Pennsylvania 2010 – Day 5

A late start today as I overslept when I silenced my alarm. We quickly got ready and met Susie just after 10am to hit the road. Our first task was to find a scenic overlook to the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power plant – site of the worst accident in Nuclear Power in the US in 1979. Along State Route 441, there is a great spot where we pulled over and took some photos. There is even a road sign commemorating the accident. After reflecting on the craziness, we headed down to Gettysburg.

It was nice that it was only about 45 minutes from Harrisburg to Gettysburg, and we arrived at the Gettysburg National Military Park’s new visitor center without any of our usual detours. Right off the bat, I was impressed with the Guest facilities! Chuck informed me that they had really upgraded the facilities back in 2008 complete with a restoration of the famous Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama. We started off with the Morgan Freeman narrated “A New Birth of Freedom” movie which was very well done. This moving movie tells the story of those three days in July 1863 when the battle was fought. After the movie, you head up the escalator to the Cyclorama. The Cyclorama is the Circlevision 360 of the 1800s. In the days before movies and widespread use of photos, this painted mural was one of the few ways the masses could see how events took place. The Gettysburg Cyclorama shows Pickett’s Charge and with a few strategic lights and sound effects really comes alive. You really could spend all day just looking at the painting. It also was interesting to see how the Cyclorama was shown previously.

We then did a quick once-over of the Gettysburg museum. A superb collection of artifacts and stories of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg , the Gettysburg Address, and the legacy of the events of all three. We spent an hour just in there before we headed to the gift shop. Obligatory magnets were purchased before we headed out to lunch. Using the power of the iPhone, Yelp, and a drive by, we found Tommy’s Pizza. We split two pizzas between the 5 of us and relaxed a bit before hitting the battlefield.

First up was the Soldier’s Cemetery and the site where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. It was very moving not only to see the graves, but also to be in the place where he actually spoke those words that have reverberated throughout the ages. Like the History Channel, but live in 3D! We then walked down to the High Water Mark – the point where the Confederacy had advanced the furthest in the war. It was awe inspiring to be among all the various statues and monuments to all the people who died in that battle, and those who survived. It also was stunning to stand at the Corps of Trees, the spot where all the Confederate troops were heading during the battle. Quite a bit of history in one small grove of trees. After some photos, it was time to move on down the road. We made a B-line back to the Visitor Center to make one last visit of the restrooms before we departed. Susie and Chuck headed back to State College, and Daniel, Leslie and I headed over to West Virginia. I was sad to see Susie go, and I certainly miss having her close by. I hope to actually get up to State College to see Penn State and go exploring in that part of the state.

We hit the road and in no time at all, we were in Maryland heading towards West Virginia. Our Google Maps approved route sent us along State Highway 77, which led us past Catoctin National Park. A quick Gorn photo op and we were back on the road. Thankfully, West Virginia had a nice Welcome Center just inside the border where we stopped and took photos. Tired from all the fun and excitement, we headed back to Harrisburg. Along the way, Daniel and Leslie got some photos of the Meow-Mix Mobile that was traveling down I-81. By taking I-81, it took us just over an hour to get back to Harrisburg (after a couple quick stops to try and get better shots of the MMM as we passed it).

We had some dinner at Taco Bell, and Leslie had Olive Garden leftovers while we relaxed and watched some TV in the room. Winding down the trip, we do not know if we will hit anything tomorrow other than driving to the airport, it will just depend on how early we leave.