Monday, October 17, 2011

The haunting fields of Gettysburg

Oct. 12-15, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The famous Bloody Wheatfiled
described on the plaque below

Our entry into Pennsylvania marked the start of the Civil War history tours Vic had been looking forward to on this trip.  Gettysburg is a powerful place to start. I had no idea it is called a national cemetery.  We stayed at the local KOA in Gettysburg and even there could feel the sacredness of the hallowed ground.  The campground store sold lots of memorabilia and tickets to the local attractions. I discovered we could buy a cd and book for a self-guided tour of the park which we did the following morning.  The tour took about 2 ½ hours taking us from one famous battlefield to another. You could park your car at the various battlefields an and listen to a powerful narration of the battle the took place in each various locale--including the sound effects of muskets and cannons blasting.  We usually took the opportunity to stop the cd and get out of the car to view   the open fields imagining a battalion of men marching to their deaths.  In only three days, over 55,000 soldiers (from both sides) lost their lives.  It was apparent that the topography played a major role in the extreme number of fatalities.  Having lived in the West for so long, it seemed amazing to envision this war taking place in what is now people’s backyards. 
We also enjoyed visiting the historic town of Gettysburg where there were many tourist attractions, re-enactments, and ghost tours.  One of the highlights was finding an historic tavern called McClellans, part of the Gettysburg Hotel est. in 1797, on Lincoln Square which had a beautiful turn of the century mahogany bar from England. Good English pub food and a fitting end to a haunting day.
Our $200 wrong turn
Our departure from Gettysburg turned out to be a painful lesson in following the navigation more closely. We were on a back road trying to get to the main road and made a wrong turn (with the Jeep in tow).  The challenge in this situation (when there is no short way to reroute us) is to find a parking lot large enough to turn around.  We thought we found one at a county farm station, but as we grew closer to the blacktop area we realized we would need about two more feet to make the turn. At my urging, Vic cut the corner wider than the blacktop using some of the grassy area to give ourselves a little more room. The minute our front tires hit the grass, our 30,000 pounds caused us to sink.  Vic knew we were in trouble immediately and had the good sense to stop before our back axle had hit the grass.  I was thinking we would need to get towed, but all we had to do was unhitch the Jeep and then we were able to back up the motor home back onto the blacktop.  There was no one around the county building as it was Saturday, but we started to feel guilty about the large scar we left in the grass.  Before we had time to write a note and leave it, a truck drove up (word gets around pretty fast in these parts) and a county worker got out. He said we had two choices: leave insurance and id info with him so we can get billed for the damage or wait and let the local sheriff come to deal with it (which he said would most likely result in adding a ticket for trespassing).  Well, the choice then seemed easy, so we requested that he give us an estimate before calling our insurance company as we were hoping the cost would be low enough that we would prefer to pay it ourselves. Bummer, but no damage to our motorhome or Jeep, and, most importantly, no one hurt. So, we chalked it up to a lesson learned. Do not trust the grass.  We had been parking in so many grass fields in campgrounds that perhaps we had become overconfident about such a maneuver. Obviously, this field was a wet one--the green color might have been a good clue!


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