March 28 – April 4
Our trip south had a strong history flavor to it. I’ve always wanted to see some Civil War battle sites, and Gettysburg is arguably the biggest if not also the most significant. Since we were so close to Washington DC we took the opportunity to see some of the sites accessible with dogs (mainly the National Mall) and enjoy an overnight visit with Julian, Asta, and Aras. From DC we made our way north to Boston where we stayed two nights at the home of Cathie’s friend Peg Coughlin. Cathie has known Peg since kindergarten days. Peg took us on a rainy walk along the Freedom Trail and, the next day, along a portion of Battle Road where the first shots were fired in the Revolutionary War.
The day before we toured Gettysburg we stayed at the Blue Sky Motel. Simple, but quiet with a field for the dogs to run on.
The next day (March 30th) we spent making a driving tour of the Battle of Gettysburg (26 miles worth). We bought a 2-CD audio tour that added a great deal to our experience. Many have heard of Pickett’s Charge (actually he didn’t like having his name attached to it since it was a failure) which was probably literally, and certainly symbolically, the turning point in the war. I also wanted to see where Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, commanding the 20th Maine, was instrumental in turning back the Confederate forces attacking on the extreme left of the Union line. He was a professor at Bowdoin College when he decided to take a sabbatical in order to fight. Not your typical academic. He later was president of Bowdoin College as well as governor of Maine.
The Washington DC portion included the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial. We couldn’t get close to the White House because Obama was having a big nuclear nonproliferation summit.
The Jefferson Memorial includes four engraved panels with some of his thoughts. One has to do with new ideas and the need to let the laws and the constitution involve with changing times. I wonder if some of the Supreme Court justices should make a visit to remind themselves that, interpreting the Constitution as if you are living in the 18th Century may not be what the originators had in mind.
At the Lincoln Memorial there are two similarly styled panels as found in at Jefferson’s. One is the Gettysburg Address the other is his 2nd inaugural delivered on March 4, 1865. It, like the Gettysburg Address, is a testament to his ability to say much with relatively few words. It is worth a few minutes to read it. I will just quote one line here which expresses some of the sadness he was feeling. Lincoln died six weeks later on April 15, 1865.
“Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.”
Our visit with Julian, Asta, and Aras was brief but well worth it. We saw a movie about climbing and science working together in Africa at a Patagonia store. The next day they left early so Julian could help out at this year’s Barkley Marathon – sometimes known as 60 hours of hell.
Our next stop was Boston to visit with Peg Coughlin, Cathie’s friend going back to their early childhood. Peg is a wonderful person and a great host. We arrived mid-morning on Saturday. After breakfast we headed downtown to walk along the Freedom Trail. While it was raining, the big challenge was finding someplace where we could park the truck. All parking garages have limited clearance. We finally found an above ground lot at the corner of Valenti Way and Friend St that would let us park 3 hours for $10.
The next day we drove out toward Concord and the Battle Road. It was at the North Bridge where, for the first time, an order was given, and acted upon, for “Americans” to fire on the British military. A line was crossed that led to a new nation, one that barely survived four score and seven years later.
We left Boston Monday morning in a snow storm. Fortunately, the snow lessened as we drove north toward Maine. We made one stop to pick up Meg and another to visit the grave site of Joshua Chamberlain at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.