Gettysburg was sort of the goal of this entire road school adventure. We’d used it as an example before we left. “We’ll be in Gettysburg while we study the Civil War.” That sort of thing. The history and legend of the place drew us and despite time racing by, we knew we had to pause for a couple of days in the famous Pennsylvania town.
You should probably know a few details I wouldn’t normally share. First, when I planned where we would stay, I usually just called RV parks three or four weeks out so our plans remained pretty fluid. I realized in Florida that I’d made a huge mistake. It hit me in one pre-dawn jolt. I scheduled us to be in Gettysburg the last weekend in May…also known as Memorial Day Weekend. I completely freaked out, obviously. I called seven RV places in the Gettysburg area and people actually laughed at me (they’re forgiven for this because truly, I am an idiot).
“Honey, we’ve been completely booked since Thanksgiving,” said one chuckling campground owner. “It’s Memorial Day Weekend in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What were you thinking?”
Well, I’ll tell you, sweet lady. I was thinking about Disney World and schooling these kids and where to get the oil changed and the five other places we’ll be before we get to Gettysburg including oh, ya know, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston. I was thinking about hotel reservations and Lady Liberty’s boat ride and how to find a ducklings statue.
I messed up. I admit that. And we paid for it a bit. In the end one RV place had mercy on our pathetic souls and let us park the RV (and unbeknownst to them, our cats) in a field on their property. We slept in a hotel 45 minutes away from town and were grateful for it but before we got there, this happened.
Please let me remind you that by this point in the journey we’d handled detouring through Princeton, New Jersey due to a bridge that shouted in indignation at us, “No way I can hold that big, fat RV. Turn around!” So we did. And we’d sucked in our collective breath as we squeezed into tunnels or under overpasses that aren’t that big of a deal when you’re in a minivan but matter a whole, heck of a lot when you’re driving a 14-feet tall 5th wheel. We’d traveled thousands of miles, paid hundreds of dollars in tolls and taken pictures of alligators as we zipped along. We were experienced, road hardened. Traveling warriors.
While chatting and following signs we cruised into Gettysburg one morning with our hearts full of Lincoln and the boys in blue and then realized we were in a teeny, itty, bitty town with streets to match. The GPS led us straight downtown where a Mini Cooper would have trouble taking corners. We nearly took out a stop sign. I’m saying we missed it by an inch. At one intersection cars had to back up to get out of our way. Passersby stopped to gawk at us. I’m sure they took pictures.
It was horrifying. I prayed the entire time and mostly had my eyes closed because not seeing the disaster as it approached seemed best. Danny gripped the wheel and muttered things under his breath and Reagan hollered her opinions from the back. Paige asked when we were going to eat again. Technically this lasted maybe eight or nine minutes but it felt like a dental visit and come to think of it, sounded the same, as well.
And then in what can only be described as a miracle, we were out of town and driving through the countryside. We left the 5th Wheel in its muddy accommodations and hurried back to explore history. We were frazzled, hungry and wet because did I mention it was raining?
Getting to Gettysburg proved to be half the adventure. Our actual visit was beautiful and memorable and I’ll share that next.