Our original plan had us getting to Gettysburg at 6am, the same time they open the gates at the battlefield.Â After some discussion last night, we opted for an extra hour of sleep and getting there at 7am. So we were up, ready and on the road by just after 5am.Â Our hotel was out by BWI, so south of Baltimore, which meant we didn’t have to deal with the traffic in town on our drive as we bypassed all of that.Â The drive itself wasn’t all that bad, until we got stuck behind a garbage truck in some small town right on the Maryland/Pennsylvania border… on a 1 way street no less.Â They don’t have the automated trucks back here like we do at home, so we got to watch the guys jump off the truck, grab the garbage and toss it into the back… for a while. UGH!
We drove into Gettysburg via Taneytown Road, which of course was how many of the troops that fought in the Battle of Gettysburg got to town.Â That was pretty cool and as we neared the edge of town, the excitement was building.Â That was quickly shot when I had no idea where we were.Â It’s been just over 4 years since I was last in Gettysburg and I really felt that I had a good handle on where we were and where we were heading.Â I had told Bob that the visitors center was directly across the street from the entrance to the cemetery.Â Well, we passed the cemetery and I saw no visitors center.Â How could I be so wrong?Â Was my memory failing me already?Â I have been told my mind is a sponge and I soak it all in so well…. however, this time, nuttin!Â We drove around a bit as I tried to get my bearings.Â Ok!Â I got it now, we saw a sign for the “new” visitors center, so we drove over by it.Â Holy crap!Â This thing is huge! It wasn’t opened yet, so we headed back to the cemetery to go in there.
The parking lot the we parked in was indeed where I knew the vistors center used to be, so I wasn’t losing my mind, just didn’t know they built a complete new one across town.Â The Gettysburg National Cemetery is where a few thousand soldiers that had been left behind or buried on the battlefield were now buried.Â It is also where, on November 19, 1863, after a 2-hour speech by Edward Everett, President Abraham Lincoln gave his 2 minute speech that became known as the “Gettysburg Address”.Â He gave this address while dedicating the Soldier’s National Cemetery.Â On the site where he gave the address is the Soldier’s Memorial now.Â It’s quite eerie to be standing in the same area as others were when they listened to Lincoln so many years ago.Â As a general rule of thumb, I hate cemeteries.Â I have a real fear of death and to me a cemetery is like the mecca of death.Â However, on a few occasions, I have felt nothing but peaceful in a cemetery and here in Gettysburg is one of those times.Â We checked out several of the memorials on the walk back to the Soldier’s Memorial, including several cannons, and markers that showed where troops were gathered during the battle.Â Right next to this cemetery is another, Evergreen Cemetery, which was there during the battle.Â This area I am talking about was known, during the battle, as “Cemetery Ridge”.Â I have read so many books, watched so many shows and just in general studied so much about this battle, that even though this was my 3rd trip to Gettysburg, it still gives me the chills knowing I was walking right where all that was going on.
As we made it to the Soldier’s Memorial, we took the time to pay our respects to the thousands of soldiers that are buried next to it, many of those simply listed as “Unknown”.Â Those that did have names, I didn’t recognize any of them, but the ones that I read, I read aloud as a way to let the world know that they are there.Â Silly, I know, but I said their names aloud out of respect for them, so that even if it was just Bob & I, someone heard their names and knew what they did.Â We took several pictures, then started making our way back to the car so we could drive on into the battlefield.Â As we walked we could feel a few sprinkles and really hoped the rain would hold off, at least until we got out of town.
As we drove up the Emmitsburg road and into the middle of the Gettysburg National Military Park, the rain started falling harder. We took a left at the Peach Orchard (was good to see they have replanted peach trees there) and headed over to the Devil’s Den. The Devil’s Den, for those who don’t know, is filled with not just rocks, but huge boulders.Â As we parked nearby, the rain let up, which was great since we wanted to walk around some.Â It’s really hard to believe that there was a big battle here.Â Hard to think that anything could have happened here.Â I personally had a hard time walking around, with good shoes on, yet most soldiers barely had anything on their feet, if anything at all.Â To think they brought horses and cannons through here was unreal.Â Â I crawled up on 1 big boulder and sat there, just looking around.Â To my right was the “Slaughter Pen”.Â Straight out in front of me was “Big Round Top” and just to the left of it, “Little Round Top”.Â From where I was sitting, the land that lay out in front of me, saw thousands of young men give their lives.Â I tried to imagine what was going on those fateful days in July 1863, yet I really couldn’t.Â I could picture the movies I have seen, but to be sitting there and seeing the lay of the land, it was unbelievable to think that this is where so many had fought and died for what they believed in.
We had already bought our tickets to do a bus tour through the park and really wanted to be on the 9:30am bus, so we left the Devil’s Den and drove through the park looking at different memorials along the way.Â I was able to point things out to Bob, like the Copse of Trees (the “High Water Mark” of the Confederacy), the field where “Pickett’s Charge” took place as well as the enormous Pennsylvania Memorial.Â We booked this tour online and while the email confirmation says to meet at the parks visitors center, when we got there, we saw no buses.Â I reread that email and while it does say that, it gives a totally different street address.Â So we proceeded to that address, on Baltimore Pike, which was maybe 1 mile up the road, and we checked in, early even.Â That of course gave us time to look through the gift shop there and spend some of our hard earned money.Â I bought a Gettysburg shot glass, so did Bob, along with a book about the area.Â As we were looking around my phone rang, it was Larry Smith.Â Larry is someone who Bob and I went to school with, but neither of us had seen him in almost 18 years.Â We had reconnected via Facebook and since he lived in PA, he was going to drive down today and meet us for lunch.Â We reconfirmed times and I told him I would call him when we got back after the bus tour.
Promptly at 9:15am we started boarding the bus.Â They give 2 different kinds of tours, 1 is a live guided tour, the other is done via an audio tape.Â We opted for the guided tour, which turned out to be a smart move.Â The bus we were on had several rows of 2 seats on each side of the aisle.Â Bob and I chose a seat in the same row, just on opposite sides of the aisle.Â The tour cost $27/each and what it did was try to recreate for us the battle itself, by taking us to different parts of the battlefield and showing us where the troops moved.Â Our tour guide, Dave Roberts (no, not the same Dave Roberts that stole those bases for the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS vs the Yankees), brought to life what happened on these grounds more than 145 years ago.Â You can really tell that our guide enjoys his job.Â Just the way he got into it.Â If he actually doesn’t, then someone needs to give him an Oscar.Â The tour was set up to follow the timeline of the battle from July 1-3, 1863.Â I could go on and on about it, cause it was just that great.Â It is something both Bob and I are so glad we took the time to do and fully suggest it to anyone that is going to Gettysburg.
When we completed the tour I asked our guide for his suggestion on a place to have lunch.Â He suggested a few and said that the Dobbin House was one that had real ambiance, and good cold beer.Â Sounds great to me, so we called Larry and said we would meet him there.Â The Dobbin House was built in 1776 when Reverend Alexander Dobbin built a house to begin a new life in America for himself and his family. Today his home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a colonial restaurant where candlelit elegance, superior food in abundance, and gracious service bring back the sights, sounds and tastes of two centuries ago. When you enter the Dobbin House tavern, you go down stairs.Â Once down there all of the tables are candle lit.Â Its very cool!Â Bob and I got there before Larry, so we got a table, ordered a couple beers and looked over the menu in the few minutes before he got there.Â Â Larry looks the same, just got older like the rest of us.Â I had a great time getting to catch up with Larry over lunch, we all had sandwiches (which were really good, especially the potato salad that came with them).Â I really wish we had more time to hang out with Larry, but our schedule said we needed to get back into the battlefield to see a couple more things before heading to Philly.Â Thanks again for coming down to meet us Larry, we both had a great time and hope you enjoyed it also.Â Give me a buzz when you get to town!
As we left the Dobbin House the rain was coming down really hard.Â I told Bob, “Let’s not let this slow us down.Â Heck, this is my 3rd time to Gettysburg and 2 outta 3 times its poured on me!” (those were different times of the year as well, rain in July 2003, none in May 2005 and then this trip).Â No trip to Gettysburg is complete without going to Little Round Top, so that’s where we were headed.Â As we pulled up the road leading to the parking for Little Round Top, we noticed all the tour buses.Â This wouldn’t stop us. We did however decide to go see the monument for the 20th Maine first, which is just to the left and a short walk from Little Round Top.Â If you have seen the movie “Gettysburg”, this is where Joshua Chamberlain and his men were “the end of the line”.Â Where they did everything they could to fight off the rebels.Â They eventually ran out of ammo and fixed bayonets and charged down the hill and ran the Confederate Army out of the area.Â It’s an amazing scene in the movie and is even more moving to be walking the exact ground… even in a complete down pour!Â With time running short, we jumped back in the car and headed up the road a bit to find parking for Little Round Top.
Bob and I have been talking about doing a trip to Gettysburg since we were in the 7th grade, about 23 years now, and how special it would be for us to be there.Â A few years ago Bob got a bottle of Crown Royal XR (about $180/bottle).Â He thought it would be cool to crack it open and toast with it at Gettysburg, so I suggested we do it on Little Round Top.Â So just before we started the walk up, in a driving rain,Â he cracked open the bottle, poured 2 shots and away we went.Â When we got to the top, even in the rain, the view was incredible.Â We could see the Wheat Field, Devil’s Den, Big Round Top, the Slaughter Pen, the Copse of Trees and so much more including way too many monuments to count.Â We stood there soaking it all in, litterally as I was soaked to the bone, said a toast as we poured a little out “for those who gave the last full measure” and then down the hatch!Â Man that was incredibly smooth!Â I guess for $180/bottle it better be!Â Once we were done with that we walked around looking at the different markers they have up there… even ran into our tour guide who was on another tour…before heading back to the car and hitting the road.Â We had 1 more stop to make and that was the Copse of Trees.Â With it raining the hardest its been, I let Bob run up and see the monuments and I did some video from the cars “sun” roof… then it was on to Philly!
The drive from Gettysburg to Philadelphia is about 2 1/2 hours.Â Once we hit the interstate around Harrisburg, things went smooth from there until just outside of town when traffic came all but to a stop!Â Without question it was the worst traffic we had seen so far.Â The last 15 miles seemed to take forever, but when we got to town, it was worth it.Â It was just after 5pm and I wanted to take Bob by Independence Hall (we were scheduled to take the tour on Saturday, but hoped we would get to town early enough to do it today, didn’t happen, so Saturday it is).Â We drove by, I pointed out a couple things, then it was on to Geno’s and Pat’s to get a cheesesteak.Â Parking is tough to find in that part of town and since they are right across the street from one another, I dropped Bob off at Pat’s and I circled until I found a spot and ran over to Geno’s.Â I had read how you need to know how to order, if you don’t they will give you a hard time (their web site even goes as far as saying you better speak English or they wont serve you!).Â So I ordered “Yeah, uh, wit-whiz”.Â $7.50.Â As I waited for my order, I checked out the pictures of the famous people that have ate there, and there are way too many to mention right now.Â When my sandwich was ready, I grabbed it, dodged as many rain drops as possible, and got back to the car where Bob had a funky look on his face.Â I looked down and he had taken maybe 2 bites of the one from Pat’s.Â I asked him what was up and he said, “What’s so special about this?Â The cheesesteaks at Jack-In-The-Box are way better!”Â I thought he was kidding until I took a bite… nope, he wasn’t!Â The bread was chewy, the meat was blah, the onions were crunchy, and overall it was a waste of $7.50!Â So I unwrapped the one from Geno’s and took a bite.Â It was as if angels were dancing in my mouth!Â The bread was great, the onions grilled to perfection, the meat had really good flavor and above all it was juicy, too much really cause I wore 1/2 of the juice on my shirt! After Bob took a bite, we both fully agreed that the best cheesesteak was from…. GENO’s!!Â Neither one of us could understand how anyone could think that Pat’s was the best, but people do!Â This is a big debate in the City of Brotherly Love, but it shouldn’t be, cause Pat’s wasÂ a waste of time.Â Geno’s wins, hands down!
Citizens Bank Park
We quickly made our way to Citizens Bank Park, I really wanted to make it before 1st pitch.Â We got parking, thanks to my handicapped parking plaque, right across from the center field gate.Â After changing my shirt, taking a couple pictures, we headed in.Â As always with me, I hate gates where you have to go through turnstiles.Â In 2004, on my honeymoon,Â I started referring to them as “Nutcrushers” cause that’s exactly what happened to me at one.Â I usually look around and see if there is a gate I can enter without going through one of those, at this point, there wasn’t one that I could see…. so I gave the guy at the gate my ticket and he even asked if I wanted to go around and he would take me where I could.Â I told him, “Nah, this is all part of the experience, right?” and I went through the turnstile.Â It was tight, but I was alright.Â As I came out the other end, he said, “Man, I love your positive attitude!”Â I went back to shake his hand and the next thing you know, he gave me a hug.Â We both had smiles on our faces as I told him to take care and headed in for the game… better yet, the nearest restroom, which I knew from 4 years ago, was straight ahead!
The was my 2nd time to a game at Citizens Bank Park (my last being May 1, 2005 vs the Marlins) and since my last game I have been looking forward to getting back here cause I LOVE this park!!Â I thought maybe I had romanticized this park, that maybe it wasn’t as awesome as I remembered… NOPE!Â What makes Citizens Bank Park so great?Â What doesn’t?Â I mean from the moment you enter via the center field gate, you have a bunch to see and do.Â You’re right there in Ashburn Alley (named after Richie Ashburn, who was a Phillie from 1948-1959), there’s the All-Star Walk, the Phillies Wall of Fame and a several great places to get a bite to eat.Â The view of the field is also great from out here.Â As you make your way around the park, heading towards home down the 1st baseline, you start seeing stainless counter tops on the main concourse, right behind the sections of seats (they extend from foul pole to foul pole, with the exception of certain places).Â I LOVE THIS!!Â Back in 2005 this was the first time I have seen this done, and since then other parks, including my home park of Safeco Field, have installed these.Â Yet, not nearly as many as they have at Citizens Bank Park.Â Tonight we made our way to behind home, and grabbed a section of counter top (they also have a bar down below to put your foot on to steady yourself, that’s awesome).Â I love the fact that I can buy a cheap seat, grab a beer, a dog and have a place to set it all down along with my scorebook and camera.Â That just rocks!
We did make it in time for 1st pitch, thankfully.Â I hate missing 1st pitch, I don’t do it often and have NEVER missed it when I go to games on my own as I am usually at the park when the gates open.Â Tonight, Jamie Moyer (former Mariner) was pitching for the World Champion Phillies.Â I remember being in Chicago back in August 2006 when I heard on ESPN that he was traded from Seattle to Philadelphia, I was shocked!Â 2 nights later I saw the Phillies play the Cubs at Wrigley Field and during pregame stretches, there was Jamie in a foreign uniform… looked really weird.Â But tonight I got to see him pitch again and well, the 46 year old (the majors oldest active player) didn’t do too hot.Â I dunno if he just had a bad game or if maybe it was the rain (that was falling on and off, hard at times).Â The Blue Jays jumped on Moyer for 4 runs before he got 4 outs.Â He ended up going 6 innings, giving up 10 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 2 HR’s and had 6 K’s.Â In the 7th inning, facing what would be his last batter of the night, Moyer gave up a home run to Hill.Â The Phillies changed pitchers, bringing in Durbin to pitch to former Phillie Scott Rolen.Â The crowd, as they did before each of his at bats, booed him big time (it was so bad, I started looking for ARod).Â Rolen responded by taking the first pitch he saw and jacked it big time!Â I mean it was a monster shot!!Â The Blue Jays beat the Phillies in a rain soaked game, on ESPN no less, 7-1.
After the game we made our way to our hotel out by the airport, a Courtyard by Marriott.Â It was a bit hard to find, but thanks to the GPS, we made it.Â The gal that checked us in, Adonna (as she told me, “Like Madonna, without the M”) was really cool.Â Thanks again for your help, though it would have been nice if you could have made the rain go away the next day!! 🙂
Tomorrow will be a long day.Â Its NYC in the morning then on to Boston for the night cap.Â 2 parks on the same day.Â I can’t wait!
I have heard people talk about the “Crab Fries” at Chickie & Pete’s at Citizens Bank Park.Â When Bob went looking for something to eat, he brought back some Crab Fries and I gotta say, we weren’t impressed at all.Â Basically, it’s fries smothered in what tasted like Old Bay seasoning.Â Don’t see what the big deal is really.
During one of the breaks of our bus tour in Gettysburg I got to talking to our tour guide, we got to talking about our trip, other joined in the conversation about the ball parks and then he tells me he has something to tell me that I would be able to appreciate.Â It’s a story about his nephew, Brian Roberts, who when he graduated college wanted to get a job at the baseball hall of fame, but was unable to.Â He was selling calendars at a mall when he got a call about a job and he is now the curator at the Yankees Museum at the new Yankee Stadium.Â What a story!?Â I told him I would be there at Yankee Stadium tomorrow and would drop by the museum and say “HI” if I could.
On our flight to Baltimore on Monday I sent a song request to Alan Hunter on the 80’s station on XM.Â Told him how Air Tran has XM at every seat and WI-FI even, which is how I was able to email him my request.Â He emailed me back later that day and said that he would give me a shout-out and play my song in the 6pm (EST) hour on Wednesday.Â On our way to Geno’s we heard it.Â He said that he got an email from a guy, Ken Lee, who was at 39,000 feet up listening to him on an air plane.Â He commented on how cool that is, thanked me for my email, and played my song for me: “Small Town” by JCM.