Stinky Ghosts of Gettysburg

I don’t believe in ghosts.  Let me just get that out of the way from the start.  The idea of lingering souls and spirits from people long dead has never really made sense to me and I am convinced that most ghost sightings are merely tricks of the eyes, mind and David Copperfield illusions.  If you believe in ghosts or supernatural phenomenon – go right ahead.  I will not hold that against you.

If you do in fact believe in ghosts then Gettysburg would be a good place to build on those beliefs.  The battlefield and it’s history has spawned the idea that this is the most haunted place in America.  Ghosts tours are big business and Lisa and I have actually been on a few of them – but for us it was merely entertainment and good for a little history and humor.  Others, I am aware, really take it seriously.

Since Lisa’s assignment has been extended at least through the month of October – we are interested in seeing how they will commemorate Halloween in this most “hallowed” and “haunted” ground.  And now a funny story about all that:

There is a man named Paul who lives here at Round Top Campground full time along with his wife and pomeranian dog.  This is the same dog that will bark at you when you leave – not as you are approaching – which we found amusing.  Lisa and I talked to Paul earlier this week and he told us some of the ghost stories famous here in the campground.  He told of one camper whose bed shook without explanation every night at 3:00AM.  It would then stop also without cause and it was finally decided that it was ghosts of Gettysburg doing the shaking.  He went on to tell other stories about things happening here during what he called the “bewitching” hour of three in the morning.  Lisa and I laughed at all this and said no more about it.

File all that away for now.

I suffer from sleep apnea and use a c-pap machine to help me sleep and breath through the night.  The device requires me to place a device over my nose that blows air in to keep my airway open through the night.  It works.  It also keeps me from smelling anything but the water vapor being blown into my nasal passages. 

Lisa does not have sleep apnea and could smell a hummingbird fart three campers down.  This past Monday night I was nudged awake by Lisa telling me there was an awful smell in the camper that made her unable to sleep.  I tried to lay real still as if I did not hear her complaints but finally I had no choice but to try to fix the smell she smelled.  Defunkify the funk.  RV’s do have a tendency to conjure up smells from the holding tanks that is not pleasant.  Most of the time it is not noticeable but on occasions an odor will waft up that only Ed Norton could appreciate.  This is the smell we dealt with on Monday night.

So I rolled out of bed and groped my way outside to empty our waste tanks and pour deodorizer in both our black and gray tanks.  What are black and gray tanks?  Lets just say they hold black and gray stuff respectively.  Don’t make me explain further.

So I did what I could do to sweeten the air and as I climbed back into bed I realized it was three o’clock in the morning.  Lisa and I laughed about it the next day as we were reminded of what our neighbor said about that bewitching hour here in Gettysburg. 

I still don’t believe in ghosts.  But if there are ghosts here in our campground – let me just say it this way – they may not say “Boo!” – but they smell like “Poo”.

Take Care!

Steve and Lisa



Lessons From The Hobbit

As Lisa and I enter our fourth month away from home we continue to feel God’s blessing and providence in our journey.  Never before in our marriage have we had to rely so heavily upon one another and our bond has never been greater.  This adventure has been the best marriage enrichment we have ever experienced.  I take her to work in the morning – find ways to stay busy during the day and then genuinely look forward to seeing her in the afternoon and to hear about her work day.

In recent days I have had to deal with a little homesickness and feeling a little out of sorts personally.  The job offer I wrote about recently really messed with me as I have gone through a tormenting season of doubt about that decision.  In the end it came down to Lisa and I continuing this incredible opportunity or going back to what I am familiar and comfortable with.  That is not an easy decision.

I have been reading (for probably the tenth time) Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”.  I can relate so well with Bilbo.  Not only do we share the same birthday (September 22nd – which, by the way I appreciate all the Facebook birthday wishes) but we also share the same longing for home, the comfortable chair, hearth and happiness that is the familiar place of our “shire”.  As I was reading I came across a passage that spoke to my feelings and gave me encouragement.  Gandalf, the wizard and protector of the group, readies himself to leave them to their journey and has to answer their questions as to why he must leave and how will they manage without him.

“So cheer up Bilbo and don’t look so glum.  Cheer up Thorin and Company!  This is your expedition after all.  Think of the treasure at the end, and forget the forest and the dragon, at any rate until tomorrow!” 

This is our journey.  God has set us on this path and I cannot allow my own self doubts or hurt pride cloud that thinking.  Lisa has thrived at Hanover Hospital and the skills she has acquired over nearly three decades has really helped people here.  My being with her to support her has made that possible.  For now I realize I have to forget about the forests and dragons and look to the treasure – whatever it will be.  But I have to remember – this is our journey.

Later Gandalf tells Bilbo, who is doubtful about getting through the dark and dangerous Mirkwood forest, – “Straight through the forest is your way now.  Don’t stray off track!”  Bilbo fearing the unknown dangers that lie ahead asks, “Do we really have to go through?”  And Gandalf answers, “Yes you do!  If you want to get to the other side.  You must go through or give up your quest.”

I underlined that entire section of the book as it spoke to me about this “season” of my soul that has been filled with doubt, fear, longing for the familiar and certainty of the known versus the unknown.  This journey has at the end a treasure that we can only obtain by stepping out on faith and heading into the dark forest.  If we want to get through it we “must go” or “give up our quest.”

So our adventure continues here in central Pennsylvania until the end of October and possibly beyond.  From there we are not sure where the path will lead.  But we will not give up our quest.  And although the treasure in the end is a little hard to see – it may be expressed best in Bilbo himself.

At the end of the story of his journey, Gandalf looks at Bilbo and remarks, “My dear Bilbo! You are not the hobbit that you were.”  And knowing this journey is changing Lisa and I as well as the people we meet – may be the greatest treasure of all.

Take care of things back in the “Shire” and we’ll see you soon!

Steve and Lisa

This and That

Some news from Gettysburg/Hanover/Hershey

We went with friends this weekend to Hershey Pa. and to the nations largest RV show.  Prices ranged from $6,000 pop up campers to half a million dollar rolling Biltmore Houses.  Lisa and I slumped back into Gettysburg and into our less than fancy camper.  It will take a few days for us to shake loose from the glamour and grandeur of the new models.  We feel more and more like our RV is home – it has a leaky roof just like our house in Owensboro.

It is that strange time of year where we run our air conditioner during the day and our furnace at night.  It has been fantastic fall-like weather here although they are calling for extensive rains through Tuesday night.  Our campground fills up each weekend although not as full as during the summer months.  During the week it is mostly just the seasonal folks camping.

There is a remote possibility that Lisa will be extended through November but that will not be decided for a few weeks (probably).  God willing – Lisa and I would like to be home in December for the holidays and then go back out after the first of the year.  As I have written about often – our plans are written in pencil.

Lisa is planning a trip with a co-worker to New York City in early October.  There is a shopping district where her friend shops for really good deals (yeah right).  She was told, however, that if the store owners start acting suspiciously – they should exit the place immediately.  Our adventure continues…,

Blessings to our friends and family.

Steve and Lisa

Tough Decisions

Lisa and I were faced this week with one of the toughest decisions we have had to make while we have been away from home.  A job in Owensboro came open that I had applied for before we left and I was notified this week that I was a finalist for the position.  That sounded great except it was about to throw our travel plans for a loop.  We prayed and talked through it and in the end Lisa left the decision up to me.  After weighing it all out I decided to withdraw my name from consideration.  Lisa will be finishing up her assignment here in Hanover at the end of October and we do not know where her next assignment will be.  I could not see myself allowing her to continue traveling alone and so we will continue following God’s lead as best we can as we move forward.

Tough decisions are required in life at times and it is my experience that often you just sort of close your eyes and choose and hope for the best.  In the end it is all about trusting God to be big enough to put us where he wants us and find peace with the decision.

Cool temperatures and prime camping weather has finally arrived here in Gettysburg.  Fall is certainly in the air and it is a welcome relief from what has been both a hot an extremely rainy summer here in central Pennsylvania.  We continue to try to “cheese up” our RV in preparation for Halloween.  We were told the other day that starting next weekend we will need to hand out candy each Friday night leading up to Halloween.  We have already celebrated Christmas and New Years in July here so why not do Halloween in September?

This past Friday night Lisa and I were in our RV and heard Elvis singing at the pavilion behind us.  Weekends usually feature some type of music group performing.  I walked down to get a better look and, sure enough, Elvis was performing.  The man impersonating the “King” was giving it his all in front of a crowd of about fifteen people.  I listened for a while and finally realized what a really good job this guy was doing.  In fact – he was the best Elvis impersonator I had ever heard.  I suppose interest in Elvis has waned a little through the years – very few young people were present.  He probably gets a better response at the nursing homes.  The senior adults in the crowd seemed to really enjoy his act.  So did I.  (Oh no!).

Stay in touch!

Steve and Lisa



Man Plans – God Laughs

Lisa and I have been expecting our time to end here in Gettysburg/Hanover on September 22nd (which happens to be on my and Bilbo Baggins birthday).  So much for those plans.

Lisa does not know I am writing this – so hold it down.

The hospital has extended Lisa’s time through October 26th.  Even though the hospital will be fully staffed by that time – they have asked Lisa to extend her time one month.  It is impossible to not be proud of what Lisa has accomplished here in the ten weeks (so far) that we have been here.  She has actually trained not only the staff but the doctors as well on some of the procedures she has experience in.  It is unheard of for a hospital to extend a travel tech if they are fully staffed beyond the original end date.  But that has happened to Lisa here due to her work ethic, expertise, and personality.  I could not be more proud of her.  I am amazed at what she knows about the medical field.  But people have been endeared to her for reasons beyond her knowledge.  Her southern hospitality has been so well received that one patient actually called back to report what excellent service they had received from that “little girl from the south” and because of that they would continue using Hanover Hospital.  Everyone knew immediately who they were talking about.  She has been offered jobs by both the hospital and the equipment representative.  No thanks – for now.

She will be embarrassed to read this but that little wife of mine is awesome!

So we will be here through October and that will allow others to visit including (we hope) Lisa’s mom and dad, Bobbie and Vernon Cunningham.  We can’t wait to show Bobbie around as she will love the landscape, farms, farm houses and picturesque setting of Gettysburg.  Vernon has been here before – but only on a drive through on his motorcycle.  He will enjoy touring the area will a little more time.

Anyway – here we are until God sends us somewhere else but we now know that will not be before November 1st.

Unlike some political groups – Lisa and I could not make it without God being included in this adventure and platform.  For that we vote “yes”.  (I wish I could have moderated that meeting).  All our plans are written in pencil from now on.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever, Amen.”  Romans 11:36.

Take care!

Steve and Lisa

Our Kids Come North

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Matthew 6: 20-21.

Our treasures came to Pennsylvania this past weekend and our hearts came with them.  Justin and his girlfriend, Lori Johnson, along with our daughter, Heather and her husband, James Morris traveled up here to Gettysburg for the Labor Day weekend.  I don’t think we stopped laughing from the time they stepped out of the car until they drove away yesterday morning.  We did Gettysburg on Saturday and then went by train to Washington DC on Sunday.

God has blessed Lisa and I with a family that genuinely enjoys being together.  Each one of those four has an abundance of the joy of Jesus and if we aren’t laughing at Justin and his antics then we are laughing at James at his and if not James then we were laughing at Heather laughing and if not Heather then Lori would crack us up with her comments.  People had to have thought we were drunk at times.

Some funny moments:

Lori thinking our campsite was an RV repair shop where old, broken down RVs are scattered in a field next door to where we stay.  Everyone practically fell out of the car laughing as they turned into our campsite.

Justin pretending to be Robert E. Lee charging into the enemy – on a Segway.

James asking what the hitch on the back of the guides Segway was used for and then pretending to back a fishing boat into the water on his Segway.

Heather laughing usually at me or Justin.  You cannot help but laugh when Heather starts laughing.  Heather can find something funny in people that most of us never see.  She will think of something Justin or I did years ago and burst out laughing anytime and anywhere.  Her laughing place is planet earth.  Whenever I am with Heather – I spill something on my shirt.  That cracks her up.  (“Dad – you germ”)

Lori playing miniature golf – (sorry Justin – it is not ‘Putt-Putt’)

Playing twenty questions in the car and Justin says the category is anything in the world – answer:  Rainbow Trout.  I can’t even explain that.

Everyone making fun of me trying to explain what “witness tree” means (a tree still standing that was here during the battle).  “Hey Steve – is this a witness rock?”  “Look Dad! – a witness squirrel”.  “Hey Steve – I just took a witness poop”  You get the idea.

I know of many who have deep anxiety when their family gets together.  I grew up in a rather hostile home myself that had me on pins and needles daily.  And although Lisa and I know ours is not the “Leave it to Beaver” perfect family, it is good knowing our kids still want to spend time with us.

As parents – could you really ask for any more than that?