The Fiftieth Day!
Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
74Trip End Sep 01, 2010
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Today we're a bit in flux, as we’re waiting for The Beard to let us know when and where he’ll be joining up with us after his brother’s wedding, but since he has no phone and is in the midst of his own celebration, we have no way to expedite the communication. Rather, we drive toward history, pointing our bus to grand old Gettysberg, PA, in what would prove to be our first taste of the south.
It’s immediately solid here, for not only is parking simple and free – a huge, empty lot is sandwiched between the memorial cemetery and the town center – but there is a souvenir shop/museum that is big and anonymous as to allow us to use its bathroom at will, which I do twice, washing my face there in the process
The sun is heavy today, while the precipitation is ever-present on our rubbery skin, and with that considered, battlefields are never good for sightseeing. At the outset of our sweaty walk, we see the small white cabin that belonged to a freed slave, a gentleman with the last name of Brian, who was obviously displaced when the battle broke, leaving the central question of the war physically manifested at the center of the fighting, something so incredible that it has to be true. Mr. Brian returned after the war to find his property quite destroyed, as so many farmers would have, and, like those farmers, he put in a property claim with the government, but of the thousand dollars he thought he’d deserved, he received only fifteen. Nevertheless, the former slave and he family would thrive there for many years to come, if one is to believe the plaque that said so.
The rest of the monument is fairly interesting, strewn about with a million obelisks and headstones to remember each regiment as represented by another state in the union, while it all caps with a massive white marble gazebo of sorts, one that could be perhaps compared to Paris’ Arc d’Triumph (sp?) in concept and execution but not in design
Kuntz and Shmark had long ago turned around – Shmark is in fact at Ping’s for a time, enjoying unlimited orange chicken and free wireless Internet – and so Cornbread (who’s on the phone with his girlfriend, anyway) and I turn back around
Gettysberg, as to be expected, is all star-spangled and old brick, full of “Old Tyme” photo booths and military remnant shops to help glorify through steel and filigree all the atrocities that happened here from July 1-3, 1865. We take the back alleyway into town to avoid the banner waving, and run smack into a building that’s stood since 1776, once a grade school, now a tavern and restaurant. We try to stop in for a beer to find that it’s actually an old-style tavern, full of plank tables and tallow candles and families eating boar, and even if the hostess scowls at us, we at least force our way in to find the secret compartment that once acted as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and that’s pretty damn cool.
Moving on, we see the old churches and hotels, and oh, Abe Lincoln passed by this tree en route to making the Gettysberg Address, he stayed in this hotel the night before, that place has a silly old name, before we find a pub within the Gettysberg Hotel which offers wireless internet and very, very cheap beer
We depart Gettysberg and find a fireworks shop an hour or so outside, so we stop there. The guy running it is a young, knowledgeable meathead of sorts (I don’t think those were my words, but they suit him), and in this K-Mart of explosives he is able to describe any of the thousands of options we might ask him about. Kuntz buys thirty-five dollars worth – “what are you going to do with these in New York, Kuntz?” “Oh, no, I’ll just leave them on the bus and pick them up when I can.” – and we get going, feeling used and combustible once again.
We pull into the Park 'n Ride town of Fairfax, Virginia, and leave the car in a high school parking lot, where Kuntz immediately takes a dump (kids, Kuntz?). He calls his old middle school friend, Patty, who picks us up in her SUV (which we do smell up instantly) and drives us to the closest part of town that boasts activity
With this entry I have reached my one-hundredth page of entries, ah-thank-you. If you’ve made it this far reading, I salute you with profound gratitude.