Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Antietam Trip

I recently got back from a roughly 12 day trip to Maryland and thought it would make good fodder for posts. So over the next week or so I'll post some notes from the trip.

First let me explain my trials in actually getting to a battlefield. My buddy, Mike, and I left Denver on a Thursday afternoon. Our goal was to drive all night and be at Perryville by noon on Friday. Tour that battlefield and start out the next day for the Valley and be in Gettysburg by Sunday night. We were going to camp two nights at Gettysburg and two nights at Hagerstown before meeting up with 11 more members of our roundtable, the Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable. Anyway, about 120 miles out of Denver we blew an engine near Flagler. Unfortunately we weren't sure yet that we had blown an engine. If we had known then it was a blown engine we might have gotten a tow that night and maybe had someone pick us up too. But instead we sleep in the Little England Inn in Flagler, next to a Napa autoparts store. Next morning we found out it the number one cylinder didn't have compression and this car was done for.

Mike's parents luckily were willing to drive out to Limon where we were towed to. They drove us back to Denver where we picked up a rental car and dashed out to Limon. Our camping plans were ruined so we got a tiny car to break even with the improved gas mileage over Mike's Jeep. We made it back to Limon around 5 and loaded the car with all the non-camping gear and started out again. To make up time we drove most of the night, stopping just east of Kansas City for a few hours of sleep. Up the next morning we were finally nearing the South as we zoomed across Missouri.

Near St. Louis I asked a rather innocent question, do you want to take the bypass or stay on I-70 so we can see The Arch? Mike had never seen The Arch so we stayed on I-70. I-70 is a nightmare in St. Louis, I don't know who designed the road but they certainly didn't design it to make life simple. After getting slightly lost and fighting through a detour we were finally across the Mississippi River around noon. Life was good. And then the I-70 engineer stopped us cold. Just after the highway crosses the river it splits, for no good reason, and reunites a few miles down the road. When it split the guy in front of us couldn't decide if he wanted to be on the left or right side of the split, eventually coming back to the right, right in front of us. I slammed on the brakes and just missed him, crisis averted, but then ... a car slammed into us. It then took the next 5 hours to deal with the cop, tow truck, cab, and rental company. We were not ticketed but the two cars behind us were (the first guy never stuck around to explain to the cop how he caused the whole thing) while the cop tried to figure out how two cars could hit us but not hit each other, how the stories didn't match reality. That added to the delay and despite the time lost I was glad not to get a ticket.

After our 5 hour delay we knew we'd have another long night in front of us. By the time we got into Ohio it started to snow. We stopped that night in Columbus. The next day, Sunday, we finally did make it to Gettysburg, on time but having missed many sights along the way. We nearly got taken out in Ohio as people were wrecking all around us. The snow didn't stick to the roads, only to the shoulders, but apparently that was enough for Ohio drivers to wreck. The snow finally stopped as we entered Pennsylvania.

The picture at the top of the page I took while we were stopped on the interstate in Ohio due to another crash. Tomorrow some observations of what we saw at Gettysburg and other things we saw in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia before the rest of our group arrived.

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