Maryland 2018 – Day 2

The second day of the trip began at the fairgrounds where I met up with Andy who had hauled my sheep from California.

IMG_6701                   I got them situated near the other Jacob sheep and hung my newly made sign (that includes my location). I delivered my entries in the fiber and photo contests (a whole suitcase full–it’s a good thing that Southwest allows two free bags). Then I went exploring.

I was looking for somewhere that I could do some hiking and get a feel for the country. I found a destination on the map called Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area. It was about a half hour away. On the way there I saw a sign for Patapsco Valley State Park so I stopped there first.



DSC_0431                                                             This was a pretty area. It was “mixed use” including developed playground and lawn areas, but I stuck to the trails. I was not dressed for the weather. According to the news it was 90 degrees on this day and we haven’t been that hot at home yet. Too bad I hadn’t brought shorts…although the ticks that I found later made me think that maybe jeans were better anyway.

DSC_0446            Dogwood. That’s one flower that I knew.

There were flowers (and a bird*) that I didn’t identify, but I’m not obsessing over that. *ID by a blog reader: Chipping Sparrow / ID by another reader: lower flowers look like Summer Snowflake, Leucojum aestivum, a naturalized species native to Europe.DSC_0449                 More of the trail.

After leaving that area I drove on to the original destination.DSC_0507               No one knows for sure why this place is called Soldiers Delight but the purpose for preserving it is the unique geology and ecosystem. DSC_0454           From Wikipedia: “The site is designated both a Maryland Wildland (1,526 acres) and a Natural Environmental Area(1,900 acres) … The site’s protected status is due to the presence of serpentine soil and over 39 rare, threatened, or endangered plant species along with rare insects, rocks and minerals.”DSC_0496“Weathered serpentinite is dissolved rock, transformed into thin, sand and clay poor soil which is easily eroded. This creates a land surface which is stony, unfertile and sparsely vegetated and is the reason that the term “serpentine barren” is used to describe these areas.

DSC_0474                 Signs explained that “the serpentine grasslands and oak savanna systems are now imperiled due mainly to the lack of American Indian and lightning fires which are critical to this fire-dependent ecosystem…The oak savanna ecosystem is one of the rarest communities in Maryland.” Over 90% of the less than 1000 remaining acres lies within Soldier’s Delight NEA.

The white flower is the endangered Serpentine Chickweed. I think the purple one is a Phlox species.

Blackjack oaks, post oaks, and black oaks are here.DSC_0470                 Praire warbler.DSC_0469

DSC_0508                      I hiked the 2-1/2 mile trail around the grassland area and came back up to the main road. I decided to take another trail that went to the chromite mines. Half way through this one I started to think that maybe I should have brought water…and food. I realized how hungry and thirsty I was. It was already about 3:30. Did I say that it was very hot? I started to have visions of having to be rescued. Or not–how would anyone know where I was? I also found a tick on my hand. Then I started to feel like there must be ticks everywhere. Forget those mind games. I was still enjoying the new landscapes.DSC_0512                                                                  I happened to look up and saw this.DSC_0510           Here is a closer view.IMG_6711            Along the way I found the Choate mine that operated from 1818 to 1888 and for a brief period during WWI. I had expected something bigger when I read the sign pointing to a pit mine (picture the massive mines I’ve seen in the west). It’s hard to imagine that it was a few holes like this produced the world’s supply of chromium.DSC_0517                 This is one of the other mines. I did make it back to civilization without mishap (and only one other tick).

I got back to the fairgrounds in time to meet up with friends and go to dinner in Frederick. Stay tuned for the main event!


Maryland 2018 – Day 1

I left the house at 3:30 a.m. to get to the airport for a flight to Maryland. Yes! I was on my way to MSWF (Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival). Friends and I went to this event last year and ever since I wanted to go again. It was only at the last minute before sheep entries were due that I found that I could get a ride for my sheep (to be shown and are going to PA with a new owner) so I booked a flight for myself.

I got here on Thursday afternoon and wanted to make the most of my time to see some of the country. I checked into the hotel and then got back in the car heading toward the Potomac River and the C & O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Canal.

IMG_6675                  I didn’t want to take the main highways because I love seeing the farm country.IMG_6677                         I pulled over in a couple of places just long enough to get photos with my phone.IMG_6678                 You can’t tell from this photos but that tractor is big enough that the car I’m driving could have almost gone right under it. I don’t know what crop that is for.IMG_6680            Crossing the Potomac River. I crossed a couple of times before I found the parking area for the National Historical Park at a place called Point of Rocks. (Actually I parked elsewhere and finally found this when I started walking toward the river.)DSC_0363             The C & O Canal follows the Potomac River for 184 miles and was used for about 100 years as a way of transporting lumber, coal, and agricultural products. DSC_0365                     The bridge from below.DSC_0371                  I walked along the towpath for an hour or so.Pawpaw              Here is a tree I haven’t seen before. Flowers on the pawpaw tree.DSC_0368                      I don’t know what kind of insect this is but it is a big one.DSC_0380                      There are some lock houses still standing along the canal. These were houses provided to the locktenders who would be available to operate that lock 24 hours a day. This house, built in 1837,  has been fixed up and is available for rent.

DSC_0377                                                                 A view of the lock.

DSC_0388                              This photos shows the scale and proximity of the house, the canal and the railroad. Point of Rocks is famous because it is where the battle for the transportation rights played out. The mountain on one side and the river on the other left a narrow strip of land. “Both the C&O and B&O [railroad] fought in court for primary access to this “point of rocks.” The C&O won but the two companies compromised, sharing the narrow passage from here to Harpers Ferry.DSC_0390

There is plenty more history to learn and sites to see but I’m going to be spending the next couple of days with sheep. I will get back to this on Monday.

MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 7 Continued – The End

That last post was really long but I have so many photos that I wanted to include. The day wasn’t over when we left Assateague Island. We had a mission ahead of us.


Dona took this photo before we left California. You pass this sign on Highway 50 entering Sacramento from the west. We figured that if there was a sign for Maryland at this end of Highway 50 then there would be a sign at the other end too, so we drove to Ocean City.


We parked and started walking to find our sign. The beach and the Atlantic Ocean are just past the Boardwalk, so we have to go the other direction.


We were on the right track. We hadn’t seen any sign coming into town, but it didn’t take us too long to realize that we’d been facing the wrong direction to notice a sign meant for west-bound travelers.


A sign of interest, but not the one we were looking for.


A gorgeous old building.


We found it!


Mission accomplished.


We still had time in the parking meter so walked back to the Boardwalk. Do you remember the photo in the last post of this area 10 miles to the north of the Assateague National Seashore? What a far cry from the beach and the dunes. The beach here is just to the right of those light poles.


We stopped at a memorial to fire fighters…IMG_9662

…and reflected on the world. Then it was time for ice cream.


We found Dumser’s Dairyland. It was late in the day and we didn’t need to eat another meal out. We had plenty of food to use up back at the house because we weren’t going to be able to take it with us. But before heading to the house we drove a few miles south to the town of Snow Hill. Kathleen had heard that it was an interesting place to see. Snow Hill was founded in 1642 (you can’t say that on the West Coast) on the Pocomoke River. Although there was a disastrous fire in 1893 there are still pre-Revolutionary War structures in the town. We did not search out the various buildings but did a random, meandering tour through the old part of town and I found references to some of the ones I photographed later.


The Governor John Walter Smith House, a Queen Anne Victorian, built about 1889.




United Presbyterian Church, build in 1889.



River House Inn, built in the 1860’s.

That was it for adventure. Back to our house, clean up, pack up, and get ready to leave for home in the morning.


This is the house were we stayed the last couple of nights in Maryland.


We got on the road and I was navigating. Oops! Delaware? Right, I hadn’t paid attention that we’d be entering another state. I don’t think you get to count it as a visit unless you actually get out of the car though.


The rest of this is rather anti-climactic after this fabulous trip. Just photos taken while driving riding. Beautiful rural countryside.


Big round bales. You don’t see those around here.


More big barns.


There’s a Maryland sign that I don’t think I got when entering the first time…at least not from the plane.

That’s it. Back to California. We had an adventure to be remembered for a long time. We didn’t do any one thing that was all that adventurous, but Actually Doing It was the important thing. And spending this time with each other was a treasure.

MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 7 – Ponies!

It’s been almost a month since we started embarked on this trip so I guess I’ve had extended enjoyment while organizing photos and thinking about the blog posts.  I don’t know how many people really read my posts, but there have been some who have asked “what about the ponies?”

Day 6 was spent learning about Fort McHenry and exploring Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad. We spent a comfortable night at our AirB&B in Berlin and got on the road in time to get to the Assateague Island National Seashore…  DSC_1017

…when the Visitor Center opened. The area is managed jointly by the National Park Service and Maryland Park Service.


Assateague Island is a barrier island that is 37 miles long and separated from the mainland by Chincoteague Bay and Sinepuxent Bay. The northern two thirds is in Maryland and the southern one third is part of Virginia. If you were a horse-crazy girl once then what you know about these islands is that there are wild ponies living there, made famous by Marguerite Henry’s book, Misty of Chincoteague.  We had come to find the ponies.


Only part of  the island is accessible on a paved road that connects campgrounds and trails. We hadn’t gone far when we found them. Ponies!


Just pretend that you don’t know that they were in a parking lot near the bathrooms. Signs everywhere warn people to leave the ponies alone and don’t offer food. It’s the same kind of warnings that you read in Yellowstone about not feeding bears and packing food away. People are kicked and bitten by ponies and the ponies are hit by cars when they get used to people offering food.

These ponies didn’t seem to be going anywhere soon…


…so we walked to the beach.


We had made it to the Atlantic.


That is Ocean City, about 10 miles north. Can you see the ferris wheel and the amusement park in the middle of the photo? What a contrast when looking from the National Seashore.


The barrier islands are “among the most dynamic landforms on earth”. There is constant change. Assateague Island is moving west, at an accelerated rate after jetties were constructed near Ocean City in the 1930s.  At one time Assateague Island was to be developed, and in the 1950s a 15-mile road was created on the Maryland side of the island. A hurricane in 1962 wiped out structures and covered the road, and legislation in 1965 created the National Seashore.


The ponies are most likely descendants of horses that were brought to the island 300 years ago by farmers who took advantage of the natural “corral” made of water. Farmers were required to pay taxes on their livestock and by turning them loose on the island, they could avoid the tax. I usually try to be scientifically accurate about what I write, but there is some artistic license here. The documentation from the Park Service says that genetically these are HORSES, not PONIES. The small stature is a result of years of adaptation to a diet of abundant, but nutrient-poor salt-marsh grasses.


Sorry. I will continue to call them ponies while I’m talking about our visit. They are used to paparazzi. We were lucky to be visiting in the off-season and on a weekday. There were very few people around. It would have been a very different scene if the parking lots and roads were full.


The ponies wandered off and we drove on to find more.


This looked like a very old pony at an empty campground. The Maryland ponies are managed as wildlife are. From the brochure, “While action may be taken to end the suffering of a gravely ill, seriously injured, or dying horse, no measure are taken to prolong the lives of Maryland’s wild horses. As with other species of Assateague wildlife, horses that are sick or weak do not survive.” The population is controlled using a non-hormonal, non-invasive vaccine, administered by a dart, to prevent pregnancy. With this method the birth rate has been lowered to fewer than ten foals each year which maintains the population at under 125 horses.

A fence that separates the Maryland and  Virginia herds. The Virginia herd is privately owned and produces 60-90 foals each year. The foals are sold at auction after the annual swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island and the proceeds go to veterinary care, the fire department, and various charities. There are week-long festivities around this event and you can see videos at this link.


There are three nature walk trails through the marsh, the forest, and the dunes. We started with the marsh trail.



We spotted this osprey that had caught a fish.


We watched for quite awhile while it circled, still carrying it’s fish.


Diamondback terrapins.

American Oystercatcher-Laughing Gull

Two laughing gulls and an American oystercatcher…

American Oystercatcher-Laughing Gull

…who was not welcome.

Short billed dowitcher

Short-billed dowitcher.



We drove down another road…



…where we saw a group of people gathered. From my Yellowstone experience (people stopping in the road when wildlife is spotted), I figured that that meant Ponies!


This group was a little more picturesque, being “in the wild” instead of “in the parking lot”.




There was a Pony Patrol volunteer with that group of people answering questions and making sure that ponies aren’t harassed.

We drove to the next trail–the forest nature trail.


Loblolly pines are the dominate forest species.




Poison ivy.





At the end of that trail we saw the same group of ponies, but from a different view. Notice the paddle-boarders in the marsh. What a great way to see the marsh and the ponies.

One more interesting pony fact: “The Assateague horses drink over twice the amount of water that domesticated horses will due to their salty food supply. All that drinking combined with a high salt diet contributes to their bloated appearance.”


We drove to the Dune Nature Trail.


Chris needed some beach time so Kathleen and I walked the trail while Chris enjoyed the beach, albeit a bit cold and windy.




Remember the road that I said was built in the 1950s? Part of it is still visible.





As we left the park we were faced with that age-old question.


“Why does the pony cross the road?”


Because the grass is greener?

This was another full day (and a very full blog post) but there is more Maryland scenery. That will be another post.


MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 6 – Harriet Tubman NHP

On Day 6 of our adventure we spent the first part of the day at Ft. McHenry National Monument. Then we headed for Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad in Dorchester County, Maryland. Maryland landscape-17

I commented in the last post that there is a lot of water in Maryland!


At this time Chris was driving and we didn’t know until we got here that driving across bridges is not one of her favorite things.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

This is a 4-mile bridge across Chesapeake Bay.


Kathleen gave moral support from the back seat. Chris did just fine.


I rode shotgun trying to figure out where we were going and not wanting to miss any photo ops. It turns out that our Visitor Center was not on this map because it is brand new.

Harriet Tubman NM

The Visitor Center is co-managed by the State of Maryland and the Park Service. To fully experience the Underground Railroad site you can follow a driving tour 223 miles through Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. There is written and digital documentation to explain the sites along the way. But we didn’t know that when we made this plan. So we ended up seeing only a fraction of what is actually part of the Underground Railroad Byway.


The exhibits in the Visitor Center gave us a good understanding of Harriet Tubman’s life and the heroism that she showed in escaping slavery and then returning many times to rescue over 70 family members and friends.


A chilling quote that describes some of the anguish inflicted by one person on another.


At the last stop in the Visitor Center there is a video with modern era commentary about human rights and the fact that we still struggle.

Blackwater River

After leaving the Visitor Center we followed the Driving Tour map for a short way on our way to picking up Interstate 50. We drove through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, largely unchanged from the time when Harriet Tubman lived in the area.

Maryland landscape-29

Maryland landscape-37

There are signs along the way.


This is the Bucktown Store, closed when we drove by. Harriet was in this store when the shopkeeper threw a 2-pound weight at a slave who was fleeing the store, but instead hit Harriet, nearly killing her.

Bestpitch Ferry Rd.

The one-lane, wooden Bestpitch Ferry Bridge at the site of a former ferry landing. Agricultural and timber products were transported on rafts.

Bestpitch Ferry Rd.

Harriet’s knowledge of the waterways and survival in the marshes aided her in escape and rescuing others.

Marsh-Dorchester Cty

Marsh-Dorchester Cty

Marsh-Dorchester Cty

We inadvertently left the documented byway and followed country roads toward the Nanticoke River where we would turn north to pick up I-50.

Marsh-Dorchester Cty

I wish I knew what that very tall grass was on the side of the road.

Bestpitch Ferry Rd.

Modern farming. We saw a lot of these huge long barns and decided that they were probably chicken houses. Agriculture is Maryland’s largest commercial industry and livestock, particularly broilers (5-12 week old chickens), followed by dairy, are the leading products.

Marsh-Dorchester Cty

Drive-by photography.

Marsh-Dorchester Cty


This house is in the town of Vienna where we joined up with I-50.


This “beachy” comfortable house near the town of Berlin was to be our headquarters for the next two nights. Look familiar? Chris and Kathleen figuring out where to go for dinner. They found a seafood restaurant and I had salmon, grits, and sweet potato fries. Southern dining. I hadn’t realized until this trip how close to “The South” Maryland is.

Our first day of site seeing took us to Harpers Ferry and  immersion in Civil War era politics and strife. We had a wonderful diversion at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival during the weekend. Then we saw Gettysburg and were immersed in Civil War history for a day. Fort McHenry took us back into history, focusing on another war and also learning about the Fort’s role during the Civil War as well. Learning about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman emphasized this sobering and grim part of U.S. history known as slavery. Maybe it’s like reading the newspaper–most of what makes “news” is not happy. These episodes of history depict the desire for power  and the struggle of those being oppressed.

I was ready to see PONIES! That will be tomorrow.

MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 6 – Ft. McHenry

It is taking me a long time to tell the rest of the stories about this trip but I want to finish. One reason I do this is that it makes me sort through my photos and jot down some notes before I forget. I also do a little more research into the history part to solidify that in my brain, at least temporarily. That is also why I don’t get too it right away,  because I need the time. I left off in the last post seeing Gettysburg National Military Park and staying in the town of Gettysburg. We planned on two stops on Tuesday before getting to our final destination.

Ft. McHenry-1-2

The first was Fort McHenry National Monument. It’s on that point in the northwest quadrant of the map. Living on the West Coast I haven’t paid much attention to the geography of the East Coast. Until I started trying to figure out where we were going on a map I hadn’t realized how big Chesapeake Bay is and how much water is within the state of Maryland in the form of rivers and marshes.


I was driving this morning so just got a few shots through the windshield. Seeing signs for Washington stood out for me.


This is in Baltimore not far from Fort McHenry. I was surprised at how little traffic we had getting through this industrial area to the fort. In fact, we had little traffic and a relatively small number of people at all the national sites we visited. The wonders of off-season and mid-week travel!


We got to the Visitor’s Center just in time for the 10 minute film about the Battle of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner, originally called “Defense of Fort M’Henry”, in which Francis Scott Key described the his sighting of the American flag over the Fort after 25 hours of bombardment by British ships.


The Star Spangled Banner was sung at the end of the film and people stood as the movie screen lifted, revealing the flag flying over the fort. My telling of this doesn’t invoke much emotion, but the film was so well done and the ending so dramatic that when Chris and I looked at each other we both had tears in our eyes.

After that one of the Park Volunteers invited everyone to come outside and participate in a flag ceremony.


Everyone lined up in two rows facing each other.


A flag was brought out of what looked like a large duffel bag and was carried down the line of people. When the entire length was being supported then we all stepped back.


This revealed a replica of the 32′ x 40′ garrison flag constructed by Baltimore seamstress, Mary Pickersgill for Fort McHenry.


Major George Armistead, who commissioned the flag, wanted it to be large enough “that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.” IMG_9573

We learned that the original flag, which is in the Smithsonian, was made of dyed English wool, except for the stars which were cotton (and are 2′ across!). There were 15 stripes, each 24″, because in 1794 Congress had approved two additional stripes for Vermont and Kentucky be added to the original 13. It wasn’t until 1818 that the stripes were reduced back to 13 to represent the original colonies and a star was added for each new state.


As the Park volunteer tested our new-found knowledge of the flag we rolled it back up stripe-by-stripe. We were then encouraged to learn more at the Fort.


Mary Pickersgill made two flags, the large garrison flag and a smaller storm flag, 17′ x 25′.


That was the one flying on this day. They use the larger flag on days with less wind.

Ft. McHenry-5

As we walked to the fort we saw this couple, an interesting contrast with the buildings in the background.

Ft. McHenry-9


Inside the Fort, many of the rooms on the lower floor have more information and interpretive displays.


I wonder what how you’d know!


I thought it was interesting to get this perspective. The glass case encloses part of the original oak cross-brace that was underground and anchored the original flagpole. The replica cross-brace above gives perspective of the size and the depth of the lower section.Ft. McHenry-18

The fort is star-shaped. These cannons point down the Patapsco River where the British bomb ships were stationed and toward Chesapeake Bay beyond.

Ft. McHenry-16

We could easily have spent more time at the Fort, absorbing more of it’s history, and driven around Baltimore to see the other relevant sites, but that will have to be on the list for a future visit.

Places to go. More things to see. Stay tuned.

MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 5 – Gettysburg

After a fabulous time at MDSW the fun wasn’t over for three of us.


This is the house where we’d stayed for the last 3 nights.


We left Dona and Mary at the bus station in Frederick where they would take a shuttle to the airport, and Chris, Kathleen, and I drove on to continue the adventure.


Today’s plan was to see Gettysburg National Military Park.


A chat with Abe outside the Visitor Center.


Chris took a selfie with him.


We spent a short time in the museum before entering the theater at our ticketed time for the presentation of a film about Gettysburg. This was a powerful film narrated by Morgan Freeman.

I must say here that I continue to be impressed with the modern visitor centers in our National Parks and Monuments. The presentation of history, natural history, collections of artifacts, etc is superb.  If you take the time to absorb all that is presented there is a lot to learn.


After the film we were ushered into a circular room to see the Cyclorama. . It is a painting depicting Pickett’s Charge that was completed in 1884 and is 42 feet by 377 feet! The overhead lights go dim and you watch the sky lighten as dawn comes. Then you hear the story while different portions of the painting are illuminated, changing as the day (July 3, 1863) goes on and ends in carnage.

Here’s a refresher for those of you who remember as few details of U.S. history as I do.

The Civil War began in 1861 and the Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1-3, 1863, is considered the most important engagement. Troops commanded by General Robert E. Lee battled the Union Army, led by General George G. Meade. The two armies were on parallel ridges about a mile apart and on July 3 12,000 Confederate soldiers were sent across the open fields in an attack known as Pickett’s Charge. Over 5000 soldiers were killed within an hour and Lee retreated towards Virginia. This marked a turning point in the war and was (I think) the northernmost point reached by the Confederate Army.


The Park encompasses the land upon which the battle was fought, located around the town of Gettysburg and there are signs that point out all the critical places that armies occupied and where battles were fought.  There is a 24-mile Self-guiding Auto Tour with opportunities to stop all along the way.


You don’t have to have an Auto to take the Auto Tour.


At first i took photos of all the statues we came across but I soon learned that there are over 1300 monuments and statues in the Park. Each regiment has their own and there are many markers that explain  the significance of some of the sites.DSC_0737

We looked specifically for this one because Chris has an ancestor who was represented here.


We had bought an audio guide to be downloaded on a phone and listened to while we drove through the area. We couldn’t make it work and Kathleen did a great job of narrating the tour using the accompanying book. Kathleen is wearing her MDSW awarding-winning handspun Jacob sweater that I mentioned in one of the previous posts.

Virginia Mem.-Gen.LeeThis is the Virginia Memorial, including a statue of Robert E. Lee, at one of our first stops. I love horse statues.

IMG_9528At this site we saw a couple of groups of school kids having a lesson in Civil War history. We listened awhile to the guide who explained things that I never thought about (importance of flags and drummers as a way to signal, for instance) and then had the kids line up in formation and “right face, left face, etc” It was cute to see most of them turn together but there were always a few that went the opposite way. Watching them reminded me of when my oldest son was in middle school and his history teacher, who was a film buff in addition to teaching history, led the kids in making a film of Pickett’s Charge. The kids were dressed in home-made or scrounged clothing to look the part and carrying home-made weapons (that wooden rifle is still around here somewhere I think). The school band participated as well as some of the kids who owned horses. They played out the event and made the film out in a field owned by a local farmer. I took a photo of these kids to send Matt as a fun reminder about that, but it became less “cute” and more sobering the more we read and the more we delved into the history of what actually happened here. DSC_0754This is a view from where the kids are standing and where the Confederate troops were positioned on Seminary Ridge. Union troops were across the valley on Cemetery Ridge. This is part of a Valley that extends a couple of miles and there are significant points to the Battle of Gettysburg throughout. It is incongruous in this beauty to think of thousands of dead and dying men. And no one ever says anything about the dead and wounded horses. Add that in to the scene.

DSC_0771In this idyllic view you can see the Pennsylvania Memorial across the field and to the right. There are places along the route where you read (in the guidebook) about what the aftermath of a battle looks like–the biology of death–blood, flies, bloated bodies, etc.  I think that people need to hear that–does it help if we (they) are given mental pictures to try and  internalize the horror of war?  If kids hear that? What it really looks like? In person? Does it sink in at all what it means to kill another person? To be a bully in the most final sense?  This kind of atrocity is being played out in other parts of the world now. Do kids realize how lucky we are to live here? How about us adults too?

Traveling through history in such a vivid, visual way brings this out in me I guess. It seems that most historical events have to do with someone winning, someone losing, someone conquering. Kind of  like the newspaper. There isn’t much to say about normal people just living their lives. Off the soapbox now.


There were observation towers at a few places that allowed us to get an overview of the whole area and visualize the events that played out.

DSC_0779This is a view from the tower that includes, in the foreground, the Eisenhower National Historic Site, the home and farm of Eisenhower that he bought in 1950. We ran out of time to visit that.

DSC_0789This view is from Little Round Top, a point controlled by Union soldiers. The rock formation below is known as Devil’s Den and the foreground is Slaughter Pen. There was fierce fighting as Confederate soldiers in a line a mile long approached from the far ridge and the Union soldiers tried to defend it. That description is too simplistic; there is detailed documentation about each battle site and each battle.

DSC_0804I don’t remember details of this house but it is along the tour route.

DSC_0830Near the end of the tour we were at what is known as the High Water Mark, the farthest point reached by Confederate soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg.

IMG_9534From the Park brochure: “July 3…Some 12,000 Confederates advanced across open fields toward the Federal center in an attack known as ‘Pickett’s Charge’. The attack failed and cost Lee over 5,000 soldiers in one hour. The Battle of Gettysburg was over.”

DSC_0808Completed in 1914, the Pennsylvania Memorial is the largest State Memorial in the Park and is near the High Water Mark.


Union General Meade’s statue is nearby.

DSC_0838The auto tour was almost over. Instead of the 2-1/2 to 3 hours described in the brochure I think we were there for about 5 hours.

DSC_0846The tour ended at the Soldier’s National Cemetery, created after the battle, and where 3500 Union soldiers were later buried. Remains of 3,320 Confederate soldiers were removed from the battlefield to cemeteries in the South. Veterans from 1898 War with Spain to the Vietnam War are also buried here.


Graves of unidentified Civil War soldiers.


This cemetery is also the site where Lincoln gave his famous speech, taking two minutes  to speak these profound words, following a 2-hour speech  by Edward Everett, a well-known politician and orator from Massachusetts.


Whew! This was a sobering day. It was also very windy and tiring and we were ready to find a hot dinner and warm bed.


Dinner first. We tried one place that looked good but there was a 45 minute wait. Chris and Kathleen found another and we eventually had hot showers and warm beds.

Next post: Ft. McHenry and Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad.