And, I’m back.
Who has two thumbs and just celebrated her ten-year wedding anniversary! This gal! And what better place to celebrate ten years of wedding bliss than in Gettysburg?
Admittedly, I wept when we left. I’m the Mother of Perpetual Guilt: but the boys! What will happen to the boys?! My mother seemed fine and nothing broke or caught on fire, so I’m assuming they had an uneventful weekend. The Rowdy Boys are a whirlwind of chaos. They got some new toys and ate a happy meal. Life was good.
Meanwhile, monsoon season hit Gettysburg early this year. It rained for two days straight. Not that it stopped us. Nope, it takes more than rain/snow/pestilence to keep us off the battlefield. But look, from the greedy traveller that I am, I’m okay with traipsing through mud wrapped up in a bright yellow hoodie and flip-flops. That’s fine. Because I don’t like crowds and I don’t like waiting in line to get my picture taken with an artillery piece. The battlefield was deserted! In June! Glorious!
This will not be happening when the 150th Anniversary rolls around in a few weeks. The look of terror is already flashing in the eyes of locals. Apparently, the Park Service is projected 30,000 people a day to visit the park over the anniversary week. I cannot–cannot–imagine that many people trying to navigate little narrow streets, the circle in the center of town, the six parking meters for on street parking on Steinwher Street. I’ll be walking everywhere. And if I’m not walking, chances are I’m slouched in the shade somewhere near Pitzer’s Woods. If you’re there, come say hi. I’ll be the one sweating in a hoop skirt.
Anyway, anyway, so ten year anniversary bonanza! Look, we may have been married for ten years, but we’re just as cheap as we were when we were newlyweds. Did we pay $12.50 a person to go into the Visitor’s Center? No. We met at the old Visitor’s Center twelve years ago. Back then, it was free. Why are we going to pay twenty-five bucks to see things we’ve already seen–and saw for free? So, no, we browsed the bookstore (I was, however, able to rationalize buying a $32 t-shirt), used the bathrooms, and managed to find the one free tour offered at the Visitor’s Center.
The Spangler Farm. Apparently, the Spangler Farm was acquired by…someone…in 2008. It might have been the National Park Service. It might have been The Friends of Gettysburg, look, I’m tired and sunburned and don’t feel like finding the brochure. Just trust me. So, in 2008 *they* acquired The Spangler Farm which was the site of a hospital after the battle. General Francis Barlow, of Rambling Jour notoriety, was treated at The Spangler Farm. General Armistead died of his wounds in the summer kitchen. The site just opened for visitor’s two weeks ago and is currently free because, let’s be honest, there’s nothing to see but the outside of buildings. And, bonus, maybe the best medical living history I’ve ever seen.
Fun fact: I was the only person on the tour, other than The Hubs, wearing shorts. Look at my blinding white legs! Don’t worry, they’re sunburned now. And pathetically, even in my somewhat sunburned state, The Hubs in all his Italian bronzeness, still makes me look pale and pasty comparatively.
Oh, and interestingly enough, you may also notice I’m wearing legitimate shoes. I think it was some kind of effort to be less of…well, me and more of a…well, responsible hiker. Lord knows I spend most of my time wriggling around Gettysburg in flip-flops. I’ve never sustained a flip-flop related hiking injury at Gettysburg.
But I got two blisters wearing sneakers! What is that about? I scaled Big Round Top in sneakers–blister! I hiked to the McPherson Barn which, up until the point I was actually standing next to it and wasn’t apprehended by law enforcement, I thought you couldn’t get close to–blister! I hiked what seemed like forty-five miles to the Pennsylvania Monument and back and then on to the National Cemetery in flip-flops–comfort and happiness. Go figure. I don’t pretend to understand. Flip flops, Gettysburg, and I have a mutual fondness for each other. We can’t be thrown off by the introduction of sensible footwear.
And then I found a tick on my shoulder. Awesome!
Anyway. I’ve been running around Gettysburg for twelve years and have never been up next to the McPherson Barn. The McPherson’s, interestingly, were not at home during the battle. The farm was being rented. Anyway, the barn was the site of a, you guessed it, Civil War hospital. You can’t spit in Gettysburg these days without hitting a Civil War hospital. I’ll quote the Battlefield Tour Guide who took us on a (free) tour of the National Cemetery: “If your idea of a hospital is laying in the rain, waiting for your turn to have a surgeon cut off your arm, then you need a different medical plan.”
It was extremely cool to actually stand up next to the barn and, yes, it was as awesome as I’d always imagined it to be.
So, here’s what I learned this weekend:
1. Unless there’s a sign stating, “Area Closed,” chances are I’m going to just stroll right in,
2. I recite lines from the movie Gettysburg and inappropriate and/or annoying times, such as every five minutes. Example: Just ask The Hubs how many times I exclaimed, “But Hazlett’s dead!” It was a lot. And then I made him take my picture next to wear Hazlett actually died. And…in the picture, I’m saying, “But Hazlett’s dead!”
3. My muse’s name is Clio. She’s all about history. And thanks to her, I’ve got way more writing projects on my plate than is entirely necessary. More on that tomorrow.