whirlwind day one

For some reason, I missed out on a lot of sleep last night. I guess it was the unfamiliar surroundings, the long day of traveling, etc. Didn’t get to sleep until 2AM, and woke up at 7AM. I paid for it today. But 5 Hour energy came to my rescue and helped me through the evening.

The first thing I realized when I woke up was that I only had reservations for Monday night, by design. And I noticed a “No vacancy” sign on the hotel office door last night. I needed to make arrangements for the next one or two nights so I could focus on what I came here for. I brought a lot of stuff with me. One suitcase for clothes, the other for equipment. Once it was spread out in the hotel, I realized what a pain in the ass it would be to move this stuff every night. So I decided to try and stay a few more nights at my hotel. The lady at the desk helped me by moving some rooms around so I could get two more nights here. Not the same room, but no big deal. I would only have to move the stuff once. So that was taken care of.

I decided at brekafast that today I would just take a broad view of the battlefield to familiarize myself with it. As I walked out of my hotel room, I was blown away by the beauty of the town. Mountains in the distance, cannon and monuments now in plain view, no longer in the dark.

I went to the Gettysburg National Park at around 9:00. Tourists were already filling up the parking lots. And the first thing I noticed was that the tourists were mostly in their 60’s to 80’s. That makes sense. I think history in general, and the Civil war specifically, is an interest that comes later in life.

The National Park building was built in 2008. And from an inside source, I know that it has Marvin Windows in it. Good job, whoever sold that project. How cool would it be to work on a project of that magnitude?
I opted for the $ 12.50 combo pack ticket: The introductory film, the museum, and the cyclorama. Morgan Freeman narrarates the film. Has there ever been a voice more suitable for that type of thing? His voice is amazing. After the 20-minute show, it was on to the cyclorama. The cyclorama is something that I have never seen before, something that I did not know even existed. It is an oil on canvas painting, done in the late 1800’s. It is 43 feet tall, and 377 feet wide. It is cylindrical, so you view it in a 360 degree position. They built a special building for it, and it takes some escalators to get to the viewing platform. The painting depicts perhaps the most famous part of the Gettysburg campaign, Pickett’s charge. The painting is on the wall, and between the viewing platform and the wall is a 3-D diorama. Kind of brings the painting to you. Very cool. The video/sound/lightshow was great.

I skipped the museum due to time constraints, and got to the desk and asked a Ranger how best to see what I wanted to see. She basically said that the things I wanted to see (heavy fighting areas and hospital buildings) were spread out all over town. So I opted for the self guided auto tour. I grabbed a map and was on my way.

There are sixteen stops on the tour, and it covers most of the park proper. I did about half of it today. Took probably 125 pictures of landscapes and monuments. The monuments are everywhere. I think there are 1,300+ spread out throught the town. Each one tells a story or a position of some component of one of the armies. So I drove and drove and drove my clown car. I am renting a red Fiat 500, which is so small and so different from driving a RAM 1500 pickup that it is scary. The Fiat looks like you could open the door and 9 clowns would come pouring out, followed by one or more small dogs. Except that you can barely fit two people in it. Anyway, it is good on gas mileage, bad on the ego. And I actually had a fellow tourist ask me what I thought of it today. I told him that I drive a truck, and this is a rental and it scares me.
Anyway, I broke for lunch and then headed back to the battlefield, trying to locate some of the specific heavy fighting areas.

I then drove to the Gettysburg Haunted Candlelight Tour store to buy a book. I have been reading the “Ghosts of Gettysburg” series, which is seven books. I have six of them, and needed to pick up one that I had not read to review before I leave town.
I went to Starbucks to read some of the book looking for more ideas on places to see on the battlefield. As dusk neared, I went back to the hotel to get more layers of clothes and the ghost hunting equipment. I headed for one of the more tragic locations on the battlefield, the Devil’s Den and Slaughter Pit. Lots of casualties inflicted in these areas from troops positioned on a small hill above these locations. It was nearing dark, and I drove through the battlefield, getting lost several times. Big mistake there. I really need to scout during the day so I know where to go at night. This is an impossible place to get around without a map. When I finally found it, I recorded in the Devil’s Den for around 20 minutes or so. I noticed that there were at least three couples on the rocks; as they talked, I picked it up on my recorder. That makes it a lot harder when reviewing the recordings.
Overall, it was a good, if fairly disorganized day. Took a lot of pictures, got a few recordings, and familiarized myself with the battlefield. Tomorrow I will focus on specific areas during the day, scouting for my return after dark. If I catch up on sleep tonight, tomorrow will be a fruitful day. Adios.

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One Response to “whirlwind day one”

  1. ron coleman Says:

    It sounds like your vacation is all that you hoped it would be. Keep enjoying!—Dad

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