Sept 25, ’07 Gettysburg, Pa

Hi Everyone,

You must be wondering where we are and what we’ve been doing lately. Busy, busy, busy; that’s us. We left LeRoy and headed south the 14th. First we stopped at Mansfield, Pa so we could ride the Tioga Central Railroad. http://www.tiogacentral.com/ It was a very short train ride – only about 5 miles from the Wellsoro Junction into Wellsboro and then 5 miles back – but we got to watch them do some switching in town. They backed the engine up to hook it to a couple of cars that needed to be moved. The first two times the coupling didn’t catch, but the third time was the charm. The engine was a diesel and I thought of Uncle Fred who used to work drawing diesel locomotives.

Then we went to Gettysburg for a week and camped at Granite Hill. http://www.granitehillcampingresort.com/<

We took a two hour battlefield tour and learned a lot about the battle. The National Park Service licenses the tour guides: they have to pass a written test and then an oral exam where they take an examiner around the battlefield and describe things. Our guide had been giving tours for over 20 years. He was the best guide I’ve ever had! He really described the battle so that it was understandable. Seeing it in person is much better than looking at a bunch of arrows on a map. We could see where the cannons were and he not only told us how far they could accurately fire, but pointed out what they were shooting at. We could visualize the crossfire, and the Union retreat on July 1 through the town to Cemetary Ridge. Now I understand why the Union was able to win, and how horrendous the loss of life was. Our guide said that during the battle, there were so may casualties that the troops of Pickets charge literally couldn’t move without stepping on the dead and dying. Approximately 50,000 lives (nearly equal numbers of Union & Confederate) were lost in the battle, and 3,000 horses were killed also. There are over 1300 monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield. They mark the positions of all the regiments from both the Union and Confederate armies over the 3 day battle. http://www.gettysbg.com/battle.shtml

From our campground in Gettysburg we took a bus tour to Washington D.C. on Thursday. We were very happy to let someone who knew where he was going do the driving in DC. We saw LOTS of monuments, the White House (from the bus) , the Capital, etc. And they gave us 3 1/2 hours of free time to explore on foot. We walked around some of the Smithsonian. It would take ages to really see everything there. We saw literally TONS of stuff at the Air and Space museum: the Wright flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, some Amelia Earhart articles, space rockets, a lunar lander . . . All the walking wore Richard out. He rested for a bit while I went through the Natural History Museum. I saw the Hope diamond!! When Eric was in 6th grade he went on a class trip to DC and took a polaroid of T-Rex at the Museum and I made sure I got a shot of it like he did.

About the last thing we did in Gettysburg (besides laundry) was spend a day watching the National Sheepdog Trials Finals. Now you may think its about as much fun as watching paint dry, but we like it. I think it’s more interesting than watching cars go round and round in circles. The dog is guided by whistle commands and they do a spectacular job of controlling the sheep. First they run out to the flock of 5 sheep (about a half mile distant from the shepherd) and then bring them back through a course to the shepherd. It is amazing to me that the dogs can be controlled from such a range. Once the sheep are brought up to the shepherd, they “shed” or separate a pair of sheep from the flock; then they pen the flock; then they shed a single sheep. The whole process is timed, and points are awarded for how close they get the flock to a post, and how well they get the flock through the gates, etc. One poor dog we watched had a very truculent flock and he just couldn’t get his job done. The sheep wouldn’t flock, one or two kept wandering off, one of them would actually charge the dog! Finally time was called on him, and they sent in two other dogs to get the sheep off the course so the next entrant could compete. And those two dogs had a hard time getting the naughty sheep under control.

We are now headed west. We have had continued leak problems with one of our slideouts. It has been fixed three times and still leaks. So we called the Winnebago factory and made an appointment to get it really fixed. We have to be in Forest City, Iowa on November 12 so they can take care of it. We are not really pleased to have to be so far north so late in the year. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have to play with a blizzard. On the up side, it’s only a couple of hours from Forest City to Mom and Dad in Dodge Center, Mn, so we will get to visit with them for a couple of days while our house gets fixed. 🙂

From Gettysburg we went southwest to Bruceton Mills in West-by-God Virginia. The campground was on a sidehill and the sites weren’t very well set up. Took us the better part of an hour just to get leveled! Aaarrrggghhhhh. Right now we are in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, just south of Pittsburgh. We will stay here a week or two. We are on a side hill here, too, but the campsites are much nicer.

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with the Picassa web site server . . . it doesn’t like to accept my captions for the photos. But photos of the train, Gettysburg and DC are there for you to look at — you can make up your own captions.  And depending on how ambitious I am tonight, there may be a couple pictures of the sheepdogs, too.

Pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/campory57104

mj