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THE ROCK FATHER is a 2014 Step2 Brand AmbassadorI didn't realize it until recently, but in 2014, I have already logged more travel miles and visited more cool locales than in any other year in the 37-ish that I've been roaming the planet Earth. Thing is, I'm not done yet - and as I type these virtual words to appear on your computer/device screen, there's other adventures already on the books for the four months ahead. The most recent journey on my 2014 #RockFatherTour was a special one, and a trip that was a little bit different than most - an adventure back to Northeastern Ohio, staying in Cleveland and spending some time in the neighboring town of Streetsboro - home of The Step2 Company, who I've been working with for nearly two years - first as a "Test Driver," and most recently, as one of 10 paid Brand Ambassadors. Along with five fellow Ambassadors (a few couldn't make it this time around), this was our first time working with Step2 in-person, taking meetings and going hands-on with some of the latest products (for kids and grownups!) that are hitting the market now, and all the way into Fall of 2015. If you've ever wondered "Where the Toys Come From," I have your answer...

Regular readers of THE ROCK FATHER know that I'm a big fan of The J.M Smucker Company. Smucker's is an American tradition, so when I had a chance to visit their headquarters in Orrville, Ohio last Fall for their Holiday Traditions gathering, I jumped at it. While I had a great time and learned a lot (want a killer Brussels Sprouts recipe?), I couldn't help thinking that my family would like to visit there as well, so on our first-ever Great American Road Trip series, I took my wife and daughters to The J.M. Smucker Company Store and Cafe for a late lunch and a little bit of shopping as we made our way back to Illinois last month.

Published in Food and Drink

I love to think that there was a time - a time not long ago, just over a century ago - when you could build something in America that was able to become such a success, that an entire town could be named in it's (and your) honor. That happened when Milton S. Hershey created a "company town" that became known as Hershey, Pennsylvania, or "The Sweetest Place on Earth" back in 1894. Now, in addition to boasting the birthplace and main manufacturing hub for the Hershey's brands of chocolate-based goodness, Hershey, PA also includes a ballpark, arena, a theme park, and the original HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD. As part of our first Great American Road Trip series, my wife and I took the girls the Chocolate World last month to experience it as a family.

Published in Food and Drink

As a parent, there's certain objects that become a part of your daily life - accessories that are always close at-hand to help nurture the creativity of your little ones. Things like crayons. And, when it comes to crayons, there is no brand more iconic than Crayola, who in 1903 launched what would become an Empire of fun with the release of their original box of eight wax crayons, then-sold for just 5 cents! In Easton, Pennsylvania stands the birthplace of Crayola - and in 2013 the former Crayola Factory was rebirthed as THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE - a 60,000 square-foot home of colorful adventure where kids of all ages can immerse themselves in a vibrant world of imaginative play. As part of our first Great American Road Trip series, my wife and I packed up the girls and headed for Pennsylvania, where THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE was a must-visit location...

Published in James' Journal

When we kicked-off our first-ever family road trip earlier this month, my wife and I did a fantastic job of keeping our destinations largely a secret from the little ones. In fact, they only knew of one stop (Chocolate World), and that's because Addie caught me looking at it on the computer prior to our journey. The centerpiece of our trip was kept well under-wraps, and keeping it a surprise until we entered the gates was completely worth it as the reactions were priceless. After spending the night in Philadelphia, the family and I headed for Langhorne, Pennsylvania - home of SESAME PLACE - the Nation's only theme park based entirely on SESAME STREET.

Published in James' Journal

When I last paused my story, we'd arrived in Philadelphia on nearly no sleep after our drive from Chicago, but with two girls that were ready to roll. We'd stopped by the DoubleTree Philadelphia, but knowing how early we were, as expected, our room was not yet ready. Fueled only by coffee, we set out for Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell to jump right into that true Philly experience. Being a Sunday, we were ahead of the crowds, and managed to stop by Carpenter's Hall and the Betsy Ross house as well...

Published in James' Journal
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