Day 5
April 12th, 2002
Emmitsburg, Maryland

Once again I am in no rush.  I will visit the battlefield, and then a quick 90 miles to DC.

I slept well, and agreed with Neal every time he smashed the snooze bar on the alarm clock.  On the 6th time he finally yielded, and made his way to the shower, as for me, I rolled over for another 40 winks.

The day was cool and cloudy, as we walked over to the mess hall. The campus was waking up, and students were filling in for breakfast.  Dang,  I am going to miss this when I retire.

I had a great breakfast on Uncle Sam. Pancakes, sausage and toast.  Being a firefighter has to have some perks.
After breakfast we hiked it back to Neal's room, and gathered our stuff.  We spoke a few more minutes, then he took off for class, I said I would see him back home. I brought the ST around to load my stuff. 

I stopped at the guard shack to check out, and turn in my paperwork.

I rode back through town, and yielded to a pedestrian crossing the street.  An older lady, with black lycra pants, she had real wide hips that stuck out beyond her arms, and when she doubled timed it across the street, I thought they were going to pop out of her pants.

I went to U.S. 15 North, and made quick work of the ride into Gettysburg.  The day was cold and cloudy, with a light mist falling.  A typical dreary day in the northeast.  I was beginning to miss the bright sun, and warm weather of Central Alabama.

Having been here before I was able to skip the cyclorama and museum and go straight to the battlefield.  My son and I were last here in 1994, but being this close to so much history was too good to pass up. 

I took the auto tour and rode the battlefield.  There are hundreds of markers dotting this hallowed ground.  State and regiment markers can be found where units fought.  I take my time and stop at all the important places.  Little Round Top, Devil's Den, The Angle, and Seminary Ridge.

I am humbled by what took place here.  So many brave men on both sides died here.  This is indeed hollowed ground, and a quiet reverence is expected of those who visit here.  That is why I became perturbed at a class of Jr. High school kids on a field trip, that were laughing and carrying on at Little Round Top.  They had no appreciation for what took place here.

I stopped for a picture at the Alabama Memorial at the foot of Little Round Top, the scene where the unit fought.
​The Alabama Memorial, Gettysburg Pa.
also took pictures of the Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina Memorials, all were very well done.

I stopped at the scene of Pickett's charge and strolled the area.  I saw some young boys playing with stick guns behind the stone wall, pretending it was 1863 again.  As I looked out across the field I found it hard to believe any Confederates made it to the stone wall, but many did, just wasn't enough of them left to hold it.
​Only a handful of soldiers made it to the stone wall.
I recalled the words William Faulkner once wrote.  Every southern boy has that moment before Pickett's Charge.  The flags are yet to be unfurled, and the Army of Northern Virginia, had bettered every Union Army thrown at it, despite tremendous odds, and there was no reason to think this battle would be turn out any differently. 

After 2 hours of battlefield touring I ride back into the village for something to eat, and plot the course to DC.  I wanted to be south of the city by 3 pm to avoid the Friday afternoon rush hour.  

I find the Lincoln Diner and pull in for lunch.  I had a awesome hot roast beef sandwich.  Something about the diners up north, they know how to cook.  The Lincoln Diner has great food, and service, if you are ever in Gettysburg check it out.

When I finished my meal I got out my atlas, and wrote down the routes to Lorton, Virginia.  I called my brother in law and announced my ETA, he said the key is next door at the neighbors and she was expecting me.

I left Gettysburg on U.S. 15 South, and stopped for gas in Thurmont.

I was startled a few miles later, when a Maryland State Trooper over took me, I never saw him in my mirrors.  I was doing a sedate 65 mph, and escaped a ticket.

In Frederick I took I-270 and headed for the beltway. 

A few miles later I joined the fray on the I-495 Beltway around DC.  It was only 2pm and already traffic was building.  I tried to keep a safe zone around me, but every time I opened a gap to the car in front of me some wise guy jumped in it.

I bopped over to the HOV lane, and was able to pass slower moving traffic.  The HOV was open, and clear, and no cars were behind me, and I felt much safer.

Three miles from the I-95 South interchange traffic became snarled. I crawled along for a hour trying to get to I-95.  The fan on the ST kept things cool the entire way, what a bike.

At last I made it to I-95 and broke free.  I took the Lorton exit a few miles later.  I pulled in a Texaco Mart a few miles from David's house for Mountain Dew for later on.  A middle aged Asian clerk, was humored by my directions on my left sleeve and pointed at it.

David's directions proved to be on the money, and a few minutes later, I was picking up the key from the neighbors and letting myself in.

I unloaded and took the upstairs bedroom.  With time to kill, I made a few phone calls, and took the liberty of David's Gateway.

David came home with the kids about 4:30 and we took Michael to soccer practice, from there we went to mark the field for the Saturday morning game.

David is my wife's older brother, a retired Air Force officer working a civil service job, he wife, Cathy  also civil service, working at the Pentagon.  She was there when the plane hit.  My niece and nephew are 5 and 8 respectively.  Good folks, who never miss a birthday anywhere in the family.

We left the soccer fields for supper at Outback. We had a long wait.  Good thing I wasn't hungry.  The kids fell asleep on the way home.

Back home I caught up on the news, and turned in about 11:30pm.