Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.

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100 Experience Adventures–February Summary

WOW!  What a fascinating adventure all ready!

In just 2 short months, we completed a whopping 30 exciting and educational experiences!



When I look back on each experience, I am so very grateful my girls have this awesome, once-in-a-lifetime chance to grow and learn and expand their understanding of our world.  And, I have the privilege of sitting in the front row to watch it unfold. 🙂



Here is a complete list of the 12 adventures (#19 through #30) we enjoyed during the month of February!  Click on each link to read a summary and honest review, as well as personal and educational tips for each experience!  Let me know if you have any specific questions–always happy to help.  🙂

Experience 19:

The Blue Man Group in Orlando, Florida

Experience 20:

Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida

Experience 21:

The Carlisle Ice Art Fest 

Experience 22:

The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA

Experience 23:

Our First Hike on the Appalachian Trail 

Experience 24:

A Tour of the Harley Davidson Factory in York, Pennsylvania 

Experience 25:

The Wilbur Chocolate Store and Museum in Lititz, Pennsylvania

Experience 26:

A Tour of Julius Sturgis Pretzel in Lititz, Pennsylvania

Experience 27:

Recycled Sari Flower Making Artisan Class in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Experience 28:

A Dinner Lit Only By Firelight at The Accomac in York, Pennsylvania 

Experience 29:

A Concert by The Diva Jazz Orchestra

Experience 30:

Film Screening of The Girls in the Band and a Panel Discussion with Diva


For a list (with clickable links to all cool places!) of #1 through #18 events from January, click here!

More to come–March has been a super busy and educational month!







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The Accomac Firelight Night Dinner in York, PA–Experience Adventure 28 of 100

When my daughters and I decided to attempt 100 adventures during our 6 month sabbatical from our home in Texas, one of the rules we put into place specified that each experience must be NEW and different.  Obviously, since we are newbies to the east coast, every restaurant we visit is technically “original”, but I refuse to fill this exciting adventure list with a million mundane restaurants.

–Except, we found this extraordinary one.

For our 28th adventure, we experienced a fantastic Firelight Night dinner at the Accomac in York, Pennsylvania.





With a long, winding history, dating back to the early 1700’s, the Accomac Inn overlooks the beautiful rushing waters of the Susquehanna River.  (It was raining and foggy on the evening we visited, but still gorgeous!)

Read about the history of the Accomac Inn here.




The massive and commanding stone building sits to one side of the narrow road, nestled into the bottom of a timber-filled hill, facing a large parking lot along the water’s edge.


Offering visitors the opportunity to dine only by candle light, the Accomac hosts “Firelight Nights” on select evenings from November to early March.  Charming and über romantic, the tiny flicker of soft candle light and a roaring fireplace fill the dining room with a peaceful glow and calming warmth.  No light bulbs.  No lamps.  No electricity generating light.  **I tried to take as many pictures as I could before the sun went down and I lost the light streaming in from the windows.




Meticulously pressed, white table cloths drape the intimate tables and comfortable leather chairs allow guests a chance to relax and unwind in the Queen Ann dining room.


Serving all kinds of delicious and artisan food since 1971, owner Doug Campbell and general manager Zach Seitz hired Jordan Crews in 2010, and promoted him to executive chef in early 2016.  Crews, born and raised in Lancaster, visits the Lancaster Central Market weekly, choosing fresh and local ingredients for his award-winning seasonal menu.

(The Lancaster Central Market was our 8th experience and is the country’s oldest farmers market!  Read all about it here!)

Our dimly lit journey began with a pleasant palette cleansing shooter of creamy pea soup and an assortment of breads.  I typically prefer to pass on peas, but this soup was exquisite and an excellent start to our meal.



We ordered several items from each section of the menu as an opportunity to try interesting combinations and sample from each others’ plates.

The mushroom risotto, created with fresh, local mushrooms and served as a warm side dish, features Caputo ricotta en salata, (created locally by the amazing Caputo Brother’s Creamery–our 32nd experience! Review coming soon!)

Topped with watercress and truffle foam, the risotto melts in the mouth–We ordered two bowls!


The potato gnocchi at Accomac reigns as possibly the most divine food I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Full of complex, delicious flavors, the gnocchi appeared surrounded by a very light and savory cream sauce, fresh greens, and earthy mushrooms.  I wanted more (and MORE!) and I hope to return just to eat this dish again.


The full-bodied, umami beef stock showcased in the Accomac’s French onion soup made this menu “starter” my husband’s favorite dish of the evening.  Topped with caramelized, rich Swiss and provolone cheeses, the chef added a dollop of fresh scallions, a delightfully surprising, yet tasty garnish.


Pierogi, a traditional central European-style dumpling, arrived with a topping of savory sautéed onions on a cushion of creamy sour cream sauce.  I almost loved it as much as the amazing gnocchi and my vegetarian daughter claimed this special, off-menu offering as her favorite.


My meat-eating daughter ordered the Accomac beef tenderloin burger with bacon, melted cheese, horseradish mayonnaise, and topped with a house made Brioche roll.  A slab of fried potato wedges and fresh, crisp vegetables served as accompaniments.  Though my daughter enjoyed the burger, it seems out-of-place on the elegant menu.


As a main entrée, I appreciate the freedom to order a vegetable-based meal–braised cabbage rolls, filled with a hearty rice and mushroom mixture and smothered with tangy, chunky tomatoes.  A variety of roasted root vegetables surrounded the dish and offered more flavor than the bland cabbage rolls.  I found myself wishing I ordered another serving of the delicious gnocchi!


My husband chose the chicken roulade with garlic polenta, glazed carrots, charred savoy cabbage and a red wine infused pear.  Though he devoured the chicken and creamy polenta, he found the overpowering sweetness of the pear off-putting and not enhancing of the dish.


The under seasoned and tasteless side of roasted Brussel sprouts brought the only real disappointment during our exquisite meal at the Accomac.  I don’t expect perfection, so the Brussel blunder can be overlooked.  (Though, as a sprout lover, I did have high hopes.)  They were very fresh and bright!


At the end of the meal, we found ourselves too pleasantly full to properly enjoy any of the sweet offerings from the menu.  We chose to share one small, but heavenly treat–the sticky toffee pudding.  Topped with a luscious dolce de leche ice cream and drenched with a syrupy toffee sauce, this dessert completed a wonderful and satisfying candle-lit meal at the Accomac.


Overall, our meal was wonderfully prepared and the staff at the Accomac welcomed and served my family in a professional and friendly manner, even though we brought our children to an obviously adult-centered, date-night event.  Eating a satisfying meal by firelight proved to be a joyful, unique and relaxing experience.


The Accomac works with local Pennsylvania farmers and provides a list of menu food sources online, which I appreciate and rarely find.  See the list here. 


Kudos to the Accomac Inn.  Thank you for serving fresh and local, farm-to-table food, which moves our society closer to sustainability and an overall healthier way of life.  My family will return for another wonderful meal before we move back to Texas.  (Please serve the gnocchi!)

The Accomac is located at 6330 South River Drive in York, Pennsylvania.

Lunch is served Monday-Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Dinner is served Monday-Saturday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm. and on Sundays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Sunday brunch is offered from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

***Reservations are recommended.

For more information, call 717-252-1521 or visit


Looking for some original and new experiences in the great state of Pennsylvania?

Visit the National Watch and Clock Museum–read all about it here!

Click here and check out the Stroopie Co., a world changing social enterprise found at the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

Take a drive to Ten Thousand Villages in Mechanicsburg to buy all kinds of authentic, artisan-made, fair trade crafts and treasures from another global-impacting social enterprise.  Read what you need to know here.


Traveling to Illinois?  Put the Firefly Grill on your must-eat, farm-to-table restaurant list!  Click here.







Recycled Sari Flower Making Class–Experience Adventure 27 of 100


For our 27th experience adventure, my daughters and I took an artisan’s apprentice class and learned how to create decorative flowers using recycled sari fabrics from Bangladesh.












Like so many of our adventures, this experience taught us a lot more than just a fun crafting process.


The class was offered at Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit, social enterprise that I accidentally found during one of my Google “fall-down-a-rabbit-hole” searches.  I previously knew nothing about it.



So, let me share what we learned (above and beyond making fabric flowers).

Ten Thousand Villages began in 1946 and continues to grow over 390 retail outlets and alliances all across the United States, including the one we visited in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.


These not-for-profit establishments carry home décor, jewelry, accessories, tea, furniture, art, soaps, and spices–all created by 130 artisan groups, representing 38 developing countries.










As a fair trade, globally-focused, social enterprise, Ten Thousand Villages employs very few people– in fact, the store we visited only keeps 2 or 3 people on salary.  The other 30+ “employees” are volunteers that greet and interact with customers, help with unpacking and displaying orders and run the cash register.  It is a wonderful, thought-provoking and very forward-thinking business model.





Almost all of the beautifully and skillfully handcrafted items are displayed with an informational sign about the artist, village or country.





Purchases improve the lives of over 20,000 makers, allowing access to better food, shelter and housing, appropriate healthcare and opportunities for education.





Ten Thousand Villages also verifies that represented artists and craftspeople create in a safe working environment, where each human is treated with dignity and respect in an ethical and responsible system.  Fair trade focuses on stability, paying a fair income to individuals, empowering women and improving the lives of all people.



The more exposure I receive to these world changing social enterprises, the more I prefer to give my business to establishments that make a difference in the life of others.



A list of all Ten Thousand Villages stores and alliances (stores that carry products) can be found on the website at Search by zip code or state and find one near you!


For my Texas friends, full retail stores are located in Austin and San Antonio, with alliances in McKinney, The Woodlands and Magnolia!  Who knew?!?

Pennsylvania boasts 11 stores and 3 alliances.  AWESOME!

The store we visited is located at 701 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 17055.  Open Monday-Friday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and closed on Sundays.  For more info call 717-796-1474.

They offer other artisan apprentice workshops, so follow them on Facebook for updates!


We originally learned about social enterprise from one of our earlier adventures to a local candy shop.  The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe houses the Stroopie Co., a family-owned company hiring refugee women and providing meaningful work for people who are forced to flee their countries due to famine, war and instability.

Read about this AMAZING company here.






Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery Tour in Lititz, PA–Experience Adventure 26 of 100


Dang, the pretzels up in Pennsylvania taste heavenly.

For real.


Beautiful and golden, with just a slight outside crunch and a warm, soft, bread-like center, topped with a tiny tang of salt…yummmmmy!


Fun Fact:  The state of Pennsylvania produces a staggering 80% of the nation’s hard pretzels!


The Palantine Germans brought soft pretzels and pretzel recipes to America in 1710.  And where did these people settle?  That’s right!  Pennsylvania.  Today, we call these pretzel-bearing geniuses the “Pennsylvania Dutch”.


Though several PA pretzel makers and companies offer tours, we decided to visit the FIRST commercial pretzel bakery in America–to see where it all began!

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery


Our 26th of 100 adventures!


In 1861, Mr. Julius Sturgis built the original ovens for his pretzel bakery in a 77 year-old building located in Lititz, Pennsylvania.  Today, pretzel lovers, visitors and crazy homeschooling families on sabbatical (like us!) can visit the site, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.





The interesting, 30 minute tour includes the history of pretzel making and baking, a hands-on pretzel twisting class and a quick tour of the original bakery, ovens and equipment.








We twisted some impressive pretzels!



Visitors also learn about the evolution of machinery used by the company and as a small treat, receive a bag of hard pretzels at the conclusion of the tour.










Guests can watch large, soft pretzels being made onsite!  ***The company still uses the same recipe from 1861!  AMAZING!



The shop offers quite a bit of historical information, relics and museum-worthy exhibits, too!






All kinds of yummy flavored hard pretzels, souvenirs and hot, fresh soft pretzels can be purchased in the front gift shop, separate from the tour.  But, take the tour!  (And then shop!)




This tour offered all my favs:  an interesting history, a knowledgeable and entertaining guide, original relics, a hands-on activity and FREE snacks at the end!!  Certainly an excellent way to learn about the history of pretzel making and the Julius Sturgis Pretzel company.  A++


Put this tour on your list of “must-do adventures” during your next visit to Lititz, Pennsylvania!  We loved it!


Julius Sturgis Pretzel is located at 219 East Main Street, Lititz, Pennsylvania, 17543.

Tours are offered Monday-Saturday, 9:30 am until 4:30 pm.


Child: $2.75

Ages 13+:  $3.75


The store is open 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.  Closed on Sunday and some holidays.

For more information, call 717-626-4354 or visit


Looking for other things to do in Pennsylvania?

Check out Wilbur Chocolates–right down the road from Julius Sturgis!  Click here for more info!

Don’t miss this awesome museum:  The National Watch and Clock Museum

Interested in the Appalachian Trail?  Read about our first hike here!

Check out the State Museum of Pennsylvania here!

If you find yourself in Lancaster, PA, click on the titles and check these places out!

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

Lancaster Central Market

Beiler’s Doughnuts




The Wilbur Chocolate Store in Lititz, PA–Experience Adventure 25 of 100


We took a quick drive to Lititz, Pennsylvania to visit The Wilbur Chocolate Store and Museum for our 25th experience adventure.



The chocolate dynasty began in 1865 when H.O. Wilbur and Samuel Croft produced mostly molasses candies and hard candies.  By 1884, the men separated the company and the cocoa and chocolate divisions became H.O. Wilbur & Sons.


The Wilbur Chocolate Store features a tiny glimpse into the history of the company and the process of making chocolate candies and goodies.


Visitors can watch an informative video and see historical candy making equipment and beautiful, antique tins and packaging.











The rest of the aromatic space is a dedicated and delicious store filled with all kinds of chocolate treats!





A free sample can be found at the very back.  🙂


My daughters and I were thrilled to discover some Stroopies (from our 7th adventure)!  Read all about that amazing and social conscious company and our life-inspiring visit here!


I purchased a Stroopie and some chocolate-infused hand cream.  🙂


The Wilbur Chocolate Store is located at 45 North Broad Street, Lititz, Pennsylvania, 17543.  For more information, call 717-626-3249 or visit to make yummy online orders.

Lititz is an adorable, cozy little town, about an hour from Carlisle, PA.

Within walking distance of The Wilbur Chocolate Store, we found a delightful restaurant, The Tomato Pie Café.  The menu offers several delicious vegetarian and gluten-free options and features light, fresh, and beautiful dishes.

We GREATLY enjoyed the spinach and artichoke tomato pie and the not-your sloppy joe, which is vegetarian.  Lots of yummy options include coffees, pastries, breakfast items, sandwiches, daily soups, and tempting desserts.






The Tomato Pie Café serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and has two locations:  one in Harrisburg, PA and one in Lititz.

We visited the Lititz location at 23 North Broad Street.  Call 717-627-1762 or visit for more information and to view current menus.

Looking for other fun things to do and explore in Pennsylvania?  Check these out:

The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA

The Harley Davidson Factory in York, PA

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA

Lancaster Central Market, in Lancaster, PA

Burning Bridge Antiques in Lancaster, PA


The Harley-Davidson Steel Toe Tour in York, PA–Experience Adventure 24 of 100


My only real connection to Harley-Davidson began when my husband and I got married in 2003.  At the time, he owned a very cool, 1998 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.  I remember the thrill of riding it only one time–a glorious and exhilarating summer afternoon, on the open roads of Ohio before the commitment to family responsibilities forced us to trade the motorcycle in for an ego-crushing minivan.  I am convinced a small piece of my husband died the day that bike left our possession.



Fast forward fifteen crazy years, my husband is now a student at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations Factory is in York, just 45 minutes down the road.

For Valentine’s Day, I gave him tickets to the Harley-Davidson Steel Toe Tour–our 24th of 100 adventures.  🙂




Harley-Davidson, a classic, American icon, celebrates 115 years of creating captivating and envy-producing motorcycles this year–2018.  What started as an idea and some simple drawings in a shed in 1903, paved the road for a massive and über successful company, which completely supports the belief in the American dream.

Little did William Harley, Arthur Davidson and Walter Davidson know, but their engineering genius and marketing abilities would lead to the creation of a motorcycle empire that unites humans from all kinds of backgrounds, diverse cultures, and genders with no regard to age, religious beliefs or political affiliations.  In our crazy, divided world, who would have guessed a motorcycle brand would unify and strengthen a varied and often contentious human race?

Enter the phenomenon of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.



The company began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and quickly grew due to the popularity of racing competitions in the early 1900’s.  Clubs for bike owners, riders and racers started popping up in rural and populated areas, flourishing after WWI.  The Harley-Davidson company built cycles for the military, creating a life-long relationship between the brand and American soldiers.



Today, Harley-Davidson offers tours at three manufacturing plants:  Menomonee Falls in Wisconsin, Kansas City in Missouri and York in Pennsylvania.



At the York, PA location, visitors choose 3 ways to explore the factory:

  1. Free, self-guided tour of the showroom gallery and gift shop
  2. Free, Classic Factory Tour, includes the assembly line and fabrication areas (about 45 minutes)
  3. $38 Steel Toe Tour, includes a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of the manufacturing floor, assembly line, fabrication center, employee-only areas of paint and polish, and a close-up view of the roll testing area. (about 2 hours)

My family and I experience the Steel Toe Factory Tour at the Harley-Davidson plant in York, Pennsylvania, but photographs are NOT allowed inside the manufacturing area.  However, pictures are allowed in the showroom gallery, to the right of the York Tour Center welcome desk.


I purchased the tickets to the Steel Toe Tour online, which requires guests to commit to a specific date and time.  When we arrived at the plant, we entered the York Tour Center and checked in with the information desk.  Every person with a paid ticket receives a commemorative pin and a safety vest to wear (and keep!).  Safety goggles and steel-toe protection, worn over your shoes, are provided for free.






Everyone also gets a $5 coupon for the gift shop and a copy of the very attractive (lol) group photo taken after the introductory film.  🙂


Because the tour is behind-the-scenes and in the middle of a working, manufacturing plant, everyone wears individual audio headsets linked directly to the guide.


The York factory, established in 1973, creates and assembles the Touring, CVO and Trike Harley models.


Captivated by the pure magnitude and intricate attention to detail, the tour exposed us to areas never seen by the public, including the paint and polishing departments.  Our favorite part was the roll test area, a coveted job only awarded to those with senority.


We experienced the fascinating process of manufacturing frames, fenders, fuel tanks and mechanical parts.  The factory floor was clean, well organized and of course, ran like a well-oiled bike (machine).  The professional craftsmen and craftswomen smiled and took a few seconds to demonstrate each of their contributions to the production of the legendary motorcycles.





Walking through the assembly process and viewing the full scope of vehicle operations gave me and my family a brand new appreciation for the powerhouse Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company and the beautiful motorcycles they build.





Overall, I would recommend the tour to all motorcycle enthusiasts or people interested in seeing the manufacturing process up-close.  There was an excessive amount of time spent just standing and waiting on the Steel Toe Tour and our guide stood silently for much of it, only sharing a few sentences of explanation here and there.  We all walked away wanting more historical information.

My only other complaint is personal–Harley-Davidson should be utterly embarrassed that they do not offer a military discount on tours.


The Steel Toe Tour at York Vehicle Operations is located at 1425 Eden Road, York, Pennsylvania, 17402.

The tour is $38 and available Monday-Friday at 9:15 am and 12:00 noon.  Book your date and buy your tickets in advance online.  The experience was sold out on the day we toured the factory.

The York Tour Center is free to visit and open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday-Friday.

Tours are also available in Wisconsin and Missouri and the Harley-Davidson Museum is located at 400 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI.

For more information, visit

We supplemented this experience and recommend watching a very interesting and entertaining mini-series (through Amazon Prime) called  Harley And The Davidsons, The Story Behind the Name, from the Discovery Channel.


Interested in other adventures, experiences and tours?

Here is a list of the 18 things we completed during the month of January!



4.2 Mile Hike On The Appalachian Trail–Experience Adventure 23 of 100



Discovering the Appalachian Trail meandered right through the “home base” of our 6 month sabbatical immediately drove me into an obsessive search to learn as much as I could about the famous hiking path.  Several months before we moved to Carlisle, I joined a few Facebook hiking and/or trail groups, read several books on the subject and like always, conducted hours and hours worth of online research.


I don’t know what it is, but the trail calls to me.


When the first day with temps in the 60’s finally arrived, my family and I experienced our 23rd of 100 adventures–a 4.2 mile hike on the magnificent Appalachian Trail, the longest, hiking-only trail in the world. (It will not be our last!)



The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) welcomes an astonishing 2-3 million visitors a year.  First proposed in 1921 by a regional planner named Benton MacKaye, the famous route began with volunteers linking existing trails to create one, long continuous footpath.


In 1925, a group of 24 supporters created the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) to protect and maintain the path. 


Completed in August of 1937, the 2,190 mile long Appalachian Trail winds through 14 states, 8 national forests and 6 national parks.  The trail begins in Springer Mountain, Georgia and concludes in Mount Katahdin, Maine.  It is marvelously beautiful, even on a rare warm day in the middle of winter.

**Fun Fact:  Earl Shaffer, a WWII veteran from Pennsylvania, was the first reported person to hike the entire trail in a single journey.  He completed his first hike in 1948, as a way to cope with returning home from the war.  Mr. Shaffer also finished continuous hikes in 1965 and in 1998, at the age of 79.


Hiking experiences are divided into three main descriptive categories:

  1. Day hikes
  2. Multi-day hikes
  3. Thru-hiking (walking the entire trail within one calendar year)

Our quick 4.2 mile hike obviously represents a very small “day hike”.   🙂






**Fun Fact:  Thru-hikers make up nicknames called “trail names” and rarely use their real names when meeting other hikers on the trail.

2″ x 6″ white rectangles called “blazes” found on trees, posts and rocks mark the sometimes treacherous path of the Appalachian Trail.




Blue rectangles mark trails to shelters built and maintained by volunteers to give multi-day and thru-hikers respite from extreme weather and exhaustion.

**Fun Fact:  In 1968, the National Trails System Act became law, making the Appalachian Trail the first national scenic trail in the United States.





Most thru-hikers finish the A.T. in 6 to 9 month, but the quickest was completed in just 46 days.  Anyone who completes the trail, in any combination or manner, earns the title of “2,000 miler”.   The oldest 2,000 miler was 82 years old–the youngest, just 5 years.


Between the years 1936 and 1969, 59 recorded completions were documented and only ten people finished the trail in 1970.  7,418 hikers reported completions between 2010 and 2017.

**Fun Fact:  About 29% of A.T. hikers are women.








Access to the trail varies, but we drove to an area that provides parking.  We left our car behind, wore comfortable shoes, carried lightweight jackets and water and began our first exploration of the peaceful, mostly undisturbed, natural and historical Appalachian Trail.





Hiking the Appalachian Trail fueled my spirit with a complete and calming submersion in the wonder of raw nature, a tranquil experience that planted an essential seed of eager desire to return for more.


I am currently researching the 14 state challenge and thinking about adding it to my bucket list.  🙂

For more information, visit The Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Recommended books:

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods on DVD


Why are we attempting 100 adventures?  Read this!

Looking for fun things to do in Virginia?

Check out:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum