first thing to catch my eye was some original Desert Rose china.

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My grandmother had some of this when I was a kid and I thought it would be fun to have. This is the real stuff made in California – not the faux-stuff now made in China. 4 dinner plates, 4 salad/dessert plates.

We found another Santa for the collection, a tulip bowl to hold bathroom stuff… and passed on a ceramic chandelier made in Italy. It almost – almost – came home with us.

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It would have been hell to keep clean.

The surprise of the trip, though was the restaurant where we had dinner Saturday night. The place is called What If… and it’s in the basement of the Howard Johnson Inn where we stayed!

From an unpretentious motel lobby, one walks down a flight of steps into another world! I was really surprised. We had heard great things about the place and reviews online said not to let the outside looks sway you and to take a chance. We did. And my stomach was happy we did!

Victor started off with a Screaming OJ Martini. Vodka, prosecco, fresh orange juice, and peach schnapps. A dangerous drink, for sure.

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Appetizers were Fried Calamari with Thai and Marinara Sauces and the Black Bean Margarita. It had black beans, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. It was really good. the calamari was perfectly fried and the sauces were excellent.

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We both had salads with Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Excellent, although I think I would have made the vinaigrette a bit more tart. Personal preference. It was excellent the way it was.

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Then it was time for the main courses. Victor went for the Lobster Ravoli – Lobster-stuffed Ravioli with a Mimosa Sauce and Parmesan. Rich without being overpowering.

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I went for the Veal Frangelico – Veal Cutlets with Mango, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, and a Frangelico Sauce. This had a lot of textures and flavors going on – including a smokiness that I think came from the breading on the veal. Not a bad choice!

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We were stuffed. But that didn’t stop us from getting the Dessert Sampler! Turtle Brownies, Chocolate Decadence Cake with Raspberry Coulis, Titamisu, Chocolate Mousse, and an Oreo Cream Pie.

Ridiculously Good! Our server, Jenny, was charming, knowledgeable, and just fun, good people.

If you’re ever in Hershey – don’t judge a book by it’s cover…

What If…
845 East Chocolate Avenue
Hershey, PA 17033

 

 

 

 

 

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