Devils Den

Devils Den
Devil's Den in Gettysburg- there is so much to see at this battlefield!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gettysburg Battlefield Tour with Rob Wingert

Gettysburg.....  I don't even know where to start on Gettysburg.

We were so excited about getting to spend several days in Gettysburg.  There is so much to see and do here.  We did some research before hitting the road, and we worried that a few days would not be enough time.

This was technically our second trip to Gettysburg.  We passed through a few years before.  We thought half a day would be enough time back then.  On that day, we knew pretty quickly that we were wrong.

So, on this trip, budgeting our time was a priority.  We wanted to cover the battlefield, see the Eisenhower Farm, dine at historic restaurants, visit museums and shop for relics.

I can say that we left town feeling like we had done a lot, but still feeling a need to get back to Gettysburg soon.

I will mention some of our specific favorites separately, but there are a few things we did that we really loved that I will mention here.

Probably the best thing we did was hire Rob Wingert from the Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides to show us around.  I called the Association a couple of weeks before our trip and told them about the dates we would be there, when we hoped to do our tour, etc.  I mentioned that I would really like to focus on the 52nd New York Volunteer Infantry as I found a family member that served with that group.  Rob called back shortly after that, and we scheduled a tour!

Rob VERY conveniently agreed to meet in the lobby of our hotel!  He promised to be about 15 minutes early for our scheduled 9am tour (and he was!) AND, with our consent, he kept us out almost an extra half hour!  We paid for a 3 hour tour, and got well over 3 and a half hours!

Oh, and Rob actually drove our car for us, allowing us to focus on the tour.  He was exceptionally safe and careful the entire time, and I never worried about someone else doing the driving (and I am a VERY paranoid rider)!

As requested, Rob noted the involvement of the 52nd New York, even taking us to their monument!  Oh, and just to be a nice guy, Rob brought some print outs that he found relating to the 52nd!!!

Rob was very friendly and our tour was comfortable, but he was a total pro the whole time- he kept our time together focused on the battle.  It was amazing having an expert point out the structures and landscape that we had read about.

I cannot say enough about how informative and helpful it was to tour the battlefield with Rob.  YOU KNOW Rob gets our highest possible recommendation!

AND, hiring a Licensed Battlefield Tour Guide is a great value.  I would strongly encourage anyone going to Gettysburg to do this.  For two people to do a two hour tour, it is actually cheaper to do this than to ride on the tour bus for a couple of hours with LOTS of other people!  Go ahead and pop for a third hour though.  This is Gettysburg, and you want to take it all in!  It is worth it!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fulton Steamboat Inn- Lancaster Pennsylvania

Sometimes we visit a city, and we find a nice hotel to stay at.  We are impressed, we like it.  Still, the next time we are in town, we will likely stay somewhere else, just to experience something different.

Let me tell you why we will be staying at the Fulton Steamboat Inn AGAIN next time we go through Lancaster.

First off, the place is a riverboat inn- on land!  It reminded me of the Titanic in Gatlinburg...  You kind of see it at a distance at first, and it seems out of place... AND AMAZING!

So yes, it is a novelty kind of hotel, but it is beautiful.  AND they play up the whole steamboat thing.  I noticed a lifeboat, smoke stacks, and touches in our rooms and lobby that truly made you feel like you were on a boat!

I mentioned before in other posts that Lancaster is a vibrant, happening city, but it is on the edge of farmland country.  The Fulton Steamboat Inn is exactly in the middle.  We were a five minute drive from a couple of malls, and about short drive from Amish businesses!

A large duck pond, stocked with koi, is on the property.  We walked to one of the gazebos and watched the ducks as we wrote postcards to our friends in Kentucky.  It was very relaxing.

Oh, speaking of postcards!  I think I have mentioned before, we always send out a bunch of postcards while we are on the road.  I forgot to get postcards stamps before leaving, so I asked at the front if they sold stamps.  The very kind front desk girl kind of looked at me in a curious way.  She then explained to me that if we used the attractive postcards of the Steamboat Inn (they were FREE!) they would actually mail them out, stamped!

Think about that for a moment.  The Fulton Steamboat Inn has free postcards of the Steamboat Inn AND they put stamps on them for you and mail them out!  If you are like us, that's a pretty big value!  Other hotels should take note!

The hotel also offers some things that I loved, as someone who does not travel with children.  The top floor is available to adults only.  The pool is also open to only adults from 10 until midnight.  I did notice that some benefits are offered to kids here to balance things out, but I didn't pay attention to that.

Oh, I wanted to mentioned that we loved the bar here too!  We aren't exactly bar people, but this cozy spot, with all sorts of nautical d├ęcor just felt right.  The food was tasty and the bar tender running the show was a lot of fun.

We will be back to Lancaster's Fulton Steamboat Inn!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mean Cup Coffee- Lancaster Pennsylvania

I mentioned before that Lancaster PA is simply a great town.  Well, all great towns need a great coffee shop.  Mean Cup Coffee is Lancaster's perfect coffee place.

We found this place to be flawless.  It is roomy, with plenty of places to have a seat.  The staff and the locals were friendly and jovial.  Plus, there are GIANT monster paintings hung on the walls!  You can't beat that!

ALSO, they are walking distance from the local minor league ball park!  PLEASE don't tell me there are affordable apartments near by!  I have fantasized about a coffee shop like Mean Cup, located next to a ballpark!

AND, as I mentioned before, Lancaster is a nice city, with malls, a great downtown area, history, restaurants, etc., etc.  JUST on the outside area of town, however, there are large farms, green fields, and authentic country living.  You truly get the very best of both worlds here.

Back to Mean Cup Coffee.  We loved our coffee and pastries we picked up here.  The staff could not be friendlier (I picked up a couple bags of beans to go, and they drew a cartoon on my bag!) and the whole place just felt warm.

We couldn't leave without picking up a logo shirt and coffee mug (both reasonably priced, like their coffee).  Mean Cup Coffee is welcoming and casual.  I look forward to more visits to Lancaster and more coffee from Mean Cup.  They get my highest possible recommendation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Old photo at Keeneland- Lexington Kentucky

I know Keeneland just started up again a few days ago......

This photo, found with others, simply notes on the back that it is Keeneland 1972.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

James Buchanan's Wheatland in Lancaster Pennsylvania

James Buchanan's former home, Wheatland, was the third of five President's houses we would visit on this road trip.

We arrived at the Lancaster Historical Society around 10.  The kind staff there immediately sold us a ticket for a tour about to start.

I wasn't exactly sure how this house tour would work, as I heard that you had to get your tickets at the visitor center, and then go to the house.  I was thinking that Wheatland was several blocks away.  It is literally right next door!  DOH!

Our guide was informative and animated.  She talked a lot about the norms and etiquette of the time.  She talked about how young girls at social evens might send signals to the boys using their fans!

This was a very Civil War directed trip, and the Civil War was brought up a lot at this visit.

We were told that the Confederates had eyes on getting to the former President at Wheatland, and Union officers were stationed here.

AND, a very strange Civil War AND Kentucky connection occurs through Buchanan!  His Vice President, John C. Breckinridge would become the Confederate Secretary of War!

This was a great home tour, in a great town, and I hope we make it back soon!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Lancaster Pennsylvania

Here are just a few VERY random photos from Lancaster PA.  I will have more to say about this interesting area later, but we LOVED this place!

They have a hoppin' downtown area, with lots to see and do.  However, just a short drive out and you are passing Amish buggies!

We did drive over to the neighboring town of Intercourse too, which was a great area.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Chincoteague Ponies and Assateague Island, Virginia

Chincoteague Island is one of those places that has been high on our list for some time.  I found out, after much confusion, that the Chincoteague Ponies are actually on nearby Assateague Island.

We drove to the area and spent time exploring.  I honestly am not sure exactly where we were at times.  I know we crossed a lot of water at various points.  As we drove near the lighthouse, we did see the legendary wild ponies  in the distance.  Even though they appeared small and far away, this was very exciting.

We found several nice little shops.  We all agreed that this area felt more like New England than the Virginia we knew.

After exploring on our own, we did do a cruise with the Daisey's Island Cruises.  We were happy about this choice.

The guys at Daisey's told us about the ponies, how they are tracked, managed, and provided for.  Though they are technically wild, the Chincoteague ponies are monitored closely.  In a lot of ways, the ponies kind of live the life.

Check out my photos!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Virginia

As we left the Charlottesville and Richmond Virginia areas, we made our way to Chincoteague Island.  I made sure that we travelled over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  I wanted to do this just so I could say that I drove under water!

This was a fascinating and fun part of our trip- here are some photos!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Leonardo's Pizza in Glen Allen Virginia

I MUST give a very sincere and appreciative thanks to an amazing pizza place we stumbled on to near Richmond Virginia.

Leonardo's Pizza in Glen Allen is perfect.  We came here from a recommendation that a local gave us, and we fell in love!

I got a bowl of leek soup that was overflowing.  It was hot and so good. 

We each had individual pizzas that we loved.  I know a lot of the pizza chains have a flavor.  I think there is a flavor that only good, independent chains ever get right- and Leonardo's nailed it.

After our meal, we did order ice cream.  A generous portion came out, smothered in whipped cream.  Our waitress told us that they use a popular local brand (I forget the specific name) that uses free range cows and all.

On their web site, Leonardo's states that they make world class food from the freshest ingredients.  I can vouch for that.  You can tell when a place uses quality stuff in their food, and Leonardo's absolutely does.

If I lived in Glen Allen Virginia, I would be at Leonardo's all the time!  They get my highest possible recommendation!