USA Pennsylvania: Gettysburg with Gus and Barbie

I got to meet more of Colleens family members thanks to her persuading me that Gettysburg is a must see. I can totally second that opinion. I’m not really sure where to start except to say that I know I won’t do the weekend justice.

I arrived after a great day riding partly on back roads and partly on the interstate. Being really tired I opted to stay in and have a quiet evening getting to know Barbie and Gus.  Such an interesting couple and so nice, friendly, hospitable and funny. Barbie and Gus are retired military couple and have lived in a lot of places including Germany and Saudi Arabia during their 20 and 22 years in the military. Gus as a paratrooper and Barbie in the air force my understanding transportation logistics. All sounded very interesting to me and Barbie now works as a volunteer in an animal rescue shelter…now that is my kinds woman. They live just outside Gettysburg in Aspers, a stunning quiet suburb where foxes and deer visit their backyard. Gus has the biggest best man cave I have seen and after our sightseeing day in Gettysburg the 3 of us sat there watching the 4hr directors cut of the movie Gettysburg. I can highly recommend watching the movie especially before or after visiting the  battleground as it perfectly puts it all together. We were visited by Nicky the maine coon and a for a brief second a very shy Stormy.

But I’ve jumped forward. So back to the night I arrived. I fortunately had a very small lunch ( I think I just had a yoghurt or banana) so was quite hungry and got fed a hoagie…. I had no idea what this was and no it’s not just a sandwich, it’s a SANDWICH. This one was an Italian Cheesesteak and all I can say is YUMMMMM

Just a small part of the Cyclorama

On Sunday Barbie and Gus took me into Gettysburg to see the battlefield. Gus is a great guide and very knowledgeable. We started by going to the centre to look at the Gettysburg Cyclorama. This is an absolutely massive oil on canvas painting. Painted in the 1880s, the dramatic painting depicts the famous Pickett’s Charge with lights and sound effects really bringing the battle to life. We then drove around Gettysburg and the battlefield, which is huge, stopping at various places. We walked up Little Round Top which, as the guide book says ‘’was once the scene of the most decisive encounter of the battle. From atop the small, rocky hill, you can take in commanding views of the battlefield and learn about the Confederate’s unsuccessful assault on the distinctive landmark’’. It was incredible to stand there and imagine (which you cannot do in your wildest dreams) marching across the battlefield under heavy fire in unbearable heat and not turn tail and run.

General Lee. General Warren atop Little round top. Looking down from Little Round Top. The clump of trees that Lee aimed his army towards. The last picture’s are of the battlefield seen from the side of General Lee and a mile away from the side of General Mead

What you cannot comprehend without standing on the battlesfield is the size. The army stretched a mile wide, and there was a mile between the confederate army lead by General Lee and the Union army lead by General Mead. This battle however was on day 3 after 2 days of fighting. As the guide books say ‘’ The Battle of Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War. With more than 50,000 estimated casualties, the three-day engagement was the bloodiest single battle of the conflict.’’

Looking down from Little Round Top

A fascinating trip, including a great lunch at the Irish pub. So much I couldn’t even face eating dinner. We did however stop at the chocolate shop. Gettysburg itself is a lovely historical town, and well worth a visit. I really wanted to stay longer as there is so much more to see but needed to head off on Monday morning and continue my ride north to Vermont.

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