Yesterday, we bundled up LeuC after our wonderful 2-week stay in the Washington DC area and left Virginia. Our goal was the Codorus State Park just 30 miles or so south of Gettysburg. It was a very pleasant drive through Northern Virginia, Maryland and into Pennsylvania that took less than 2.5 hours.
During our drive, we commented to each other that we had forgotten how wooded the East Coast is with mile after mile of deep forests dominating the scenery. No other part of the US is as extensively forested as the East Coast is. We say this after living in the East Coast, the Midwest and the West Coast as well as driving coast to coast a number of times throughout our lives. Even driving between our campground in Reston, Virginia to downtown Washington DC we found the various routes we took were though dense forests with roads canopied with tree limbs and dark green leaves. It was just so verdant and beautiful.
Our campground for the next four days is the 3,500-acre Codorus State Park which is located in the wooded rolling hills of southern York County, Pennsylvania. The heart of the park is its 1,275-acre Lake Marburg which has 26 miles of shoreline and is a rest stop for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Most of the campsites are in the woods but we are camped in a grassy field, dotted with trees and we are back up next to the woods.
I think this area is where the bigger RVs and trailers are and it was designed so these bigger units have unobstructed views of the TV satellites overhead. Having satellite TV connection is not a big deal for us because, if we want, we can almost always get local channels though our TV antenna that is affixed to our roof and we can get cable channels through the Internet and then project it from our smart phone or tablets onto our flat screen TVs.
Today, we hopped into our little Fiat and drove into Gettysburg. While there, we spent most of our time exploring President Eisenhower’s home and farm. We decided that there is just too much to see in Gettysburg so we will make it a two-day exploration with the home/farm our objective for today and saving the Civil War battlefield for Monday. This made great sense to us since the battlefield Visitor’s Center was overflowing with people because it was the weekend. In talking with one of the park rangers, we learned that the Eisenhower home and farm is seldom busy and the battlefield crowds are the worst on the weekends.
To get to Eisenhower home and farm one needs to take a park shuttle bus since no cars are allowed. It was a short drive and as we arrived we were greeted by two WW II paratroopers. As it turned out, they were having a small D-day reenactment to celebrate the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landing that General Eisenhower was in charge of.
We both were born during the Eisenhower era but neither one of us really know much about him. The visit was very interesting as our park ranger guides gave us a number of insights into Eisenhower and the home that he and his wife, Mamie, retired to. After touring the house, we attended a nice lecture on the first Khrushchev visit to the US that occurred during Eisenhower’s presidency.
Afterwards, we then strolled over to where the paratroopers were bivouacked. We learned some remarkable facts about what the paratroopers carried during D-Day when they were dropped behind the German lines. For example, no matter what your weight was, they tried to even out the weight of each paratrooper being dropped to between 250 and 280 pounds. They did this by adding gear so that when the paratroopers were dropped, they would all descend at about the same rate. If they did not do this, then the lighter paratroopers would take longer to descend and the troops would be scattered over a larger area. Of course, this means that the lightest paratrooper would have the heaviest gear!
We also learned that the paratroopers were dropped at just 300 feet of elevation because the German groundfire was so severe. The pilots did not want to go up to the 600-foot height that was recommended and be an easier target. We also learned that many of the paratroopers were sick when they were dropped because they had been given a large breakfast before going and that meal was followed with a Dramamine pill to prevent flight sickness. However, the combination of the big meal, the pill, the rough flight over the English Channel and the stress of the upcoming drop caused many of the paratroopers to vomit during the flight, making the drop very slippery inside the plane. Yuck!
Instead of writing about what we learned about Eisenhower, which was a lot, I have found an excellent history video that you can watch, if so interested. It takes a while to load so be patient. It also has a number of commercials embedded in it that I found annoying. However, the history part is worth the annoyance. Click Here To Watch The Eisenhower Video
After our tour of the farm, we were returned to the Gettysburg Visitor’s Center so we decided to taken in the Gettysburg film, Cyclorama and museum since the crowds were now thinning out as it was late in the afternoon. The film was instructive and the Cyclorama was amazing. It was originally painted over 135 years ago. I will post a number of pictures that I took.
Since we will be returning to tour the battlefield on Monday, I thought that you might enjoy watching a great annotated map video of the battle and what led up to it. It has no commercials embedded in it and, unlike the Eisenhower video, it is relatively short. It really provided to me a much better understanding of what went on during the three-day battle. Click Here To Watch The Gettysburg Annotated Map Video. There is also an excellent 4-minute video that offers great insights as to how and why the Union forces won this battle. Click Here To Watch The Battle Of Gettysburg 4 Minute Video