Is it just the angle of the photos or is Bill (and possibly Boldikus) a giant? I have obviously never met either of them and am second guessing even staying friends with Bill on FB because I don't want to chance ending up with a burlap sack over my head and shoved in a shipping container somewhere. Ka row 9 and all that.
Can you explain how the parent swap worked for the acid trip boat ride? Did you have to go get a piece of paper somewhere to show the attendant or they just trusted that you had kids, not realizing that Bill was actually the (man)child? You know, for, uh, research purposes. I could have done without 3 days of the ride attendants at Dollywood on Wild Eagle absolutely screaming at people for jumping under the small child swap chain half way through the exit queue when there was ZERO line instead of walking alllllllll the way around the ride to reride. How about they put in a gate there instead of a pathetic European-like suggestion to "please stay out" that few Americans understand or obey? Mind boggling on both ends of the spectrum. This is why we can't have nice things.
No, there was no such thought put into the parent swap. They literally just had Brit stand there awkwardly while they loaded other people behind us. When we got to the exit, I got off while Bill just sat on the boat until that boat got up to the entrance and then Brit got on. It was all super awkward and weird. It really was as if they had never considered the possibility of an odd numbered group and were just making something up on the fly.
All right, work has been brutal this week. I took Monday off to watch the eclipse, and I've been paying for it ever since, trying to catch up on everything. But here it is, the next installment of what surely will be (I'm calling it now) a legendary trip report.
Day 4: Stay Alive
Today I began the solo portion of my trip, as Coasterbill and Boldikus went back home and went on with their ordinary responsibilities. Meanwhile, I’m still on vacation! This was the biggest day of driving of the entire trip, as I had several places I wanted to visit.
First up, Valley Forge. I took the scenic route back through New Jersey rather than the Atlantic City Expressway. Seems weird in a time crunch, I know, but I had one goal in mind: To add Delaware to my list of state credits. I went a couple of miles into Delaware, turned around, and went on to Valley Forge. Nerdy? Hell yes. But you’re in no position to judge. You’re reading a theme park forum.
Valley Forge was really cool. I took the free method and just drove the rental car around the park, stopping when I wanted to look at something. You can pay money for a tour bus if you wish, but I don’t think the experience would be substantially different. I love our National Park Service and how they consistently provide high quality educational experiences for free or very nearly free.
First stop, Valley Forge
This is a mockup of the cabins that formed Gen. Washington's winter camp.
Good to see military bunks really have never changed.
There was one bunk on each side, and a fireplace in the middle.
The park itself is beautiful. This would definitely be a lovely place to freeze to death.
Arc de Triumph! Okay, not quite. Still impressive though.
Gen. Anthony Wayne
Gen. Anthony Wayne's eternal view. I could be happy looking at this forever.
New Jersey put together a super impressive monument here.
This called a redoubt. They were more or less the 18th century version of trenches.
Baron von Steuben was instrumental in helping us win the Revolution. We owe a lot to this man.
The Grand Parade. This is where military drills were done when the soldiers weren't busy freezing to death.
Gen. James Varnum's quarters
The view from Varnum's back porch. Stunning.
The Valley Forge train station. Not available to Gen. Washington in 1777-8.
Here comes the general! Rise up!
Forget what this house was used for.
Here is where Hamilton took over writing all Washington's correspondence.
This was used for strategy meetings.
Washington's dining room
Bedrooms for Washington's staff
Bedroom with Continental Army officers' uniforms
And this is the upstairs attic bedroom where John Laurens and Alexander Hamilton were quartered that winter. I am so fanboying right now.
And the other side of the kitchen
Washington's quarters from the train station
The world will never be the same.
Next up was Gettysburg. I turned onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike and rocketed west toward Harrisburg. The tolls are a bit pricey, but wow is it a fast road. Once I got to Gettysburg, I went to the visitor’s center to get a map and set out as before on the self-guided tour.
It’s a very big park that wraps all around the town of Gettysburg itself. What struck me, though, was how very little interpretive material actually spoke about the importance of this battle. There was a lot detailing what regiment did what on what day, but almost nothing on what all of this actually means. I’ve been to a number of national parks, and the interpretive material is consistently high quality and very informative, so to see this park omit it was conspicuous. I have to believe that it isn’t by accident. Kind of a bummer to visit the place where the Gettysburg Address was given, only to have the NPS act like it’s nothing important at all. It’s only a major turning point in the fight against slavery, but sure, let’s not say anything about slavery. That Mason-Dixon line about 10 miles away has clearly been strong arming this park.
As an avid baseball fan, I had to pay my respects to Gen. Abner Doubleday
Another beautiful park maintained by the National Park Service
It has Civil War era replica cannons! It's legit!
The pickup truck is historically accurate.
Beautiful views everywhere here.
Quite a number of monuments here, both Union and Confederate. This particular one is Confederate, if you're wondering. Remember, these wouldn't be controversial until a few days later....
Views from the famous Little Round Top
Pennsylvania put up this giant monument. Very impressive.
After leaving the battlefield, I stopped by a nearby Sheetz. I have to say that I was much more impressed with this place than I was with Wawa, which I visited on my Great Adventure days. The service was much better at Sheetz, and I felt like I was at a real deli. Whereas Wawa basically made me their employee while I was there. However, the food at Wawa is much, much better. Given a choice, I’d pick Wawa every time.
Next goal was to buy a tent. I had reserved the Hersheypark Camping Resort for the next two nights and the Knoebels Campground the following two nights. I own a tent, and we do enjoy camping, but American Airlines charged a fortune to bring that stuff on the plane, so it was actually way cheaper to just buy a tent here and then donate it to Goodwill before I went home. I found a Bass Pro in the Harrisburg Mall, and although there are other outdoor stores around here, I had to shop local. Local to me, that is; Bass Pro Shops is headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, about 4 miles away from the house I grew up in.
Ah, a little taste of home.
Yup, that's absolutely the Ozarks.
Camping gear acquired, I was now ready to check into the campground. It was super easy, and I drove over to my campsite fairly near the main office and shuttle stop. It pays to book far in advance. No time to build a tent just yet, I had coasters calling my name! I boarded the shuttle and was whisked off to one of the best theme parks anywhere: Hersheypark!
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