The robins have all flown south. The brightly colored male hummingbirds are gone. The little female “her-mers” are fighting and scrapping over the feeders – they need to store up energy for their long flight. H got the itch to be gone too! We’ve been home barely a month and he is restless already!
Last year at this same time we loaded up the 2006 Chrysler Town & Country and headed west to the Pacific Ocean – following Route 66. This year he chose the opposite direction and we headed for Gettysburg, Pa first and then on to the Atlantic coast. The weather was PERFECT! Blue skies, mild temps and all the kids were back in school!
The fairly new Visitors Center and Museum at the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield is now a large round red barn type structure. After watching a film, our group moved upstairs to the newly renovated Cyclorama, which is an awesome sound and light show of the amazing 377 ft painting depicting Pickett’s Charge. It was originally painted in 1884! The circular room, along with the lights and sounds made this historic 3-day battle come alive! From there we drove the marked roads thru the now peaceful rolling countryside and imagined the battle that took more men’s lives than in any other battle on American soil – before or since. The Union Army casualties were 23,000 and the Confederate Army – 28,000. We climbed a tall lookout tower and gazed over the fields that look much as they did in 1863. At Little Round Top, we found the statue of Brig Gen G K Warren, still on his watch against the opposing southern army. From there we visited the Pennsylvania Memorial built to honor the over 34,000 men who fought in that battle.
From there our route took us thru Dover Delaware and out to the first city in Delaware - Lewes. It is also the southern port for the ferry that runs from there to the picturesque Cape May, NJ! We visited the historic WWII training grounds in the Cape Henlopen State Park before moving on down the barrier island to Ocean City Maryland for the night.
When I was a child, one of my favorite authors was Margarite Henry who wrote a lot of horse stories. One series was about the Spanish ponies that were shipwrecked and survived on Assateague Island. That island is now the Assateague Island National Seashore - and the ponies are still surviving, still wild and still live on the island. Our last trip thru this area was a long time ago on a 750 Yamaha – PRE big red bike!! This time H slowed down long enough for a side trip so I could finally see “the ponies”! On the Maryland side they are allowed to still run free. Hence, horse poop everywhere - on the roads, in the campgrounds – EVERYWHERE! To reach the herd on the Virginia side, you must go out, around and back across the island of Chincoteague before reaching the National Park once more. On this section, the herd is semi-contained in vast fields and forests. Their admiring audience can see them but not get too close. Each summer this herd is still rounded up and swam across the channel at low tide – just like in Margarite’s books! Some of the ponies are sold to keep the herd’s number manageable. After a festival – the remaining ponies are swum back to their island home.
The 20-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnels are an engineering wonder. They connect the long thin finger of land that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Chesapeake Bay, to the mainland of Virginia where Norfolk and Virginia Beach meet. These 2 ribbons of pavement seem to just hover over the expanse of salt water and then, to accommodate the Naval vessels and other ocean freighters stacked high with cargo, the ribbons seemingly disappear under the water. The two deep tunnels on this route are a mile long each. At the southern end of the one tunnel is a turn out area complete with a restaurant and a fishing pier that was populated with a dozen or so fishermen. One fella had just caught what seemed must be a rather hefty fish and we were all anxious to view his catch. After a lengthy, back and forth struggle his catch was hoisted - a 3 foot Stingray!! Another fella had to stand on the barbed tail while he struggled to retrieve his hook and line from the rays bottom side! Our lay over for the night was Virginia Beach where we did find time to unfold our little bikes and ride the 4-mile boardwalk from end to end! Each pedestrian crosswalk was graced with it’s own nautical theme – a school of large blue striped fish, seagulls or a very impressive statue of King Neptune. The electrician that was working there just below the railing was from Grand Rapids Michigan. Our very lovely motel was on the southern, more peaceful, end of the boardwalk and used to be a Hilton. Our room was on the 5th floor, third from the center on the south curve of the building. All the rooms faced the swimming pool and vast blue ocean on the other side of the boardwalk. H had “Happy Hour” on the balcony! We woke to the sunshine peaking around our curtains!