The Traveling Steve's

A bit of serendipity in Pennsylvania

This week I worked in the Lebanon area of Central Pennsylvania.  As I had a semi-early morning  flight, Steve (DOS) and I stayed at the Hyatt Orlando Airport on Sunday night, one of our favorite hotels.  I woke up at 6am on Monday morning, however, and noticed a text from American Airlines, that my flight was delayed several hours due to weather, and I wasn’t scheduled to leave until 5:30pm that day.

To make a long story short, I phoned American, and was able to change my flight to an earlier flight, but still wouldn’t get in to Harrisburg until 7:30pm, but at least it was still daylight then, as I had a half- hour or so drive to my hotel from there.  I had breakfast at the Orlando Airport Hyatt by myself, while DOS went home to Sarasota for the week.  I then took the ‘B’ side airport tram from the main terminal to the B 50 gate to catch my flight to Charlotte.

As luck would have it, I managed to get an earlier flight leaving at 11am, arriving at 3:45pm via Charlotte.  And I even got upgraded to First Class, which never happens when there is a flight delay, even thought I was already confirmed in First Class for my original flights.

I got to Harrisburg on time and was concerned my checked baggage wouldn’t make it, as it was scheduled to arrive on the 7:30pm flight.  Fortunately, my luggage made it on the flight I took arriving at 3:45pm, and I got a rental car at National Car Rental and headed to my hotel, the Homewood Suites in Lancaster, PA.

I had hoped to go to the Hershey factory, as I had booked an early flight, and didn’t have to be on site until Tuesday, but with the flight delay, that wasn’t an option.  I did head out of the airport on arrival towards my hotel, but managed to stumble upon a winery along the way – imagine that!  It was the Vineyards at Hershey, and it was definitely a hidden gem I wasn’t expecting to find.  

It was just after 5pm when I arrived, and they were actually open until 6pm for tastings and the gift shop.  Never one to pass up a winery, I stopped by, and was the solo wine-taster at the tasting room.  I paid my $6 for the tasting of several wines, and had a nice time chatting with the server.

As I was finishing up, a lady name Jaime came in asking to buy a glass of wine, and we chatted briefly by the tasting counter as she was being served.  Turns out Jaime and her friend, Corinna,  do a lady’s get  together once a month and were picnicking in the back of the winery, and invited me to join them.  As I had no time commitments, I joined Jaime and Corinna out back and we ended up having a wonderful late afternoon of stories, wine tasting, and snacks, with just the three of us out back admiring the hillside facilities.

 It was so nice to meet them, and and we got along instantly like long lost friends.  While they were both married with kids, I offered that I was partnered with DOS, and noted that we both enjoyed nice wines and travel.

They both offered me some of the snacks they had brought with them, crackers, cheese, dip etc, and I especially loved the Christmas napkins they brought – so like us I said as I use whatever printed napkins I can find when entertaining by the pool!   

It was such a lovely afternoon, and not being rushed to get anywhere, it was quite a treat meeting the ladies, and enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the newly found vineyard in Pennsylvania.  I bought DOS a cap and myself a bottle of the Firefly red wine, which I enjoyed at my hotel during the week.  The Vineyards at Hershey was really a nice and unexpected find, and combined with meeting the ladies, is what I refer to as ‘serendipity’.  The Vineyards also has a brewery which was not open the day I was there, and they also have concerts in the outdoor backyard, with some name bands too.

I also noticed on the wall the wine-maker will be hosting an AMA Waterways wine cruise this November, which I would love to do, but unfortunately won’t have enough vacation left this year with our upcoming Mendoza trip Labor Day weekend, and our China trip in October.  While I didn’t get to meet the wine-maker, it would have been nice to meet him, and discuss his plans for the AMA wine cruise.

We have taken AMA Waterways four times, most recently in June on our African vacation, but have never taken the November wine-themed cruise with them.  Add that to the ‘to do’ list for future!

Finally, I said my goodbyes to Jaime and Corinna, and headed on to my hotel in Lancaster, the Homewood Suites, where I had reserved for the week.  I stayed there only two nights however, not that it wasn’t a nice hotel, but it was a 45 minute drive to where I was working in Lebanon, PA.  It was actually a nice and scenic drive thru the rural small towns along the way to work, but most of the drive was 25 to 35mph so I switched mid-week to a closer hotel.  

As always, I enjoy seeing the silos as I’m driving thru the country, regardless of the state that I am visiting.  One of my favorite pictures I took years ago was a snow-covered silo in Virginia, when I was home for Christmas.  While this photo is not that great, I was driving, and took a quick snap shot along the way.
The Hampton Inn was only 15 minutes away from where I was working, so I checked in there on Wednesday, making for an easier commute to work.  While the area rural, it was right of the PA Turnpike, and it was a nice and quiet area.  

On Wednesday night, I walked next door to the DevineSwine Barbecue restaurant, and had a good meal of barbecue and a couple brewskis which they make in-house.  

They are also affiliated with the New Hope winery which is right across the street by the Renaissance Faire, which I didn’t have time to visit during the week.

On Thursday as I went to do my online check-in for my American Airlines flight on Friday, I noticed there was a travel advisory for much of central Pennsylvania for Friday, and were offering passengers a no-charge option to change their flights.  I ended up changing my flight home to Thursday night, leaving Harrisburg at 8pm, (via Charlotte) and not getting home until 1am.

 As DOS had dropped me off at the airport and was picking me up on Friday, I took a cab home at the midnight hour.

It was good to be back a day early as I had Friday to catch up with the paperwork, emails etc, and have an early start on the weekend.  Next Monday, I will be flying back to Harrisburg for week number two of my project.

For now, T.G.I.F.!!!  Let the weekend begin!


I flew from Orlando to Harrisburg on Monday morning (via Charlotte), and unfortunate

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