The second day of my road trip to rural Pennsylvania (PA) started off on the right track. As usual, I woke up early, spent a few minutes checking the trends and feeds on social media, and then sorted out my itinerary for the day. My original plan was to stop by Lancaster, the Amish capital in PA but decided to forego it on another trip since most of the sights worthy of visiting were closed on Sundays. So, I checked out Google maps to see where else I can go and that was when I decided to visit Gettysburg.
My uncle, cousin and I had breakfast together, eating steak and eggs Filipino-style (with rice instead of potatoes.) We chatted a bit about the movie from last night, caught up on places I’ve seen been, and other random things. I also invited them to come down to Washington, D.C., and visit sometime before bidding them adieu.
It was close to 10 a.m. when I started my journey back, stopping by a Wawa gas station first to fill up the tank. It wasn’t empty by any means but the price was cheaper. I also stopped by The Bethlehem Dairy Store, intent on trying this ice cream shop before leaving town. Despite the unconventional hour (it was barely noon), I ordered a scoop of coconut-flavored ice cream and ate it on my way to Gettysburg.
The drive took approximately two hours from Bethlehem to Gettysburg. If you’ve studied here in the United States, Gettysburg ought to ring a bell. For those of you unfamiliar with the town, it was a key battleground during the American Civil War and was also the place where Abraham Lincoln delivered his infamous Gettysburg Address.
Immediately after I arrived, I grabbed a quick lunch at Food 101, a small café at the corner of Chambersburg and Washington streets offering a mix of burgers, salads, and sandwiches. I ordered a shrimp and crab salad that came with mixed green lettuce, avocado slices, mango salsa, and sherry vinaigrette. I enjoyed it, though I would suggest including a small piece of bread and adding spinach to the lettuce mix. The café is new to Gettysburg and already a favorite by many locals and visitors alike receiving plenty of five stars on both TripAdvisor and Yelp.
Gettysburg is a quaint little town with a very interesting historic center. Many of the houses are preserved and used as inns or boutique shops. A particularly interesting one is The Gettysburg Museum of History. This small spot is chock full of memorabilia. The focus obviously is related to the Battle of Gettysburg, but there are a few rooms with World War I and II mementos as well including items from Hitler’s Bunker in Berlin and his mountaintop sanctuary known as Eagle’s Nest. For about 20 minutes or so, I walked down Baltimore Street to see some of the restored Civil War houses, some of which still show the damage inflicted by the war. There was a house rebuilt with a canon ball intact, while another showed a wall containing more than a hundred bullet holes.
As charming as the city center was, the real reason I went to visit Gettysburg was to see the battlefield. The battlefield is both a national and military park and encompasses almost 4,000 acres of land filled with sloping hillsides and over 1,000 memorials. Sadly, I was only here for a few hours, but I managed to join the “Third Day” tour, which stopped at the “Angle” and “High Water Mark.” I would highly recommend to anyone who plans to visit Gettysburg that he/she joins at least one ranger tour. The rangers have fountains of information when it comes to the park and its history and the tours themselves are free of charge.
I had dinner at a hole-in-the-wall burger and cheesesteak place called Hunt’s Battlefield Fries and Café and ordered myself a grilled chicken cheesesteak. When I asked the server for her recommendation, she told me that their most popular items were burgers and cheesesteaks (not really a recommendation but ok.) I resisted the temptation of the burger since I’ve been eating beef all weekend long so I got the chicken cheesesteak instead with a side of fries and fresh squeezed orange juice. The sandwich was very good indeed and the fries were as well. The bread was excellent and the chicken cheesesteak had big chunks of white meat. My only complaint was the tomatoes on the side. They still tasted okay but were a little overripe from the looks of it.
I walked around the restaurant’s vicinity for a bit, just enough to digest what I just ate before heading back to the car. I stopped by the Historic Dobbin House, Gettysburg’s oldest house, and checked out their small museum. There weren’t much to it but a few frames filled with 18th century records and an illuminated space underneath the second-story floorboards that showed where runaway slaves were kept. The house is now an inn with a restaurant and a basement tavern similar to those in 18th century England.
It was 7 p.m. by the time I got back on the road and drove back home. As I was cruising along the highway, I reflected on the last couple of day’s activities and smiled. It turned out to be a good birthday weekend after all.