Gettysburg PA & Plymouth MA - May 2012

We had arranged to meet two other couples, Marsha (Witt) and Steve (Doggie), Donna (Tink) and Barry (Blomba) at Gettysburg this year. We had gone to Donna and Barry's wedding last year in July just miles north of Gettysburg. After the wedding celebrations died down we stayed a few days at the Lincoln Suite, met Marsha and Steve and had quite a time. A repeat of the trip for this year was a no brainer.

We pack, armed with warm clothes (we are leaving 100° heading for 70°, surely we will freeze) and dead family soldier information. Grandson Sean and friend Daniel are house sitting, so we shop the list they gave us: Captain Crunch, Peanut Butter, Strawberry and Grape Jelly, Dr Pepper, milk and Fruit Loops. Boys!!

The alarm is already set for three am for our last trip, to Scotland, I think. Goes to show how often we use that! Starting off on the wrong foot, we miss our Fresno flight by three minutes, which was actually spent in line waiting for the flight clerk to quit talking to the last customer allowed on the flight. A three hour delay, oh well. We never sleep the night before a flight, so what the heck. Bagles and tea.

The flight to LA was in the emergency door seats, a bit of extra leg room, and hey, we aren't going to need the emergency doors anyway. Right? Funny, all our flights were in that row! Total fog, no cloud pics for DL, LA was equally socked in. The next leg had ceiling tellys at least, we watched My Week With Marilyn. Yum on Eddie Redmayne! A very crowded plane, like they added another column of seats to make a teensy, squishy aisle. No decent food as they sold out of the cheese fruit plates, all we had was Chex Mix. Yuck. The free Scotch made me feel a teensy bit better. Chicago layover provided Berghoff's and the best corned beef sandwich I have ever had. Why would anyone order a straight Scotch? Really? We did get a laugh from the young chick at the bar picking up any male customer who sat next to her, even a few that were old enough to be her grandfather! Our last plane was late, landing us in Harrisburg at 9:30. Add a half hour for luggage, another half for rental cars and a white 2012 Ford Explorer, another half getting out of the garage, then Harrisburg, and we make it to the house in Gettysburg to find four people jumping and cheering with flashlights on the back porch at 11:45 at night. Way too late for us old folks!!!

Marsha had reserved a house from the same people we rented the Lincoln Suite from last year. However, not on the main street of Gettysburg, the Little Round Top Farm house was on private land, but on the actual battlefield, less than a half hour's walk from Little Round Top. Five bedrooms upstairs, a complete kitchen, living and dining room downstairs. Decorated with lovely taste to fit the era, each bedroom a different colour.

After the initial omg screams and hugs, we all settled down. They took us upstairs to the pink room, Marsha and Doggie were in the cream room, Donna and Barry in the yellow room. The green room was empty, as was the blue room with the child motif and blue walls. I did not like the cream or yellow rooms instantly, grateful for the calm pink room. Whew. Downstairs for comfy cuddling and talk about ghosts, war stories, drugs, the state of the world and so on until 2 am (11 pm PST), when all of us realized we were all waaay past our bedtime!

I slept like a rock until 6 am Tuesday (3am PST) and I wandered down to the kitchen to make tea and leaned on the counters to watch the world outside the window, fascinated with the scene. A large span of lush, green lawn then a rock wall, trees scattered all over, squirrels making mayhem everywhere. A white squirrel scrambled about, but not too fast for my camera. Marsha, living 3 hours away, brought her blender, bless her a hundred times, so I was able to make my mango/vitamins/dirt morning drink. Amidst the soft rain, Dave and Anne took a short walk to the back of the property, squishing their way through the soaking grasses, past the lake and into the marshes before turning around. After showers, we all piled into the Explorer with its six seats and took off to the visitor's center.

The cyclorama (You Tube link) was as grand as last year, I was able to take note of where Uncle Alonzo fell this time. Two plain beige Gettysburg jackets left with us as we had packed too lightly again, along with books and maps. A few trips up and down Taneystown Road (just like last year) but we finally found Friendly's where we ate a late lunch. Off to find Sach's Bridge which wasn't as difficult as last year, huzzah! To the Giant's Store for dinner and breakfast, three women, three carts, the guys were found chatting in the vegie section. How weird that picture simply disappeared? Back to the house for Donna's incredible lasagne, salad and garlic bread. It started to rain, and I wanted to make a point of photographing more night time rain to confirm it appears as an upside down tear drop. Sure enough, except those round globes floating through the air are not rain.

Another slow morning, getting used to the new time zone, and Marsha made her first Kentucky fried biscuits - they were beautious! Scrambled eggs and biscuits, then a walk with Witt and Doggie looking for the path to Little Round Top that turned into a swamp walk. We did find deer stands and a weird light bulb set up but no path to Little Round Top. I had to disinfect my sandals and my feet when we got back to the house, via the road when we came out a bit farther north than we started!

Shopping in the little stores in Gettysburg was next. A grand hat shop, souvenir shops, such fun. A late lunch/early dinner at the Dobbin House's Springhouse Tavern next to last year's Lincoln Suite, and back to the house for ghost watching. It became quite clear Marsha, and to her amazement, is a dowser!

Wednesday morning is a quick one, a fast breakfast back at Friendly's and we head out to Antietam in Maryland. We turned down the road that led to the Loy's Station Covered Bridge and you could hear, in unison, a three part, "Ooooooh!" and we all pile out of the car. Bob Jarbow happened to be taking a break from his bike ride and so willingly and generously took our photos next to the bridge. Anne saw her first, second and third groundhog (what a waddle!!) and took a fast photo shot of a local cemetery. Antietam is some fairly hefty ground, as hallowed as Gettysburg. 26,000 men slaughtered in one day. All this is interrupted by a call from home. It would appear Maggie has caught an opossum under the house. Joy. Back to the house to pee, off to a pharmacy as Anne and Dave have sore throats. At the tiny pharmacy, Laslow Pharmacy on Springs Ave, where only standard drugs are sold, one shelf thick all around the room, we got to talking to the one clerk and one druggist. The clerk's boyfriend lives in California in Gurneyville and grows pot! Off to the Red Lobster in Hanover. Back to the house for more ghost watching. Something we noticed somewhere along here is that every time we eat, we plan our next meal like we can't wait to eat something else!

Thursday is a wake up call, out last full day together. A few loads of laundry and off we go. We stop at the Crystal Wand shop for more wands ( and bumper stickers that say, "God Bless the Freaks" and, "Dirt Loving Tree Hugger!"), a few more shops (moccasins!!) the Lincoln Diner for lunch where Judy makes our day with her humor and wit. Next is the battlefields again where we locate where Charles LeClear's unit was at the top of Cemetery Ridge, and possibly where he fell. Then to where Alonzo fell, less than a hundred yards away at Pickett's charge, not knowing he and Charles would someday, 149 years later, have a niece in common who would come to pay homage to their courage, bravery and deeds. Sach's Bridge so Donna can see the pink "Tink was here" we found last year, the grocery store for burgers, and back to the house. David breaks down and goes next door to ask what the heck they are curing in their smoke house that has driven us crazy hungry for the week to find out it is just their heating system! He finds out they are the owners of the house, she confesses to David the house was indeed used as a hospital and the men were buried in the back yard outside the kitchen window I find so fascinating. She also shows David where the path to Little Round Top starts!! Naturally, we had to go. A short walk through some spectacular forests, past the original rock work of the civil war road where the Union soldiers came and went. Massive history. There is Devil's Den, everything we remembered from last year.

A wondrous barbecue dinner by Barry, excellent burgers and salad, we pile back in the car and go peek at the spooky places at night, Devil's Den and Sach's Bridge. There were no lightning bugs visible at all, yet there are many, many small bright lights on our photos.

Did you know in New Jersey you are actually not allowed to pump your own gas?

Friday morning, we pack up and leave with quick "See you later" hugs. Leaving is always so hard. It is a beautiful day, but our colds have not improved and my lungs are already very unhappy. A stop at Holly Pharmacy for more Alka Seltzer Plus where Cindy saves the day with cups for us from their break room. Gas is $3.55 a gallon, compared to $4.25 at home. Hazelton is not the place to stop for food, we were stared at by the locals, and I am not sure there even was an area of town that did not look rough. Finally Wilkes-Barre and a Walmart for more drugs, and a purse absolutely identical to mine except deeper. Yes, God is good, you just have to listen to your surroundings! The family in front of us left a bag accidentally, I took it and ran to catch up with them. We had gotten the impression the east was more polite than the west, but this might not be true. The husband thanked me profusely saying, "There are nice people in the world after all!"

Near by Cracker Barrel for food, the soup was turkey noodle (yessss) right up until we ordered, and then it became tomato based vegetable. Sigh. I think our waitress felt put upon having to serve us - what an attitude!!

Back on the road again, a tale end of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and 5mph/60mph traffic for over an hour and a half. I take back everything I had said previously about New Yorkers being able to merge gracefully. What a mess. Does Ichabod Road have anything to do with the scary Halloween tale? What city names, right out of history books, Stonington, Mystic, and we pass by great grandmother Elizabeth Shurtleff in Rhode Island after dark, hoping we will have a chance to go back. Finally, we are in Massachusetts and in Plymouth County. More names that make me sigh happily, Rehoboth, Taunton, Carver, Plympton, Raynham. All the names where my ancestors lived.

Everything on 44 looks locked up tight, we are hungry and desperate. Raynham IHOP had a Rachel who commiserated with us over summer colds and brought us lightly spicy tortilla soup. Then the final last stretch to Plymouth and Manomet to the Blue Spruce Motel. Tom waited up for us, bless his heart. We threw everything in our room 123 and basically crashed.

Saturday morning, our colds are now roaring. We contact Chip, shower, "read up" (that is pronounced red-up, short for ready up per Barry) and head out to Persy's Place in the middle of town, which would prove to be a marvelous mainstay for our morning breakfasts. Linda is just fabulous. Chip joined us, and then we all walked down to the waterfront to see Cole's Hill and the esophagus of the Mayflower Pilgrims who did not last past the first winter. I guess they were buried on the hill but the weather would wash the burials away. Finally, the marble box was created for all the bones all together. I do not think they would mind. Plymouth Rock is this tiny rock now protected by a wire box and covered with Greek column building we could see in the distance. I had no need to look closer.

Burial Hill was our next stop, Captain William Shurtleff's stone is quite readable, but his wife, Susanna Lothrop, is not next to him. A few other Shurtleffs are there, along with John Howland and Thomas Clarke. Click, click, click. Lakenham is down the road, Susanna Lothrop and many Shurtleffs are found there. Last but not least for the day. Central Cemetery in Carver, and there is crazy Aunt Susanna. What a privilege to place sparkly, clear, blue and green glass stones at her marker. Shurtleff Park is disappointing, I thought it was an actual park, not just a plot of land covered in trees, but it is still grand. Chip turns us onto this favorite place for a snack, Erickson's Ice Cream in Carver. Yum.

Back at the hotel, David popped across the street for tissues and soup. I had purchased a wide mouth mug in Gettysburg, now I know why. (I need another mug like I need a hole in the head!) No sleep for Anne, but Dave did fairly well.

Sunday was an easy day, breakfast back at Persy's Place, casual walking and shopping. The Mayflower II docked at the harbour is as close a duplicate as possible, and sobering to visit. The crew was above board, the 102 pilgrims in the lower cargo level, all 102 of them stuffed into such a small area with little creature comforts. Women were bad luck on board, so the crew kept them below to deal with being sick, with little fresh air and no fresh food for over two months. 54 survived, small wonder. The oldest house in Plymouth, the Sparrow House was next door to the Harlow House, possibly connected to my grannie Repentance Harlow.

Dinner has to be decided, and once back to the hotel, 6 minutes of winding roads, lovely but tedious when your head is stuffed, we don't really want to head back to Plymouth again. The local Monte Christo's looked somewhat promising until I picked up a menu covered in gooey stuff and the waitress's detailed description of why she did not like lasagne and the texture of cottage cheese was enough to turn my stomach. She said the chick parm was the best, and we decided it was time to go. She didn't have a clue.

Several people had mentioned Isaac's on the waterfront, so off we go. A few coins in the parking meter for good measure and we are seated at a linen covered table by a proper waitress dressed in black and white, then given a fair menu. Flavorless salmon Oscar and sauteed shrimp. It was really easy to play, "Stump the waitress" by asking her any detail about the dishes. The generous salad dressing was a joke, but when the packaged sour cream for our potatoes came in a cafe type container, I wondered if there was a really good place to eat in Plymouth with real food! My baked potato guts were completely brown inside it's foil wrapper. So much for my appetite again. Home to drop everything and head to bed. Even my phone did not get re-charged.

We woke Monday, sick as dogs, and at 7 am as roofers were tearing off the roof of the hotel ! ? ! Poor Tom felt so bad, there was little he could do, rain was expected, and the roofers were not able to keep to a schedule that did not include our wing. The mist was so thick it visibly hung n the air. The umbrellas came out of the boxes we were shipping home, we showered and left for the post office to post out two boxes. If we start a trip with luggage close to the 50 pound limit, eight books are going to push us over the limit and cost us $150. $25 at the post office is highly preferred. Breakfast back at Persy's Place, next to the library for the new Burial Hill Cemetery book. That is when I discovered my wallet was no longer in my purse. I tried to wrap my mind around why it would not be there, and would spend the next week trying to figure out what happened. It simply was no longer in my purse. We would spend the next few days trying to figure out where I was when it disappeared, calling everywhere we were (two places) and never having any light appear on the subject.

We headed out to Marshfield to meet Sue Goodwin and her daughter, Lindsey, at the Philips house where William (father of Capt William) met his demise by lightning in June of 1666. William's own home in White's Ferry near Marshfield had burnt down from a lightning strike, and his family had moved in with the Philips for the time being. Fourteen people in one tiny room, maybe ten by fifteen. On June 23rd, 1666, the storm blew the house front door open, Mrs Philips requests that the door be closed, lightning came down the chimney ("rent it to pieces and smote down most of the people") and killed William, the dog under the end table, Mrs Phillips and Jeremiah Phillips, the son of John. The chimney has been rebuilt but the room remains the same. Out of about thirty pictures, there was one orb, good to see. On the way back to the hotel I realized if they lived in Marshfield and he was buried in the Winslow Cemetery in Marshfield, three miles away. What a journey.

We drove past the Blue Blinds Bakery on a side street in Plymouth, everything screamed, "Stop!" so we went back - heavenly stuff. We checked for my wallet at Isaac's (they were not happy about some woman poking under their tables) and headed for the hotel. We paid for the room, Tom, bless his heart took off a night due to the roofers (thank you, Tom, we really were sick!) and headed for dinner at the 'best' place in Plymouth, East Bay Grille, and I will agree. Lobster Rangoon, crab cakes and chicken marsala. Yum. We vote this to be the best food in Plymouth, the best snack to be the Blue Blinds Bakery. Back to the hotel for a sleepless night before our flight out.

Pack and read up, off by 5:45 to watch the Boston commute on the freeways. What a riot. Driving on the "breakdown lane" (our "shoulders") is actually allowed Monday thru Friday 6am to 10am. It's quite disconcerting to see autos overtaking you on the shoulder!! We made it to the Logan Airport in plenty of time, but it was hard to go, knowing I was leaving behind my wallet, and a great deal of cash. Oh well!! David's luggage came in at 50.1, wiggling to 49.9 and then 50.2 and the sainted clerk said, "Fifty pounds on the nose." I could have kissed her. The flight to DC was fast and early, then we waited for an extra hour for the next leg to Denver. There was a lovely African mother and child, Kedita and son, Amaa, we made friends with, playing with phone apps and computer games. Five years old Grant and his tiny sister Nicole came over to watch, became cuddly and we all had fun. We sit next to a delightful girl who had a necklace that stated, "Every great oak tree was a nut who stood up for herself." I had forgotten that turbulence in the bathroom is an experience all by itself. By the time we loaded up for the last leg to Fresno, I wanted to cry. My head was so stuffed I could not pop my ears. I fell asleep on the drive home (unheard of) and my ears cleared sometime during the night. We decided to forgo the trip to Europe this year, no more plane rides for us for a while!!

Sean and Daniel have taken good care of our home and plants, all is well with the world. We are home in our own heated, elevated bed, our dogs are happily piling on top of us, the cat shows up, life is good.


Back to the Travel Index

Packrat Main Page