We Can Now Say…,

This may be a little risky since first impressions are often wrong or misleading and we readily admit that many of our ideas of this place will change over the next two months as it should be.  But like good Americans – we have opinions that may change and probably will before we leave this place.  Who knows how the next seven weeks will go for us and we will certainly be more than ready to see our old Kentucky home by then.  But as of today we would be more than comfortable making this place our home as we have come to love the people we have met.  And along the way we have formulated thse ideas and opinions of life here in Pennsylvania in general and RV living away from home in particular.  Here goes:

We can now say…,

…,if everyone had to manually dump their toilets as in an RV –  the consumption of toilet paper would go down while the sale of air freshener would increase – drastically.

…,Kentucky must be beautiful in the fall – at least in the minds of many people who live here in Pa. (and we always thought the northeast would be the place to go in the fall).  People vacation in Kentucky – we had no idea.

…,it costs a lot of money to do laundry in a coin operated laundromat.

…,there may not be any burgers in the world as good as Owensboro’s “Dipper” burgers – but we will keep searching.

…,we all curse technology at times – but we thank God for cell phones, Skype and email to stay in touch with our family and friends.  It has made being away from home much easier.

…,people in Owensboro need to go out and spend time in their front yard.  They are rare here in Pa.  Houses sit right next to the sidewalks – some don’t even have sidewalks and literally sit next to the street.  Wrecks here don’t damage your front lawn – they destroy your couch.

…,the hardest part about driving here in the Gettysburg area is getting in and out of parking lots.

…,we enjoy spending time in antique stores.

…,nothing makes you feel older than spending time in antique stores.

…,the only thing that makes us feel older than spending time in antique stores – is finding things we had as children that are now in antique stores.

…,it is fun to tell people you are from a town in Kentucky that is located west of “Loollville” and watch their expressions.  No we don’t say “Louie – ville” just like people here don’t say “Ball-ta-more.”  Here they call it “Ball a more”.

…,as of yet – not one person we have met has ever heard of Owensboro.

…,it is so strange to talk to people who have lived in this area all their lives but have never visited the battlefield at Gettysburg.  It would be almost like people growing up in Owensboro and not listening to Bluegrass music.  Come to think of it….,

…,apparently, you do not have to comb your hair or put on a shirt to walk outside your RV in the morning…. and neither do the men.

…,it is 90 plus degrees here with high humidity and we see campers each night sitting around a CAMP FIRE – Jeez!  We stay huddled around our air condition vents and cook our smores in the microwave.

…,we use to think we would want a pop-up camper.

…,if you buy an RV out of state and want to move it to Kentucky – you have thirty days.  Kentucky will not license an RV until a sheriff and fire marshall have inspected it. They do not require that here in Pa. Temporary tags are only good for one month.  After that you will be transporting it illegally – sooooo.

…,there are no “Chik-fil-A” restaurants in this area.  We’re just saying.

…,we want to see our family but we are not homesick.

…,it is possible to survive life without television.

.., western Kentucky is really flat compared to the views we have enjoyed here.

So there you have it – our opinions…, for now.

Take care!

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Hallowed Ground

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle in Gettysburg Pa., (being commemorated this week) I have decided to repost some of my blogs about our experiences living in Gettysburg last summer and fall.  Lisa and I hope you enjoy them.

 

This post is for all the history buffs out there.  And for those who are not – maybe you should read this anyway.

Since being here in Gettysburg (by the way – pronounced in a way that would rhyme with “Lettuceburg” by all the locals) I have toured many of the battle sites and key locations of the war.  Today I decided to take a bottle of water and trek across the field where the famous charge of July 3, 1863 took place.  Wow!

The open field that separated the Confederates on Seminary Ridge from the Union Army on Cemetary Ridge is less than a mile in distance.  It took me about twenty minutes to walk from the seminary ridge tree line to the famous “angle” of the battlefield which is considered the southern “high water mark”.

I began my hike from the base of the Virgina monument featuring Robert E. Lee sitting on his horse, Traveler, and surveying the battlefield.  From the Confederate starting point, which was west of the battlefield, the ground is rather flat with only a slight incline to negotiate.  A cleared path makes it easier for tourists to walk across the field but I noticed the high, thick weeds all around and at one point stepped into the thick brush just to get a sense of how it difficult it may have been to move through.  Several times I was stuck with briars and tripped on the thick weeds.  Needless to say those who crossed the field that day did not have a smooth area in which to march and just getting through the thick weeds would have been exhausting.  When I reached the “Emmittsburg” Road and its rail fenced border, I noticed the incline rose drastically and it did not take me long to be out of breath trying to cross the final one hundred yards.  Many scholars believe that the fence along that road cost the confederates a massive loss of life as soldiers tried to climb over while being shelled.  One tour guide I spoke to said an eight foot section of that original rail fence was saved and contains over a thousand shell casings embedded in the wood. That final 75 yards was an uphill struggle for me.

As I got closer to the Union position it was easy to see the superior Union vantage point. To say that the Union held the high ground is certainly true.  I found myself amazed that any of the Confederate soldiers actually made it to the Union side with such a disadvantage.  I met up with another gentleman who like me was walking across the field and he too was surprised at the steep incline – something you don’t notice standing on either ridge.  I joked that it would have been easier for the Union to attack since they would have been going down hill.

I finally reached the famous “angle” where the hand to hand fighting took place. This is simply a spot where the rock walls intersect at a ninety degree angle.   At one point I had to wipe sweat from my eyes and could only imagine how hot it was for the soldiers carrying guns and ammunition – if they were still alive at that point.

I have read that there were relatively few casualties as a result of bayonet attacks.  The hand to hand combat resulted in more men being wounded or killed due to blunt force trauma than that of the bayonet.  Some suggest as brutal as the fighting became – it was still difficult to run a knife into the enemy. (If anyone can verify or disclaim that – please let me know.  I am going to ask a park ranger about that as soon as possible.)  It is interesting that the monument depicting the hand to hand combat is that of a soldier raising the butt of his gun to bludgeon his enemy – not the blade of his bayonet.  In fact this image will soon be seen on the new quarters being minted to celebrate our national parks.  Gettysburg’s will be depicted with this image (seen below).

Finally I stood on Cemetery Ridge and looked back over the field I had crossed.  Next year they will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle and they are already working to make the area as authentic as possible – even planting crops that were indicative of that time and place.  Some of you may be interested in knowing that Gettysburg relies on a large contingent of volunteers to do some of the clean up and maintenance work here at the park.  They use volunteers to clean all the 1300 monuments here as well as do some painting and cleaning and are always needing more help.  Before we leave here – I hope to volunteer some of my time – I have plenty of it.

In 1913 Gettysburg celebrated the 50th anniversary of the battle and several survivors of the battle were in attendance.  The Confederate veterans who were physically able re-enacted their “Pickett’s Charge” – only this time as old men they did so much slower and with less gusto.  When they reached the Union line – they reached across the stone wall where many of their fellow soldiers had died those many years ago and shook hands with veteran Union soldiers.  For many it brought closure to what must have been the most difficult moment in their lives.

I walked that same path today.  I don’t care if you like history or not – how cool is that?

Merging in Traffic

It is not easy getting into the flow of life in a new place in just a few weeks.  Although we share many similarities – all Lisa and have to do is speak about three words in public and people here will know we ain’t from Pennsylvania.  I have written much about the hospitality we have experienced here and while people have been friendly – this place does not always feel like home.

There could not be anything more symbolic of our struggle to get into the flow of life here than the struggle we have had trying to (literally) merge our vehicle into traffic.  In the south it is a standard courtesy (if not the law) that you move over into the outside lane when a car is merging onto the highway to your right.  This allows the merging vehicle to smoothly and safely get into the flow of traffic.  Not here.  The lack of courtesy extended to cars merging into traffic upsets me some – but Lisa flies into a full blown – head spinning rage.  She has even screamed for me to go ahead and move into our God given lane whether the idiots move over or not.  To hell with them and to hell with scrapping the side of our car or taking off my left arm – we’ll show them who’s boss.

People here have not learned this common southern driving courtesy and when Lisa asked her co-workers about it they looked at her kind of funny wondering what she was talking about.  To their defense most of the roads here are two lane country roads and there are very few four lane highways in the area.  But there are some and when we have traveled those (which we do twice per day) we can’t seem to merge smoothly.  When this happens we miss home and the southern way of driving.

In the meantime Lisa and I will continue trying to merge ourselves into life here in south/central Pennsylvania (for at least the next eight weeks).  Interestingly we have found that people really like our “southern way” and while the people here are more standoffish and business like – Lisa’s personality (as long as she is not trying to merge into traffic) is very caring and sensitive to patients and co-workers and has won over many.  She has commented that once she has broken the ice – people seem almost hungry for that type of kindness and warmth.

LIkewise as we try to merge ourselves into the community here – we are not necessarily met with resistence but the lane is not always open to us.  Its just not home.

Take care and merge carefully – please!