Travel Log 2009: Day 2, Part I

Monday, June 29, 2009

We rolled out of Angola a little later than we wanted, but we weren’t in a big hurry so it wasn’t too bad.

I had seen that we had nearly 8 hours left to drive to get to Gettysburg, which was longer that we had thought. But since we REALLY didn’t have anything planned that night in Gettysburg other than our ghost tour at 11 pm, we weren’t too worried.

For Whom the Bell Tolls
As we were working out our budget for our vacation this year, we tried to cover all our bases, food, entertainment, gas, shopping, but we left something very important out of the equation… highway tolls.

I knew we’d have to pay the Illinois tolls that we have around Chicago, but what I didn’t take into account were the tolls through Indiana and Ohio.

While I like the system of tolls better in those states, and the fact that we’re not paying tolls after driving 10 miles on the same road, the definitely hit you in the pocketbook. We probably ended up paying around $30-35 in toll just to get through Ohio.

The trip through Ohio was pretty uneventful. The boys watched a movie or slept for most of the way while Tammy and I listened to Rush Limbaugh.

Curves in All the Right Places
As we rolled out of Ohio and into Pennsylvania, I was getting excited about seeing Pittsburgh, but that didn’t happen. The route we were on took us too far around Pittsburgh to actually be able to see the city.

One thing I didn’t realize was how high we had climbed in the mountains. I knew we were going through some of the Allegheny Mountains, but because the uphill part was a steady climb, we didn’t feel it as much. The way down was a different story.

As we got off the interstate heading toward Gettysburg, we kept seeing signs telling us we had a nine degree decline for the next 3.5 miles, eight degree decline for the next 2 miles, etc. The declines in and of themselves wouldn’t have been that bad if it weren’t for all of the curves in the roads.

Pick a Car, Any Car
When we finally made it out of the curves, we entered an area that I believe to be the “Used Car Capital of the US.” Once we started counting, which was after we had already seen five or six used car lots, we were over 20 lots before we lost count and that was all within a 10-15 mile radius.

Our Schools Would be Proud
The closer we got to Gettysburg, the more questions about the area Jake and Ben (Kevyn) would come up with. Some of them were more serious than others, but there was one where he asked about some of the buildings we were seeing and asked if “it’s been here since The Times.”

That was followed up with a statement that gave us a little glimpse into his mind and maybe helped us realize why he didn’t do better in school last year.

“Every town in Pennsylvania has ‘burg’ after it. Pittsburgh, Gettysburg, Chambersville…”

Fun, Food and Farnsworth
Around 6:30 pm we made it to our hotel in Gettysburg which was right on the downtown square and right across from the Willis House, where Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before giving the Gettysburg Address.

Because we had an 11 pm ghost tour, we basically dropped our bags in the room and went out to walk around the square. We found a place to eat, The Pub, that was just outside our hotel and settled in for dinner. The food was pretty good but the service was really slow.

Since it took us longer to eat than we had wanted, most of the shows had closed for the night. We walked around the square and found a malt shop where Tammy stopped to get some ice cream.

While she got ice cream, I went up to the room to get ready for the ghost tour. Around 10:30 we left the hotel and drove to the Farnsworth House for the Mature Tour. There were a LOT of people standing around outside already and I was worried the tour would be overbooked and we wouldn’t be able to take part.

Luckily for us, they simply split the group into two with one going on the “walk” part and the other starting in the basement.

Farnsworth Ghost Tour, Part I
We were in the group that was outside on the walk and our guide warned us that this was a “mature” tour so he didn’t filter the responses he’s heard from others taking the tour. He started walking us toward the bottom of Cemetery Hill, just outside of Gettysburg National Park.

At one point he asked for volunteers and picked Tammy before she even had a chance to raise her hand. Ben raised his hand so he picked him and one other person and put them in three spots and began telling why they were standing where they were. The spots he had chosen for them were where a mass grave of Confederate soldiers were found in an “L” formation.

He told us another story where he had taken two women into the woods where a mass Union grave had once been. The two women started chanting with their hands out and their eyes rolled up in their heads, totally freaking him out. Turns out the two women were Witches and “not those pussy Wicans either.”

He took us into a clearing in the woods, up to a barrier keeping us out of the National Park, but close enough to look up Cemetery Hill. There he told us a story of what happened on one of his tours. That tour was standing where we were and they saw a brown-haired girl in a long white dress walking about 10-15 yards below them.

He shined a flashlight on the girl who slowly turned toward them and growled. He turned the flashlight off and they watched her continue to walk into the woods and disappear.

After some research he found that there was a young mentally challenged girl with brown hair named Elizabeth that had simply walked out of her house once the fighting in Gettysburg started and was never seen again. Her parents said she hung herself in the same woods we were standing in, but her body was never found.

When he finished telling the story we were able to take pictures in the area, but from what I could tell we didn’t “catch” anything. He rounded the group back up and went back to the Farnsworth House for the second part of the tour.

To be continued…

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