Just about every time I’ve seen a Mystery Tour advertised, I think “I should do that”! But, I usually ask myself if I really want to spend money and time on a day trip that I have no clue of any of the details. But, finally, I just said “what the heck – just do it!” And, I did!
On December 7th, I indeed ventured out on a Mystery Adventure! It was offered by First Choice Travel in Batavia, NY. All they told us was the start and end times (9:00am – 9:00pm), that we wouldn’t be more than four hours away, and that lunch was included. The rest of the details were a mystery….a well kept secret! The cost was $125.
My adventure antenna were standing on end and going crazy! The closer I got to the date, the more excited and curious I got. On Wednesday morning, I left the house at 8:15am and headed to Batavia to meet the bus that would take me on my mysterious day. The bus was loaded with 40+ eager adventurers and we were on our way a little after 9:00 am. The drive was overcast with thick fog and we remained in foggy, drizzly weather throughout the entire day – good thing we discovered all our fun was inside!
When we got on the bus, the popular guess about where we were going was Skaneateles, NY – they do a Dickens Christmas style thing throughout their beautiful downtown between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The thought was “where else would you go at Christmas?”. I was excited when I heard that possibility cause it is on my adventure bucket list – how cool would that be to not only have a fun mystery day, but also check something off my adventure bucket list? Another guess among my Facebook friends was Corning Glass Museum. Well……as soon as we got on the thruway and headed WEST, that shot down both of those theories.
View of the thruway from the west side bridge of the Angola rest stop during our first “bio” break.
My seat mate, Debbie (more on her later) and I were talking about possible places of interest in the general direction we were headed and neither of us could come up with any good ideas. I mentioned that we were told we’d be “no more than four hours away” and that if we were looking at a four hour or less window we could get as far as Erie, PA, but couldn’t think of anything exciting to do there – not that there isn’t, just that I couldn’t think of anything off hand. Another Facebook friend guess was the Lucy and Desi Museum, but when we drove past the Jamestown exit, that shot that theory down. Other thoughts were an outlet mall in Pennsylvania. Then, we crossed over into Pennsylvania and something in the Erie area became the most likely theory.
And, then about 15 minutes before we reached our destination, we were told…..but only because the tour manager, Kathy Hamm, had to hand out the tickets and the name of the mystery was written on them! We were going to a dinner theater performance! Turns out my seat mate (remember my mentioning Debbie in the last paragraph?) was part of a group of five retired nurse friends. When Kathy was figuring out how to keep groups together and fill tables for eight, the five friends said they were together and I said I was a solo. Debbie’s friends – Kathy, Kathy, Ann, and Diane – offered to adopt me to make us a group of six. There were two other solo adventurers – Diane and Vickie – sitting in the seats in front of me that were added to round out our table of eight. We got along great right off and had some great conversations over our lunch.
We arrived at The Station Dinner Theatre in Erie, PA just before noon. In addition to our bus, there was also another bus full of “people of a certain age” and a school bus full of high school students…..creating a 40 or 50+ year old age span among the audience members.
Our wonderful bus driver removing some of our passenger’s “wheels” from the storage area to stage them for use. Sure sign a bus is transporting retirees enjoying our golden years to the fullest!
The theater showed signs of age, but was very nice and cozy – I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future adventures – they do a lovely job!!! The three buses filled the tables. Our group of eight was seated at table # 2 – right front and center – YAY!!!
The show was called “Christmas Memories: Jimmy Lawrence USO Holiday Special” – a musical play set at a radio station for a Christmas Eve 1944 USO radio show for the troops during WWII just three years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The cast consisted of three ladies and three gentlemen who sang and acted their way through the two act play.
The actors were also our servers. They served us lunch……performed Act 1…..served us dessert during the intermission…..and then performed Act II.
Lunch was delicious!!! The service was a bit awkward at first – it was “family style”, so we had to pass the platters and bowls of food around a table that didn’t have any room to set the serving dishes. But, once we got the hang of it, it worked out just fine.
The first course was a corn chowder soup and a Caesar salad (that I didn’t take due to my cheese allergy, so no photo).
The second course was ham, chicken breast stuffed with dressing, green beans, and potatoes au gratin (again, I didn’t take any potatoes because of the cheese allergy, but I had PLENTY to eat without them). Everything was soooooo good!!! We also had choices of water, coffee, tea, and iced tea included with the meal, and other beverages we could have purchased, if desired.
Dessert was a Pumpkin Crunch with whipped cream……OMG – that was amazing!!! So moist and flavorful!!! It had a crunchy top layer with a moist cake with cinnamon, ginger, pecans, and I’m not sure what other spices — sooooo good!!! I could have eaten a whole pan of that without one ounce of guilt!!!
The show was excellent — full of Christmas spirit and song, touching, heartwarming, hysterical, and fun. I admit it brought on some tears and a whole lot out laughing out loud. I doubt there was anyone in the room that didn’t thoroughly enjoy every minute of it!!!
Here are some photos from the show:
This performance of “Ava Maria” was simply stunning — the voice on this lady was heavenly to say the least!
Act I was closed out with an “Armed Forces Salute” – flags were placed for each branch of the US Armed Forces as the song for each branch was sung and they asked that veterans in the audience stand when they heard their song. It was an emotional way to segue into the intermission…..and dessert!
The fun numbers were hysterical and added comedic dimension to the show.
When the show was over, I thought we would just get on the bus and head home…..nope…..we were told we had TWO more surprise mystery stops left in the day!
Stop # 2 was just about 15 minutes from the theater – still in Erie, PA – Frank’s Farm Market and Bakery! The place was GREAT!!! It was packed full of crafts, holiday gifts, fruits and vegetables, and baked goods to die for!
We spent about 45 minutes shopping there before we got back on the road
Stop # 3 was closer to home. We made one quick “bio break” at the Angola rest stop on the thruway after we got back into NY. Then, we drove through the Stony Brook Legendary Lights in Lancaster, NY — a residential community that totally lights up their entire neighborhood at Christmas for charity – this year, all of the money that is raised will benefit the Evan Wood Fund and will go towards the comfort and care of local chronically ill children and their families. If you’re local and you haven’t seen this incredible neighborhood and you don’t mind the drive to Lancaster, NY, DO IT!!! And, don’t forget to drop a donation in any one of the collection spots throughout the neighborhood — you can drive or walk to enjoy the lights!!!! For more information about the Stony Brook Legendary Lights, click here.
None of the photos I took were any good – we were driving along on a bus and it was dark, so they were a total blur! But – I did get a nice short video clip to share:
All three stops were incredible! I got home about 9:15 pm……roughly 13 hours from when I pulled out of my driveway that morning and I had exciting mysteries across two states! It was a long, but very fun day and $125 well spent! And, I made some new friends that I hope to cross paths with again, someday!
This will not be my last Mystery Adventure, for sure!!!
I am so happy you had such a positive experience on your first Mystery Adventure , Kim!
It was my pleasure to be your tour manager for the day, and it’s easy to see why I LOVE my job with FIRST CHOICE TRAVEL. I am so grateful for the phenomenal, experienced staff who work hard to put these trips, along with the many other multi-day trips together for your enjoyment. (Check out the upcoming 2023 options @1stChoiceTravel.com)
People often ask …“What is your favorite trip?” My answer is always the same…” The NEXT one “, because it’s true.. they are all so much fun !
Your post and pictures were wonderful, thank you for the positive, and personal comments. You were able to beautifully summarize what I often say…”Just try it once… you will love it ❣️.
Have a wonderful holiday season, and I hope to see you on another adventure soon 😉
Merry Christmas, Kathy!