As the end of July barrels down upon us, Team WestEnders found ourselves facing a dire situation, one that required immediate attention and a decisive remedy. I'm speaking, of course, about the fact that we had not yet gone on even ONE Summer Field Trip, and we were running out of days--aaarrrgghhh! Okay...really, I'm the only one who felt even the slightest bit of urgency...or, let's face it, guilt...about this catastrophe. The boys would have been content to continue coasting along--sleeping late, dawdling away their hours...but I was a Mom on a Mission! The only issue: what to do? When you've exhausted all of the nearby Civil War sites, and spent quality time trekking through most of the surrounding area's parks, finding a fun, interesting place to explore becomes...challenging. I realized that to overcome such obstacles, sometimes one must make difficult choices, nay, perhaps even sacrifices, for the greater good. Thus, in the spirit of adventure and enlightenment, we committed ourselves to visiting (duh duh duh DAH) Hanover, Pennsylvania...home of the Utz Potato Chip Factory...educational, entertaining, and edible...W-I-N!
The day started on a fortuitous note, as last week's hellacious heatwave had finally cleared out, leaving us with overnight temperatures in the 60s. (Yes, that was me wearing a sweater this morning, what of it?) We were able to hit the road with the car windows open, reveling in the cool breeze and bright sunshine while we cruised across the Mason-Dixon Line. After an easy 90-minute jaunt, we reached our destination, drawn in by the alluring aroma of freshly cooked snack foods. Once inside, we watched the magic being made from the elevated gallery, following the raw potatoes from their original state, to the peeling machine, into the enormous slicer, under running water to clean out debris, over a vibrating conveyor belt to shake off excess moisture, and into vats of hot oil to transform them into crunchy goodness. At that point we were staring at mounds and mounds of just-prepared chips...all a few arms' lengths away...if not for the dratted glass keeping us apart. So close, and yet so unavailable! Anyway...then we observed the bagging process--which was made so much more amusing because of the actual humans involved, who would periodically turn around, glance up at the spectators, smile, and wave.
But since they (alas) were not chucking us samples while they worked, that was quite enough of the gazing-longingly-at-chips for us, thank you very much. Off we dashed to the Factory Store down the street, where one could sample an array of items, and of course purchase enough empty carbs to keep one happy for quite a long time. (Or a weekend or so, whatever....) We established one simple rule (since of course one must operate under some guidelines in such a location--otherwise, trust me, it'd be...calorie anarchy...)--we had to choose unique products we hadn't ever seen in our own local stores. Therefore we ended up with such intriguing prospects as: Cinnamon Whole Wheat Pretzel Sticks, two kinds of "traditional" potato chips (Tabasco and Baby Back Rib flavors), Sweet Potato Brown Rice Tortilla Crisps, White-Chocolate-Drizzled Caramel Popcorn, and Chilean Lime Avocado Oil Potato Chips. I think it's safe to say we had stepped right through the mystical portal to Junk. Food. Nirvana.
We did manage to remove ourselves from the premises once we were satisfied with our selections. And before we left the area to return home (and devour our delights) we took a nice walk in the woods at nearby Codorus State Park (countering future expected treat intake = wise health plan). So to sum up: we got the heck out of the house, we had a fascinating tour, we managed some extremely pleasant outdoor time in nature...altogether a successful (and delicious) day!