Saturday, December 8, 2018


The year was 1812 and Paul Revere rushed through the streets…..“The British are coming, the British are coming!” Oh wait, I might be slightly confused….But that is an example of how little we knew about Gettysburg prior to our visit. The battle of Gettysburg actually took place in July of 1863.

Today we know a little bit more.

For example, did you know the battle was only 3 days long? Did you know 2/3rds of the approximately 51,000 soldiers who died as a result of the battle actually died from infections from their wounds? Or that it included regiments and batteries from 12 Southern and 18 Northern states. How about the fact that there were several families whose siblings fought for both sides against each other? Or that there was only one civilian who died as a result of the battle?  Those are just a few of the interesting facts we learned on our tour.
Having never been to the area, we solicited advice on what was the best way to tour the park and battlefield. We could just wing it and drive around looking at the more than 1,300 monuments. We could hire a personal guide at the visitors center ($75) who would drive around with us and explain the battle. There are bus tours with a knowledgeable narrators, ($35/person) Or we could purchase one of the auto tour books and CD’s and take the self-guided tour ($30).  We decided on the latter and for us, it was the right decision. 
Before taking the tour, we walked the visitors center where they have a lot of weapons, clothing and other artifacts from the battle on display. Of particular interest to us were the guns and cannons used during the battle. 

The ball canister in the upper left would spread out 50 yards 
Sitting in the parking lot of the Visitors Center we put the first CD into the player and listened to the instructions. It instructed us to go to Auto Tour Stop #1. There were numerous signs to guide us from stop to stop to make sure we stayed on track and did not get lost. The 24 mile tour winds back and forth through the city and countryside and is comprised of 16 stops. 
Abe is sitting right outside the Visitors Center
At each stop the narrator detailed what took place at that location, the strategies that were in play, as well as a few "what if" scenarios on how the battle could have changed had one side or the other done things a little differently.  Between stops the narration would continue by talking about some sights we were passing or an interesting side story from that era.
Eternal Light Peace Memorial
We are not huge history buffs but did find it very interesting. One reason we really liked the CD Auto Tour over the personal guide is that we were able to take our time, walk around and even take breaks when we wanted. We also enjoyed the theatric aspect of the narration which included battle cries, personal stories of some of the soldiers and dramatic music. It really got you into it and you could almost visualize the battle as it took place...…
North Carolina Monument

…..this was particularly true at the location of Pickett's Charge where thousands lay dead or wounded in the field. This post does not even start to do the area or the battle justice, it is something you have to experience for yourself to really appreciate. 
Virginia Monument

Pennsylvania Monument

General Slocum Memorial

Sallie, the 11th Infantry mascot would often lay by the wounded in the battlefield 
The Auto Tour itself took about 3 hours. We drove the town a little more looking at the architecture of some of the buildings (including Dairy Queen!). There are dozens if not hundreds of additional attractions that you could stop at but we just wanted to get a general sense of the area and headed back west towards home. Along the way we spotted Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium. How could we not stop there?!?!?

We walked through the store, each got a candy bar and continued on our way.

For family fun this week we all went out and got a Christmas tree. When Jessica was growing up we would always go out to the local tree farm and cut our own. It warms your hearts that both of our kids are continuing this tradition by creating memories for their kids. So on a foggy Sunday morning we headed out looking for just the perfect tree....

So many trees to choose from!

I think we have a winner! Notice a buck rubbed the tree on the left...
Dylan trying to cut the tree along with Shane and Jess

The happy family!
Speaking of Christmas, Barb went crazy with the decorations this year. They look great when they are up, the hard part is that we will be moving a lot in the next month and will have to take them up and down every stop.
Barb made the Happy Campers sign up at Pasha Lake Cabins

Hard to see but that is a Christmas moose on top
We picked up the brass jingle bells at Magnolia Market in Waco

Santa has been with us for a few years but the pillows are a new addition
Crafty Barb even made the star on the top out of sticks!
With only 3 days left here, We are trying to fit in as many adventures as we can. Barb and Jess drove to Lancaster Friday to attend Green Dragon Market. Every Friday thousands of shoppers converge on this 30 acre site where over 400 vendors are set up selling food, local fresh produce and hand crafted furniture. I tagged along as well just so I could go to Lancaster Archery Supply, Probably the largest archery supplier in the country. Could you believe I walked through the entire show room and did not buy one thing? Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of things I wanted, just nothing I needed right now.
This is my kind of toy store!

I did find a new bow I wanted but did not have a spare $1,000 burning a hole in my wallet
A Christmas present for Barb perhaps?
That night we attended another holiday event at the Greencastle Town Square. It included booths from many of the area businesses, carolers and horse drawn wagon rides. Jessica surprised us by treating us to a ride!

We also went to see Santa and got a couple of pictures of the kids which are now on display in the house as Charlie watches over everyone to see if they are naughty or nice!

As our time here comes to an end, it is time to start packing up and getting things ready to move down the road. Besides organizing the belly Barb has been cleaning like crazy; kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom all clean and smelling like pinesol. I had two projects that I needed to work on. One was fixing a leaky toilet. Somehow, somewhere a fitting got a crack in it and started leaking. I ordered a new one, replaced the old one and guess what? It leaked worse than the one with a crack in it! Looking it over I could not see a way to take it apart and fix it bit I also saw that it had two rubber grommets that were supposed to prevent the water for leaking. Maybe, just maybe they were dried out and just needed some rehydrating. So I soaked the part in vegetable oil for a couple days and walah! It worked did not leak any more, I am a genius!
This is the part that needed replacing

Pretty easy to replace, a hose clamp and snap it in place!
The other project involved our Sea Eagle Kayak. We had not used it in quite a while and had stored it in our shed over the summer. Since we hope to use it in Florida this winter we took it out and gave it the once over only to find a mouse had chew a couple of holes through the inflatable floor liner!
One of the two patches

Looks like it is holding air!
Using the repair kit that came with the boat I patched it up and we are now ready for the water!

Meanwhile, Jess has been trying to guilt us into staying until Christmas but it is time to give the kids their lives back and move on down the road. We have a rough travel route that will take through Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and eventually Florida. We hope to take the coast most of the way but with the ever change December weather we are prepared to deviate and head inland or speed up our travel should we need to.

Wish us luck!

Friday, November 30, 2018

What if......?

This past Monday marked a much highly anticipated event in Pennsylvania. In fact, it is just a huge event that the schools close for the first three days of the week! Husbands, wives, sons and daughters take off of work so they can partake….So what is this illustrious holiday? Why the opener of deer season of course! So when Shane offered to let me hunt on their lease, it was an offer I could not refuse! 

Throughout the week we spent several 11 hour days in search of the elusive “grey ghost”. Spending that much time in the middle the woods, alone with your thoughts your mind really gets to wander. I could not help but reflect on how lucky we are to be doing what we are doing, all the adventures we have had and all that are yet to come. 

One thought that crossed my mind was: “What If….what if I could go back and live forever at one moment in life, when would that be?”  For me, the answer is easy… would be the late 80’s. And no, it was not because of the music!

Barb and I would have been in our mid to late 20’s, the kids were at the age when they idolized us and were excited to see us whenever we walked in the door.
We had just built our very first home on 11 acres on the bluff of the St Croix River outside of Somerset Wisconsin and spent the winter clearing the land in preparation for our new house.

I remember spending hours out there cutting down tree and burning brush. It was so cold that winter that the builder had to use a frost pick to dig out basement and foundation. Once the house was built, we got our first two horses. The first and last Arabians we would ever own. More than once we would go out for a ride and my horse would arrive home 20 minutes before me, waiting for me with a grin on his face that said "I won again!"

We had our whole lives in front of us, with endless possibilities to make of it what we wanted. But the best memories are of Jessica and Forrest growing up.... Funny, I don't remember the temper tantrums, the brattiness, just the good times. It's good to have a selective memory!
They went from this.....
Love, the 'stache!

To this, in just a few years
We spent 10 years in that house. Interestingly it was probably the most financially challenging point in our lives but also one of the most rewarding. It was also a time when both my parents and Barbs dad were still alive and we spent a lot of time with our siblings who were having children of their own. 
One of the many family get-togethers we had in that house
So yes, if I could go back and live forever at one point in our lives, that would be it. That said, the next period would be what I anticipate the next 20 years to be. Building our new house, continuing to travel, watching our kids and grandchildren grow up and growing old(er) with the love of my life. 
But I know most of you are really wondering..... how did I do hunting? Lets just say I had a lot of time to watch nature, reflect on life and take a few pictures. Day 1 I sat in what they call the "Log Blind". It is a raised platform built into a blind by staking alternating logs together. 

There was good sign in the area, the bucks had been rubbing trees and creating scrapes to mark their territory and show dominance over the other bucks in the area. 
Bucks create these scrapes then pee on them trying to attract the does!
They also rub small trees to show dominance over other bucks in the area
It was cool and raining but thanks to the hunting umbrella I bought years ago (and maybe used once) I was able to stay dry. The stand overlooked three shooting lanes which offered clear shots should a deer appear.
Sitting under the umbrella looking down one lane

With views like this it should be pretty easy to get a deer! I did see two deer that day but they were small and of course stayed in the thick stuff!

There are also bear in the area which was evidenced by the claw marks on the log stand. Someone else is try to mark his territory!
But there was plenty to take pictures of as I watched the squirrels preparing for winter as they gathered leaves and brought them to their nests in the trees. I would watch this one squirrel climb down his tree, go about 50 yards to gather leaves and then go back to its nest dozens of times always going to the same spot to collect leaves. What is wrong with the leaves right below his tree?

Looks like a good place to spend the winter!
 One thing I found interesting was the amount of vines they have in this area. Wisconsin had vines but certainly not to the extent that this area of Pennsylvania does. They just covered everything!
Vines covered every bush

Larger ones climbed every tree

But the birds seem to enjoy hiding in them.....

…..and eating the berries.
The unfortunate part about rain this time of year is that it cools down at night and freezes making for slippery roads and ice covered vehicles. 
A sheet of ice covered the window!

Our other adventures this week included a trip to Hershey to see the candy factory and a stop at Troegg brewery to try some of their finest!

The Hershey World amusement park was closed so went inside and walked the factory. It was interesting but now that we have seen it I don't think we will ever feel the need to come back. 
We were looking for a giant sized Almond Joy but they did not have it. 
Troegs Brewing Company on the other hand was definitely someplace we would go back! They have quite the facility in Hershey and some great brews. 
Jess and Shane have quite the variety there!
This coming week the fun continues with more deer hunting, Christmas tree cutting and hopefully Gettysburg! Stay tuned!