Our trip August to November 2012 (September 26-30)

September 30

Blue and Grey

The skies were blue as we started our journey today, but became grey as the day wore on. We had a quick continental breakfast at the Travelodge we stayed at last night (which was sadly in need of some TLC), then pointed Priscilla toward Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I managed to squeeze in an oil change in Allentown along the way, and arrived at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center in early afternoon. It is run by the National Park Service, and is quite remarkable. Greeting you outside is a statue of Abe Lincoln and the text of the Gettysburg Address, which, for those of you who never memorized it, appears below:

The Gettysburg Address

One of the many beautiful exhibits

(Don’t forget to click on any image for a larger version)

As part of our museum visit, we watched a very well-made documentary about the Battle of Gettysburg on a huge screen, then made our way to an adjoining “theatre-in-the-round”, more properly known as a Cyclorama, which depicts Pickett’s Charge (he was a Confederate General) against the Union position, which ultimately failed, and turned the tide of the Civil War. (Of course, the Confederates wore grey, and the Union wore blue.) It is difficult to describe, other than to say that it was originally painted in the late 1800’s by a famous French painter, and has wound up having a permanent home in this museum. It is oil on canvas, and measures something like 20 ft. high and 370 ft. in circumference. It has been completely restored and the show consists of a narration over a very moving soundtrack. As the story unfolds, the appropriate sections of the cyclorama light up and the sound of cannon and musket fire are heard. It is accurate down to the smallest detail, as the artist and his team visited the battlefield and had photographs and drawings made to work from. These photos may give you a bit of a sense of it:

Cyclorama detail

Cyclorama detail

Cyclorama detail

The complete cyclorama in a much smaller scale

Sorry to be so wordy about this, but this all left quite an emotional impression on us. If anyone reading this has any interest at all in the Civil War, put this on your bucket list.

We drove to the campground (right on the edge of the park) and checked in, then headed into downtown Gettysburg for a bite to eat at the (you guessed it) Blue and Grey Pub. Our plans for tomorrow may change to include a day’s bus tour to Washington D.C., which is only a couple of hours away. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll do a self-guided car tour of the Military Park, then go back into Gettysburg and go walkabout. I’ll update tomorrow, depending on what time we get back.

September 29

A change of plans

We were woken early this morning by a lightning and thunder storm directly overhead. Not a surprise, as it had rained on and off all night. We decided not to stay a second night, as the weather was not promising. We did decide to drive to the tip of the Cape to Provincetown, a community with a number of historic attractions (see tower below),

Tower built of Maine granite, as a memorial to the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth near here

and a greater number of tourist stores full of the usual kitsch. We did have an enjoyable walk out on the pier.

Pigeons on Parade

We had a quick breakfast, then decided to head back down the Cape and then head east toward Pennsylvania, to cut a few hours off what was going to be a very long drive to Gettysburg tomorrow. On the way, we stopped at Cohoon Beach, on the Atlantic side:

Cohoon Beach

We drove through four states today; New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, and crossed into New Jersey late this afternoon, the rain finally having given up around noon. A somewhat stressful drive around New York City, and the fact that we had no campsite booked, led to the decision to stay at a Travelodge tonight, before continuing on to Gettysburg tomorrow.

September 28

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head, we’ve L.L. Bean to Freeport, the Boston Marathon and Tunnel Vision

On the way to Cape Cod, we stopped in Freeport (a town seemingly built around outlet stores), to visit the L.L. Bean flagship store. Unless you have been there, it is hard to describe, other than it is BassPro on steroids. For those unfamiliar with BassPro, it is a huge store that sells everything for the outdoors. The L.L. Bean store complex takes up a full city block, and if you can’t find what you need here, you don’t need it. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera with me, so there are no pictures to share. One of the best window displays is a pair of full-sized male moose, horns locked together in what is titled “The Last Charge”. The antlers are real; they were found in 2005 on what was left of two bull moose who had locked antlers and died of starvation. L.L. Bean had a taxidermist recreate the scene, and it is quite emotional to look at.We couldn’t help but purchase a few clothing items while we were there.

We drove south until we hit Boston, where traffic slowed to a crawl; our planning had put us in Boston on Friday afternoon at rush hour. Brilliant. Four lanes of traffic, moving at less than a walking pace through what has to be North America’s longest tunnel. My claustrophobia was starting to kick in by the time we finally saw daylight again. This was not the end however; the freeway south to Cape Cod was nose-to-tail traffic pretty much all the way. As a result, we were two hours late arriving at the campground. (Did I mention that it was raining the whole day? It was sometimes so heavy that the wipers could barely keep up.) The office was closed by the time we got there, but a local resident of the resort kindly took us to a site. Off to Provincetown tomorrow.

September 27

Thunder at Baa-haa-baa (as it is pronounjced in Maine)

Bar Harbor’s harbour, with a cruise ship in town

Downtown Bar Harbor

We then caught another bus, which took us on a loop through the Acadia National Park, an absolutely beautiful drive, with the trees beginning to change. We stopped at Thunder Hole, a natural cleft in the granite rock, which allows waves to enter and magnify their strength, resulting (in rough seas and high tide) in some spectacular “blowhole” effects. Unfortunately, we reached it at low tide and calm sea conditions. Nevertheless, it is was a wild and beautiful place worth the visit.

A few moments in the sun at Thunder Hole

We caught the last shuttle back to the campground and celebrated a great day with the requisite Green Apple Martinis. Off to South Dennis and Cape Cod tomorrow. We hope to drop into L.L.Bean’s flagship store in Freemont on the way.

September 26

Breakfast and a Movie

The trip from Digby to Bar Harbor was uneventful. The ferry ride (3 hours)across to Saint John was very pleasant, although there was a slight roll to the ship. No repeat of the Lake Michigan experience, however. The ship is equipped with several very nice lounges, and we spent two hours in one of them watching a movie, after grabbing breakfast at one of the small cafeterias. We arrived at the Bar Harbor campsite mid-afternoon, having adjusted our watches back one hour at the Maine border. We are kicking back and re-organizing this evening, as the weather has turned grey and showery again. Supposed to be nicer tomorrow, so we are going to leave Priscilla here and take the free shuttle busses in and around the town and surrounding areas. I’ll update tomorrow about how it went.

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