Day 51 – Sunday June 10, 2007 – Gettysburg & Hershey, Pennsylvania
Today on our way to Gettysburg, we passed through many of the same areas we saw two days ago near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I assure you that there is a simple explanation for this. You see, I forgot to incorporate Gettysburg into our trip to Pennsylvania, when I got caught up in all of the excitement of Washington D.C. It has always been on the itinerary, but I simply forgot that we were this close. When one is dealing with so much planning, it is just a matter of time before a little detail skips past one’s mind! Or so I say!
The drive to Gettysburg took about 90 minutes. We took the scenic route through rural central Pennsylvania in lieu of taking the interstate. The reason for our visit to Gettysburg was to view the civil war battlefield there. The Battle of Gettysburg was a battle in the American Civil War fought from July 1-3, 1863. As soon as we arrived at the National Park Service visitor center in Gettysburg, we were presented with several different ways to tour the battlefield. We could hire a guide, take a bus tour, or buy a CD that went in our car stereo and guided us along the massive battlefield. We opted for the latter since it seemed like the simplest option for us. The ranger also told me that it was the best option for the amount of time we had.
With that decision made, we looked around at some of the exhibits in the museum, before deciding to take in the “Electronic Map” show. The Electronic Map is just as the name describes. It is a large map in the middle of a square room with light bulbs that help describe the troop movements during the three day Battle of Gettysburg. Yesterday in Philadelphia, we spoke to a couple that told us the Electronic Map was very helpful in describing the battle. The fact that we had seen the map, helped us visualize things better as we toured the battlefield.
Before starting the tour, we walked across the street to the Gettysburg National Cemetery. On November 19, 1863 Abraham Lincoln dedicated the cemetery by giving his infamous Gettysburg Address. In the middle of the cemetery is a monument with a statue of Lincoln in the center and the text of the speech on the sides. The Gettysburg Address has always been one of my favorite speeches. It really puts into perspective not only what this country is about, but also why it is worth fighting for. When you think about how young this country was at the time, the speech’s importance multiplies. After taking a few minutes in the cemetery, we headed to the car to start the tour.
The CD tour lasted about two hours including a few stops along the battlefield. We chose a CD that was dramatized, since it was recommended as more interesting for children. The CD featured both actors talking and battle sound effects blazing, both of which got and kept Shawn Reece’s attention. Towards the end of the tour, when we drove through a clearing and heard the sounds of gunshots and cannon balls overhead, (I turned up the volume on the radio) it definitely made for a more realistic experience. In fact, the dramatized CD battlefield tour was very well done and quite easy to follow. It took us about two and a half hours to complete the supposed two hour tour!
The whole battlefield from beginning to end is lined with statues and plaques memorializing the different regiments that fought there, both union and confederate. As a historic site, this area has been maintained wonderfully. We actually imagined what it would’ve been like to see the soldiers fighting on those three days in July of 1863. The National Park Service tour roads lead to all of the major areas of the battle, including “Little Round Top” which is the highest point on the battlefield. From what I understand, they are building a new Visitor Center, which will feature even more exhibits and improve the overall experience for visitors. Even though we had to back track a bit, in the end, we all felt that going to Gettysburg was worth it.
We left Gettysburg at 6pm and headed towards Hershey Pennsylvania. Jasmine didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit Hershey’s Chocolate World! Hershey’s Chocolate World is a free museum of sorts featuring many kinds of chocolate made by Hershey. The main attraction of the museum is a free ride that takes guests through a working chocolate factory. The ride is great fun and it exits into a gift shop selling every kind of Hershey chocolate in existence! They also had an area that allowed the kids to package chocolate like a factory worker. Shawn Reece did a great job putting the package together. Of course they wanted us to buy his packaged kisses for three times what they would normally go for! You’ve got to love American capitalism! Overall, Hershey’s Chocolate World made for a great hour of fun!
With everything we wanted to do completed, we left Hershey’s Chocolate World at 8pm and headed to our hotel in eastern Pennsylvania. Tomorrow we are going to drop our car at the hotel in Newark, New Jersey before heading into New York City. We decided to stay in Newark for budgetary reasons. Staying outside the city saves us about $100 a night. Since our hotel is only a 30 minute train ride from Manhattan everything should work out fine! We are really looking forward to New York City!
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