This week I am at a meeting in Bethesda that I needed to attend; Bethesda is five plus hours south of Wellsboro. Since I was driving alone, I decided to make the drive focus on something interesting so I planned to stay in Gettysburg on the way down and then on the way back on Wednesday morning when I will attend a second meeting in Harrisburg.
The Gettysburg battlefield tour is what got my attention. I have toured the area before with my late husband and friends. They were all Civil War experts and my knowledge (and truthfully, interest) was at novice level. A year ago, I almost toured with my friend LaVonne Johnson-Holt, but time made my trip down impossible. Yesterday’s stop was different – I would spend the money and the time and do it for me.
I reserved a spot on a segway tour. You know, one of those battery operated platforms on wheels. In our world, they seem quaint and out-of-place. Let me tell you, they are greenest mode of transportation. And the most fun. After a short lesson, anyone can ride one.
My Seg Tour started at 2:30 with my lesson. Learn to stop, turn, go up hill and down, most of all keep an arm’s distance away from cars and others to avoid crashing. A mother and daughter were the other guests on this tour though the daughter, recovering from surgery, kept getting “seasick” so they begged off the tour, planning to return another time. That left me. The one person who did not request a guide but since the guide had been reserved for the mother-daughter duo, he guided the tour.
This is the briefest story of my ride. After I found out that I could actually stay up (use your Tai Chi knees for balance) Bob, Seg Tours owner, guided John Fitzpatrick, licensed tour guide and me through the traffic and we set out on my adventure! Bob kept checking at the line of two travelers behind him assuring himself that we were still in line and on the seg. I felt a sense of okay-ness that he knew whether I was leaning back too far thus stopping my seg or forward too far – worse – making it speed up almost to the upper speed limit of 12.5 mph.
We took the outer loop of the battlefield, the part called the Western Battlefield. In our two and a half hour trip, we crossed four ridges: Cemetery Ridge, Seminary Ridge, McPhearson and Herr’s ridges, named after landmarks that are part of each respective ridge. This battle had the Confederate Army coming down from the north and the Union army going from south north – each of the many statues faces the way each side was moving. I saw McClelland’s monument commemorating Maine’s effort, and intricate statues for Tennessee and Arkansas. I learned that a cannon pointing up marks headquarters of various brigades (or is it divisions?) and that smooth bore cannon are not accurate and don’t travel far but do much damage where they land and that the rifled bore cannon (those with twisty ridges inside) are accurate and can go a long way.
I learned so much more, too much to list. But most of all, I took away an appreciation of the horrendous battle that has forever scarred the landscape and hearts of the north and south. And I took away an amazing awe of both John tour guide who is more knowledgeable about this battle than anyone I have ever met and Bob, owner of Seg Tours, who inserts little tidbits every once in awhile – like, do you think she wants to see …
I did not fall off once, and by the end of the ride, I was able to hold on with just one hand and talk with the other. I think I am ready for NYC!
Pat Davis mentioned once that she reads a preacher’s blog and that the preacher always finds a way to mention God. Here is my God thought: like all wars, families are wrenched apart and filled with terror and sadness and incredible loss. There must be a God, because how else would we bear all the pain from the losses.
P.S. You can find Bob on Facebook at “SegTours of Gettysburg” and John at “jofi2 at comcast.net”